Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 September 16, 2015: CNN Republican Top Tier Debate Transcript Carly Fiorina Wins

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

CNN Republican Top Tier Debate Transcript

Source: CNN, 9-16-15

GOP Presidential Debate. Aired 8:10-11:15p ET.

Aired September 16, 2015 – 20:10   ET

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

JAKE TAPPER, CNN MODERATOR: I’m Jake Tapper. We’re live at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California for the main event. Round 2 of CNN’s presidential debate starts now.

The eleven leading Republican candidates for president are at their podiums. They are ready to face off, and if you’ve been watching this race, you know anything could happen over the next few hours.

To viewers who are just joining us, welcome to the Air Force One Pavilion of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Our thanks to the staff here and especially to former first lady Nancy Reagan for this impressive setting with Ronald Reagan’s presidential plane as our backdrop.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: This debate is airing on CNN networks in the United States and around the world. It’s also being broadcast on the Salem Radio Network. I know everyone is very eager to get started.

But first, I want to explain the ground rules tonight. My name is Jake Tapper. I’ll be the moderator. I will be joined in the questioning by Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt. He worked in the Reagan administration for six years. And by CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

I will ask follow-up questions, I will attempt to guide the discussion. Candidates, I will try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions. You’ll have one minute to answer and 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. I’ll give you time to respond if you’ve been singled out for criticism.

Our viewers should know we have timing lights that are visible to the candidates to warn them when their time is up. These 11 Republicans are positioned on the stage based on their ranking in recent national polls.

Our goal for this evening is a debate. A true debate, with candidates addressing each other in areas where they differ. Where they disagree — on policy, on politics, on leadership. Now, let’s begin.

I’d like to invite each candidate to take 30 seconds to introduce him or herself to our audience. First to you, Senator Paul.

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: Good evening, everyone. I’m an eye surgeon from Bowling Green, Kentucky. My wife, Kelly, and I have been married for nearly 25 years, and I spend my days defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I think there’s nothing more important than understanding that the Constitution restrains government, not the people.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, R-ARK.: I’m Mike Huckabee. I’m delighted to be on this stage with some remarkable fellow Republicans.

None of us are a self-professed socialist. None of us on this state are under investigation by the FBI because we destroyed government records, or because we leaked secrets.

I know that there are some in the Wall-Street-to-Washington axis of power who speak of all of us contemptuously. But I’m here to say that I think we are, in fact, the A team.

We have some remarkable people, and, in fact, not only are we the A team; we even have our own Mr. T, who doesn’t mind saying about others, “you’re a fool.”

And I’m delighted to be here with all of these guys, and would put any of them in an administration that I led. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

SEN. MARCIO RUBIO, R-FL.: Thank you. My name is Marco Rubio. I’m from Florida. My wife Jeanette and I are the proud — we’ve been married 17 years, and we’re the proud parents of four children, two of whom were able to join us here this evening.

I’m honored to be here at the Reagan Library, at a place that honors the legacy of a man who inspired not just my interest in public service, but also our love for country.

And I’m also aware that California has a drought, and so that’s why I made sure I brought my own water.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Senator Cruz?

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: I’m Ted Cruz. I am the son of an Irish-Italian mom and a Cuban immigrant dad who fled oppression and came to America seeking freedom. I’m a husband to my best friend, Heidi, who’s here tonight. I’m a dad to two little girls who are the loves of my life, Caroline and Catherine.

If you’re fed up with Washington, if you’re looking for someone to stand up to career politicians in both parties, I’m the only one on this stage who has done that over and over again, and if we stand together, we can bring America back. DR. BEN CARSON: Hi, I’m Ben Carson, and I’m a retired pediatric

neurosurgeon. I’m here with my wife, Candy, of 40 years, and two of my sons, and their wives.

I stress the pediatric part of my career because the reason that I’ve gotten involved in this race is because I’m very concerned about the future of our children, and the direction of our country is one that does not portend well, unless we, the people, intervene and retake our rightful place at the pinnacle.

And I just want to be — make it clear that I’m grateful to be here with all of you again, and welcome the addition of Carly Fiorina, as well.

(APPLAUSE)

DONALD TRUMP: I’m Donald Trump. I wrote “The Art of the Deal”. I say not in a braggadocious way, I’ve made billions and billions of dollars dealing with people all over the world, and I want to put whatever that talent is to work for this country so we have great trade deals, we make our country rich again, we make it great again. We build our military, we take care of our vets, we get rid of Obamacare, and we have a great life altogether.

Thank you. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER GOV. JEB BUSH, R-FLA.: I’m Jeb Bush, and I believe America’s on the verge of its greatest century, and I’m ready to lead. I’m a committed, conservative reformer that cut taxes, that balanced budgets, that took on the special interest in Florida, and we won.

I look forward to talking tonight about how we can fix a broken Washington D.C., and create an environment where people can rise up again in this great country.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WIS.: Good evening, I’m Scott Walker, and tonight, I want to thank Mrs. Reagan, and the Reagan Library for hosting us. You see, in my lifetime, the greatest president was a governor from California. Ronald Reagan knew how to go big, and go bold. He understood the essence of moving this country forward, and that’s what I did when I took on the status quo in my state, and the Washington based special interest.

Now, more than ever, America needs a leader who will go big and bold again. Someone who’s been tested. I’m ready to be that leader. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLY FIORINA: Good evening. My story, from secretary to CEO, is only possible in this nation, and proves that everyone of us has potential. My husband, Frank, of 30 years, started out driving a tow truck for a family owned auto body shop. We have come to a pivotal point in our nation’s history where this nation’s possibilities and potential are being crushed by a government grown so big, so powerful, so inept, so corrupt, and a political class that refuses to do anything about it.

I am prepared to lead the resurgence of this great nation.

(APPLAUSE)

GOV. JOHN R. KASICH, R-OHIO: Hello, I’m John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio. Emma, and Reese, my children, and Karen, love ‘ya girls. Thanks for watching tonight.

By the way, I think I actually flew on this plane with Ronald Reagan when I was a congressman, and his goals, and mine, really much — are pretty much the same. Lift Americans, unify, give hope, grow America, and restore it is to that great, shining city on a hill.

Yes, he was a great one, and I learned much from watching him. The most important thing, hope to Americans, unify, lift everyone in America.

(APPLAUSE)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: Hi, my name is Chris Christie, and I’d like to you take the camera off me and put it on the audience because I’d like to ask all of you, how many of you, raise your hand, believe that in today’s Barak Obama America your children will have a better life than you’ve had?

You see? That’s why I’m running for President. Because leadership is not about me, it’s about our country. And, what we talk about tonight, it’s not about us, it’s about the people in the audience tonight, because in seven short years this president has stripped away their trust, and their faith, and their belief that the next generation will have a better life. He’s stolen that from us, and when I’m president, I’m going to take it back.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you one and all for being here. There are many important policy issues facing our nation. We’re going to get to many of them tonight, but I do want to start off with some current events in the news, and also some of the comments the candidates have recently made on the campaign trail.

TAPPER: Mrs. Fiorina, I want to start with you. Fellow Republican candidate, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, has suggested that your party’s frontrunner, Mr. Donald Trump, would be dangerous as President. He said he wouldn’t want, quote, “such a hot head with his finger on the nuclear codes.”

You, as well, have raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s temperament.

You’ve dismissed him as an entertainer. Would you feel comfortable with Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear codes?

FIORINA: You know, I think Mr. Trump is a wonderful entertainer. He’s been terrific at that business.

I also think that one of the benefits of a presidential campaign is the character and capability, judgment and temperament of every single one of us is revealed over time and under pressure. All of us will be revealed over time and under pressure. I look forward to a long race.

TAPPER: You didn’t answer my question. Would you feel comfortable with Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear codes? It’s an issue that one of your fellow candidates has raised.

FIORINA: That’s not for me to answer; it is for the voters of this country to answer, and I have a lot of faith in the common sense and good judgment of the voters of the United States of America.

TAPPER: Mr. Trump?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Well, first of all, Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage. He’s number 11, he’s got 1 percent in the polls, and how he got up here, there’s far too many people anyway.

As far as temperament — and we all know that — as far as temperament, I think I have a great temperament. I built a phenomenal business with incredible, iconic assets, one of the really truly great real-estate businesses.

And I may be an entertainer, because I’ve had tremendous success with number-one bestsellers all over the place, with “The Apprentice” and everything else I’ve done.

But I will tell you this: What I am far and away greater than an entertainer is a businessman, and that’s the kind of mindset this country needs to bring it back, because we owe $19 trillion right now, $19 trillion, and you need this kind of thinking to bring our country back.

And believe me, my temperament is very good, very calm. But we will be respected outside of this country. We are not respected now.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Mr. — Senator Paul, your name has been invoked.

PAUL: I kind of have to laugh when I think of, “Mmm, sounds like a non sequitur.” He was asked whether or not he would be capable and it would be in good hands to be in charge of the nuclear weapons, and all of a sudden, there’s a sideways attack at me.

I think that really goes to really the judgment. Do we want someone with that kind of character, that kind of careless language to be negotiating with Putin? Do we want someone like that to be negotiating with Iran? I think really there’s a sophomoric quality that is entertaining about Mr. Trump, but I am worried. I’m very concerned about him — having him in charge of the nuclear weapons, because I think his response, his — his visceral response to attack people on their appearance — short, tall, fat, ugly — my goodness, that happened in junior high. Are we not way above that? Would we not all be worried to have someone like that in charge of the nuclear arsenal?

TAPPER: Mr. Trump?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I never attacked him on his look, and believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter right there.

(LAUGHTER)

That I can tell you.

WALKER: But Jake, Jake, Jake, Jake…

TAPPER: I want to — I want to give Mr. Trump…

WALKER: But Jake, this — this is — this…

TAPPER: … Mr. Trump, I want to give you another chance — Mr. Trump, I want to give you a chance to respond to something that your rival to your left, Governor Bush, said.

Governor Bush told me last week when I read him the quote from Governor Jindal that he agrees you’re not a serious candidate.

Tell Governor Bush why you are a serious candidate and what your qualifications are to be commander-in-chief. TRUMP: I’ve actually been in politics all my life, although I’ve been on that side as opposed to this side. I’m now a politician for about three months. Obviously, I’m doing pretty well. I’m number one in every polls (sic) by a lot.

But the qualification is that I’ve dealt with people all over the world, been successful all over the world. Everything I’ve done virtually has been a tremendous success.

When markets changed, when things turned, I heard Governor Pataki, who, by the way, was a failed governor in New York, a very seriously failed — he wouldn’t be elected dog catcher right now. I heard what he had to say.

And I will tell you this: Atlantic City, I’ve made a tremendous amount of money in Atlantic City. I left seven years ago, I’ve gotten great credit for my timing, and that’s what I’m all about.

I’m a businessman, did really well, really well, and Jeb, what I want to do is put that ability into this country to make our country rich again. And I can do that, and I’m not sure that anybody else in the group will be able to do that.

TAPPER: Governor Bush, would you feel comfortable with Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear codes?

BUSH: I think the voters will make that determination.

But what I know to be true is that the next president of the United States is going to have to fix an extraordinary difficult situation. This administration, with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, has created insecurity the likes of which we never would’ve imagined. There’s not a place in the world where we’re better off today than six and a half years ago.

And that requires a steadiness. That requires an understanding of how the world works. That requires an understanding and appreciation of American leadership in the world.

You can’t just, you know, talk about this stuff and insult leaders around the world and expect a good result. You have to do this with a steady hand, and I believe I have those skills.

WALKER Jake, this is — this is — this is…

TRUMP: But I have to say…

WALKER This is actually what’s wrong — this is what’s wrong with this debate. We’re not talking about real issues.

And Mr. Trump, we don’t need an apprentice in the White House.

(APPLAUSE)

We don’t need an apprentice in the White House. We have one right now. He told us all the things we wanted to hear back in 2008. We don’t know who you are or where you’re going. We need someone who can actually get the job done.

And you talked about business.

TRUMP: Well, in Wisconsin…

WALKER You — you — let me finish…

TRUMP: Excuse me.

WALKER No, no…

TRUMP: In Wisconsin, you’re losing $2.2 billion right now.

WALKER You’re using the talking…

TRUMP: I would do so much better than that.

WALKER Mr. Trump, you’re using the talking points of the Democrats…

TRUMP: No.

WALKER … and as we all know…

TRUMP: I’m using facts.

WALKER … that failed three times in four and a half years when I got elected, because it is working. We balanced a budget.

You want to talk about balanced budgets? You took four major projects into bankruptcy over and over and over again. You can’t take America into bankruptcy. That’s what’s wrong with the politicians in Washington right now. They think we can take a country into bankruptcy.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Every major business leader, has used the — I never went bank bankrupt, by the way, as you know, everybody knows. But — hundreds of companies, hundreds of deals, I used the law four times and made a tremendous thing. I’m in business. I did a very good job.

But I will say this, and people are very, very impressed with what I’ve done, the business people. But when the folks of Iowa found out the true facts of the job that you’ve done in Wisconsin, all of a sudden you, tubed (ph), he was No. 1 and now he’s No. 6 or seven in the polls.

So, look, we brought it out, you were supposed to make a billion dollars in the state. You lost 2.2 — you have right now, a huge budget deficit. That’s not a Democratic point. That’s a point. That’s a fact. And when the people of Iowa found that out, I went to No. 1 and you went down the tubes.

TAPPER: Governor Walker?

WALKER: Jake, yeah, absolutely, I’ll take this on, because this is an issue that’s important in this race.

Just because he says it doesn’t make it true. The facts are the facts.

(APPLAUSE)

We balanced a $3.6 billion budget deficit, we did it by cutting taxes — $4.7 billion to help working families, family farmers, small business owners and senior citizens. And it’s about time people in America stand up and take note of this.

If you want someone that can actually take on the special interest of Washington, which you yourself said you were part of, using the system, we need somebody that will stand up and fight for average Americans to put them back in charge of their government.

I’m the one who is taking that on. I’ll do that as your next president.

TAPPER: Let’s move on.

(APPLAUSE)

KASICH: Jake, Jake. TAPPER: A phenomenon going on in the race right now is the

political…

OK, Governor Kasich, go ahead.

KASICH: Listen, you know, I — if I were sitting at home and watch thing back and forth, I would be inclined to turn it off. I mean, people at home want to know across this country, they want to know what we’re going to do to fix this place, how we’ll balance a budget, how we’re going to create more economic growth, how we’ll pay down the debt. What we’re going to do to strengthen the military.

So, we just spent 10 minutes here…

TAPPER: We have a lot of issues coming up, sir.

KASICH: But — but wait a minute. It’s a lot of ad hogshead. Now, I know that it may be buzzing out there, but I think it’s important we get to the issues, because that’s what people want, and they don’t want all this fighting.

TAPPER: We are getting to the issues, sir.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Phenomenon going on in the race is the political outsiders in the race, Dr. Carson, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, all together, have majority support in the polls.

Governor Christie, I want to ask you about something that Dr. Carson said the other day.

Dr. Carson said campaigning is easier for him, because he’s not a politician. He can just tell the truth, therefore, while politicians, quote, “Have their finger in the air to see and do what is politically expedient.”

Governor Christie, tell Dr. Carson, is that a fair description of you?

CHRISTIE: Well, I know Ben wasn’t talking about me, I’m sure he was talking about one of the other guys, not me.

(LAUGHTER)

As far as being an outsider is concerned — as far as being an outsider is concerned, let me tell you this, Jake, I’m a Republican in New Jersey. I wake up every morning as an outsider. I wake up every morning with a Democratic legislature who trying to beat my head in and fight me because I’m trying to bring conservative change to a state that needed it desperately.

And so, everyone can talk us here about their credentials. But the bottom line is, every morning I get up, I veto 400 bills from a crazy liberal Democratic legislature, not one of them has been overridden. I’ve vetoed more tax increases than any governor in American history, according to Americans for Tax Reform. What folks want in this country is somebody to go down there and get the job done. And that’s exactly what I’ll do.

So, I know this much, that what the American people want to hire right now is somebody who believes in them. And believes that they are the ones who can fix our country. I will be the vessel through which they can fix this country, but it’s not about me.

It’s about all of you. And getting this government off your back and out of your way, and letting you succeed. I know Ben wasn’t talking about me.

TAPPER: Well, let’s find out. Thank you.

CHRISTIE: Look at him smiling at me right now. I know Ben didn’t mean it about me. One of these other guys, I’m sure.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor Christie.

Dr. Carson, who were you thinking about on this stage when you said that?

CHRISTIE: Be honest, Ben, be honest.

TAPPER: And more broadly, is experience in government not important for a president to have?

CARSON: Typically, politicians do things that are politically expedient. And they are looking for whatever their particular goal is.

That is not the reason that I have gotten into this thing. I’m extraordinary concerned about the direction of this country, the divisiveness that is going on, fiscal irresponsibility, the failure to take a leadership position in the world.

All of those things will lead to a situation where the next generation will not have a chance that we’ve had now. So I don’t — I don’t want to really get into describing who’s a politician and who’s not a politician, but I think the people have kind of made that decision for themselves already, and will continue to do so as time goes on.

TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson.

CHRISTIE: See, Jake, it wasn’t me.

(LAUGHTER)

FIORINA: Jake, I’ll tell you — I’ll tell you why people are supporting outsiders. It’s because you know what happens if someone’s been in the system their whole life, they don’t know how broken the system is. A fish swims in water, it doesn’t know it’s water. It’s not that politicians are bad people, it’s that they’ve been in that system forever.

The truth is 75 percent of the American people think the government is corrupt; 82 percent of the American people think these problems that have festered for 50 years in some cases, 25 years in other cases. The border’s been insecure for 25 years; 307,000 veterans have died waiting for health care. These things have gone on for so long because no one will challenge the status quo.

You know what a leader does? They challenge the status quo, they solve problems that have festered for a long time and they produce results. That is what my whole life has been about. People know this is about far more than replacing a D with an R —

TAPPER: Thank you.

FIORINA: — this is about changing the system.

TAPPER: Thank you. Thank you Ms. Fiorina.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Bush, in addition to the fact that he’s an outsider, one of the reasons Mr. Trump is a frontrunner, Republican voters say, is because they like the fact that he is not bought and paid for by wealthy donors. Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that the $100 million you’ve raised for your campaign makes you a puppet for your donors. Are you?

BUSH: No. Absolutely not. People are supporting me because I have a proven record of conservative leadership where I cut taxes $19 billion over eight years. We shrunk the state government workforce, we created a climate that led the nation in job growth seven out of eight years. We were one of two states to go to AAA bond rating. People know that we need principle-centered leadership, a disrupter to go to Washington, D.C. The one guy that had some special interests that I know of that tried to get me to change my views on something — that was generous and gave me money — was Donald Trump. He wanted casino gambling in Florida —

TRUMP: I didn’t —

BUSH: Yes you did.

TRUMP: Totally false.

BUSH: You wanted it and you didn’t get it because I was opposed to —

TRUMP: I would have gotten it.

BUSH: — casino gambling before —

TRUMP: I promise I would have gotten it.

BUSH: during and after. And that’s not — I’m not going to be bought by anybody.

TRUMP: I promise if I wanted it, I would have gotten it.

BUSH: No way. Believe me. TRUMP: I know my people.

BUSH: Not even possible.

TRUMP: I know my people.

TAPPER: Is there anything else you want to say about this?

TRUMP: No. I just will tell you that, you know, Jeb made the statement. I’m not only referring to him. I — a lot of money was raised by a lot of different people that are standing up here. And the donors, the special interests, the lobbyists have very strong power over these people.

I’m spending all of my money, I’m not spending — I’m not getting any — I turned down — I turn down so much, I could have right now from special interests and donors, I could have double and triple what he’s got. I’ve turned it down. I turned down last week $5 million from somebody.

So I will tell you I understand the game, I’ve been on the other side all of my life. And they have a lot of control over our politicians. And I don’t say that favorably, and I’m not sure if there’s another system, but I say this. I am not accepting any money from anybody. Nobody has control of me other than the people of this country. I’m going to do the right thing.

TAPPER: Governor — BUSH: You’ve got, according to your — to what you said on one of the talk shows, you got Hillary Clinton to go to your wedding —

TRUMP: That’s true. That’s true.

BUSH: — because you gave her money. Maybe it works for Hillary Clinton —

TRUMP: I was — excuse me, Jeb.

BUSH: — it doesn’t work for anybody on this — on stage.

TRUMP: I was a businessman, I got along with Clinton, I got along with everybody. That was my job, to get along with people.

BUSH: But the simple fact is —

TRUMP: I didn’t want to — excuse me. One second.

BUSH: No. The simple fact is, Donald, you could not take —

TRUMP: OK, more energy tonight. I like that.

(LAUGHTER)

Look —

BUSH: I was asked the question. TRUMP: I didn’t want — it was my obligation as a businessman to my family, to my company, to my employees, to get along with all politicians. I get along with all of them, and I did a damn good job in doing it. Go ahead.

BUSH: So he supports Pelosi, he supports Schumer, he supports Clinton —

TRUMP: Got along with everybody.

BUSH: When he — and he — when he asked — when he asked Florida to have casino gambling, we said no.

TRUMP: Wrong.

BUSH: We said no. And that’s the simple fact. The simple fact is —

TRUMP: Don’t make things up. Jeb, don’t make things up. Come on.

BUSH: Don’t cut me off.

TRUMP: Don’t make things up.

CARSON: Jake, can I say something about that?

TAPPER: Sure Dr. Carson.

CARSON: You know, when I entered this race, all the political pundits said it’s impossible; you can’t do it because you’re not connected with the money. And there’s no way that you can raise what you need in order to compete successfully.

I in no way am willing to get in the bed with special interest group or lick the boots of billionaires. I have said to the people if they want me to do this, please get involved. And we now have over 500,000 donations, and the money is coming in.

But the pundits forgot about one thing, and that is the people. And they are really in charge.

TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson. Let’s move to Russia if we could.

Russia is sending troops and tanks into Syria right now to prop up a U.S. enemy, Bashar al-Assad. President Obama’s incoming top general says, quote, “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.”

Mr. Trump, you say you can do business with President Vladimir Putin, you say you will get along, quote, “very well.” What would you do right now if you were president, to get the Russians out of Syria?

TRUMP: So, number one, they have to respect you. He has absolutely no respect for President Obama. Zero.

Syria’s a mess. You look at what’s going on with ISIS in there, now think of this: we’re fighting ISIS. ISIS wants to fight Syria. Why are we fighting ISIS in Syria? Let them fight each other and pick up the remnants.

I would talk to him. I would get along with him. I believe — and I may be wrong, in which case I’d probably have to take a different path, but I would get along with a lot of the world leaders that this country is not getting along with.

We don’t get along with China. We don’t get along with the heads of Mexico. We don’t get along with anybody, and yet, at the same time, they rip us left and right. They take advantage of us economically and every other way. We get along with nobody.

I will get along — I think — with Putin, and I will get along with others, and we will have a much more stable — stable world.

TAPPER: So, you — just to clarify, the only answer I heard to the question I asked is that you would — you would reach out to Vladimir Putin, and you would do what? You would…

TRUMP: I believe that I will get along — we will do — between that, Ukraine, all of the other problems, we won’t have the kind of problems that our country has right now with Russia and many other nations. TAPPER: Senator Rubio, you’ve taken a very different approach to the — the question of Russia. You’ve called Vladimir Putin a, quote, “gangster.”

Why would President Rubio’s approach be more effective than President Trump’s?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, I have an understanding of exactly what it is Russia and Putin are doing, and it’s pretty straightforward. He wants to reposition Russia, once again, as a geopolitical force.

He himself said that the destruction of the Soviet Union — the fall of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, and now he’s trying to reverse that.

He’s trying to destroy NATO. And this is what this is a part of. He is exploiting a vacuum that this administration has left in the Middle East.

Here’s what you’re going to see in the next few weeks: the Russians will begin to fly — fly combat missions in that region, not just targeting ISIS, but in order to prop up Assad.

He will also, then, turn to other countries in the region and say, “America is no longer a reliable ally, Egypt. America is no longer a reliable ally, Saudi Arabia. Begin to rely on us.”

What he is doing is he is trying to replace us as the single most important power broker in the Middle East, and this president is allowing it. That is what is happening in the Middle East. That’s what’s happening with Russia, and…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Rubio.

(CROSSTALK) TAPPER: I want to bring in Carly Fiorina.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: Having…

TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina, you have met…

FIORINA: Having met Vladimir Putin, if I may…

TAPPER: …yeah, you’ve met Vladimir Putin. Yes.

FIORINA: Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all. We’ve talked way too much to him.

What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message. By the way, the reason it is so critically important that every one of us know General Suleimani’s name is because Russia is in Syria right now, because the head of the Quds force traveled to Russia and talked Vladimir Putin into aligning themselves with Iran and Syria to prop up Bashar al- Assad.

Russia is a bad actor, but Vladimir Putin is someone we should not talk to, because the only way he will stop is to sense strength and resolve on the other side, and we have all of that within our control.

We could rebuild the Sixth Fleet. I will. We haven’t. We could rebuild the missile defense program. We haven’t. I will. We could also, to Senator Rubio’s point, give the Egyptians what they’ve asked for, which is intelligence.

We could give the Jordanians what they’ve asked for…

TAPPER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

FIORINA: …bombs and material. We have not supplied it…

TAPPER: Thank you.

FIORINA: …I will. We could arm the Kurds. They’ve been asking us for three years. All of this is within our control.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you. Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

While you’re — while you brought up the subject of General Suleimani of the Quds forces from Iran, the next president, no matter who he or she may be, will inherit President Obama’s Iran deal.

Senator Cruz, Governor Kasich says that anyone who is promising to rip up the Iran deal on day one, as you have promised to do, is, quote, “inexperienced,” and, quote, “playing to a crowd.” Respond to Governor Kasich, please.

CRUZ: Well, let me tell you, Jake, the single biggest national security threat facing America right now is the threat of a nuclear Iran. We’ve seen six and a half years of President Obama leading from behind. Weakness is provocative, and this Iranian nuclear deal is nothing short of catastrophic.

This deal, on its face, will send over $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khamenei, making the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.

This deal abandons four American hostages in Iran, and this deal will only accelerate Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons. You’d better believe it. If I am elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Why is that not, as Governor Kasich says, playing to the crowd and an example of you being inexperienced?

CRUZ: Well, let’s be clear when it comes to experience. What President Obama wants to do is he’s run to the United Nations, and he wants to use the United Nations to bind the United States, and take away our sovereignty. Well, I spent five and a half years as a Solicitor General of Texas, the lead lawyer for the state, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and I went in front of the Supreme Court, and took on the world court of the United Nations in a case called Medellin v. Texas, and we won a historic victory saying the World Court, and the U.N., has no power to bind the United States, and no President of the United States, Republican or Democrat, has the authority to give away our sovereignty.

And, so, if there’s anyone up here who would be bound by this catastrophic deal with Iran, they’re giving up the core responsibility of commander in chief, and as president, I would never do that.

TAPPER: Governor Kasich…

KASICH: …Yeah, well…

TAPPER: …Did Senator Cruz just play to the crowd?

KASICH: Well, let me just say this. First of all, I think it’s a bad agreement, I would never have done it. But, you know, a lot of our problems in the world today is that we don’t have the relationship with our allies. If we want to go everywhere alone, we will not have the strength as (ph) if we could rebuild with our allies.

Now, this agreement, we don’t know what’s going to happen in 18 months. I served on the Defense Committee for 18 years. I’ve seen lots of issues in foreign affairs, and foreign — in terms of global politics, you have to be steady.

Now, here’s the — if they cheat, we slap the sanctions back on. If they help Hamas, and Hezbollah, we slap the sanctions back on. And, if we find out that they may be developing a nuclear weapon, than the military option is on the table. We are stronger when we work with the Western civilization, our friends in Europe, and just doing it on our own I don’t think is the right policy.

TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor. I want to go to Senator Paul.

TRUMP(?): …Slow (ph) and steady, (inaudible) chicken…

TAPPER: I want to go to Senator Paul. Senator Paul, the White House is rolling out the red carpet next week for the President of China, President Xi. Governor Walker says that President Obama should cancel the state dinner because of China’s currency manipulation, and because of China’s alleged cyber attacks against the United States.

Is Governor Walker right?

PAUL: I think this goes back to essentially what we’ve been saying for the last two or three questions. Carly Fiorina also said we’re not going to talk with Putin. Well, think if Reagan had said that during the Cold War? We continued to talk with the Russians throughout the Cold War which is much more significant that where we are now.

Should we continue to talk with Iran? Yes. Should we cut up the agreement immediately? That’s absurd. Wouldn’t you want to know if they complied? Now, I’m going to vote against the agreement because I don’t think there’s significant leverage, but it doesn’t mean that I would immediately not look at the agreement, and cut it up without looking to see if whether or not Iran has complied.

The same goes with China. I don’t think we need to be rash, I don’t think we need to be reckless, and I think need to leave lines of communication open. Often we talk about whether we should be engaged in the world, or disengaged in the world, and I think this is an example of some who want to isolate us, actually, and not be engaged.

We do need to be engaged with Russia. It doesn’t mean we give them a free pass, or China a free pass, but, to be engaged, to continue to talk. We did throughout the Cold War, and it would be a big mistake not to do it here.

TAPPER: Governor Walker, Senator Paul seemed to suggest…

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: …that canceling the state dinner would be rash, and reckless.

WALKER: Two parts to that, one on China, one back for a second on Iran.

When it comes to China, why would we be giving an official state visit to a country that’s been involved in a massive cyber attack against the United States? That’s not just a visit, that’s a 21 gun salute on the South Lawn of the White House. It just doesn’t make any sense. If we’re ever going to send a message to them, wouldn’t this be the time, when they’ve issued this, sort of, massive attack against us? And, Jake, for the question, I was one of the first ones to call for terminating the bad deal with Iran on day one. The President came after me and said I need to bone up. You know, the President who called ISIS the JV squad said I needed to bone up.

The reality is it’s a bad deal on day one, and it’s a bad deal because this president has allowed Iran to go closer, and closer.

I’d love to play cards with this guy because Barack Obama folds on everything with Iran. We need a leader who’s going to stand up, and actually (INAUDIBLE)…

FIORINA: …Jake…

TAPPER: …Governor Bush…

CRUZ(?): …Jake…

TAPPER: Governor Bush, your father was the chief diplomatic envoy to China back when Nixon opened relations to China. Is Scott Walker’s approach the right one, canceling the state dinner?

BUSH: No, I don’t think so, but we need to be strong against China. We should use offensive tactics as it relates to cyber security, send a deterrent signal to China. There should be super sanctions in what President Obama has proposed. There’s many other tools that we have without canceling a dinner. That’s not going to change anything, but we can be much stronger as it relates to that.

As it relates to Iran, it’s not a strategy to tear up an agreement. A strategy would be how do we confront Iran? And, the first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel which has been altered by this administration. And, make sure that they have the most sophisticated weapons to send a signal to Iran that we have Israel’s back.

If we do that, it’s going to create a healthier deterrent effect than anything else I can think of.

TAPPER: I want to turn…

FIORINA: …Jake, (INAUDIBLE)…

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: …I want to turn to Governor Huckabee who has been very patient. Somebody had to be 11th, and he is, but, I do want to change the subject to the event that you had…

HUCKABEE: I would certainly love to get in on this, because I think the single…

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: … however you want, but I want to ask this question.

HUCKABEE: I’ve been patiently waiting, and I’m going to just say this about Iran.

TAPPER: All right, sir, go ahead.

HUCKABEE: Because I think it is incredibly important. This is really about the survival of Western civilization. This is not just a little conflict with a Middle Eastern country that we’ve just now given over $100 billion to, the equivalent in U.S. terms is $5 trillion.

This threatens Israel immediately, this threatens the entire Middle East, but it threatens the United States of America. And we can’t treat a nuclear Iranian government as if it is just some government that would like to have power. This is a government for 36 years has killed Americans, they kidnapped Americans, they have maimed Americans. They have sponsored terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, and they threaten the very essence of Western civilization.

To give them this agreement, that the president treats like the Magna Carta, but Iranians treat it like it’s toilet paper, and we must, simply, make it very clear that the next president, one of us on this stage, will absolutely not honor that agreement, and will destroy it and will be tough with Iran, because otherwise, we put every person in this world in a very dangerous place.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: OK.

(UNKNOWN): Jake, I’d like to…

TAPPER: We’re going to turn now to Hugh Hewitt, from Salem Radio Network.

HUGH HEWITT, RADIO HOST: Thank you, Jake.

Mr. Trump, two years ago, President Obama drew a red line that the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad crossed, President Obama threatened to strike. He did not, his knees buckled.

We now have 4 million refugees, Syria is a living hell, and he turned to the Congress for the authority to back him up. You have three senators to your right that said, no. Do they bear responsibility for this refugee crisis, and what would you have done when Bashar Assad crossed the line?

TRUMP: I wouldn’t have drawn the line, but once he drew it, he had no choice but to go across. They do bear some responsibility, but I think he probably didn’t do it, not for that reason.

Somehow, he just doesn’t have courage. There is something missing from our president. Had he crossed the line and really gone in with force, done something to Assad — if he had gone in with tremendous force, you wouldn’t have millions of people displaced all over the world.

HEWITT: How much responsibility, Mr. Trump, do the senators hold?

TRUMP: They had a responsibility, absolutely. I think we have three of them here…

HEWITT: Senator Rubio…

TRUMP: I think they had a responsibility, yes.

RUBIO: Let me tell you — I will tell you we have zero responsibility, because let’s remember what the president said. He said the attack he would conduct would be a pinprick. Well, the United States military was not build to conduct pinprick attacks.

If the United States military is going to be engaged by a commander- in-chief, it should only be engaged in an endeavor to win. And we’re not going to authorize use of force if you’re not put in a position where they can win.

And quite frankly, people don’t trust this president as commander-in- chief because of that.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Senator Paul? PAUL: I think this gets to the point of wisdom on when to intervene and when we shouldn’t. Had we bombed Assad at the time, like President Obama wanted, and like Hillary Clinton wanted and many Republicans wanted, I think ISIS would be in Damascus today. I think ISIS would be in charge of Syria had we bombed Assad.

Sometimes both sides of the civil war are evil, and sometimes intervention sometimes makes us less safe. This is real the debate we have to have in the Middle East.

Every time we have toppled a secular dictator, we have gotten chaos, the rise of radical Islam, and we’re more at risk. So, I think we need to think before we act, and know most interventions, if not a lot of them in the Middle East, have actually backfired on us.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to turn now to my colleague Dana Bash.

RUBIO: Hold on, a second, Jake, he asked me, as well. I’d like to actually…

TAPPER: That would be fair, you’re right. You’re the third senator.

RUBIO: … respond. I think I’m the first senator.

(LAUGHTER)

The No. 1 test for use of military force should be the vital national security interest of the United States. The reason why I opposed President Obama bombing Syria, is because he couldn’t answer the question what do you do if chemical weapons end up in the hands of radical Islamic terrorists like al-Nusra, like Al Qaida, like ISIS?

Now, I also want to respond to several folks up here who said we should trust this Iranian deal, see if the Iranians will comply.

Anyone who is paying attention to what Khamenei says knows that they will not comply. There is a reason Khamenei refers to Israel as the little Satan, and America as the great Satan.

In the middle of negotiating this treaty, Khamenei led the assembled masses in chanting, death to America. I’m reminded of a great editorial cartoon. It shows the Ayatollah Khamenei saying, “Death to all Americans,” and then it shows John Kerry coming back, saying, “Can we meet ya half way?”

(LAUGHTER)

We need a commander-in-chief who will stand up and protect this country. And I’ll tell you, I can’t wait to stand on that debate stage with Hillary Clinton and to make abundantly clear if you vote for Hillary, you are voting for the Ayatollah Khomeini to possess a nuclear weapon and if you elect me as president, under no circumstances will a theocratic ayatollah who chants death to America ever be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We’re going to go to Dana Bash…

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: No, no, no. I want to — I want to — I want to say something about what the senator just said.

FIORINA: And then it’ll be my turn.

KASICH: No one is — no — let me — let me suggest to you we believe that we operate better in the world when our allies work with us. President Bush did it in the Gulf War. We work better when we are unified.

Secondly, nobody’s trusting Iran. They violate the deal, we put on the sanctions, and we have the high moral ground to talk to our allies in Europe to get them to go with us.

If they don’t go with us, we slap the sanctions on anyway. If they fund these radical groups that threaten Israel and all of the West, then we should rip up the deal and put the sanctions back on.

And let me make it clear — let me make it clear…

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: … if we think — if we think they’re getting close to a — to developing a nuclear weapon and we get that information, you better believe that I would do everything in my power as the commander-in- chief to stop them having a nuclear weapon.

CRUZ: Jake, Jake… KASICH: We can have it, and we can have our allies, and we can be strong as a country, and we can project across this globe with unity, not just doing it alone. That is not what gets us where we want to get as a nation.

TAPPER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Jake, there is no more important topic in 2016 than this topic right here, and I’ve listened to several folks saying, “Well, gosh, if they cheat, we’ll act.”

We won’t know under this agreement — there are several facilities in Iran they designate as military facilities that are off limit all together. Beyond that, the other facilities, we give them 24 days notice before inspecting them. That is designed to allow them to hide the evidence.

And most astonishingly, this agreement trusts the Iranians to inspect themselves. That makes no sense whatsoever.

And let me know — President Obama is violating federal law…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: … by not handing over the side deals, and we ought to see the United States Congress…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: … stand up together and say, “Hand over this treaty, and protect this country.”

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. I want to…

FIORINA: Jake?

TAPPER: … turn back to Governor Huckabee…

FIORINA: Jake?

TAPPER: I want to turn back to Governor Huckabee.

Governor Huckabee, last week, you held a rally for a county clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as I don’t need to tell you.

You’ve called what happened to Kim Davis, that clerk, “an example of the criminalization of Christianity.” There are several people on the stage who disagree with you.

Governor Bush, for example, says that that clerk is sworn to uphold the law. Is Governor Bush on the wrong side of the criminalization of Christianity?

HUCKABEE: No, I don’t think he’s on the wrong side of such an issue. Jeb is a friend. I’m not up here to fight with Jeb or to fight with anybody else.

But I am here to fight for somebody who is a county clerk elected under the Kentucky constitution that 75 percent of the people of that state had voted for that said that marriage was between a man and a woman.

The Supreme Court in a very, very divided decision decided out of thin air that they were just going to redefine marriage. It’s a decision that the other justices in dissent said they didn’t have and there wasn’t a constitutional shred of capacity for them to do it.

I thought that everybody here passed ninth-grade civics. The courts cannot legislate. That’s what Roberts said. But heck, it’s what we learned in civics.

The courts can’t make a law. They can interpret one. They can review one. They can’t implement it. They can’t force it.

But here’s what happened: Because the courts just decided that something was going to be and people relinquished it and the other two branches of government sat by silently — I thought we had three branches of government, they were all equal to each other, we have separation of powers, and we have checks and balances.

If the court can just make a decision and we just all surrender to it, we have what Jefferson said was judicial tyranny.

The reason that this is a real issue that we need to think about…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

HUCKABEE: No, no. Let me finish this one thought, Jake. I haven’t gotten that much time, so I’m going to take just what little I can here.

We made accommodation to the Fort Hood shooter to let him grow a beard. We made accommodations to the detainees at Gitmo — I’ve been to Gitmo, and I’ve seen the accommodations that we made to the Muslim detainees who killed Americans.

HUCKABEE: You’re telling me that you cannot make an accommodation for an elected Democrat county clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky? What else is it other than the criminalization of her faith and the exaltation of the faith of everyone else who might be a Fort Hood shooter or a detainee at Gitmo?

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Well, I’m not telling you that, Governor. But Governor Bush is, because he — because he disagrees. He thinks that Kim Davis swore to uphold the law.

You disagree? You’re not — you don’t…

BUSH: I don’t think — you’re not stating my views right.

TAPPER: OK. Please do.

BUSH: I think there needs to be accommodation for someone acting on faith. Religious conscience is — is — is a first freedom. It’s — it’s a powerful part of our — of our Bill of Rights.

And, in a big, tolerant country, we should respect the rule of law, allow people in — in — in this country — I’m a — I was opposed to the decision, but we — you can’t just say, “well, they — gays can’t get married now.”

But this woman, there should be some accommodation for her conscience, just as there should be for people that are florists that don’t want to participate in weddings, or bakers. A great country like us should find a way to have accommodations for people so that we can solve the problem in the right way. This should be solved at the local level…

TAPPER: You did…

BUSH: And so we do agree, Mike.

CHRISTIE: I was —

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Governor, you said, quote, “she is sworn to uphold the law.”

CHRISTIE: She is, and so if she, based on conscience, can’t sign that — that marriage license, then there should be someone in her office to be able to do it, and if the law needs to be changed in the state of Kentucky, which is what she’s advocating, it should be changed.

TAPPER: Let me go to my colleague Dana Bash, who has a question.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Governor Kasich, Senator Cruz is so committed to stripping federal funds from Planned Parenthood that it could result in shutting down the federal government in just about two weeks. Do you agree with Senator Cruz’s tactic?

KASICH: Well, I agree that we should defund Planned Parenthood. I don’t know many people in America who don’t think that we should, and in my state, we’re trying to figure out how to get it done, because we are threatened with the federal government taking all of our Medicaid money away.

I think there is a way to get this done by giving governors the ability to be able to act to defund Planned Parenthood. But when (ph) it comes to closing down the federal government, you gotta be very careful about that.

When we shut the government down — if we have a chance at success and it’s a great principle, yes. The president of the United States is not going to sign this, and all we’re gonna do is shut the government down, and then we’re gonna open up — open it up, and the American people are gonna shake their heads and say, “what’s the story with these Republicans?” So I think there is a way to get to cutting off the funding for

Planned Parenthood. I was in the Congress for 18 years, balanced the budget, cut taxes, got it done. Changed welfare, went around the president to get welfare reform done.

There are ways to do it without having to shut the government down, but I’m sympathetic to the fact that we don’t want this organization to get funding, and the money ought to be reprogrammed for family planning in other organizations that don’t support this tactic.

But I would not be for shutting the government down…

BASH: Thank you.

KASICH: …because I don’t think it’s going to work out.

BASH: Thank you.

Senator Cruz, I would just add that, on this stage not that long ago, Senator Graham said that this tactic that you’re pushing would tank the Republicans’ ability to win in 2016.

CRUZ: Well, let me tell you, Dana, number one, I’m proud to stand for life. These Planned Parenthood videos are horrifying. I would encourage every American to watch the videos. See — seeing your Planned Parenthood officials callously, heartlessly bartering and selling the body parts of human beings, and then ask yourself, “are these my values?”

These are horrifying. On these videos, Planned Parenthood also essentially confesses to multiple felonies. It is a felony with ten years’ jail term to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit. That’s what these videos show Planned Parenthood doing.

Absolutely we shouldn’t be sending $500 million of taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise, and I’ll tell you, the fact that Republican leadership in both houses has begun this discussion by preemptively surrendering to Barack Obama and saying, “we’ll give in because Obama threatens a veto.”

You know, Obama’s committed to his principles. His liberal principles, he will fight for them. He says…

BASH: Thank you, senator.

CRUZ: I will veto any budget that doesn’t fund Planned Parenthood, and Republicans surrender. We need to stop surrendering and start standing…

BASH: Thank you…

CRUZ: …for our principles.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK) BASH: Governor — governor, I want to go to you. Is it what Senator

Cruz says, a surrender by Republicans?

CHRISTIE: We’re not — what I can tell you is this. We didn’t surrender in New Jersey, six years ago, as the brand new first ever pro-life governor of New Jersey since Roe versus Wade, I defended Planned Parenthood.

And I’ve vetoed Planned Parenthood funding, now, eight times in New Jersey. Since the day I walked in as governor, Planned Parenthood has not been funded in New Jersey. We stood up and every one of those vetoes has been sustained.

But here’s the problem, we’re — we’re fighting with each other up here. We agree. Let’s ask Hillary Clinton. She believes in the systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts…

BASH: But…

CHRISTIE: …Dana, in a way that maximizes their value for sale for profit. It is disgusting, and the American people need to hear it…

BASH: But is it…

CHRISTIE: …we shouldn’t be fighting with each other. She’s the real opponent, she’s the real problem.

BASH: But, governor, the — but, governor, the reality is, in just two weeks’ time…

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: …we are going to be facing a question about whether or not it’s enough to shut down the government to make that statement, because there is still a Democrat in the White House. Do you oppose it or support it?

CHRISTIE: I’ll tell you what — I’ll tell you what I’d be willing to fight for. I’ll tell you what I’d be willing to fight for. Why will (ph) we put tax reform on the president’s desk, so we can simplify this tax system?

BASH: Yes or no, do you support this shutdown?

CHRISTIE: No, no, it’s really important, Dana. We got to talk about what we would be willing to shut down for. Why don’t we put tax reform on this president’s desk, and make him veto it if that’s what he wants to do? Why haven’t we repealed and replaced Obamacare?

Make him veto if that’s what he wants to do.

BASH: We’re talking about Planned Parenthood right now.

CHRISTIE: And why don’t we do the same thing with Planned Parenthood?

BASH: Can you answer yes or no?

CHRISTIE: We elected a Republican Congress to do this. And they should be doing it, and they’re not. And they’re giving the president a pass.

FIORINA: Dana, I’d like to…

BASH: One more time. I’m sorry, I just want to get the answer.

CHRISTIE: I put it in the list, Dana. We should be doing these things and forcing the president to take action.

BASH: So you would support a shutdown.

CHRISTIE: Let’s force him to do what he says he’s going to do. Now I don’t know whether he’ll do it or not, but let’s force him to do it.

FIORINA: Dana, I would like to link these two issues, both of which are incredibly important, Iran and Planned Parenthood.

One has something to do with the defense of the security of this nation. The other has something to do with the defense of the character of this nation. You have not heard a plan about Iran from any politician up here, here is my plan. On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel.

The second, to the supreme leader, to tell him that unless and until he opens every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime, anywhere inspections by our people, not his, we, the United States of America, will make it as difficult as possible and move money around the global financial system.

We can do that, we don’t need anyone’s cooperation to do it. And every ally and every adversary we have in this world will know that the United States in America is back in the leadership business, which is how we must stand with our allies.

As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Dana, I want to continue on the subject.

Governor Bush, you recently said while discussing Planned Parenthood, quote, you’re “not sure we need a half billion for women’s health issues.” Now you’ve since said that you misspoke, you didn’t mean to say “women’s health issues.”

But Donald Trump said that quote, that comment, which Hillary Clinton did seize upon immediately, will haunt you the same way Mitt Romney’s 47 percent video haunted him.

Tell Donald Trump why he’s wrong.

BUSH: Well, he’s wrong on a lot of things, but on this he’s wrong because I’m the most pro-life governor on this stage. I got to act on my core beliefs. It’s part of who I am. Life is a gift from God. And from beginning end we need to respect it and err on the side of life.

And so I defunded Planned Parenthood. We created a climate where parental notification took place. We were the only state to fund crisis pregnancy centers with state moneys. We were totally focused on this. And I would bring that kind of philosophy to Washington, D.C.

So here is a solution to this. Title X of the HHS funding, there is something that was the “Reagan Rule.” It was passed in 1988. And in that rule it was defined, and the courts approved this, that a Planned Parenthood, you couldn’t separate the money between the actual abortion procedures, and there are 330,000 abortions that take place in this clinic, and their promotion of it.

He interpreted it the right way, the courts ruled in his favor, and Planned Parenthood did not get funding during that time until President Clinton came in.

When I’m elected president, we will restore that interpretation of Title X. And this deal will be finished.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor Bush.

Donald Trump, let me just…

TRUMP: Jeb, just…

TAPPER: The quote was, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” He said he misspoke. You said that that’s going to haunt him. Why do you think that?

TRUMP: I think it will haunt him. I think it’s a terrible. I think it’s going to haunt him absolutely. He came back later and he said he misspoke. There was no question because I heard when he said the statement. I was watching and he said the statement.

And I said, wow, I can’t believe it. I will take care of women. I respect women. I will take care of women.

One thing we will say and I would like to get back to the Iran situation. We’re talking about Iran. The agreement was terrible. It was incompetent. I’ve never seen anything like it. One of the worst contracts of any kind I’ve ever seen.

And nobody ever mentions North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons and somebody better start thinking about North Korea and perhaps a couple of other places. But certainly North Korea.

And Ted and I have spoken. We’ve — a lot of us have spoken. We’re talking about Iran. They are bad actors, bad things are going to happen. But in the meantime, you have somebody right now in North Korea who has got nuclear weapons and who is saying almost every other week, I’m ready to use them. And we don’t even mention it.

TAPPER: Governor Bush?

BUSH: There are 13,000 community-based organizations that provide health services to women, 13,000 in this country. I don’t believe that Planned Parenthood should get a penny from the federal government. Those organizations should get funding, just as I increased funding when I was governor of the state.

That’s the way you do this is you improve the condition for people. And, Donald, when I was governor, we also increased the opportunities for women.

Women’s income grew three times faster than the national average when I was governor.

TRUMP: So why didn’t you say it? Why didn’t you say it?

BUSH: We improved — we improved —

TRUMP: I know, but why did you say it? I heard it myself. Why did you say it?

BUSH: — we increased child support — we increased child support with a broken system by 90 percent.

TRUMP: You said you’re going to cut funding for women’s health. You said it.

BUSH: I have a proven record. I have a proven record.

TRUMP: You said it.

TAPPER: I want to — we’re going to get to —

WALKER: Jake, just one more moment. This is — there’s something bigger to this. Now, I — like so many other governors here, I defunded Planned Parenthood four-and-a-half years ago, in a Blue State. But it’s bigger than that. We did that in a Blue State, we took the money and put it into women’s health, so we did exactly what we’re talking about here.

But I think the bigger issue here is we should be able to do this nationally, and this is precisely why so many Republicans are upset with Washington. They see the House and they see the Senate and they say why can’t we pass this. Why can’t we defund Planned — put it in a spending bill.

Forget about the 60-vote rule, there’s no reason — and the Constitution doesn’t call for 60 votes. Pass it with 51 votes, put it on the desk of the president —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

WALKER: — and go forward and actually make a point. This is why —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

WALKER: — people are upset with Washington.

TAPPER: We’re going to — we’re going to get to many of these issues. This — we’re still in the first block, believe it or not. We’re going to get to many of these issues, but before we end this block, Ms. Fiorina, I do want to ask you about this.

In an interview last week in Rolling Stone magazine, Donald Trump said the following about you. Quote, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Mr. Trump later said he was talking about your persona, not your appearance. Please feel free to respond what you think about his persona.

(LAUGHTER)

FIORINA: You know, it’s interesting to me, Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I think she’s got a beautiful face, and I think she’s a beautiful woman.

TAPPER: All right. On that note, in less than two minutes — we’re going to take a very quick break. In less than two minutes, the most contentious issue on the campaign trail. And the candidates on the stage are split over how to handle it. That’s coming up next.

Please give some applause to the candidates.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome to CNN’s Republican Presidential Debate. No topic perhaps has been more combustible in this campaign than the issue of immigration.

Mr. Trump, you have called for deporting every undocumented immigrant, Governor Christie has said, quote, “There are not enough law enforcement officers — local, county, state and federal combined — to forcibly deport 11 to 12 million people.”

Tell Governor Christie how much your plan will cost, and how you will get it done.

TRUMP: Correct. First of all, I want to build a wall, a wall that works. So important, and it’s a big part of it.

Second of all, we have a lot of really bad dudes in this country from outside, and I think Chris knows that, maybe as well as anybody.

They go, if I get elected, first day they’re gone. Gangs all over the place. Chicago, Baltimore, no matter where you look.

We have a country based on laws. I will make sure that those laws are adhered to. These are illegal immigrants. I don’t think you’d even be asking this question if I didn’t run because when I ran, and I brought this up, my opening remarks at Trump Tower, I took heat like nobody has taken heat in a long time. And, then they found out with the killing of Katie, from San Francisco, and so many other crimes, they found out that I was right.

And, most people, many people, apologized to me. I don’t think you’d even be talking about illegal immigration if it weren’t for me. So, we have a country of laws, they’re going to go out, and they’ll come back if they deserve to come back. If they’ve had a bad record, if they’ve been arrested, if they’ve been in jail, they’re never coming back. We’re going to have a country again. Right now, we don’t have a country, we don’t have a border, and we’re going to do something about it, and it can be done with proper management, and it can be done with heart.

TAPPER: Governor Christie, you and I have talked about this in an interview. You say that his big wall, his plan to deport 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants, it sounds great, but it’s never going to happen.

Tell him why you’re skeptical of his plans?

CHRISTIE: First of, Jake, I don’t yield to anybody on how to enforce the law. I’m the only person on this stage who spent seven years as a United States Attorney after September 11th, and I know how to do this.

The fact is though that for 15,000 people a day to be deported every day for two years is an undertaking that almost none of us could accomplish given the current levels of funding, and the current number of law enforcement officers. Here’s what we need to do, and I think this is where Donald is absolutely right. What we need to do is to secure our border, and we need to do it with more than just a wall.

We need to use electronics, we need to use drones, we need to use FBI, DEA, and ATF, and yes, we need to take the fingerprint of every person who comes into this country on a visa, and when they overstay their visa, we need to tap them on the shoulder, and say, “You have overstayed your welcome, you’re taking advantage of the American people. It’s time for you to go.”

If we had that kind of system in place, we wouldn’t have the 11 million people we have now.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor Christie… TRUMP: …By the way, I agree with — with what Chris is saying, but, I will say this. Illegal immigration is costing us more than $200 billion dollars a year just to maintain what we have.

TAPPER: I want to bring in Dr. Carson because he too has been skeptical of your plan to immediately deport 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants. He said, quote, “People who say that have no idea what this entails.”

Why do you say that, Dr. Carson?

CARSON: Well, first of all, I recognize that we have an incredible illegal immigration problem. I was down in Arizona a few weeks ago at the border. I mean, the fences that were there were not manned, and those are the kind of fences when I was a kid that would barely slow us down. So, I don’t see any purpose in having that.

Now, what we need to do is look at something that actually works. Yuma County, Arizona. They stop 97 percent of the illegal immigrants through there. They put in a double fence with a road so that there was quick access by the enforcement people.

If we don’t seal the border, the rest of this stuff clearly doesn’t matter. It’s kind of ridiculous all the other things we talk about. We have the ability to do it, we don’t have the will to do it.

There was one area where they had cut a hole in the fence, and to repair it, they put a few strands of barb wire across. Well, the photographers who were there with us, they wanted to photograph us from the side of the Mexicans, and they went through there, and they were not physically fit people, and they took their cameras and things with them, and shot us from the other side.

That’s how easy it is to get across. And, the drugs, I mean, it goes on, and on, and on. ICE tells them to release these people, 67,000 criminals released…

TAPPER: …Dr. Carson…

CARSON: …on to our property, it’s ridiculous.

TAPPER: With all due respect, you said about Donald Trump’s plan to deport 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants, “People who say that have no idea what this entails.”

Why not?

CARSON: Well, I have also said, if anybody knows how to do that, that I would be willing to listen. And, if they can, you know, specify exactly how that’s going to be done, and what the cost, and it sounds reasonable, then I think it’s worth discussing…

TRUMP(?): …(INAUDIBLE)…

TAPPER: …let’s continue the conversation about illegal immigration with Dana Bash.

BASH: Governor Bush, Mr. Trump has suggested that your views on immigration are influenced by your Mexican born wife. He said that, quote, “If my wife were from Mexico, I think I would have a soft spot for people from Mexico.” Did Mr. Trump go to far in invoking your wife?

BUSH: He did, he did. You’re proud of your family, just as I am.

TRUMP: Correct.

BUSH: To subject my wife into the middle of a raucous political conversation was completely inappropriate, and I hope you apologize for that, Donald.

TRUMP: Well, I have to tell you, I hear phenomenal things. I hear your wife is a lovely woman…

BUSH: She is. She’s fantastic.

TRUMP: I don’t know her, and this is a total mischaracterization…

BUSH: She is absolutely the love of my life, and she’s right here…

TRUMP: Good.

BUSH: And why don’t you apologize to her right now.

TRUMP: No, I won’t do that, because I’ve said nothing wrong.

BUSH: Yeah.

TRUMP: But I do hear she’s a lovely woman.

BUSH: So, here’s the deal. My wife is a Mexican-American. She’s an American by choice.

She loves this country as much as anybody in this room, and she wants a secure border. But she wants to embrace the traditional American values that make us special and make us unique.

We’re at a crossroads right now. Are we going to take the Reagan approach, the hopeful optimistic approach, the approach that says that, you come to our country legally, you pursue your dreams with a vengeance, you create opportunities for all of us?

Or the Donald Trump approach? The approach that says that everything is bad, that everything is coming to an end. I…

BASH: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Jeb said…

BUSH: I’m on the Reagan side of this.

TRUMP: … that they come into our country as an act of love. With all of the problems we that we have, in so many instances — we have wonderful people coming in. But with all of the problems — this is not an act of love. He’s weak on immigration — by the way, in favor of Common Core, which is also a disaster, but weak on immigration.

He doesn’t get my vote.

BASH: Mr. Trump…

FIORINA: Dana, with all being said to Mr. Trump…

BASH: Go ahead.

FIORINA: Immigration did not come up in 2016 because Mr. Trump brought it up. We talked about it in 2012, we talked about it in 2008. We talked about it in 2004.

TRUMP: Not with this intensity.

FIORINA: We have been talking about it for 25 years. This is why people are tired of politicians.

BASH: Ms. Fiorina — Ms. Fiorina, we’re going to come to you, we’re going to come to you.

I just want to give Governor Bush a chance to respond to what Mr. Trump said. BUSH: Look, first of all, I wrote a book about this, three — four years ago, now. And I laid out a comprehensive, conservative approach for immigration reform.

And it does require securing the border. No one disagrees with that. But to build a wall, and to deport people — half a million a month — would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, Donald. Hundreds of billions of dollars. It would destroy community life, it would tear families apart.

And it would send a signal to the rest of the world that the United States values that are so important for our long-term success no longer matter in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: As I said, we are spending $200 billion — we are spending $200 billion a year on maintaining what we have. We will move them out. The great ones will come back, the good ones will come back.

They’ll be expedited, they’ll be back, they’ll come back legally. We’ll have a country — they’ll come back, legally.

BASH: OK, on that note, you have criticized Governor Bush for speaking Spanish on the campaign trail. You said, quote, “He should really set an example by speaking English in the United States.”

What’s wrong with speaking Spanish?

TRUMP: Well, I think it’s wonderful and all, but I did it a little bit half-heartedly, but I do mean it to a large extent.

We have a country, where, to assimilate, you have to speak English. And I think that where he was, and the way it came out didn’t sound right to me. We have to have assimilation — to have a country, we have to have assimilation.

I’m not the first one to say this, Dana. We’ve had many people over the years, for many, many years, saying the same thing. This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Well, I’ve been speaking English here tonight, and I’ll keep speaking English.

But the simple fact is, if a high school kid asks me a question in Spanish, a school — by the way, a voucher program that was created under my watch, the largest voucher program in the country, where kids can go to a Christian school, and they ask me a question in Spanish, I’m going to show respect and answer that question in Spanish.

Even though they do speak English, and even though they embrace American values.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: This is a reporter, not a high school kid.

RUBIO: Ms. Dana, I agree that English is the unifying language of our country, and everyone should learn to speak it. It’s important.

I want to tell you a story about someone that didn’t speak English that well. It was my grandfather; he came to this country in the 1960s, as a — escaping Cuba. And he lived with us, growing up.

And my grandfather loved America. He understood what was so special about this country. He loved Ronald Reagan; he would be very proud of the fact that we’re here this evening.

My grandfather instilled in me the belief that I was blessed to live in the one society in all of human history where even I, the son of a bartender and a maid, could aspire to have anything, and be anything that I was willing to work hard to achieve.

But he taught me that in Spanish, because it was the language he was most comfortable in. And he became a conservative, even though he got his news in Spanish.

And so, I do give interviews in Spanish, and here’s why — because I believe that free enterprise and limited government is the best way to help people who are trying to achieve upward mobility.

And if they get their news in Spanish, I want them to hear that directly from me. Not from a translator at Univision.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Rubio. (APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Senator Cruz — Senator Cruz, this week, we learned more about Dr. Carson’s plan for the 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

Dr. Carson proposed giving these undocumented immigrants a six- month grace period to pay back taxes then to let them become guest workers and only to deport people who failed to do that.

CARSON: Not exactly what I said.

TAPPER: Well, how would you say it, sir? I was just reading the Wall Street Journal quote, but please tell us.

CARSON: Well, what I said, after we seal the borders, after we turn off the spigot that dispenses all the goodies so we don’t have people coming in here, including employment, that people who had a pristine record, we should consider allowing them to become guest workers, primarily in the agricultural sphere, because that’s the place where Americans don’t seem to want to work.

That’s what I said. And they have a six-month period to do that. If they don’t do it within that time period, then they become illegal, and as illegals, they will be treated as such.

TAPPER: OK, from the horse’s mouth, Senator Cruz, does that fit your definition of amnesty?

CRUZ: Well, Jake, you know, I’m — I’m very glad that Donald Trump’s being in this race has forced the mainstream media finally to talk about illegal immigration. I think that’s very important.

I like and respect Ben Carson. I’ll let him talk about his own plans.

But I will say this: The natural next question that primary voters are asking, after we focus on illegal immigration is, okay, what are the records of the various candidates? And this is an issue on which there are stark differences.

A majority of the men and women on this stage have previously and publicly embraced amnesty. I am the only candidate on this stage who has never supported amnesty and, in fact, who helped lead the fight to stop a massive amnesty plan.

In 2013, when Barack Obama and Harry Reid joined the Washington Republicans in a massive, I stood shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions helping lead the fight.

You know, folks here have talked about, how do you secure the borders? Well, I’ve been leading the fight in the Senate to triple the Border Patrol, to put in place fencings and walls, to put in place a strong biometric exit/entry system…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

Senator Rubio…

CARSON: Can I — can I — can I just…

TAPPER: … I’m not sure…

CARSON: Can I correct…

TAPPER: We’ll come back to you — we’ll come back to you in one second, sir.

But Senator Rubio, I’m not sure exactly whose plan he’s — he’s saying is — constitutes amnesty, but I know he has said it about your plan in the past, so I want to give you a chance to respond, then, Dr. Carson, we’ll come to you.

CARSON: OK.

RUBIO: Well, let me say that legal immigration is not an issue I read about in the newspaper. Immigration, illegal immigration, all the good aspects of immigration and all the negative ones as well, I live with. My family’s immigrants. My neighbors are all immigrants. My in-laws are all immigrants.

So I’ve seen every aspect of it, and I can tell you America doesn’t have one immigration problem, it has three.

First, despite the fact that we are the most generous country in the history of the world in allowing people to come here legally, we have people still coming illegally.

Second, we have a legal immigration system that no longer works. It primary is built on the basis of whether you have a relative living here instead of merit.

And third, we have 11 million or 12 million people, many of whom have been here for longer than a decade who are already here illegally.

And we must deal with all three of these problems. We cannot deal with all three of these problems in one massive piece of legislation. I learned that. We tried it that way.

Here’s the way forward: First, we must — we must secure our border, the physical border, with — with a wall, absolutely. But we also need to have an entry/exit tracking system. 40 percent of the people who come here illegally come legally, and then they overstay the visa. We also need a mandatory e-verify system.

After we’ve done that, step two would be to modernize our legal immigration system so you come to America on the basis of what you can contribute economically, not whether or not simply you have a relative living here.

And after we’ve done those two things, I believe the American people…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. RUBIO: … will be very reasonable and responsible about what you do with someone who’s been here and isn’t a criminal. If you’re a criminal, obviously, you will not be able to stay.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

Senator — Dr. Carson…

(APPLAUSE)

… I want to give you 30 seconds. I’d like you to answer the question.

Senator Cruz describes plans such as yours as amnesty. Why is your plan not amnesty?

CARSON: My plan is not amnesty for a number of reasons.

Number one, you know, I’ve talked to farmers, and they said they cannot hire Americans to do the kind of job that I’m talking about.

And the second reason is because the individuals who register as guest workers, they don’t get to vote, they are not American citizens, and they don’t get the rights and privileges of American citizens. So that’s key.

But the other thing that I want to bring up is, I mentioned something earlier. I think it was just sort of glossed over.

I talked about the success in Yuma County, I mean, incredible success, and the Department of Justice said, “No, we don’t want to do that. That’s too successful.”

We don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. All we have to do is look at things that work. All we have to do is use a little common sense.

TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson. I want to talk about the issue of birthright citizenship, which — which has emerged since the first debate as — as an a — a major issue in this campaign.

Mr. Trump, you say that babies born in the United States to undocumented immigrants should not any longer get automatic American citizenship. Ms. Fiorina says that you are pandering on this issue and acting like the politicians that you rail against. What’s your message to Ms. Fiorina on birthright citizenship?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, the — the 14th Amendment says very, very clearly to a lot of great legal scholars — not television scholars, but legal scholars — that it is wrong. It can be corrected with an act of Congress, probably doesn’t even need that.

A woman gets pregnant. She’s nine months, she walks across the border, she has the baby in the United States, and we take care of the baby for 85 years. I don’t think so.

And by the way, Mexico and almost every other country anywhere in the world doesn’t have that. We’re the only ones dumb enough, stupid enough to have it. And people — and by the way, this is not just with respect to Mexico. They are coming from Asia to have babies here, and all of a sudden, we have to take care of the babies for the life of the baby.

The 14th Amendment, it reads properly, you can go and — it’s probably going to be have to be check — go through a process of court, probably ends up at the Supreme Court, but there are a lot of great legal scholars that say that is not correct.

And in my opinion, it makes absolutely no — we’re the only — one of the only countries, we’re going to take care of those babies for 70, 75, 80, 90 years? I don’t think so.

TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina, the vast majority of countries do not have birthright citizenship…

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: …Donald Trump is right about that. Why is it pandering when he’s — he says this?

FIORINA: First let me say, We have just spent a good bit of time discussing, as Republicans, how to solve this problem. I would ask your audience at home to ask a very basic question. Why have Democrats not solved this problem?

President Obama campaigned in 2007 and 2008 on solving the immigration problem. He entered Washington with majorities in the House and the Senate. He could have chosen to do anything to solve this pro — this problem. Instead, he chose to do nothing.

Why? because the Democrats don’t want this issue solved.

TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina…

FIORINA: They want it to be an issue that they can use. As to birthright citizenship…

TAPPER: Please.

FIORINA: …the truth is, you can’t just wave your hands and say “the 14th Amendment is gonna go away.” It will take an extremely arduous vote in Congress, followed by two-thirds of the states, and if that doesn’t work to amend the Constitution, then it is a long, arduous process in court.

And meanwhile, what will continue to go on is what has gone on for 25 years. With all due respect, Mr. Trump, we’ve been talking about illegal immigration for 25 years. San Francisco has been a sanctuary city since 1989. There are 300 of them.

And meanwhile, what has happened? Nothing. The border remains insecure. The legal immigration system remains broken. Look, we know what it takes to secure a border. We’ve heard a lot of great ideas here. Money, manpower, technology… TAPPER : Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

FIORINA: …mostly, apparently, leadership…

TAPPER: Thank you.

FIORINA: …the kind of leadership that understands how to get results.

TAPPER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina. Mr. Trump, I want to give you the chance to respond…

TRUMP: I agree 100 percent, by the way, with Carly on the fact that the Democrats do not want to solve this problem, for the obvious reasons, but they do not.

But I believe that a reading of the 14th Amendment allows you to have an interpretation where this is not legal and where it can’t be done. I’ve seen both sides, but some of the greatest scholars agree with me, without having to go through Congress.

If you do go through Congress, you can absolutely solve the problem. TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Trump. Senator Paul…

FIORINA: But you — you would stipulate, Mr. Trump, but not everyone agrees with you.

TRUMP: That’s true, sure.

FIORINA: OK.

TAPPER: Senator Paul, I want to bring you in. Where — where do you stand on the issue of birthright citizenship?

PAUL: Well, I hate to say it, but Donald Trump has a bit of a point here.

The case that was decided around 1900 was, people had a green card, were here legally, and they said that their children were citizens. There’s never been a direct Supreme Court case on people who were here illegally, whether or not their kids are citizens.

So it hasn’t really been completely adjudicated. The 14th Amendment says that “those who are here and under the jurisdiction.” The original author of the — of the 14th Amendment said on the Senate floor that this was applying to slaves, and did not specifically apply to others.

TAPPER: All right. Senator Paul, thank you so much. Let’s turn to a new topic. We’ve received a lot of questions on social media about the economy and about jobs. We have two CEOs on stage right now.

Ms. Fiorina, you were CEO of Hewlett Packard. Donald Trump says you, quote, “ran HP into the ground,” you laid off tens of thousands of people, you got viciously fired.

For voters looking to somebody with private-sector experience to create American jobs, why should they pick you and not Donald Trump?

FIORINA: I led Hewlett Packard through a very difficult time, the worst technology recession in 25 years. The NASDAQ stock index fell 80 percent. It took 15 years for the stock index to recover. We had very strong competitors who literally went out of business and lost all of their jobs in the process.

Despite those difficult times, we doubled the size of the company, we quadrupled its topline growth rate, we quadrupled its cash flow, we tripled its rate of innovation.

Yes, we had to make tough choices, and in doing so, we saved 80,000 jobs, went on to grow to 160,000 jobs. And now Hewlett Packard is almost 300,000 jobs. We went from lagging behind to leading in every product category and every market segment.

We must lead in this nation again, and some tough calls are going to be required. But as for the firing, I have been very honest about this from the day it happened. When you challenge the status quo, you make enemies. I made a few. Steve Jobs told me that when he called me the day I was fired to say, hey, been there, done that twice.

It’s also true that the man that led my firing, Tom Perkins, just took —

TAPPER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

FIORINA: — out a full-page ad in the New York Times to say he was wrong, I was right. I was a terrific CEO, the board was dysfunctional. And he thinks I will make a magnificent president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina. TRUMP: Well —

TAPPER: Mr. Trump — Mr. Trump, why would you be better at creating jobs than Carly Fiorina?

TRUMP: — let me — well, let me just explain. The head of the Yale Business School, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, wrote a paper recently, one of the worst tenures for a CEO that he has ever seen, ranked one of the top 20 in the history of business. The company is a disaster and continues to be a disaster. They still haven’t recovered. In fact, today, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, they fired another 25 or 30,000 people saying we still haven’t recovered from the catastrophe.

When Carly says the revenues went up, that’s because she bought Compaq, it was a terrible deal, and it really led to the destruction of the company.

Now one other company before that was Lucent. Carly was at Lucent before that. And Lucent turned out to be a catastrophe also. So I only say this. She can’t run any of my companies. That I can tell you.

TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina, I want to give you a chance to respond.

FIORINA: You know, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is a well-known Clintonite and honestly had it out for me from the moment that I arrived at Hewlett Packard. But honestly, Mr. Trump, I find it quite rich that you would talk about this.

You know, there are a lot of us Americans who believe that we are going to have trouble someday paying back the interest on our debt because politicians have run up mountains of debt using other people’s money. That is in fact precisely the way you ran your casinos. You ran up mountains of debt, as well as losses, using other people’s money, and you were forced to file for bankruptcy not once —

TRUMP: I never filed for bankruptcy.

FIORINA: — not twice, four times, a record four times. Why should we trust you to manage the finances —

TRUMP: I’ll tell you why; it’s very simple.

FIORINA: — of this nation any differently than you managed the finances —

TRUMP: I’ll tell you. I was running —

FIORINA: — of your casinos?

TRUMP: — Carly, Carly —

TAPPER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: — I’ve made over $10 billion. I had a casino company — Caesars just filed for bankruptcy. Chris will tell you — it’s not Chris’ fault either — but almost everybody in Atlantic City is either in trouble or filed for — maybe I’ll blame Chris.

FIORINA: Well —

TRUMP: But Atlantic City is a disaster —

FIORINA: Well, Mr. Trump —

TRUMP: Wait a minute, Carly. Wait. I let you speak. Atlantic City is a disaster, and I did great in Atlantic City. I knew when to get out. My timing was great. And I got a lot of credit for it.

Many of the great business people that you know — and Carl Icon (ph) is going to work with me on making great deals for this country. But whether it’s Carl or so many others that we read about all the time —

TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: — they have used the laws of the land, which is the —

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Governor Christie’s name has been invoked. I’d like to give him a 30 second opportunity.

CHRISTIE: Jake listen. While I’m as entertained as anyone by this personal back-and-forth about the history of Donald and Carly’s career, for the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn’t have a job, who can’t fund his child’s education, I’ve got to tell you the truth. They could care less about your careers, they care about theirs.

(APPLAUSE)

Let’s start talking about that on this stage and stop playing — and stop playing the games. Stop playing —

KASICH: There’s a —

CHRISTIE: John — I’m not done yet, John.

FIORINA: A track record of leadership is not a game. It is the issue in this election.

CHRISTIE: Stop — and stop playing — and Carly — Carly, listen. You can interrupt everybody else on this stage, you’re not going to interrupt me, OK?

The fact is that we don’t want to hear about your careers, back and forth and volleying back and forth about who did well and who did poorly. You’re both successful people. Congratulations. You know who’s not successful? The middle class in this country who’s getting plowed over by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Let’s start talking about those issues tonight and stop this childish back-and-forth between the two of you.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina, I want to give you

KASICH: Jake —

TAPPER: Governor Kasich, I’m coming to you next, but Ms. Fiorina’s name was mentioned, and I have to give her the opportunity to respond if she wants it.

FIORINA: Well, I thought we had been hearing quite a bit about Govenor Christie’s record as governor, actually. I think track records are very important. I completely agree that what’s at stake here is the future of this nation, and the future of every American.

But I do think that a track record of leadership is vital because in the end this election is about leadership. And let’s talk about what leadership is. It’s not about braggadocio, it is about challenging the status quo, solving problems, producing results.

And the highest calling of leadership is to unlock potential in others.

TAPPER: Thank you. FIORINA: Problems have festered in Washington for too long. And the potential of this nation is being crushed.

TAPPER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

Governor Kasich, I want to come — I’m coming to you. I’m coming to you. Let me ask the question. You can use the time however you want.

KASICH: OK, Jake.

TAPPER: Donald Trump says that the hedge fund guys are getting away with murder by paying a lower tax rate. He wants to raise the taxes of hedge fund managers, as does Governor Bush. Do you agree?

KASICH: I don’t at this point in terms of changing the incentives for investment and risk-taking.

But let’s just stop for a second. There’s one person on this stage that does have a record. I’m the only person on the stage and one of the few people in this country that led the effort as the chief architect of the last time we balanced the federal budget.

We also cut taxes. And when I left Washington in 2000, we had a $5 trillion surplus, and the economy was booming. I had spent 10 years of my life to get us to that point, went out in the private sector, was a great experience, and went into Ohio and took an $8 billion hole and turned it into a $2 billion surplus.

We’ve had the largest amount of tax cuts of any sitting governor. We’ve grown well over 300,000 jobs. You see, I’ve done it in both places. I’m the only one here that has done it in both places.

It took a lot to get us to a balanced budget. It was legitimate. It was real. And we negotiated it. A lot of what we’re talking about here tonight as we take this position and that position, you know what? At the end of the day, America has got to work.

We’ve got to figure out how we come together to deal with this — with our fiscal problems because when we deal with that, we create a stronger economy for everybody. People have a chance to rise.

So, you know, when we think about how we make a choice, it’s the person that lands that plane. It’s not somebody that talks about it. It’s about the person who has done it. And I’ve done it in…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

KASICH: … both places. And I did it including people in the other party. And that’s how we were successful.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor Kasich.

KASICH: And that’s how I will be president, using that experience to drive this country forward. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE) TAPPER: Governor Huckabee, I want to bring you in on the question of

hedge fund managers and taxing them. You have said that you are bothered by the fact that hedge fund managers pay such a low tax rate and make 2,500 times what people who work for them make.

Do you agree with what Donald Trump and Governor Bush have proposed, raising their tax rates?

HUCKABEE: I have a different idea. I think we ought to get rid of all the taxes on people who produce. Why should we penalize productivity? And it’s why I’m an unabashed supporter of the “fair tax,” which would be a tax on our consumption, rather than a tax on our productivity.

In other words, you’re not going to tax anybody for what they earn, whether it’s worker whose working by the hour or whether it’s a hedge fund manager. If they can produce something and bring capital and labor to create jobs, we need some jobs. And I think the “fair tax” makes more sense.

Now, Jake, I’ve been listening to everybody on the stage and there is a lot of back and forth about I’m the only one who has done this, the only one who has done that, I’ve done great things.

We’ve all done great things or we wouldn’t be on this stage. But it occurs to me as we’re sitting here in the Reagan Library that most of us would like to pay tribute to a guy who, when he got elected, didn’t get elected telling everybody how great he was.

He got elected telling everybody how great the American people were. And he empowered them to live their dreams, which is what I’d love to see us do by no longer penalizing the people who are out there working because they are taking a gut punch right now.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

Dr. Carson, you support scrapping the entire tax code and replacing it with a flat tax based on the principal on tithing from the Bible. If you make $10 billion, you pay $1 billion in taxes, if you make $10, you pay $1 in taxes.

Donald Trump believes in progressive taxation. He says it’s not right that rich people pay the same as the poor. Tell Donald Trump why his ideas on taxes are wrong.

CARSON: It’s all about America. You know, the people who say the guy who paid a billion dollars because he had 10, he has still got $9 billion left, that’s not fair, we need to take more of his money. That’s called socialism. That doesn’t work so well.

What made America into a great nation was the fact that we said, that guy just put in $1 billion, let’s create an environment that’s even more conducive to his success so that next year he can put in $2 billion. And that’s the kind of thing that helps us to grow. We can’t grow by

continuing to take a piece of pie, and dividing it, and redistributing it.

But, I’m also looking at what doctor — at what Governor Huckabee talked about…

HUCKABEE: …You don’t want me operating on you, I assure you.

(LAUGHTER)

CARSON: The Fair Tax. Looking at both of them, and evaluating them both, and I’m talking to the American people because one of the things we must recognize is that this country is of, for, and by the people. And, it’s really time that the government get out of the way, and let the people be the ones who decide how they want to run their country.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Mr. Trump…

TRUMP: …Well, I’d like to respond, I’d like to respond…

TAPPER: …What do you think of the flat tax? Do you think it’s fair?

TRUMP: Well, I think the thing about the flat tax, I know it very well. What I don’t like is that if you make $200 million a year, you pay ten percent, you’re paying very little relatively to somebody that’s making $50,000 a year, and has to hire H&R Block to do the — because it’s so complicated.

One thing I’ll say to Ben is that we’ve had a graduated tax system for many years, so it’s not a socialistic thing. What I’d like to do, and I’ll be putting in the plan in about two weeks, and I think people are going to like it, it’s a major reduction in taxes. It’s a major reduction for the middle class. The hedge fund guys won’t like me as much as they like me right now. I know them all, but they’ll pay more.

I know people that are making a tremendous amount of money and paying virtually no tax, and I think it’s unfair.

TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Trump. Senator Paul?

PAUL: Well, I’m glad we’re having a discussion about taxes because everybody laments that we lose jobs overseas, we have. Our companies, and our jobs are being chased overseas by a 70,000 page tax code, so, that’s why I’ve chosen to get rid of the whole thing, and have one single rate, 14 and a-half percent for everybody, business, and for corporate income, and personal income. But, we also get rid of the payroll tax, so the working class would get a tax break as well.

So, I think a flat tax, eliminating the tax code, getting rid of all the loopholes, is the way to go, and it’s the way we get America going again.

TAPPER: Governor Walker, I want to go to you. Dr. Carson wants to raise the Federal Minimum Wage, you have called it a lame idea. Why is raising the Federal Minimum Wage lame?

WALKER: So, the best way to help people see their wages go up is to get them the education, the skill they need, to take on careers that pay more than minimum wage. And, it’s why we talk about it, it’s all about jobs. You want to help actually get jobs, it’s why on that last question we were trying to jump in on taxes. To me, it’s not just about taxes, cutting taxes. I’ve done it as much as anyone has.

I’ve cut income taxes, I’ve cut property taxes. In fact, property taxes are lower today in my state than they were before we took office. The real issues about jobs.

Ronald Reagan, our plan is based on the Ronald Reagan tax cuts of 1986. That brought about one of the longest sustained periods of economic growth in American history. All the things we should be talking about tonight are about how do we create jobs, helping people get the skills and the education qualifications they need to succeed.

That’s the way you help people create jobs. It’s part of our large plan to reform the tax code, to cut taxes, to put in place an education system that gives people the skills and education that they need. To put in place all the above energy policy, but you start on day one with repealing Obamacare.

I’m the only one on this stage that’s actually got a plan, introduced an actual plan to repeal Obamacare on day one. I’ll send a bill up to Congress, and to make sure enact it…

TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor…

WALKER: …I’m going to sign an order that makes the Congress live by the same rules as everybody else. TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor…

WALKER: …That will ensure they repeal Obamacare…

TAPPER: Dr. Carson, Governor Walker didn’t really answer the question, but I’ll let you respond. He called raising the Federal Minimum Wage lame, what do you think of that?

CARSON: Well, first of all, let me say what I actually said about raising the minimum wage. I was asked should it be raised, I said, probably, or possibly. But, what I added, which I think is the most important thing, so, I said we need to get both sides of this issue to sit down, and talk about it. Negotiate a reasonable minimum wage, and index that so that we never have to have this conversation again in the history of America.

I think we also have to have two minimum wages, a starter, and a sustaining because how are young people ever going to get a job if you have such a high minimum wage that it makes it impractical to hire them…

TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson…

WALKER: …Jake, Jake, Jake, I just want to address that issue because you said I didn’t answer, and I did. I said, to me, I think the real focus shouldn’t be — you know, Hillary Clinton talks about the minimum wage. That’s her answer to grow the economy. The answer is to give people the skills and the education so they make far more than minimum wage.

I don’t want to argue about how low things are going to be, I want to talk about how do we lift everyone up in America. That’s what Reagan talked about. It wasn’t how bad things were, it was how to make it better for everyone. That’s what we’ve done in Wisconsin, that’s exactly what we’d do as…

TAPPER: Let me bring in our partner from Salem Radio Network, Hugh Hewitt.

HEWITT: I’d like to talk about winning because I think all of you are more qualified than former Secretary of State Clinton, and as were the people in the first debate, but there are different styles, and Carly Fiorina, Governor Kasich, you’re conveniently located next to each other, and you have different styles.

Governor Kasich, you’ve been on my show a lot. You refused to attack Hillary Clinton, you just don’t want to go there, you want to do the up with people. Go, Ohio, OK, and I like that.

Carly Fiorina, I don’t have to bring up the Secretary of State — you bring her up, so (inaudible).

Which one of you is wrong? Governor Kasich?

KASICH: Well, look, people still have to get to know me, so I want to spend my time talking about my experience reforming welfare, balancing budgets, cutting taxes, providing economic growth when I was in Washington, turning Ohio around. Eight billion in the hole, $2 billion surplus, up over 300,000 jobs, big tax cuts, strengthening our credit.

All those things matter but, you know, as a young man in my first election in 1978, I defeated an incumbent Democrat. I defeated an incumbent Democrat in 1982; running on the Reagan program, I was the only Republican in America to defeat an incumbent Democrat that year.

And then, when I won for election of governor, I was the first Republican to defeat an incumbent in 36 years, and the first person to have never run statewide out of politics for 10 years to beat an incumbent. That hadn’t happened for 96 years.

So, we’ll get to the point where we’ll talk about Hillary Clinton, or whoever the nominee is, record. But right now, I want to give people sense of hope, sense of purpose, a sense of unity, sense that we can do it. So…

HEWITT: Governor.

KASICH: You know, at the end of the day, I’m going to continue to talk about my record, because there is, did you ever notice when people run for office, they run for president, they make a lot of promises, they don’t keep them. HEWITT: Thank you, Governor. KASICH: I don’t intend to do that, and I

going to be out there pushing it out — don’t worry about me and Hillary. That will all work out, and I’m from Ohio. She will not beat me there, I can promise you that.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Carly Fiorina, your style?

FIORINA: You see, Governor Christie, people spend time talking about their track records, and Mr. Trump and I have every right to do the same. And Mrs. Clinton has to defend her track record.

Her track record of lying about Benghazi, of lying about her e- mails, about lying about her servers. She does not have a track record of accomplishment.

Like Mrs. Clinton, I, too, have travels hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe. But unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know flying is an activity, not an accomplishment. Mrs. Clinton — if you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name a accomplishment of Mrs. Clinton’s.

HEWITT: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

Governor Christie, your name was mentioned. I want to give you a chance to respond.

CHRISTIE: Listen, you know, Hugh, it’s an important point. And the question is, who is going to prosecute Hillary Clinton?

The Obama White House seems to have in interest, the Justice Department seems to have no interest. I think it’s time to put a former federal prosecutor on the same stage as Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

And I will prosecute her during those debates on that stage for the record we’re talking about here. The fact she had a private email server in her basement, using national security secrets running through it, could have been hacked by the Russians, the Chinese, or two 18-year-olds on a toot (ph) wanting to have some fun.

No one is answering that question from the Hillary Clinton campaign…

HEWITT: Thank you, Governor.

CHRISTIE: You know why? Because she knows she’s wrong, and she cannot look in the mirror at herself, and she cannot tell the American people the truth.

HEWITT: Thank you, Governor Christie. There is a lot more coming up.

Ahead, a world of trouble. The challenges that one of these candidates may face in the Oval Office, and how he or she will handle it.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN’s Republican Presidential Debate. Let’s turn to some issues now in foreign policy.

Mr. Trump, Senator Rubio said it was, quote, “very concerning to him” that in a recent interview you didn’t seem to know the details about some of the enemies the U.S. faces. Rubio said, if you don’t know the answers to those questions, you will not be able to serve as commander-in-chief.

Please respond to Senator Rubio.

TRUMP: Well, I heard Hugh Hewitt, a nice man, he apologized because he actually said that we had a misunderstanding. And he said today that Donald Trump is maybe the best interview there is anywhere that he has ever done.

Now unless he was just saying that on CNN to be nice, but he did say that…

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: Oh, you’re the best interview in America.

TRUMP: And we had a legitimate misunderstanding in terms of his pronunciation of a word.

But I would say just…

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: Well, I think it was. And he actually said that. Did you say that?

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: … makes an interesting case (ph) here (ph).

TRUMP: OK. So I will say this, though, Hugh was giving me name after name, Arab name, Arab name, and there are few people anywhere, anywhere that would have known those names. I think he was reading them off a sheet.

And frankly I will have — and I told him, I will have the finest team that anybody has put together and we will solve a lot of problems.

You know, right now they know a lot and look at what is happening. The world is blowing up around us. We will have great teams and great people.

TAPPER: Senator Rubio?

TRUMP: I hope that answers your question. I mean, you are in the Senate, but I hope that answers your question. RUBIO: Yes, well, it does. But it’s in the following way, this is an

important question. I think if you’re running for president, these are important issues, because look at around the world today.

There is a lunatic in North Korea with dozens of nuclear weapons and long-range rocket that can already hit the very place in which we stand tonight. The Chinese are rapidly expanding their military. They hack into our computers. They’re building artificial islands in the South China Sea, the most important shipping lane in the world.

A gangster in Moscow is not just threatening Europe, he’s threatening to destroy and divide NATO. You have radical jihadists in dozens of countries across multiple continents. And they even recruit Americans using social media to try to attack us here at home.

And now we have got this horrible deal with Iran where a radical Shia cleric with an apocalyptic vision of the future is also guaranteed to one day possess nuclear weapons and also a long-range rocket that can hit the United States.

These are extraordinarily dangerous times that we live in. And the next president of the United States better be someone that understands these issues and has good judgment about them because the number one issue that a president will ever confront, and the most important obligation that the federal government has, is to keep this nation safe.

And today we are not doing that. We are eviscerating our military. And we have a president that is more respectful to the ayatollah in Iran than he is to the prime minister of Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Mr. Trump? Senator Rubio seemed to be suggesting that you don’t know information that…

TRUMP: No, I don’t think he’s suggesting that at all. I mean…

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: All right. Senator Rubio.

TRUMP: I don’t think he’s suggesting that at all.

RUBIO: Well, that’s why we have a debate. I think that we should have a deeper debate about these issues, because there is no more important decision that a president will make.

TAPPER: But are you saying that you have the knowledge to be the president that Mr. Trump does not have?

RUBIO: Well, you should ask him questions in detail about the foreign policy issues our president will confront, because you had better be able to lead our country on the first day.

Not six months from now, not a year from now, on the first day in office, our president could very well confront a national security crisis. You can’t predict it. Sometimes you cannot control it.

And it is the most — the federal government does all kinds of things it’s not supposed to be doing. It regulates bathrooms. It regulates schools that belong to local communities.

But the one thing that the federal government must do, the one thing that only the federal government can do is keep us safe. And a president better be up-to-date on those issues on his first day in office, on her first day in office.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Well, you have to understand, I am not sitting in the United States Senate with, by the way, the worst voting record there is today. Number one. I am not sitting in the United States Senate. I’m a businessman doing business transactions.

RUBIO: Trust (ph) me, I get that. OK.

TRUMP: I am doing business transactions. I will know more about this — and, as you said, that was very acceptable, and when you listen to that whole interview, it’s a great interview, you said it, I didn’t. Well, now I did. But…

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Listen, just one second. Just one second.

RUBIO: I never get to addressed, and…

TRUMP: I will know…

RUBIO: …and when I do, I’m gonna jump in.

TRUMP: …I will know more about the problems of this world by the time I sit, and you look at what’s going in this world right now by people that supposedly know, this world is a mess. TAPPER: Senator Rubio, he did invoke your absentee record in the Senate.

RUBIO: Yeah. He did. Let me — I’m proud to serve in the United States Senate. You know, when I ran five years ago, the entire leadership of my party in Washington lined up against me.

But I’m glad I won. And I’m glad that I ran, because this country’s headed in the wrong direction. And if we keep electing the same people, nothing is going to change.

And you’re right, I have missed some votes, and I’ll tell you why, Mr. Trump. Because in my years in the Senate, I’ve figured out very quickly that the political establishment in Washington, D.C. in both political parties is completely out of touch with the lives of our people.

You have millions of people in this country living paycheck to paycheck, and nothing is being done about it. We are about to leave our children with $18 trillion in — in — in debt, and they’re about to raise the debt limit again.

We have a world that grows increasingly dangerous, and we are eviscerating our military spending and signing deals with Iran. And these — if this thing continues, we are going to be the first Americans to leave our children worse off than ourselves.

That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate, I’m not running for re-election, and I’m running for president because I know this: unless we have the right president, we cannot make America fulfill its potential, but with the right person in office, the 21st century can be the greatest era that our nation has ever known.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Rubio. I want to turn now to Hugh Hewitt.

HEWITT: Thank you, Jake. I’ve done a lot of great interviews with all of you, but, Governor Bush, I talked to you in February about the biggest elephant in a room full of elephants, which is your last name. And you said you would not be burdened either by your brother or your father’s legacy in the Middle East.

And then, a week later, you rolled out your list of foreign policy advisers, and it was a lot of the band getting back together again. So on behalf of the military that is watching…

BUSH: Yeah.

HEWITT: …OK, the active duty military that are at the end of the sphere (ph), what kind of a commander in chief is Jeb Bush going to be, and who are the advisers that are new to your team?

BUSH: Well, first of all, Hugh, if you’re looking at Republican advisers, you have to go to the last two administrations. That happened to be 41 and 43. So just by definition, if you’re — and many of the people here that are seeking advice from the foreign policy experts in the Republican side, they — they served in my dad’s administration, my brother’s administration. Of course that’s the case.

But I’m my own man. I’m going to create a strategy that is based on the simple fact that the United States needs to lead the world. The first thing that we need to do is to stop the craziness of the sequester.

Rebuild our military so that our — so that we don’t deploy people over and over again without the necessary equipment to keep them safe, to send a signal to the world that we’re serious. If we’re going to lead the world, then we need to have the strongest military possible.

We need to rebuild our counterintelligence and intelligence capabilities. We need to focus on the fact that the next president is going to start in 2017, not in 1990 — you know, 30 years ago, or when my brother started.

The world is dramatically different. And I believe that we need to restore America’s presence and leadership in the world. Name a country where our relationship is better today than it was the — the day that Barack Obama got elected president.

Under Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, we have seen a weakness that now creates huge problems for the next president of the United States. So I’ll have a team that will be — that will be following the doctrine I set up, and it will be peace through strength.

We’re sitting here in this library, which is a wonderful place to talk about this, because that’s exactly what happened in the 1980s, and the world was a lot safer because of…

TRUMP: (inaudible)

HEWITT: Mr. — Mr. Trump.

BUSH: The leadership of Ronald Reagan and my…

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: I want to ask you a question, though, you promised us great leaders. And I believe that. But Jeb Bush has laid out 20 different people that have experience around the world. There are 190 countries, you can’t run the world by yourself.

When are we going to get some names on your military and your foreign policy advisers?

TRUMP: (inaudible) I’m — and I’m meeting with people that are terrific people, but I have to say something because it’s about judgment.

I am the only person on this dais — the only person — that fought very, very hard against us (ph), and I wasn’t a sitting politician going into Iraq, because I said going into Iraq — that was in 2003, you can check it out, check out — I’ll give you 25 different stories.

TRUMP: In fact, a delegation was sent to my office to see me because I was so vocal about it. I’m a very militaristic person, but you have to know when to use the military. I’m the only person up here that fought against going into Iraq.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: Hugh, can I — can I make a response to that?

TRUMP: Just excuse me, one second, Rand…

PAUL: Can I make a response to that?

TRUMP: If you don’t mind, Rand — you know, you are on last — you do have your 1 percent.

I would like — and I think it’s very important. I think it’s important, because it’s about judgment. It’s about judgment.

I didn’t want to go into Iraq, and I fought it, because what I said — what I said…

PAUL: May I make a response to that?

TRUMP: … was you’re going to — you’re going to destabilize…

PAUL: He’s referred to me.

TRUMP: … the Middle East, and that’s what happened.

PAUL: He’s referred to me…

BUSH: So you — the — the first chance…

PAUL: … in his remarks. May I make a response?

BUSH: Right after me, and then I’ll — I’ll yield — yield the floor. What do you guys say in the Senate when you’re talking and debating?

PAUL: Absolutely. Go ahead.

BUSH: Here’s the facts: When Donald Trump talks about judgment, what was his position on who would’ve been the best negotiator to deal with Iran? It wasn’t a Republican; it was Hillary Clinton. That’s what you believe. I mean, the lack of judgment and the lack of understanding about how the world works is really dangerous in this kind of time that we’re saying.

So is that the judgment that you bring to the table, that Hillary Clinton…

TRUMP: If you think about it…

BUSH: … is a great negotiator, that she could bring about a better deal on Iran?

TRUMP: Your brother — and your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama, because it was such a disaster, those last three months, that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have been elected.

BUSH: You know what? As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.

I don’t know if you remember…

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: … Donald…

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: … you remember the — the rumble? You remember the fire fighter with his arms around it? He sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic terrorism, and he did keep us safe.

TRUMP: I don’t know. You feel safe right now? I don’t feel so safe. PAUL: May I respond?

WALKER:: That’s because of Barack — that’s because of Barack Obama.

BUSH: That’s — that’s my brother.

WALKER:: That’s because of Barack Obama. We’ve had a president who called ISIS the J.V. squad, Yemen a success story, Iran a place we can do business with. It’s not because of George W. Bush; it’s because of Barack Obama…

(APPLAUSE)

WALKER: (inaudible) on that point, though, whether it’s — whether we’re talking about national security, foreign policy or we’re talking about domestic policy, the key…

TRUMP: Or the collapse of the economy.

WALKER: … the key issue here is talking about leadership. Now, there’s a lot of greater people up here, and you’ve heard a lot of great ideas out there. But I would ask the American people, look at who’s been tested.

When there were 100,000 protesters in my capital, I didn’t back down, when they issued death threats against me and threats against my family, I didn’t back down, when they tried to recall me, I didn’t back down, and when they made me the — one of their number-one targets last year, I didn’t back down.

Give me the chance to be your president.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

WALKER: I won’t back down…

TAPPER: Senator…

WALKER: … on any of these issues.

TAPPER: Senator Paul?

PAUL: The remark was made that there hadn’t been anyone else on the podium opposed to the Iraq War. I’ve made my career as being an opponent of the Iraq War. I was opposed to the Syria war. I was opposed to arming people who are our enemies.

Iran is now stronger because Hussein is gone. Hussein was the great bulwark and counterbalance to the Iranians. So when we complain about the Iranians, you need to remember that the Iraq War made it worse.

Originally, Governor Bush was asked, was the Iraq War a mistake, and he said, “No. We’d do it again.”

We have to learn sometimes the interventions backfire. The Iraq War backfired and did not help us. We’re still paying the repercussions of a bad decision.

TAPPER: Senator Paul…

PAUL: We have make the decision now in Syria, should we topple Assad? Many up here wanted to topple Assad, and it’s like — I said no, because if you do…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Paul…

PAUL: … ISIS will now be in charge of Syria…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Paul…

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I understand that Governor Bush’s name has been invoked, and then we can go to you, Senator Rubio. BUSH: Here’s the lessons of history: When we — we pull back, voids are created. We left Iraq. We should’ve had a — a forces agreement to stay there with a small force, and instead of that, we politically and militarily pulled back, and now we have the creation of ISIS.

36 days ago in this very library, I gave a speech with a comprehensive strategy how to take out ISIS, and it requires American leadership and engagement. We don’t have to be the world’s policemen. But we certainly have to be the world’s leader.

We need to have — make sure that the world knows that we’re serious, that we’re engaged, that we’re not going to pull back, that — that our — that our word matters. And if we do that, we can create a force that will take out ISIS both in Iraq and in Syria, which will take a lot longer time now…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

BUSH: … because of what President Obama’s done by pulling back.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: I want to go even deeper — and I want to go even deeper in that direction, because I think the belief that somehow by retreating, America makes the world safer has been disproven every single time it’s ever been tried.

Syria’s a perfect example of it. The uprising in Syria was not started by the United States; it was started by the Syrian people. And I warned at the time — this was three and a half years ago — I openly and repeatedly warned that if we did not find moderate elements on the ground that we could equip and arm, that void would be filled by radical jihadists.

Well, the president didn’t listen, the administration didn’t follow through, and that’s exactly what happened. That is why ISIS grew. That is why ISIS then came over the border from Syria and back into Iraq. What is happening in that region is the direct consequence of the inability to lead and of disengagement. And the more we disengage, the more airplanes from Moscow you’re going to see flying out of Damascus and out of Syria…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

RUBIO: … as you asked earlier today.

(APPLAUSE)

CARSON: Jake, Jake…

TAPPER: Dr. Carson?

CARSON: I haven’t had an opportunity to weigh in on foreign policy, and I just want to mention that when the war, when the issue occurred in 2003, I suggested to President Bush that he not go to war? OK. So I just want that on the record.

And, you know, a lot of people are very much against us getting involved right now with global jihadism. And they refer back to our invasion of Iraq. And they seem to think that that was what caused it.

What caused it was withdrawing from there and creating a vacuum which allowed this terrible situation to occur. But it is very different from what is going on today. We’re talking about global jihadists who actually want to destroy us.

They are an existential threat to our nation. And we have to be mature enough to recognize that our children will have no future if we put our heads in the sand. We have to recognize we have two choices.

We either allow them the continue to progress and appear to be the winners, or we use every resource available to us to destroy…

TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson.

CARSON: … them first.

TAPPER: I mean, it is interesting that you say that, because I want to ask Governor Christie about something else that you have said.

Governor Christie, we just marked the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Now Dr. Carson has said that if he had been president at the time, the United States would not have gone to war in Afghanistan. What does that say to you about how Dr. Carson would respond as president if America were attacked again?

CHRISTIE: Well, Jake, I was named U.S. attorney by President Bush on September 10th, 2001. And that next day my wife Mary Pat did what she did every day, she traveled through the World Trade Center and went to her office two blocks from the World Trade Center.

And after those planes hit, for five-and-a-half-hours after that, I couldn’t reach her, didn’t know whether she was dead or alive, and we had three children at the time, 8, 5 and 1.

And I had to confront what so many thousands of others in my region had to confront, the idea I might become a single parent, the idea that my life and my children’s life might be changed forever.

We lost friends that day. We went to the funerals. And I will tell you that what those people wanted and what they deserved was for America to answer back against what had been done to them.

And I support what President Bush did at that time, going into Afghanistan, hunting al Qaeda and its leaders, getting its sanctuary out of place, and making it as difficult around the world for them to move people and money.

And then he went to prosecutors like us, and he said, never again. Don’t prosecute these people after the crime is committed. Intervene before the crime happens. I absolutely believe that what the president did at the time was right.

And I am proud to have been one of the people on the stage who was part of making sure that what Governor Bush said before was the truth. America was safe for those seven years and Barack Obama has taken that safety away from us.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Dr. Carson?

CARSON: Well, recognize that, you know, President George W. Bush is a great friend of ours, and we spent many wonderful days at the White House. I haven’t been there in the last seven years. I probably have to have a food-tester.

(LAUGHTER)

But at any rate, I didn’t suggest that nothing be done. What I suggested to President Bush is to be Kennedy-esque, in the sense that when the Russians got ahead of us in the space race, what we did is use the bully pulpit to galvanize everybody, business, industry, academia behind a national goal to put a man on the moon and bring him back safely.

I said, you can do the same kind of thing. Declare that within five to 10 years we will become petroleum independent. The moderate Arab states would have been so concerned about that, they would have turned over Osama bin Laden and anybody else you wanted on a silver platter within two weeks.

There are smart ways to do things and there are muscular ways to do things. And sometimes you have to look at both of those to come up with the right solution.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: … Governor Christie.

CHRISTIE: Let me say this, Jake, is that while that may have been a fine idea that Dr. Carson had, these people were out to kill us.

I stood in that region with my family, and every time a plane went overhead in the weeks after that, people’s heads jerked to the sky because they thought it was happening again.

You do not need to go through subtle diplomacy at that point. That could be handled later on. What you need is a strong American leader who will take the steps that are necessary to protect our nation.

That’s what I would do as commander-in-chief in this circumstance. And that’s what President George W. Bush did in 2001.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Dr. Carson?

CARSON: I have no argument with having a strong leader, and to be aggressive where aggression is needed. But it is not needed in every circumstance. There is a time when you can use your intellect to come up with other ways to do things. And I think that’s what we have to start thinking about.

CARSON: There is no question that a lot of these problems that we have been talking about in terms of the international situation is because we are weak. It is because our Navy is so small. It is because our Air Force is incapable of doing the same things that it did a few years ago.

It’s because our Marines Corps is not ready to be deployed.

TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson.

CARSON: There are a lot of problems that are going on, and we need to solve those problems, we need to build up our military…

TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson.

RUBIO: But radical terrorism cannot be solved by intellect. It cannot — they require — what they need, is they need an operating space. That’s what Afghanistan was for Al Qaida. It was a vacuum that they filled, and they created an operating space.

That’s why they had to be drawn out of there. That’s why they had to be destroyed. It is the reason why ISIS has grown as well. We allowed them — we allowed a vacuum to emerge in Syria. They used it as an operating space to grow; and today they’re not just in Iraq and Syria anymore, they’re now in Libya, conducting operations in the Sinai.

They’re now in Afghanistan, trying to supplant the Taliban as the most powerful radical jihadist group on the ground there, as well. You cannot allow radical jihadists to have an operating safe haven anywhere in the world.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

Governor Huckabee. (APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: Just today — just today, there was a new report that 50 different intelligence analysts have said that what they sent up the ladder was doctored by senior officials, so that they could give some happy talk to the situation that we face.

I love the idea of a good intellectual capacity to deal with our enemies, but the fact is, if you don’t have good intelligence that is reliable and honest, you won’t have good intelligence and you cannot make good decisions.

The next president is primarily elected not just to know things, but to know what to do with the things that he knows. And the most dangerous person in any room is the person who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

HUCKABEE: And the reason Barack Obama has been dangerous to this country and we better elect someone who had some executive experience, is because we cannot afford another eight years having a person in the office who doesn’t know what he does not know.

TAPPER: Thank you, governor, I want to turn to ISIS. Governor Walker…

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: We just spent — we just spent the last 10 minutes…

TALKER: Governor Walker, there is a big debate now, we have been talking about ISIS here and there in this discussion, there a big debate right now about whether or not to send more U.S. troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

In the first debate earlier this evening, Senator Lindsey Graham argued that candidates are only serious about fighting ISIS if they’re willing to send 10,000 U.S. troops to Iraq, 10,000 U.S. troops as part of a coalition to Syria.

Governor Walker, you say, you just told me a few days ago that the 3,000 U.S. troops there right now are enough, as long as the rules of engagement are changed.

What do you know that Senator Graham doesn’t know?

WALKER: To be clear, what I said the other day was that we need to lift the political restrictions that are already in play. Barack Obama’s administration has put political restrictions on the military personnel already in Iraq.

We need to lift those and then we need to listen to our military experts, not the political forces in the White House, but our military experts about how many more we sent in. And we certainly shouldn’t have a commander-in-chief who sends a message to our adversaries as to how far we’re going to go, and how far we’re willing to fight, so I’m not putting a troop number.

What I’m saying is lift the political restrictions. When you do that, you empower our military personnel already there to work with the Kurd and the Sunni allies, to reclaim the territory taken by ISIS. And to do so in a way that allows that ISIS doesn’t go back in Syria, as we were just talking about here.

That is the fundamental problem going forward. We have a president — and Hillary Clinton was a part of this, by the way, who has made political decisions for our men and women in uniform. I want the men and women at home to know, if I’m commander-in-chief, I will only send you into harm’s way when our national security is at risk. And if we do, you know you’ll have our full support, the support of the American people, and you’ll have a clear path for victory.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Paul, I want to go to you, because you have said that the boots on the ground to fight ISIS need to be Arab boots. We just learned today that despite the Obama administration spending $500 million to help create those Arab boots, there are only four or five U.S. trained fighters in Syria fighting ISIS.

What does that say to you about the effectiveness of the idea of the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots?

PAUL: If you want boots on the ground, and you want them to be our sons and daughters, you got 14 other choices. There will always be a Bush or Clinton for you, if you want to go back to war in Iraq.

But the thing is, the first war was a mistake. And I’m not sending our sons and our daughters back to Iraq. The war didn’t work. We can amplify those who live there.

The Kurds deserve to be armed and I’ll arm them. We can use our Air Force to amplify the forces there. But the boots on the ground need to be the people who live there.

My goodness, I’m still upset with the Saudi Arabians for everything they do over there. They’ve funded the arms that went to the jihadists. They’re not accepting any of the people, any of the migrants that have been — the refugees that are being pushed out of Syria. Saudi Arabia is not accepting one.

Why are we always the world’s patsies that we have to go over there and fight their wars for them? They need to fight their wars, we need to defend American interests, but it is not in America’s national security interests to have another war in Iraq.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re going to turn to some domestic issues now. I want to bring in my colleague, Dana Bash.

BASH: Thank you.

KASICH: Can I just — can I — Jake, can I just make one point on this whole military discussion?

TAPPER: Sure….

KASICH: I called for boots on the ground many months ago in a coalition with our friends who share our interest. You know, you win a battle with the military, and when we go somewhere, we need to be mobile, and lethal. We need to take care of business, and we need to come home.

But, we face, also, a bigger war — and you win the bigger war with the battle of ideas. You wonder why young people, and educated people, rich people, schooled people, have tried to join ISIS.

Western civilization, all of us, need to wake up to the fact that those murderers and rapists need to be called out, and in Western civilization we need to make it clear that our faith in the Jewish and Christian principals force us to live a life bigger than ourselves…

TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor…

KASICH: …to make (ph) centers (ph) of justice so that we can battle the radicals, call them out for what they are, and make sure that all of our people feel fulfilled in living in Western civilization…

TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor. Dana Bash…

KASICH: …This is a giant battle in the world today…

FIONNA: …Jake, since everyone has gotten to weigh in on this military issue, I’d like to be able to do the same.

We have spent probably 12 minutes talking about the past. Let’s talk about the future. We need the strongest military on the face of the planet, and everyone has to know it. And, specifically, what that means is we need about 50 Army brigades, we need about 36 Marine battalions, we need somewhere between 300, and 350 naval ships, we need to upgrade every leg of the nuclear triad…

TAPPER: Thank you, Mrs. Fiorina…

FIORINA: …we need to reform the Department of Defense, we need as well…

BASH: …Thank you….

TAPPER: …Thank you, we’re going to turn now to domestic issues with Dana Bash.

FIORINA: …to invest in our military technology, and we need to care for our veterans so 307,000…

TAPPER: …Dana Bash…

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: …aren’t dying waiting for health care.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you. (APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Dana Bash?

BASH: Governor Bush, let’s talk about the issue that’s very important to Republican voters, and that’s the Supreme Court. After Chief Justice John Roberts voted to uphold Obamacare twice, Senator Cruz criticized your brother for appointing John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

Looking back on it, did your brother make a mistake?

BUSH: Well, I’m surprised Senator Cruz would say that since he was as strong supporter of John Roberts at the time.

I will talk about what I will do as it relates to appointing Supreme Court Justices. We need to make sure that we have justices that, with a proven experienced record of respect for upholding the constitution. That is what we need. We can’t have — the history in recent past is appoint people that have no experience so that you can’t get attacked.

And, that makes it harder for people to have confidence that they won’t veer off…

BASH: …Is John Roberts one of those people?

BUSH: John Roberts has made some really good decisions, for sure, but he did not have a proven, extensive record that would have made the clarity the important thing, and that’s what we need to do. And, I’m willing to fight for those nominees to make sure that they get passed. You can’t do it the politically expedient way anymore. This is the culture in Washington. You have to fight hard for these appointments. This is perhaps the most important thing that the next president will do.

BASH: Do you like what you just heard, Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, Dana, I’ve known John Roberts for 20 years, he’s amazingly talented lawyer, but, yes, it was a mistake when he was appointed to the Supreme Court. He’s a good enough lawyer that he knows in these Obamacare cases he changed the statute, he changed the law in order to force that failed law on millions of Americans for a political outcome.

And, you know, we’re frustrated as conservatives. We keep winning elections, and then we don’t get the outcome we want. And, let me focus on two moments in time.

Number one, in 1990, in one room was David Souter, and in another room was Edith Jones, the rock ribbed (ph) conservative on the fifth circuit court of appeals. George Herbert Walker Bush appointed David Souter.

And then in 2005, in one room was John Roberts, in another room was my former boss, Mike Luttig, the rock ribbed (ph) conservative on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: …George W. Bush appointed John Roberts, and let me give you the consequences of that.

If, instead, the President Bush had appointed Edith Jones, and Mike Luttig, which is who I would have appointed, Obamacare would have been struck down three years ago, and the marriage laws of all 50 states would be on the books. These matter, and I fought to defend the constitution my whole life…

TAPPER: …Governor Bush…

CRUZ: …and I will as president as well.

TAPPER: …I want to let you respond.

BUSH: Well, first of all, he, as I said, supported John Roberts. He supported him, publicly. So, you can rewrite history, I guess, Ted, but the simple fact is that you supported him because he had all the criteria that you would have thought would have made a great justice. And, I think he is doing a good job.

But, the simple fact is that going forward, what we need to do is to have someone that has a long standing set of rulings that consistently makes it clear that he is a focused, exclusively on upholding the Constitution of the United States so they won’t try to use the bench as a means to which legislate.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor…

…And, that’s what we should do, and I hope I’ll be working members of the United States Senate to fight hard for the passage of people that have that kind of qualification.

TAPPER: Senator Cruz, 30 seconds.

CRUZ: It is true that after George W. Bush nominated John Roberts, I supported his confirmation. That was a mistake and I regret that. I wouldn’t have nominated John Roberts, and indeed, Governor Bush pointed out why.

It wasn’t that the President Bushes wanted to appoint a liberal to the court, it’s that it was the easier choice. Both David Souter and John Roberts, they didn’t have a long paper trail. If you had nominated Edith Jones or Mike Ludig (ph) you would have had a bloody fight and they weren’t willing to spend political capital to put a strong judicial conservative on the court. I have spent my entire life, starting from clerking for Chief Justice

William Rehnquist on the United States Supreme Court, one of the most principled jurists. We have an out-of-control Court, and I give you my word, if I’m elected president, every single Supreme Court justice will faithfully follow the law and will not act like philosopher kings — TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: — imposing their liberal policies on millions of Americans —

TAPPER: Thank you, Semator.

CRUZ: — who need to be trusted to govern ourselves.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Huckabee, I want to bring you in very quickly if you could. Will you have a litmus test when it comes to appointing Supreme Court nominees?

HUCKABEE: You better believe I will, because I’m tired of liberals always having a litmus test and conservatives are supposed to pretend we don’t. Well let me tell you what mine would be.

Number one, I’d ask do you think that the unborn child is a human being or is it just a blob of tissue? I’d want to know the answer to that. I’d want to know do you believe in the First Amendment, do you believe that religious liberty is the fundamental liberty around which all the other freedoms of this country are based? And I’d want to know do you really believe in the Second Amendment, do you believe that we have an individual right to bear arms to protect ourselves and our family and to protect our country? And do you believe in the Fifth and the 14th Amendment? Do you believe that a person, before they’re deprived of life and liberty, should in fact have due process and equal protection under the law? Because if you do, you’re going to do more than defund Planned Parenthood.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

HUCKABEE: One final thing. I’d make darn sure that we absolutely believe the 10th Amendment. Every governor on this stage would share this much with you. Every one of us — our biggest fight wasn’t always with the legislature or even with the Democrats. My gosh, half the time, it was with the federal government who apparently never understood —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

HUCKABEE: — that if it’s not reserved in the Constitution, then the 10th Amendment says it’s left to the states. But somebody forgot to send a memo to Washington.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor. We’re going to take a quick break. Coming up, one of the hottest questions that you have been asking us via social media. We will pose it to the candidates. That’s coming up right after this.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN’s Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library here in Simi Valley — Simi Valley, California.

Many people on social media wanted us to ask about marijuana legalization. Senator Paul, Governor Christie recently said, quote, “if you’re getting high in Colorado today,” where marijuana has been legalized, “enjoy it until January 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana.” Will you?

PAUL: I think one of the great problems, and what American people don’t like about politics, is hypocrisy. People have one standard for others and not for them — for themselves.

There is at least one prominent example on the stage of someone who says they smoked pot in high school, and yet the people going to — to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren’t.

I personally think that this is a crime for which the only victim is the individual, and I think that America has to take a different attitude. I would like to see more rehabilitation and less incarceration. I’m a fan of the drug courts which try to direct you back towards work and less time in jail.

But the bottom line is the states. We say we like the 10th Amendment, until we start talking about this. And I think the federal government has gone too far, I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has really damaged our inner cities.

Not only do the drugs damage them, we damage them again by incarcerating them and then preventing them from getting employment over time.

So I don’t think that the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment and I really will say that the states are left to themselves.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: I want to give that — I want to give the person that you called a hypocrite an opportunity to respond. Do you want to identify that person?

PAUL: Well, I think if we left it open, we could see how many people smoked pot in high school.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Is there somebody you were specifically thinking of?

PAUL: Well, you know, the thing is that…

BUSH: He was talking about me.

PAUL: Yeah, I was talking about (inaudible) — well, let me…

TAPPER: That’s what I though, but I wanted (inaudible) to say it.

BUSH: Well, I — I wanted to — be — make it easier for him.

TAPPER: OK.

BUSH: And I just did.

TAPPER: Governor Bush, please.

BUSH: So, 40 years ago, I smoked marijuana, and I admit it. I’m sure that other people might have done it and may not want to say it in front of 25 million people. My mom’s not happy that I just did.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: That’s true. And here’s the deal. Here’s the deal. We have — we have a serious epidemic of drugs that goes way beyond marijuana. What goes on in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned, that should be a state decision.

But if you look at the problem of drugs in this — in this society today, it’s a serious problem. Rand, you know this because you’re campaigning in New Hampshire like all of us, and you see the epidemic of heroin, the overdoses of heroin that’s taking place.

People’s families are — are being torn apart. It is appropriate for the government to play a consistent role to be able to provide more treatment, more prevention — we’re the state that has the most drug courts across every circuit in — in — in Florida, there are drug courts to give people a second chance.

That’s the best way to do this.

PAUL: But let me respond. The thing is, is that in Florida, Governor Bush campaigned against medical marijuana. That means that a small child like Morgan Hintz (ph) that has seizures is day, is failing on non-traditional medications, is not allowed to use cannabis oil.

And if they do that in Florida, they will take the child away, they will put the parents in jail. And that’s what that means if you’re against allowing people use medical marijuana, you’ll actually put them in jail.

BUSH: No, you’re wrong — you’re wrong about this.

PAUL: And actually, under the current circumstances, kids who had privilege like you do, don’t go to jail, but the poor kids in our inner cities go to jail. I don’t think that’s fair. And I think we need to acknowledge it, and it is hypocritical to still want to put poor people in jail… BUSH: I don’t want to put poor people in jail, Randy.

PAUL: Well, you vote — you oppose medical marijuana…

BUSH: Here’s the deal. No, I did not oppose when the legislature passed the bill to deal with that very issue. That’s the way to solve this problem.

Medical marijuana on the ballot was opened up, there was a huge loophole, it was the first step to getting to a (inaudible) place. And as a citizen of Florida, I voted no.

PAUL: But that means you’ll put people in jail.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I want to go right now — I want to go right now…

FIORINA: Jake, may I just say…

CHRISTIE: Jake, you brought my issue up.

TAPPER: That’s true. Go ahead, Christie, please.

CHRISTIE: You know, I enjoy the interplay. Thank you, gentlemen.

I’ll just say this, first off, New Jersey is the first state in the nation that now says if you are non-violent, non-dealing drug user, that you don’t go to jail for your first offense. You go to mandatory treatment.

You see, Jake, I’m pro-life. And I think you need to be pro-life for more than just the time in the womb. It gets tougher when they get out of the womb. And when they’re the 16-year-old drug addict in the Florida county lockup, that life is just as precious as the life in the womb.

And so, that’s why I’m for rehabilitation, why I think the war on drugs has been a failure.

But I’ll end with this. That doesn’t mean we should be legalizing gate way drugs. And if Senator Paul thinks that the only victim is the person, look at the decrease in productivity, look at the way people get used and move on to other drugs when they use marijuana as a gateway drug, it is not them that are the only victims. Their families are the victims too, their children are the victims too, and their employers are the victims also.

That’s why I’ll enforce the federal law, while you can still put an emphasis on rehabilitation, which we’ve done in New Jersey.

PAUL: May I respond?

FIORINA: Jake — Jake…

TAPPER: You may respond, and then I’ll bring in you, Ms. Fiorina.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: Understand what they’re saying. if they’re going to say we are going to enforce the federal law against what the state law is, they aren’t really believing in the Tenth Amendment.

Governor Christie would go into Colorado, and if you’re breaking any federal law on marijuana, even though the state law allows it, he would put you in jail. If a young mother is trying to give her child cannabis oil for medical marijuana for seizure treatment, he would put her in jail, if it violates federal law.

I would let Colorado do what the Tenth Amendment says. This power — we were never intended to have crime dealing at the federal level. Crime was supposed to be left to the states. Colorado has made their decision. And I don’t want the federal government interfering and putting moms in jail, who are trying to get medicine for their kid…

CHRISTIE: And Senator Paul knows that that’s simply not the truth.

In New Jersey, we have medical marijuana laws, which I supported and implemented. This is not medical marijuana. There’s goes as much — a further step beyond. This is recreational use of marijuana.

This is much different. And so, while he would like to use a sympathetic story to back up his point, it doesn’t work. I’m not against medical marijuana. We do it in New Jersey. But I’m against the recreational use against marijuana.

If he wants to change the federal law, get Congress to pass the law to change it, and get a president to sign it.

PAUL: May I respond? May I respond?

TAPPER: Yes, Senator Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: Here is the thing, he doesn’t want to make it about medical marijuana, but what if New Jersey’s medical marijuana contradicts the federal law? He’s saying he’ll send the federal government in, and he will enforce the federal law. That’s not consistent with the Tenth Amendment. It is not consistent with states’ rights. And it is not consistent with the conservative vision for the country.

I don’t think we should be sending the federal police in to arrest a mother and separate them from their child for giving a medicine to their child for seizures.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I want to bring in Ms. Fiorina — I want to bring in Ms. Fiorina on this issue.

FIORINA: I very much hope I am the only person on this stage who can say this, but I know there are millions of Americans out there who will say the same thing.

My husband Frank and I buried a child to drug addiction. So, we must invest more in the treatment of drugs.

FIORINA: I agree with Senator Paul. I agree with states’ rights. But we are misleading young people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer. It’s not. And the marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same as the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago.

(LAUGHTER)

We do — sorry, Barbara. We do need — we do need criminal justice reform. We have the highest incarceration rates in the world. Two- thirds of the people in our prisons are there for non-violent offenses, mostly drug related. It’s clearly not working.

But we need to tell young people the truth. Drug addiction is an epidemic, and it is taking too many of our young people. I know this sadly from personal experience.

TAPPER: Hugh — Hugh, I’d like to…

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Thank you, Jake.

Tomorrow is — Republicans know this — tomorrow is Constitution Day. We’ve been talking about the 10th Amendment. Let’s talk about the Second Amendment.

Governor Bush, one of the things the Supreme Court has gotten right is that it’s an individual right and it’s protected for individuals to hold it.

Last week, you said the next step in gun issues is to make sure they’re not in the hands of mentally ill. In this state, there’s a controversial law that allows guns to be taken away from people without a hearing.

Where does it go — and the problem of violence is endemic, but where does it go from what you said last week, how far into people’s lives to take guns away from them?

BUSH: Not very far.

I think we need to do this state by state. There are places that get this right, and we need to make sure that we protect the privacy laws. This is a complicated place. But I do think the natural impulse on the left — Hillary Clinton, immediately after one of these horrific violent acts took place, immediately said we need to have federal gun laws. President Obama almost reflexively always says the same thing.

And the net result is, you’re going to take away rights of — of law- abiding citizens, the 99.999 percent of the people that are law- abiding citizens. That’s not the right approach to do it. In Florida, we have a background check. We have concealed-weapon permit holders, and in fact, there’s 1,200,000 of them. We have a reduction in violent crime because we put people behind bars when they use a gun in the commission of the crime. That’s the better approach.

But we’re living in a society today where despair kind of grows in isolation.

HEWITT: If a family member calls and says, “My child, my brother, my sister is disturbed,” ought the state be able to go and get their weapon without a hearing?

BUSH: I — I think there needs to be a hearing, but the fact is, we need to encourage that kind of involvement. That’s — that’s exactly what we need to do.

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: There’s a broader issue here, Hugh. And there’s a broader issue here as well.

First of all, the only people that follow the law are law-abiding people. Criminals by definition ignore the law, so you can pass all the gun laws in the world, like the left wants. The criminals are going to ignore it because they are criminals.

Here’s the real issue.

(APPLAUSE)

The real issue — the real issue is not what are people using to commit violence, but why are they committing the violence? And here’s the truth: Because you cannot separate the social, moral wellbeing of your people from their economic and other wellbeing. You cannot separate it.

You can’t have a strong country without strong people, you cannot have strong people without strong values, and you cannot have strong values without strong families and the institutions in this country that defend and support those families.

HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.

RUBIO: Well, and today, we have a left-wing government under this president that is undermining all of the institutions and society that support the family and teach those values.

HEWITT: Senator Cruz, I want to go to you.

Your constitutional litigant (ph), are you afraid of the next- step theory of what happens to Second Amendment rights?

CRUZ: I — I am not, and — and you mentioned that the U.S. Supreme Court had rightly upheld the individual right to keep and bear arms.

I was proud to lead 31 states before the U.S. Supreme Court defending the Second Amendment, and we won that landmark victory. And indeed, just a couple of years ago, when Harry Reid and Barack Obama came after the right to keep and bear arms of millions of Americans, I was proud to lead the fight in the United States Senate to protect our right to keep and bear arms, and for that reason…

HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: … I was honored to be endorsed by Gun Owners of America…

HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: … as the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment on this stage today, and I will…

HEWITT: Thank you, senator.

CRUZ: … fight every day to defend the Bill of Rights.

TAPPER: I’d like to turn it over — I’d like to turn to Dana Bush.

BASH: Mr. Trump, you have said once or twice that you are really rich, and you are by far the richest person on this stage.

Chris Christie says billionaires like you and even people who make and earn far less should no longer get Social Security, or at least there should be limits based on — on their income.

You think he’s wrong, and if so, why?

TRUMP: Speaking for myself, I’m OK with it. I think there’s a certain truth to it. I know people that, frankly, it has no impact on their life whatsoever. There are many people.

I would almost say leave it up to them, but I would be willing to check it off, and say I will not get Social Security. I do not…

BASH: What about the country as a — as a policy?

TRUMP: As a policy, I would almost leave it up to the people. Don’t forget they pay in and they pay in, and maybe they do well, and maybe some people want it. But the fact is that there are people that truly don’t need it, and there are many people that do need it very, very badly. And I would be willing to write mine off 100 percent, Dana.

BASH: So is a voluntary program the way to get the Social Security system solvent again like that.

CHRISTIE: No, it’s not. But with Donald, it’s a good start. That’s really good.

(LAUGHTER)

No, listen. This is an issue that — that we’ve gotta talk about, and we haven’t talked about yet.

71 percent of all federal spending is on entitlements and debt service. When John Kennedy was elected president in 1960, it was 26 percent.

Harvard and Dartmouth says that Social Security’s going to go insolvent in seven to eight years. So what I say is very simple. We need to save this program for the good people out there who have paid into the system and need it.

And if that means making sure that folks like Donald and many of us on the stage don’t get it, that’s the right thing to do because here’s what Hillary Clinton is going to want to do.

She’s going to want to put more money into a system that has already lied to us and stolen from us. This government doesn’t need more money to make Social Security solvent. We need to be not paying out benefits to people who don’t really need it.

We need to protect the people who Social Security means the difference between picking between heat and rent and food. That’s why I put out the proposal and that’s the people I’m trying to…

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I’m coming to you right now on a separate issue, sir. We received…

(UNKNOWN): Well, I want to talk about this issue for a moment.

TAPPER: We received a lot of questions from social media about climate change.

Senator Rubio, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, George Shultz, reminds us that when Reagan was president he faced a similar situation to the one that we’re facing now. There were dire warnings from the mass consensus of the scientific community about the ozone layer shrinking.

Shultz says Ronald Reagan urged skeptics in industry to come up with a plan. He said, do it as an insurance policy in case the scientists are right. The scientists were right. Reagan and his approach worked.

Secretary Shultz asks, why not take out an insurance policy and approach climate change the Reagan way?

RUBIO: Because we’re not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government that we are under now wants to do. We’re not going to…

TAPPER: I’m citing George Shultz.

RUBIO: Well, and I don’t — he may have lined up with their positions on this issue. But here is the bottom line. Every proposal they put forward are going to be proposals that will make it harder to do business in America, that will make it harder to create jobs in America.

Single parents are already struggling across this country to provide for their families. Maybe a billionaire here in California can afford an increase in their utility rates, but a working family in Tampa, Florida, or anywhere across this country cannot afford it.

So we are not going to destroy our economy. We are not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing to change our climate, to change our weather, because America is a lot of things, the greatest country in the world, absolutely.

But America is not a planet. And we are not even the largest carbon producer anymore, China is. And they’re drilling a hole and digging anywhere in the world that they can get a hold of.

So the bottom line is, I am not in favor of any policies that make America a harder place for people to live, or to work, or to raise their families.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Governor Christie, you have said that climate change is real, and that humans help contribute to it. Without getting into the issue of China versus the United States, which I understand you’ve talked about before, what do you make of skeptics of climate change such as Senator Rubio?

CHRISTIE: I don’t think Senator Rubio is a skeptic of climate change. I think what Senator Rubio said I agree with. That in fact we don’t need this massive government intervention to deal with the problem.

Look at what we have done in New Jersey. We have already reached our clean air goals for 2020. And when I was governor, I pulled out of the regional cap and trade deal, the only state in the Northeast that did that. And we still reached our goals.

Why? Because 53 percent of our electricity comes from nuclear. We use natural gas. We use solar power. We’re the third-highest- using solar power state. You know why? Because we made all of those things economically feasible.

I agree with Marco. We shouldn’t be destroying our economy in order to chase some wild left-wing idea that somehow us by ourselves is going to fix the climate. We can contribute to that and be economically sound.

We have proven we can do that in New Jersey. Nuclear needs to be back on the table in a significant way in this country if we want to go after this problem.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Just for the record, I was citing Secretary of State George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state who I don’t think anybody would call him left-wing. CHRISTIE: I understand. No, no, listen, everybody makes a mistake

every once in a while, Jake, even George Shultz. And if that’s truly a representation of what he believes we should be doing, then with all due respect to the former secretary of state, I disagree with him.

RUBIO: Jake, you mentioned me and called me a denier. Let me say, climate change…

TAPPER: I called you a skeptic.

RUBIO: OK. A skeptic. You can measure the climate. You can measure it. That’s not the issue we’re discussing. Here is what I’m skeptical of. I’m skeptical of the decisions that the left wants us to make, because I know the impact those are going to have and they’re all going to be on our economy.

They will not do a thing to lower the rise of the sea. They will not do a thing to cure the drought here in California. But what they will do is they will make America a more expensive place to create jobs.

And today with millions of people watching this broadcast that are struggling paycheck to paycheck that do not know how they’re going to pay their bills at the end of this month, I’m not in favor of anything that is going to make it harder for them to raise their family.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I want to go another question right now.

(CROSSTALK) WALKER: … a lot of those people, though, and I’m going to echo what Senator Rubio just said. This is an issue where, we’re talking about my state, it’s thousands of manufacturing jobs. Thousands of manufacturing jobs for a rule the Obama administration, own EPA has said will have a marginal impact on climate change.

So we’re going to put thousands and thousands of jobs in my state, I think it’s something like 30,000 in Ohio, other states across this country, we’re going to put people — manufacturing jobs, the kind of jobs that are far greater than minimum wage, this administration is willing to put at risk for something its own EPA says is marginal (ph)…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

(CROSSTALK)

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I’m turning to…

PAUL: If you want a skeptic — if you want a skeptic, Jake, I will happily jump into that briar patch. If you want a real…

TAPPER: …I’m turning to another — I’m turning to another issue right now. Senator Cruz. Well, I think we’ve heard from several this evening. A backlash against vaccines was blamed for a measles outbreak here in

California. Dr. Carson, Donald Trump has publicly and repeatedly linked vaccines, childhood vaccines, to autism, which, as you know, the medical community adamantly disputes.

You’re a pediatric neurosurgeon. Should Mr. Trump stop saying this?

CARSON: Well, let me put it this way, there has — there have been numerous studies, and they have not demonstrated that there is any correlation between vaccinations and autism.

This was something that was spread widely 15 or 20 years ago, and it has not been adequately, you know, revealed to the public what’s actually going on. Vaccines are very important. Certain ones. The ones that would prevent death or crippling.

There are others, there are a multitude of vaccines which probably don’t fit in that category, and there should be some discretion in those cases. But, you know, a lot of this is — is — is pushed by big government.

And I think that’s one of the things that people so vehemently want to get rid of, big government. You know, we have 4.1 million federal employees. Six hundred and fifty federal agencies and department (sic).

That’s why they have to take so much of our taxes. TAPPER: Should he stop saying it? Should he stop saying that vaccines cause autism?

CARSON: Well, you know, I’ve just explained it to him. He can read about it if he wants to. I think he’s an intelligent man and will make the correct decision after getting the real facts.

TAPPER: Mr. Trump, as president, you would…

TRUMP: Well, I — I — I’d like to respond.

TAPPER: I’m going right to you.

TRUMP: I’d like to respond.

TAPPER: Mr. Trump, as president, you would be in charge of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, both of which say you are wrong. How would you handle this as president?

TRUMP: Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control.

I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. Because you take a baby in — and I’ve seen it — and I’ve seen it, and I had my children taken care of over a long period of time, over a two or three year period of time.

Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump — I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child, and we’ve had so many instances, people that work for me.

Just the other day, two years old, two and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.

I only say it’s not — I’m in favor of vaccines, do them over a longer period of time, same amount.

TAPPER: Thank you.

TRUMP: But just in — in little sections.

TAPPER: Dr. — Dr. Carson?

TRUMP: I think — and I think you’re going to have — I think you’re going to see a big impact on autism.

TAPPER: Dr. Carson, you just heard his medical take.

(LAUGHTER)

CARSON: He’s an OK doctor.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

CARSON: But, you know, the fact of the matter is, we have extremely well-documented proof that there’s no autism associated with vaccinations. But it is true that we are probably giving way too many in too short a period of time.

And a lot of pediatricians now recognize that, and, I think, are cutting down on the number and the proximity in which those are done, and I think that’s appropriate.

TRUMP: And that’s all I’m saying, Jake. That’s all I’m saying.

TAPPER: Dr. Paul? Dr. Paul, I’d like to bring you in.

PAUL: A second opinion?

(LAUGHTER)

One of the greatest — one of the greatest medical discoveries of all times was — were the vaccines, particularly for smallpox. And if you want to read a story, it’s called The Speckled Monster, it’s an amazing story, it was all done voluntary.

But people came in by the droves. George Washington wouldn’t let his wife visit until she got vaccinated. So I’m all for vaccines. But I’m also for freedom.

I’m also a little concerned about how they’re bunched up. My kids had all of their vaccines, and even if the science doesn’t say bunching them up is a problem, I ought to have the right to spread out my vaccines out a little bit at the very least.

TAPPER: Alright, thank you so much…

HUCKABEE: Jake? Jake?

TAPPER: Coming up — I’m sorry, Governor Huckabee, please.

HUCKABEE: I think we need to remember that there are maybe some controversies about autism, but there is no controversy about the things that are really driving the medical costs in this country.

And I would really believe that the next president ought to declare a war on cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, because those are the four things that are causing the greatest level of cost.

John Kennedy said, “we’ll go to the moon in a decade and bring a man back,” and we did it. I grew up in the ’50s. I remember the polio vaccine. We saved billions of dollars since that time, because we haven’t had to treat for polio.

Why doesn’t this country focus on cures rather than treatment? Why don’t we put a definitive focus scientifically on finding the cure for cancer, for heart disease, for diabetes and for Alzheimer’s, a disease alone that will cost us —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

HUCKABEE: $1.1 trillion by the year 2050. We change the economy and the country.

TAPPER: We have to take another quick break. Coming up, Ronald Reagan looming large over this debate. So how Reaganesque exactly are these Republicans? We will find out next.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN’s Republican Presidential Debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. We have a few last questions for you. Two of them a little lighthearted, the other one more serious. We’ll start with one of the more light questions. Senator Paul, I’m going to start with you and we’re just going to go down the line.

Earlier this year, the Treasury Department announced that a woman will appear on the $10 bill. What woman would you like to see on the $10 bill?

PAUL: Ooh, that’s a tough one. You know, I’m big on — that we were — and I love what Carly said about women’s suffrage. I think Susan B. Anthony might be a good choice.

TAPPER: Governor Huckabee?

HUCKABEE: That’s an easy one. I’d put my wife on there. (LAUGHTER)

I’ve been married to her 41 years. She’s fought cancer and lived through it. She’s raised three kids, five great grandkids, and she’s put up with me. I mean, who else could possibly be on that money other than my wife. And that way, she could spend her own money with her face.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Senator Paul (sic).

RUBIO: Senator Rubio, you mean?

TAPPER: I’m sorry. Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: I know we all look alike.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Just the senators.

RUBIO: The — Rosa Parks, an everyday American that changed the course of history.

TAPPER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, I wouldn’t change the $10 bill, I’d change the $20. I’d take Jackson off and I’d leave Alexander Hamilton right where he is as one of our Founding Fathers.

(APPLAUSE)

And I very much agree with Marco that it should be Rosa Parks. She was a principled pioneer that helped change this country, helped remedy racial injustice, and that would be an honor that would be entirely appropriate.

TAPPER: Dr. Carson?

CARSON: I’d put my mother on there. You know, she was one of 24 children, got married at age 13, had only a third grade education, had to raise two sons by herself, refused to be a victim. Wouldn’t let us be victims, and has been an inspiration to many people.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Well, because she’s been sitting for three hours, I think my daughter, Ivanka, who’s right here.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Other than that we’ll go with Rosa Parks. I like that.

TAPPER: Governor Bush.

BUSH: I would go with Ronald Reagan’s partner, Margaret Thatcher. Probably illegal, but what the heck?

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Since it’s not going to happen. A strong leader is what we need in the White House, and she certainly was a strong leader that restored the United Kingdom into greatness.

TAPPER: Governor Walker. WALKER: First of all, I got to say to Carson, Huckabee, thanks a lot for making the rest of us look like chumps up here, but, I’d pick Clara Barton. I once worked for the American Red Cross, she was a great founder of the Red Cross.

TAPPER: Mrs. Fiorina.

FIORINA: I wouldn’t change the $10 bill, or the $20 bill. I think, honestly, it’s a gesture. I don’t think it helps to change our history. What I would think is that we ought to recognize that women are not a special interest group. Women are the majority of this nation. We are half the potential of this nation, and this nation will be better off when every woman has the opportunity to live the life she chooses.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Governor Kasich.

KASICH: Well, it’s probably not, maybe, legal, but, I would pick Mother Theresa, the lady that I had a chance to meet, a woman who lived a life so much bigger than her own. An inspiration to everyone when we think about our responsibility to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

TAPPER: Governor Christie.

CHRISTIE: I think the Adams family has been shorted in the currency business. Our country wouldn’t be here without John Adams, and he would not have been able to do it without Abigal Adams, so, I’d put Abigail Adams on the bill.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Alright. Some good entries if anybody at the mint was listening. Here’s the next lighthearted question, you all know that the United States Secret Service uses codenames for the president, and his family. Ronald Reagan’s codename, for example, was, “Rawhide”, an homage to his performances in Westerns. Nancy Reagan’s was, “Rainbow”.

You don’t have to come up the one for your spouse, but, what would you want, Governor Christie, I’ll start with you, your Secret Service codename to be.

(LAUGHTER) CHRISTIE: You know, I’ve been called a lot of names by a lot of different people, and now I got to get called by names by the Secret Service?

I would just say True Heart.

KASICH: Well, I have one now — they (ph) call me, “Unit One”.

My wife says, “You’ll never be Unite One, I’m Unite One. You’re Unit Two.” FIORINA: Secretariat.

TAPPER: Governor Walker?

WALKER: Harley. I love riding Harley’s.

BUSH: Ever Ready, it’s very high energy, Donald.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Humble.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

MALE: That’s a good one.

TAPPER: Dr. Carson?

CARSON: One Nation.

TAPPER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: You know, as a Cuban, I might go with Cohiba (ph), and I’ll tell you, I’d go with, for Heidi, Angel, because she is my angel.

TAPPER: Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: Well, there are some people in Florida upset at me over a joke I made about Florida State, but, what the heck, I want my codename to be Gator.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Governor Huckabee.

HUCKABEE: I’d go with Duck Hunter.

TAPPER: Senator Paul.

PAUL: Justice Never Sleeps.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: That’s a mouthful, but OK.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: OK, here’s the more serious question, Ronald Reagan, the 40th President, used the plane behind you to accomplish a great many things. Perhaps, most notably, to challenge Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the wall, and ultimately, to make peace with the USSR.

How will the world look different once your Air Force One is parked in the hangar of your presidential library?

Senator Paul?

PAUL: I met Ronald Reagan as a teenager, and my family, we’re big supporters of him when he ran against Gerald Ford. It was a big deal because he was the grassroots, running against the establishment, and I’ll never forget that. And, how he stood up and said, you know what, this is something new that our country needs, and our party needs.

If I were president, I would try to be one who says, you know what, I’m a Reagan Conservative. I’m someone who believes in peace through strength, and I would try to lead the country in that way knowing that our goal is peace, and that war is the last resort, not the first resort. And, that when we go to war, we go to war in a constitutional way, which means that we have to vote on it, that war is initiated by congress, not by the president, that we go to war electively (ph). That when we go to war, we don’t fight with one arm tied behind our back, we fight all out to win, but then we come home.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: At the end of my presidency I would like to believe that the world would be a safe place, and there wouldn’t be the threats. not only to the U.S., but to Israel and our allies, because we would have the most incredible well-trained, well-equipped, well- prepared military in the history of mankind. And they would know that the commander-in-chief would never send them to a mission without all the resources necessary, but people wouldn’t bully us anymore. Because they would know that that would be an invitation to their destruction.

Domestically, we would be operating under a tax system that eliminated the IRS. People wouldn’t be punished for their work, and for what they produced.

And life would be really deemed precious. Abortion would be no more. It would be as much of a scourge in our past as slavery is. And we would have a peaceful country, where people respected each other and people respected law enforcement. And we would focus on cures.

And we would make this country not only safe from our enemies without, but safe from the enemies within. And it would be a good place to raise our kids and our grandkids.

(APPLAUSE) RUBIO: One of the things that made Ronald Reagan a great president, is that he understood that America was a unique nation, like any other that had existed throughout human history. He knew it was founded on universal principles that were powerful, the dignity of all people, human rights, the rights of all to live in freedom and liberty, and choose their own path in life. He didn’t just believe it, he acted on it. That’s why bringing down communism was so important to him. If I’m honored with the opportunity to be president, I hope that our Air Force One will fly, first and foremost, to our allies; in Israel, in South Korea, and Japan. They know we stand with them. That America can be counted on.

It would also fly to China, not just to meet with our enemies, not just to meet with those adversaries of ours that are there, but also to meet with those that aspire to freedom and liberty within China. I would even invite them to my inauguration.

We would also fly into Moscow and into Russia. And not just meet with the leaders of Russia, but also meet with those who aspire to freedom and liberty in Russia. And ultimately, I hope that my Air Force One, if I become president, will one day land in a free Cuba, where its people can choose its leaders and its own destiny.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: Ronald Reagan believed in America.

If I’m elected president our friends and allies across the globe will know that we stand with them. the bust of Winston Churchill will be back in the Oval Office, and the American embassy in Israel will be in Jerusalem.

Enemies across this world will know the United States is not to be trifled with. ISIS will be defeated. We will have a president willing to utter the words, “radical Islamic terrorism,” and the Ayatollah Khamenei will understand that he will never, ever, ever acquire nuclear weapons.

Here at home, we’ll reignite the promise of America. Young people coming out of school, with student loans up to their eyeballs, will find instead of no jobs, two, three, four, five job opportunities.

How will that happen? Through tax reform. We’ll pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. And through regulatory reform, we will repeal every word of Obamacare.

You want to know what I’ll do as president? It is real simple. We’ll kill the terrorists, we’ll repeal Obamacare, and we will defend the Constitution, every single word of it.

(APPLAUSE)

CARSON: Well, you know, I was a radical Democrat before I started listening to Ronald Reagan. And he didn’t sound like what they said Republicans were. He sounded logical. And I hope that I sound logical also. Because when

I look at what is going on with the United States of America, I see a lot of things that are not logical.

I see us allowing people to divide us, when in fact our strength is in our unity. I see people exercising the most irresponsible fiscal habits that anyone could possibly do. And hiding it from the American people, so that the majority of people have no idea what our financial situation is.

So, when someone comes along and says, free college, free phones, free this and that, and the other, they say, “wow, that’s nice,” having no idea that they’re destabilizing our position. And I think also that Ronald Reagan was a master at understanding that a pinnacle nation has to be a nation that leads.

If we learn to lead in the Middle East right now, a coalition will form behind us, but never they do it if we just sit there and talk about it.

Real leadership is what I would hopefully bring to America.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: If I become president, we will do something really special. We will make this country greater than ever before. We’ll have more jobs. We’ll have more of everything.

We were discussing disease, we were discussing all sorts of things tonight, many of which will just be words, it will just pass on. I don’t want to say politicians, all talk, no action. But a lot of what we talked about is words and it will be forgotten very quickly.

If I’m president, many of the things that we discussed tonight will not be forgotten. We’ll find solutions. And the world will respect us. They will respect us like never before. And it will be actually a friendlier world.

And I have to say, it is a great honor to be here tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Six million more people are living in poverty than the day that Barack Obama got elected president. Six million more people. The middle class has had declining income, workforce participation rates are lower than they were in 1977.

For the first time in modern history, more businesses are failing than are being created. That is what the next president will have to deal with.

And I believe we can reverse course by creating a strategy of high sustained economic growth, not the new normal of 2 percent that all the left says we just have to get used to, but a 4 percent growth strategy where we reform how we tax, fix the broken regulatory system, embrace the energy revolution in our midst, fix the immigration system so we can turn it into an economic driver, deal with the structural fiscal problems that exist because of our entitlement problems that will overwhelm and create way too much debt.

If we grow at 4 percent, people are going to be lifted out of poverty. The great middle that defines our country will have a chance to be able to pursue their dreams as they see fit.

That should be the great challenge and the great opportunity for the next president of the United States, to forge consensus to go back to a high-growth strategy. And then we’ll be able to lead the world.

Without a high-growth strategy, our country will never have the resources or the optimism to be able to lead the world, which the world desperately needs our leadership.

(APPLAUSE)

WALKER: Well, I turned 13 years old two days before Ronald Reagan was first elected. A lot of people forget this, but just a few days before that election 1980, he was behind in the polls.

And I think what changed things was people in America realized they didn’t want to hear what was bad about America, they wanted to know how it was going to be better. Ronald Reagan wasn’t just a conservative Republican, he was an eternal optimist in the American people.

And I am too. So here’s what I think will make America better. We need to live in a world where our children are free, are free from the threats of radical Islamic terrorism.

We need to live in an America where we have an economy, where everyone can live their piece of the American dream, no matter what that dream is. And we need to live in an America where we have a federal government that is not too big to fail, but ultimately small enough to succeed, where we send powers back to the states and back to the people.

That’s what I did in Wisconsin. We took on the big government union bosses, the big government special interests, many of whom came in from Washington, to spend millions of dollars to try and take me out because we stood up to them, we didn’t back down in any of those instances.

If you give me the chance as your next president, I won’t back down any day, anyway, anyhow. I’ll fight and win for you and your families every single day I’m in office.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: I think what this nation can be and must be is symbolized by Lady Liberty and Lady Justice. Lady Liberty stands tall and strong. She is clear-eyed and resolute. She doesn’t shield her eyes from the realities of the world, but she faces outward into the world nevertheless, as we always must.

And she holds her torch high, because she knows she is a beacon of hope in a very troubled world.

And Lady Justice, Lady Justice holds a sword by her side, because she is a fighter, a warrior for the values and the principles that have made this nation great. She holds a scale in her other hand. And with that scale she says all of us are equal in the eyes of God. And so all of us must be equal in the eyes of the law and the government, powerful and powerless alike.

And she wears a blindfold. And with that blindfold she is saying to us that it must be true, it can be true that in this country, in this century, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter how you start, it doesn’t matter your circumstances, here in this nation, every American’s life must be filled with the possibilities that come from their God-given gifts.

One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

(APPLAUSE)

KASICH: Well, as president, I will make this a nation that will solve problems. And how? By having the elected officials and the leaders realize they’re Americans before they’re Republicans or Democrats. I did it in Washington. And I’ve done it in Ohio by having the elected officials realize that they’re Ohioans before anything else.

Secondly, I will rebuild the relationships and show the respect to our allies around the world. We have no choice but to do that. We will be stronger when we are unified. And we’ll fight for freedom and for human rights.

And finally, a little bit of what Carly said. The people that are out there listening, America was never great because we ran America from the top down. America is great because we have run America from the bottom up, where we all live in the neighborhoods.

One more time in America, we need to revive the concept of citizenship, where everybody’s actions make a huge difference in changing the world. We have a Holocaust memorial on our state house grounds. And there is one line on there that stands out all the time. “If you’ve saved one life, you’ve changed the world.”

We need to adopt that as citizens and rebuild and reinspire our country. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: I turned 18 in 1980, and my first vote was for Ronald Reagan. Boy, am I glad I did it. And I think the country is, too. A Christie presidency won’t be about me. It will be about you.

Tonight, you sit at home in your living room, frustrated that you play by the rules, you pay the taxes, you do the hard things to raise your family, yet you feel like America’s generosity is being taken advantage of. That you’ve been — system is being gamed, and that you’re turning out to fall further and further behind. Our presidency — our presidency — will be about ending that, about

enforcing the law, level the playing field for everybody, and once again reward those folks who play by the rules, and think that justice means more than just the word. But it means a way of life.

And I will tell you this, around the world, I will not shake hands with, I will not meet with, and I will not agree to anything with a country that says death to us and death to Israel and holds our hostages while we sign agreements with them.

It will be an America that be strong and resolute, and will once again be able to stick out its chest and say, “we truly are the greatest nation in the world, because we live our lives that way, each and every day.”

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: That concludes this Republican presidential debate. On behalf of everyone here at CNN, we want to thank the candidates, the Reagan Library, and the Republican National Committee. Thank you, also, to Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash.

The next presidential debate will also be right here on CNN, among the Democratic candidates, who will face off for the first time on October the 13th. That debate, a partnership with Facebook, will be moderated by my colleague, Anderson Cooper.

And Anderson picks up our coverage of tonight’s debate right now. Before I throw to Anderson, let’s have one final round of applause for the candidates.

(APPLAUSE)

 

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 September 16, 2015: CNN Republican Early Lower Tier Debate Transcript Lindsey Graham Wins

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

CNN Early Lower Tier Debate Transcript

Source: CNN, 9-16-15

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

GOP Presidential Debate. Aired 6-7:45p ET.

Aired September 16, 2015 – 18:00   ET

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

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It’s debate night for the Republicans. The candidates are here. The pressure is on, and the stakes are higher than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: In the California hills, an epic rematch is about to begin against the backdrop of history, and Ronald Reagan’s legacy. When it’s over, the fight for the nation’s highest office won’t be the same.

TRUMP: How stupid are our leaders? How stupid are they?

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, a debate double header at the Reagan Library. A second chance for voters to compare the candidates side by side.

TRUMP: I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.

ANNOUNCER: The front runner, riding a wave of anger at political insiders, and railing against his rivals.

TRUMP: You notice Jeb never uses his last name? Why? Because he’s ashamed of it.

ANNOUNCER: The early favorite. He’s stumbled as Trump gained momentum. Now, he’s hitting back hard.

BUSH: This guy is now the front runner. He should be held to account, just like me.

ANNOUNCER: Outsiders on the rise. A retired neurosurgeon, and a former CEO. They shined in the first debate, now he’s closing in on the leader.

CARSON: Do I want to respond to Donald Trump’s charges? I’m not going there.

ANNOUNCER: Eleven other candidates are fighting to stand out from the pack.

WALKER(?): How are you? Good to see you.

ANNOUNCER: The Senators. Power players distancing themselves from the culture of the capital. CRUZ: If you see a candidate who Washington is races (ph), run

and hide.

ANNOUNCER: The governors. Chief executives with mixed success in their bids to be commander in chief.

WALKER: You see, talk is cheap. We need action.

ANNOUNCER: The campaign veterans, struggling in an election season when experience does not seem to count.

SANTORUM: Today is the day we are going to begin to fight back.

ANNOUNCER: Now, the stage is set for a crowded clash.

FIORINA: Donald Trump is an entertainer, and, I think, I am a leader.

ANNOUNCER: Of hot button issues.

HUCKABEE: Marriage is what it has always been, and what the Bible says it to be.

ANNOUNCER: And big personalities.

TRUMP: I will build a great, great wall, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall.

ANNOUNCER: If you thought round one was intense, you haven’t seen anything yet.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: We’re live at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California for one of the most highly anticipated primary season debates ever. On this stage 15 candidates in two rounds of questioning with one goal, to show they have what it takes to be the Republican Presidential Nominee.

Welcome to our viewers, I’m Jake Tapper. Tonight’s debate is airing on CNN networks around the world, and, of course, here in the United States. It’s also being broadcast across the country on the Salmen (ph) Radio Network.

We want to thank our host, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, and the Reagan Library for this very impressive setting, the Air Force One pavilion. Behind me, you can see the actual plane…

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: (APPLAUSE)…That Ronald Reagan flew in when he was president.

Now, because the GOP field is so large, we have divided the candidates into two groups based on their rankings in recent national polls. Later this evening we will hear from the top 11 contenders. The other four candidates are taking part in the first round, and they are ready to join us now.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

(APPLAUSE)

Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal.

(APPLAUSE)

The former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

and former New York Governor, George Pataki.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentleman, please welcome these Republican candidates for President of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

And, now, if you would, please rise for our national anthem performed by actress and singer, Natalie Hill.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(APPLAUSE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I’d like to ask the candidates to please take their podiums while I tell you a little more about how tonight debate will work.

I’m Jake Tapper. I’ll be the moderator.

Joining me in the questioning, Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt; he worked in the Reagan administration for six years and CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: I will follow up and guide the discussion; candidates, I’ll try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions. You’ll have one minute to answer questions and 30 seconds for followups and rebuttals. I’ll give you time to respond if you have been singled out for criticism.

We have timing lights that are visible to the candidates. Those lights will warn them when their time is up.

Our goal tonight is to have a true debate, candidates actually addressing each other in areas where they disagree, where they differ on policy, on politics and on leadership.

Now that everyone is in place, it’s time for the candidates to introduce themselves to our audience. Please keep it brief. Governor Pataki, you’re first.

GEORGE PATAKI, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: Thank you, Jake.

Hi, I’m George Pataki, and I am honored to be here this afternoon with all of you at the Reagan Library.

You know, when I think of Ronald Reagan, I think of his tremendous smile, a smile that reflected his optimism and his unending belief and faith in America and in Americans.

And it was that belief in America that led to a great presidency, a presidency that led to decades of safety, security and prosperity for America. That’s exactly the type of leadership we need in Washington today and that’s why I’m running for President of the United States. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER SENATOR: Hi, I’m Rick Santorum. Some of you may know me because I led the fight to end partial birth abortion. Some of you may know me because the I led the fight to end welfare as we know it, put people back to work, reduce poverty and reduce the federal budget.

Some of you may know me because I successfully put sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program in Congress, over opposition of both parties initially.

But hopefully, most of you know me most because I’m the proud father of seven children with particularly a special little disabled girl, who is the heart and core of my heart and married to a wonderful woman named Karen for 25 years, who is the love of my life.

(APPLAUSE)

BOBBY JINDAL (R), GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA: Hi, I’m Bobby Jindal.

Now, look, I don’t have a famous last name. My daddy didn’t run for president. I don’t have a reality TV show. I’ll tell you what I do have, I’ve got the backbone, I’ve got the bandwidth, I’ve got the experience to get us through these tough times, to make sure that we don’t turn the American dream into the European nightmare. Thank you for having me today.

(APPLAUSE)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), S.C.: One, thanks, CNN, for having people at this debate.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: I’m Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, in case you can’t tell. I want to thank Ms. Reagan (ph) for inviting me. It means the world to me. I’m the only candidate tonight who served in the military while Ronald Reagan was our president and our commander in chief. It was one of the highlights of my life.

I’m running for president to destroy radical Islam, to win the war on terror, to protect you and your family.

GRAHAM: And in that quest, I have an uncompromising determination to win this war, just like President Reagan had an uncompromising determination to destroy the evil empire, and win the Cold War.

Above all others on both sides of the isle, I’m most qualified to be commander and chief on day one — 33 years in the Air Force, 35 trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, I understand this war. I have a plan to win it, and I intend to win it.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you candidates. We’re going to talk a lot about policy and your proposals this evening.

But first, Governor Jindal, I want to start with you. You have said that the front runner, Donald Trump, is a, quote, “unstable, narcissistic, ego maniac.” Now, we are in the house of Reagan, who made famous the so-called 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of thy fellow Republican.”

What drove you to violate that unofficial commandment?

JINDAL: Well, Jake, I’m in compliance with the 11th Commandment, and I would tell my fellow Republicans, let’s stop treating Donald Trump like a Republican. If he were really a conservative…

(APPLAUSE)

If he were really a conservative and 30 points ahead, I would endorse him. He’s not a conservative. He’s not a liberal. He’s not a Democrat. He’s not a Republican. He’s not an independent. He believes in Donald Trump.

Here is the reality, the idea of America is slipping away. Eighteen trillion dollars of debt, Planned Parenthood selling baby parts across our country. Our government is creating a new entitlement program, when we can’t afford the government we’ve got today.

We’ve got a president who won’t even say the words radical Islamic terrorism. He has declared war on trans fats and a truce with Iran. Think about that. He’s more worried about Twinkies than he is about the ayatollahs having a nuclear weapon.

(APPLAUSE) That’s what is happening, the idea of America is slipping away. We must not let that happen on our watch. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to rescue the idea of America, the choice for conservatives. Do we depend on proven conservative principles like Ronald Reagan did, or do we turn this over to a narcissist who only believes in himself…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: Thank you, Jake.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Senator Santorum, do you think Governor Jindal is wrong for attacking your party’s front runner?

SANTORUM: I think personal attacks, just please one person, Hillary Clinton.

And all we do when we go after each other — and we’ve seen a bunch of it, from people up on this stage, people who are going to be on the stage afterwards, who go after and make personal attacks on people. There are plenty of policy differences between the candidates up here and the candidates later.

Donald Trump has ever right to run for president as a Republican, as anybody else in this audience, and he may have positions I disagree with, but he has the right to do that and the people should be given the benefit of the doubt for people to see through these things.

I don’t think it helps when Republicans attack Republicans personally. I’ll say some things tonight which will be very big differences. The issue of immigration is one that there are huge differences in this field, and I will be out there talking about how we have to control immigration. How we have to look after the American worker.

The focus of this debate should be on how we’re going to win this election and help improve the quality of life for American workers, and we aren’t doing that, when we’re out there picking at each other and calling each other names.

The name we should call out is, what are we going to do for average Americans losing ground in America today. And that should be our focus.

TAPPER: Thank you.

Governor Jindal, do you want to respond to that?

(APPLAUSE)

JINDAL: Absolutely. Look, the reality is, Hillary Clinton is gift-wrapping this election to us. They are running their weakest candidate. They have got a socialist that is gaining on Hillary Clinton. Folks, you can’t make that up. A socialist is doing well in the Democratic primary.

The best way for us to give this election back would be to nominate a Donald Trump. He’ll implode in the general election, or if, God forbid, if he were in the White House, we have no idea what he would do.

You can’t just attack him on policy. He doesn’t care about policy. It’s not enough to say he was for socialized medicine or higher taxes…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: He’s not serious.

TAPPER: Senator Santorum, just to assure you, we will get to those issues. But just a couple more on this general subject.

Senator Graham, you have called Donald Trump a, quote, “wrecking ball for the Republican party.” Voters in your home state of South Carolina, in a recent poll, prefer Donald Trump 30 percent to your 4 percent.

How do you explain why so many of your constituents would rather have Donald Trump as the Republican nominee than you?

GRAHAM: Well, all I can say, if you looked at polling in 2012 and 2008 at this level, we’d have — at this stage, we would have President Perry and President Giuliani. I have a long way to go.

And here’s what I’m going to try to do tonight — convince you that I’m best qualified to be the commander-in-chief of the one percent who are doing the fighting for the rest of us. And we’ll have a serious discussion tonight.

GRAHAM: All of us are going to say we want to destroy ISIL.

But here’s what I’m going to tell you. What we’re doing is not working. I have a plan to do it. If I’m president of the United States, we’re going to send more ground forces into Iraq because we have to. President Obama made a huge mistake by leaving too soon against sound military advice.

To every candidate tonight, are you willing to commit before the American people that you will destroy ISIL and you understand we need a ground force to do it?

Are you willing — Jake, please ask everybody the following question.

Would you go from 3,500 to 10,000 American boots on the ground in Iraq to destroy ISIL?

Because if you don’t, we’re going to lose.

Are you willing to send American combat forces into Syria as part of a regional army, because if you don’t, we’ll never destroy ISIL in Syria.

If you’re not ready to these things you’re not ready to be commander-in-chief.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Graham.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: We’re going to bring in Hugh Hewitt now, who has a question for Governor Pataki.

HUGH HEWITT, TALK RADIO HOST: Thank you, Jake.

Governor, you signed the pledge to support the Republican nominee and you promptly broke it. By doing so, by Tweeting out that you would not support Donald Trump, have you released Donald Trump to be a free agent again or anyone else in the field?

GEORGE PATAKI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. Hugh, not at all. I have not broken the pledge because Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee, period, flat out, I guarantee you that. I would vote…

HEWITT: Governor…

PATAKI: — for the Republican nominee…

HEWITT: — you said on Twitter that you would not support Donald Trump.

If he’s the nominee…

PATAKI: He’s not going to be the nominee.

HEWITT: — will you support him?

PATAKI: He’s not going to be the nominee, Hugh. And let me just say one word here. This is an important election with an enormous number of challenges facing the American people. And the first four questions are about Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: Would you really vote for Hillary Clinton…

PATAKI: No, I would not vote for Hillary Clinton.

HEWITT: — or vote for Donald Trump if he’s the nominee?

PATAKI: No, I will vote for the Republican nominee. But let me say this flat out, Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States or the Republican Party’s nominee.

Look at what he did in Atlantic City.

He says he’s going to make America great again?

He invested four casinos in Atlantic City and he said, essentially, I’m going to make Atlantic City great again.

Every one of those casinos went bankrupt. Over 5,000 Americans lost their job. And you know people who, in this difficult economic time, have lost their job and the pain that causes.

He didn’t lose anything, 5,000 lost their jobs. He will do for America what he did for Atlantic City and that is not someone we will nominate.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

PATAKI: Thank you.

TAPPER: Senator Graham?

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: One of the — the reasons why Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are doing well is because they are political outsiders. In fact, that’s one of the things — in fact, there are two things that they have in common. They’ve never been elected to office before and they’re doing better than all of you in the polls.

The four of you have a combined seven decades in elected office.

Senator Graham, in this election season, do Republican voters see your service in government as a liability and not an asset?

GRAHAM: Well, what I hope Republican voters, libertarian, vegetarians, Democrats, you name it, will look for somebody to lead us in a new direction, domestically, but particularly on the foreign policy front.

President Obama is making a mess of the world. What I’m trying to tell you here tonight, that Syria is hell on Earth and it’s not going to get fixed by insulting each other. I’ve been there 35 times to Iraq and Afghanistan. I am ready to be commander-in-chief on day one.

I’ve been in the military 33 years, 140 days on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am so ready to get on with winning a war that we can’t afford to lose.

I hope you believe that experience matters. It’s an all- volunteer force of — when you vote for commander-in-chief, they are stuck with your choice. We’ve had one novice being commander-in- chief. Let’s don’t replace one novice with another.

And if I thought…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: — I could win this war without more American ground forces in Iraq and Syria, I would tell you, but we can’t…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: — and if we don’t get on with this, they are coming here.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

Let’s turn to the topic of immigration.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: For that, I want to bring in my colleague, Dana Bash.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Senator Santorum, Governor Jindal has supported a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants once the border is secure.

Why do you disagree with that?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, in fact, just about everybody in this field supports some pathway to citizenship. There are just a few, Governor Jindal, Senator Cruz, Senator Rubio, Jeb Bush, a lot of others, Senator Graham, all support some sort of amnesty at some point in time or another.

And this is really the interesting thing about this whole debate. This debate should not be about what we’re going to do with someone who’s here illegally.

SANTORUM: This debate should not be about what we’re going to do with someone who’s here illegally; This debate should be about what — what every other debate on every other policy issue is in America. What’s in the best interest of hardworking Americans? What’s in the best interest of our country.

We’ve had to focus because the other side has set up for us, here is who we have to be concerned about on the issue of immigration, someone who’s here illegally and their family, and what are we going to do about it? A greater leader will see that the objection of every law in America is to do what’s in the best interest of America.

And what’s in the best interest of America right now is to look at wages, look at employment among wager earners. 70 to 90 percent of people who’ve come into this country, 35 million over the last 20 years, are wage earners that are holding wages down, taking jobs away from America.

BASH: Senator, your time’s up. I want to get the governor to respond to that.

JINDAL: Yeah, I wanted to clarify — I want to make very clear that everybody understands my position is, we need to secure the border, period.

Any talk of doing any more — we don’t need a comprehensive plan, don’t need an 1,000-page bill, like the Gang of Eight. We don’t need amnesty.

Everybody in D.C. talks about it. We need to get it done. As president, I’ll get it done in six months. It won’t be perfect, but we can get it done.

I’m not for amnesty. We do need to secure the border. A smart immigration makes our — our country stronger. Right now, we’ve got a weak one. One of the things I’ve said — I know the left — I know Hillary

didn’t like this — immigration without assimilation is invasion. We need to insist the people who come here come here legally, learn English, adopt our values, roll up their sleeves and get to work. We do need to secure the border.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator — Senator Santorum, do you buy that, that the governor’s not for amnesty?

SANTORUM: Well, just because you don’t call it amnesty doesn’t mean that what — what almost everybody in this field is for is allowing people who are in this country illegally, people who broke the law to come into this country, people who came here legally and overstayed, to stay in — in America.

Again, we have 35 million — we have the highest percentage of — of — of immigrants in this country, as far as numbers ever, as far as percentage, the — the highest in 105 years. Wages are flatlining.

The reason that you’re seeing the angst and the anger out there and the reason this issue has taken off is because workers in America know that their wages are being undermined.

If you look at, from the year 2000 to the year 2014, there’re 5.7 million net new jobs created. What percentage of those jobs are held by people who weren’t born here? The answer is all of them.

The fact is, American workers are — are getting hurt by immigration…

BASH: Senator, your time is up…

SANTORUM: … and that’s why they’re upset.

BASH: Your time is up.

And Governor, I’m sorry. Just — you — you really need to clarify your position, because you say you’re not for amnesty, but you have been for a path to citizenship…

JINDAL: Dana, that’s not right. What I’ve said consistently is secure the border. I’ve said after that is done, the American people will deal with the folks that are here pragmatically and compassionately.

Now, Rick, if he wants to say that Rubio, Senator Rubio, or Jeb or others are for amnesty, that’s his right. I’m not for amnesty. I’ve never been for amnesty, will never be for amnesty.

Secure the border. We don’t need to do that as a comprehensive — I’ve also said we need to put an end to sanctuary cities. It’s not enough to defund them; I think we need to criminalize, accuse and jail those mayors and councilman as accessories…

(UNKNOWN): Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: … for the crimes committed by people who shouldn’t be here in the first place.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

TAPPER: I — I want to change the subject. We’re staying on immigration, and I’m bringing you in, Governor Pataki…

PATAKI: OK. All right. Thank you.

TAPPER: … and Senator Graham, I’m coming to you as well.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

TAPPER: Governor Pataki, Republicans right now are — are debating birthright citizenship, the policy of granting U.S. citizenship to every baby born in this country, even if they born to undocumented immigrants.

Senator Graham wants to end the policy of birthright citizenship. Governor Pataki, you support keeping it. Tell him why he’s wrong.

PATAKI: Yeah, it’s a small part of a very important issue, and let me comment on what my colleagues were saying here.

We all agree you have to secure the border. We have to make sure that people come to America legally. That has got to be step one.

Step two is, we have to stop releasing criminals into the communities. If you are charged with a crime as an illegal alien, you should either be in jail or be deported. You should not released, as the Obama administration has done. Of course, we should outlaw sanctuary cities and hold them responsible.

But we can’t ignore 11 million people who are here. What are we going to do? We’re not going to send them back, despite somebody saying we’re going to drag kids out of classrooms and send them back.

But we have to send a message that we are a nation that depends on the rule of law, and when your first act is to break the law, there has to be a consequence.

So what I would do is require those who want to have legal status, not citizenship, come forward, acknowledge they broke the law, and if they do it again, they can be immediately deported, and then do what we do in communities across America when we want to sanction someone…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

PATAKI: … and that is community service — 200 hours working in a hospital…

TAPPER: Governor…

PATAKI: … working in a school, and then they could have legal…

TAPPER: What I — what I asked about was about birthright citizenship and why you think that we should preserve birthright…

PATAKI: I don’t — I don’t think that we should tell that child born in America that we’re going to send them back. The way to avoid that is to have an intelligent immigration policy where we know who is coming here, why they are coming here, so we don’t have this flood of people coming here for the wrong reasons.

TAPPER: Senator Graham, most countries in the world do not have birthright citizenship.

GRAHAM: Probably for a good reason.

TAPPER: Why do you think Governor Pataki is wrong?

GRAHAM: Well, let’s talk about immigration. Number one, I like Rick. I don’t remember the Santorum plan when I was in the Senate.

The peanut gallery on this is interesting. I have been trying to solve this problem for a decade. There are no democrats here tonight. If you’re here, raise your hand. You went to the wrong — we’ll, welcome. Thank you very much for coming.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Was that a…

GRAHAM: The bottom line, I’m trying to pitch the problem. We’re not going to deport 11 million people here illegally, but we’ll start with felons, and off they go. And, as to the rest, you can stay, but you got to learn our language. I don’t speak it very well, well, look how far I’ve come?

(LAUGHTER) Speaking English is a good thing. You got to pay taxes, you got to pay a fine, you got to get in the back of the line. You’ve got to secure your border or they’ll keep coming. If you don’t control who gets a job that never ends — so (ph) got two borders. One with Canadia — Canada, one with Mexico. I never met an illegal Canadian.

This is an economic problem, so, folks, let’s solve it. Amnesty is doing nothing, and that’s what we’ve been doing.

As to birthright citizenship, once we clean up this mess, in the future, prospectively, I’m going to look at the following. There are people buying tourist visas that go to resorts with maternity wards with the expressed purpose of having a children here in America. There are rich Asians, there are rich people up in the Mid-East…

TAPPER: …Thank you Senator…

GRAHAM: …That to me is bastardizing citizenship…

TAPPER: …Thank you Senator…

GRAHAM: …Yeah, I’d like to stop that in the future…

TAPPER(?): Governor Pataki, I’d just want to…

SANTORUM: …Hold on, hold on, hold on…

TAPPER: …We’ll come back to you Senator Santorum, I promise…

SANTORUM: …He mentioned my name, and that i didn’t have a plan. And, the fact of the matter is…

TAPPER: …alright…

SANTORUM: …that I did have a plan back in 2006. I introduced a plan called, A Comprehensive Border Security Bill, which did, in fact, put the resources to build the fencing, and deploy the troops, and the technology necessary which…

GRAHAM: …What do you do with the 11 million?

SANTORUM: As you know, Lindsay…

GRAHAM: …What are you going to do with the 11 million?

SANTORUM: …As you know, 40 to 60 percent of the 11 million are here on visa overstays. We know exactly who they are, we should know where they are, but we have a government that doesn’t tell them to return home. You can solve half of the problem of the 11 million…

GRAHAM: …Well, what about the other half…

SANTORUM: …by simply telling the 11 million that they have to return to their country of origin, so, that’s half your problem…

GRAHAM: …How many democrats support yourplan…

SANTORUM: …Now, it’s not 11 million…

GRAHAM: …How many democrats did you have on your bill?

SANTORUM: I don’t know how many democrats I had on my bill…

GRAHAM: …I can tell you. None.

SANTORUM: But, the point is — the point is is that I had a bill…

GRAHAM: …That went nowhere.

SANTORUM: Well, you’re right, Lindsay, it went no where because we had a president back then who was for more comprehensive immigration reform…

GRAHAM: …George W. Bush…

SANTORUM: …That’s right…

GRAHAM: …Who won with hispanics.

SANTORUM: You know what we need to do…

GRAHAM: …Compared to what we’re doing…

SANTORUM: Lindsay, is we need to win — we need to win fighting for Americans. We need to win fighting for the workers in this country…

GRAHAM: …Hispanics…

SANTORUM: …who are hurting, including including hispanics…

GRAHAM: …Are Americans…

SANTORUM: …the people who are hurt the most by illegal immigration are hispanics.

GRAHAM: (APPLAUSE)…In my world, hispanics are Americans…

SANTORUM: …The folks — the folks who are — hurt the worst are recent immigrants. By illegal immigrants coming to this country last year alone, 700,000 illegal immigrants came into this country. Who do you think are most impacted? It’s the folks who came into this country, played by the rules, did what they were supposed to do. Came here, and went to work, and now they’re finding themselves out of work because someone illegally is willing to come in and work for less…

GRAHAM: …I have a little different take on where the country is going on this issue. Number one, in 1950, there were 16 workers for every retiree. How many are there today? There’s three. In 20 years, there’s going to be two, and you’re going to have 80 million baby boomers like me retiree in mass wanting a Social Security check, and their Medicare bills paid.

We’re going to need more legal immigration. Let’s just make it logical. Let’s pick people from all over the world on our terms, not just somebody from Mexico. Let’s create a rational, legal immigration system because we have a declining workforce.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator…

GRAHAM: …Strom Thurmond had four kids after he was 67, if you’re not willing to do that, we’ve got to come up with a new legal immigration system.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. Governor Pataki, I want to let you have the final word here. SANTORUM: I just want to say — I just want to say, I have seven

kids, I’ve done my part.

TAPPER: Governor Pataki?

PATAKI: We have to deal with the people who are here illegally. We can’t just ignore them, or send them back. I think my policy would work to give them legal status, make them a part of an economy that will grow, and help America. TAPPER: I want to turn to another pressing immigration issue. Governor Jindal, over the next year, at least 10,000 Syrian refugees will be allowed to enter the United States. Governor Jindal, you’ve said it’s ridiculous for America to let more refugees in from Syria, and you’ve expressed concerns about security.

Senator Graham says that the United States has a moral obligation to these Syrian refugees. Governor Jindal, does the United States have any obligation to them?

JINDAL: Jake, look, America’s the most compassionate country in the entire world. We do more for folks around this world, and that’s the nature of the American people.

Two things. One, let us draw line, a direct line, between this refugee crisis, and this president’s failed foreign policy.

JINDAL: Jake, look, America is the most compassionate country in the entire world. We do more for folks around this world. And that’s the nature of the American people.

Two things: one, let us draw a line, a direct line between this refugee crisis and this president’s failed foreign policy. He drew a red line in Syria and did not enforce it and now we’re seeing millions of refugees potentially, hundreds of thousands going into Europe.

The answer is not to put a Band-aid on this and allow even more people to come into America. We should not short-circuit; we have got a vetting process, we’ve got a normal refugee process. Simply allowing more into our country doesn’t solve this problem.

The way to solve this problem is for us to be clear to our friends and allies that we’re going to replace Assad, we’re going to hunt down and destroy ISIS; our friends don’t trust us, our enemies don’t fear and respect us.

But I want to go back on immigration. Let me be very clear. Immigration, we need to insist on assimilation in immigration. My parents came here legally almost 45 years ago. They came here, they followed the rule of law. They knew English, they adopted the values. They didn’t come here to be hyphenated Americans. They’re not Indian Americans. They’re not Asian Americans. They’re —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: We — it is important we insist on that in immigration going — TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Graham, your response when it comes to Syrian refugees?

GRAHAM: Yes, number one, how does President Obama sleep at night?

Look what you let happen on your watch. Your commanders told you, don’t withdrawal from Iraq because we’ll lose of our gains.

Three years ago your entire national security team, Senator McCain and I begged you to do a no-fly zone and help the Free Syrian Army while it would matter. But you said no.

I’m not blaming Bobby, I’m not blaming Rick, I’m not blaming anybody, I’m blaming Barack Obama for this mess.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: I want to turn now —

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I want to fix it.

TAPPER: We’re going to keep talking about the situation in the Middle East. Let me bring in my colleague, Dana Bash, again.

BASH: Thank you.

Senator Graham, you mentioned this earlier; you are calling for an additional 20,000 U.S. ground forces to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria and you have said — again, just this evening — that anyone who’s not willing to do that should not be commander in chief.

GRAHAM: Right.

BASH: No one on this stage has gone that far.

So are you saying, for Iraq and Syria, are you saying that everybody to your right is not fit for the Oval Office?

GRAHAM: I’m saying this, if they don’t understand that Barack Obama’s policies are not working, that we’re not going to destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria from the air, they are not ready.

What have I learned in 35 trips? I learned what works and what doesn’t.

We were in a good spot in Iraq, President Bush made mistakes but he adjusted. To those who fought in Iraq, you did your job and Barack Obama wasted it all.

Now we’re in a spot where, if we don’t destroy ISIL soon, they are coming here. There are 3,500 American boots on the ground. You would never know it, hearing your president, but we need about 10,000 to turn the tide of battle in Iraq. Then there is nobody left, Dana, to train inside of Syria.

We spent $50 million training 54 people and they are down to four or five. They have been slaughtered. So we’re going to need a regional army, the turks, the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Egyptians get their armies up together and 90 percent of it will be them. They’re going to pay for this war because we paid for the last two.

But 10 percent at least will have to be us and we’re going in on the ground and we’re going to pull the caliphate up by its roots and we’re going to kill every one of these bastards we can find because, if we don’t, they are coming here.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator —

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: — Senator Santorum, I know you’re raising your hand.

You’re committing to this number of troops, both in Iraq and on the ground in Syria?

SANTORUM: I have proposed 10,000 troops, I did so about six or seven months ago, that we needed to deploy additional troops to do exactly what Lindsey said, arm the Kurds, arm —

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: And he’s saying 20,000.

Would you…?

SANTORUM: I’ve said — I’ve said 10,000 and, if more is necessary, look, the answer is this, once ISIS established a caliphate, the game changed because once you establish a caliphate, you have an area of control, you have to take ground from that caliphate, because if you don’t, then, in the Islamic world, it’s seen as a legitimate caliphate.

As long as they have territorial integrity, and even expand it, they have legitimacy and much of the Muslim world to call people to join their jihad here in America as well as in Iraq and in Syria. So we must take their ground.

BASH: Thank you, Senator.

Governor Jindal?

JINDAL: Look, absolutely. We need to do whatever is necessary to hunt down and kill these radical Islamic terrorists but this president has helped — his policies have helped to contribute to this problem.

He went to the Pentagon the same week they announced they were cutting back the number of troops in the Army to say that we’re not going to win this through guns, it’s going to be a change of hearts and minds. This will be a generational conflict, that is nonsense. These are barbarians.

They are burning, crucifying people alive, Christians and other Muslims. We need to hunt them down and —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: — by having a president willing to —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: — Islamic —

TAPPER: Thank you, thank you, Governor.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: — does that include American ground forces in Syria as part of a regional army?

Are all of you willing to commit to American ground forces going into Syria as part of a regional army to destroy the caliphate and its headquarters?

TAPPER: Governor Pataki —

PATAKI: Lindsey, let me comment on this.

Last week was the anniversary of September 11th and I was governor of New York on September 11th and led us through that horrible day.

PATAKI: And I learned that we cannot assume that because radical Islam is a continent away, it doesn’t pose a threat to us here in America. It did then, and today, I think, we are at greater risk of an attack than at any time since.

We have got to destroy ISIS’s ability to attack us here. But it’s not 10,000 troops. It’s not 20,000 troops. In my view, it’s three things. First, we have to directly arm those fighting ISIS on the ground now. The Kurds…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor. Sorry. We have rules and timing.

Governor Jindal, I do want to bring you in. I want to turn to a story in news in the story today. A 14-year-old Muslim high school student in Texas was arrested on Monday for bringing a homemade clock to school after it was mistaken for a fake bomb. Police released the young man after they determined it was, in fact, a clock. Today, President Obama invited that student to the White House.

Governor Jindal, throughout your campaign, you’ve spoken many times about Muslim extremists in this country. How would you, as president, strike a balance between vigilance and discrimination? JINDAL: Well, Jake, look, I think the American people — we

don’t discriminate anybody based on the color of their skin or their creed. I think the way you strike that balance, you say to Muslim leaders, they have got two responsibilities.

One, it’s not enough to denounce just simply generic acts of violence. They have got to denounce the individuals by name, and say these are not martyrs. These terrorists are not martyrs; rather, they are going straight to hell. They are not going to enjoy a reward in their afterlife.

Secondly, they have to explicitly embrace the same freedoms for everybody else they want for themselves. Look, I know it’s politically incorrect to say this, the president says Fort Hood was an issue of workplace violence.

We are at war with radical Islam. Our president loves to apologize for America, he goes to the National Prayer Breakfast, brings up the Crusades, criticizes Christians. We’re at war today with radical Islamic extremists.

It’s not politically correct to say that, but the way you strike that balance, you say to Muslim leaders, denounce these fools, these radical terrorists by name, say they are not martyrs.

TAPPER: Governor Jindal, I’m afraid you didn’t answer the question. How do you strike the balance between vigilance and discrimination?

Obviously, we know how you feel about the vigilance part of this. Do you ever see the discrimination part of it?

JINDAL: Sure, I don’t think a 14-year-old should ever get arrested for bringing a clock to school. So, if you’re asking me I’m glad he wasn’t — he was released. I’m glad that police are careful. I’m glad they are worried about security and safety issues.

Look, in America we don’t tolerate them. The biggest discrimination is going on against Christian business owners and individuals who believe in traditional forms of marriage. They are throwing this woman in jail in Kentucky.

(APPLAUSE)

Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the Christian florist, the caterer, the musician, who simply want to say, don’t arrest us for having — or don’t discriminate against us, don’t shut down our businesses, don’t fine us thousands of dollars for believing marriage is between a man and a woman. Lets talk about not discriminating against Christians.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor. We will get to that subject later in the debate.

Senator Graham? GRAHAM: Well, you know, Kim Davis, I’m not worried about her

attacking me. I am worried about radical Islamic terrorists who are already here planning another 9/11.

We’re at war, folks. I’m not fighting a crime. I want to have a legal system that understands the difference between fighting a war and fighting a crime, and here’s the reality. Young men from the Mid- East are different than Kim Davis. And we’ve got to understand that.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: Islamic websites need to be monitored.

PATAKI: Jake…

GRAHAM: And if you are on one, I want to know what you’re doing.

TAPPER: Governor Pataki?

PATAKI: Jake, if I can comment on this. Yes, Kim Davis is different from Islamist radicalists from the Middle East.

But on the other hand, we have run rule in America, an elected official can’t say I’m not going to follow that law if it conflicts with my beliefs. I think she should have been fired and if she worked for me, I would have fired her. We have to uphold the rule of law.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

PATAKI: Imagine one minute — Jake, imagine one minute that was a Muslim who said I don’t believe in gay marriage, and refused to perform that wedding. We wouldn’t have had that outrage. There’s a place where religion supersedes the rule of law. It’s called Iran. It shouldn’t be the United States.

TAPPER: We’ll get to that subject in the next block. We’re going to take a very quick break. When we come back, both Jeb Bush and Donald Trump agree on one thing when it comes to taxes. We’ll see if any of the candidates on stage agree as well.

TAPPER: That’s next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Welcome back to the CNN Republican Debate at the beautiful Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

Before we took the break, you were all chomping at the bit to talk about Kim Davis, that Kentucky clerk.

Governor Pataki said he would have fired Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Senator Santorum, do you agree with Governor Pataki?

SANTORUM: 16 years ago, this country was tremendously inspired by a young woman who faced a gunman in Columbine and was challenged about her faith and she refused to deny God. We saw her as a hero.

Today, someone who refuses to defy (sic) a judge’s unconstitutional verdict is ridiculed and criticized, chastised because she’s standing up and denying — not denying her God and her faith.

That is a huge difference in 16 years. People have a fundamental right in the First Amendment. There’s no more important right. It is the right that is the trunk that all other rights come from, and that’s the freedom of conscience.

And when we say in America that we have no room — how many bakers, how many florists, how many pastors, how many clerks are we going to throw in jail because they stand up and say, “I cannot violate what my faith says is against its teachings”? Is there not room in America? I believe there has to be room.

First, I believe we have to pass the First Amendment Defense Act, which provides that room for government officials and others who do not want to be complicit in what they believe is against their faith.

Second, we need as a president who’s going to fight a court that is abusive, that has superseded their authority. Judicial supremacy is not in the Constitution, and we need a president and a Congress to stand up to a court when it exceeds its constitutional authority.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

Governor Pataki, your response?

PATAKI: My response is kind of, “Wow.” You know, we’re going to have a president who defies the Supreme Court because they don’t agree?

SANTORUM: I hope so. If they’re wrong.

PATAKI: Then you don’t have the rule of law…

SANTORUM: No, what you have is judicial supremacy. You don’t have a rule of law when the court has the final say on everything.

PATAKI: The — the elected representatives of the people always have the opportunity to change that law. The Supreme Court makes a determination, but it’s ultimately the elected officials who decide whether or not that would be accepted.

By the way, if I have a chance to lead this country, I will appoint judges who understand their role. They’re not going to be making the law; they’re going to be interpreting law that the elected officials passed.

PATAKI: But there’s a huge difference between an individual standing up and saying I am going to stand for my religious freedom and my religious rights. I applaud that. This is America. You should be able to engage in your religious belief in the way you see fit.

But when you are an elected official and you take an oath of office to uphold the law, all the laws, you cannot pick and choose or you no longer have a society that depends on the rule of law.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Martin Luther King wrote a letter from the Birmingham jail. And he said in that letter that there are just laws and there are unjust laws. And we have no obligation to — to condone and accept unjust laws.

And he — and they — then he followed up and said what’s an unjust law?

An unjust law is a job that — a law that go against the moral code or God’s law or the natural law.

I would argue that what the Supreme Court did is against the natural law, it’s against God’s law and we have every obligation to stand in opposition to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jake…

PATAKI: Yes, I — I didn’t agree with the Supreme Court’s decision, but it is the law of this land. And I am a great admirer of Martin Luther King. And he was prepared to break the law. But it wasn’t in an office of political power. It was civil disobedience, where what he was willing to do is voluntarily go to jail with his followers to send a message to the elected representatives that these laws were wrong and had to be changed.

And because of his courage, we didn’t ignore the courts, we changed the laws and made America a better place. That’s the way to do it.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: Jake — Jake… (CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We’re coming to both of you.

JINDAL: Jake, I’ve got a practical question.

TAPPER: What…

(CROSSTALK) JINDAL: I’ve got a practical question. I’d like the left to

give us a list of jobs that Christians aren’t allowed to have. If we’re not allowed to be clerks, bakers, musicians, caterers, are we allowed to be pastors (INAUDIBLE)?

TAPPER: Governor Jindal…

JINDAL: We’re not allowed to be elected officials. I firmly — this is an important point. The First Amendment rights, the right to religious freedom is in the First Amendment of “The Constitution.” It isn’t breaking the law to exercise our constitutional rights. America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America. It is the reason we’re here today.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I…

TAPPER: Senator Graham, do you want to weigh in?

GRAHAM: I wasn’t the best law student. By the end of this debate, it would be the most time I’ve ever spent in any library.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: But on the first day in law school view (ph), it’s called “Marbury v. Madison.” The group in our constitutional democracy that interprets “The Constitution” as to what it means is the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, they have ruled that same-sex marriage bans at the state level violate the Fourteenth Amendment to “The United States Constitution” equal protection clause.

I don’t agree with it, but that is the law of the land. But as president, what I want make sure of is that everybody in this room, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever religion that you can practice your faith without government interference, you can marry people consistent with the tenets of your faith. That’s the number one obligation of my presidency, is to protect religious people when they exercise their religious rights.

But this decision is the law as it is of right now.

And here’s the one thing I want to tell you, Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: Wait — wait a minute.

Whether you’re the wedding cake baker or the gay couple or the Baptist preacher, radical Islam would kill you all if they could.

TAPPER: Senator…

GRAHAM: Let’s don’t lose sight of the big picture here.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. I want to stay with the subject of Supreme Court judges —

justices.

Governor Jindal, both Senators graham and Santorum voted to confirm chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, who has led with the majority twice to uphold ObamaCare.

Do you think that Graham’s and Santorum’s votes to confirm John Roberts were a mistake?

JINDAL: I think actually putting Roberts, I think putting Kennedy, I think putting — before them, I think putting Souter on the bench was a mistake. But look, I think the — the first responsibility starts in the White House. The reality is conservatives have not been willing to stand up for our beliefs, unlike the liberals — look, you never worry about where the Democratic judges are going to vote, it’s always the conservatives. You’ve never had a Democratic judge wake up and say, surprise, I’ve evolved, I’ve become a conservative.

It’s always the Republicans, because we have presidents that try to find judges with no records, no rulings, no writings. I’ll tell you, I am going to have a litmus test. For judges, I’m going to find judges that are conservative, judges that are going to be pro-life, judges that are going to follow “The Constitution,” judges, by the way, that are going to follow the American law, not international law.

They’re not appointed there to interpret international law, they’re there to apply “The United States Constitution.” Judges understand, their job is not to write law. If they want to write law, they should run for the Senate or the House.

JINDAL: It’s time for a Republican president as the next commander in chief, I will do as the Democrats have done. I will appoint bold judges that are actually consistent with my values that will be conservatives and enforce the Senate —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Graham, I want to give you an opportunity to respond —

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: — I would note that Anthony Kennedy, was, of course, a Ronald Reagan appointee.

Senator Graham, do you stand by your vote for John Roberts?

GRAHAM: He’s one of the most qualified men to ever come before the United States Senate and I don’t agree with his decision, but 99 times out of 100, I will.

To the Republicans, the biggest prize on the table in 2017 is the presidency. If it is Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, they are going to pick people that we will disagree with all the time. Please understand, we have to win this election. The court’s at

stake. It is the most important reason for us to turn out, to make sure we don’t lose the judiciary for decades to come.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Senator Santorum, do you stand by your vote for John Roberts?

SANTORUM: Well, contrary to what Governor Jindal said, Governor — Justice Roberts had a long record and it was a long, good record. And so he made a bad decision on — a couple of bad decisions on ObamaCare but he’s made a lot of great decisions, too.

And so I don’t — I don’t regret at all standing up for John Roberts but, you know, it’s easy to sit out in Louisiana and talk about how, you know, well, I’d be tougher.

I fought when I was in the United States Senate. We fought, for the first time, to defeat justices and judges that Bill Clinton nominated and I fought with President Bush to defend his nominees, to push even a filibuster, breaking the filibuster. I led that fight against someone who didn’t want to end the filibuster in order for us to get good, conservative justices.

So I have been there on the front line, fighting for judges and conservative justices and I will do so as president like none other.

TAPPER: Governor Jindal, I’m going to give you 30 seconds to respond.

JINDAL: Thank you, Jake. But look, it’s not a minor ruling. Justice Roberts twice rewrote the law to save ObamaCare, the biggest expansion of government, creating a new entitlement when we can’t afford the government we’ve got today, an expansion of socialism in our country.

It’s not that he got a minor ruling wrong. This is twice he rewrote the law. Now, look, I have a lot of respect for these senators that have big bladders. They give great speeches in the Senate. And I respect that.

I’ve actually signed the executive order. I’ve actually signed a law protecting religious liberty in the state of Louisiana.

It’s not 99-1. The one that he got wrong was a big one. Twice he bent over backwards to save ObamaCare. If the Republicans had voted the way that we should — they should have, we would still have our 19th Amendment rights and ObamaCare would not be the law of the land.

TAPPER: Let me bring back Hugh Hewitt.

HEWITT: Governor Jindal, Senator Graham just said it’s all about winning and, in fact, if former Secretary of State Clinton is the successor to President Obama, none of this matters and all this conversation is beside the point.

In the Washington elite, they have a habit of saying nice things about each other until election time. Senator Graham has praised Secretary of State Clinton as a great choice to be the secretary of state, as a national treasure.

Can anyone from inside of Washington win this election cycle, having praised Secretary of State Clinton that way?

JINDAL: No. And it’s not only whether they can win. They shouldn’t win this election cycle.

One of the things I do agree — and I want to thank Donald Trump after I’ve criticized him for everything from being a narcissist to an egomaniac — one of the things he was right about was to say nonsense to the D.C. establishment. It is time to fire all of them. You’ve got a choice between honest Socialists on the Left, like Bernie Sanders, and lying conservatives on the Right.

We have got the majority; what good has it done us? See, they said they were going to stop amnesty. They said they were going to repeal ObamaCare. They didn’t do either. Now they’re not even willing to fight to defund Planned Parenthood. They’ve already — McConnell has already waved the white flag of defeat.

They are not willing to stand up to fight for the issues that count. I think it is time to have term limits. I think it’s time to have part-time citizen legislators. Let’s pay them a per diem instead of a six-figure salary, stop them from being seven-figure lobbyists. Let’s also pay them a per diem for every day they don’t go to D.C. Let’s keep them out of D.C., working in the real —

(CROSSTALK)

JINDAL: — let’s make them live under the same rules and laws they apply to the rest of us. Not only shouldn’t they be elected, they can’t be elected. Let’s fire all of them from their current positions.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Senator Graham, took a shot at there and you’re having a good debate but there is this problem of Washington elites and saying wonderful things about each other.

GRAHAM: I’ve been called a lot of things but never elite before. My dad owned a liquor store, a bar and a poolroom.

So only in America can you go from the back of a liquor store to being an elite.

HEWITT: Is that responsive to calling Hillary Clinton a national treasure, Senator?

GRAHAM: I introduced her at a conference about Africa. I thought Secretary Clinton did a good job when it came to dealing with our problems in Africa, particularly among women. George W. Bush set $40 billion aside and Rick Santorum helped him and President Bush wiped out an entire — wiped out AIDS and malaria for an entire generation of young African children.

Secretary Clinton —

(APPLAUSE)

GRAHAM: — Secretary Clinton did a good — here’s my problem with Secretary Clinton.

Where the hell were you on the night of the Benghazi attack?

How did you let it become a death threat to begin with?

And why did you lie about what happened to these people?

GRAHAM: And if you want a new change in terms of foreign policy, don’t pick her, because she’s his secretary of state.

I’ve got a real good chance of beating her, because I don’t say things bad about her all the time — just when she deserves it. And her definition of flat broke and mine are a little bit different.

HEWITT: But Senator, can you go back and forth that way, and expect to have an argument with the American people to persuade them about that?

GRAHAM: Well, Ronald Reagan did a couple of really big things that we should all remember.

He sat down with Tip O’Neill, the most liberal guy in the entire House. They started drinking together. That’s the first thing I’m going to do as president. We’re going to drink more.

(APPLAUSE)

And what did this — two great Irishmen do? They found a way to save Social Security from bankruptcy by adjusting the age of retirement from 65 to 67.

So, yes, I will say nice things at times about Democrats. Yes, I will work them — work with them.

(LAUGHTER)

I will put the country ahead of party. Absolutely I want to work with them. At the end of the day, Hugh, I’m lucky to be standing here. I’m the first in my family to ever go to college. Neither one of my parents finished high school. Darline’s here with me tonight. We owned a restaurant…

HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: Well, wait a minute. We…

HEWITT: Thank you, senator.

GRAHAM: You asked me a question. This is important. Republicans need to tell the American people we get it as to who you are.

When my mom died, I was 21. When my dad died, when I was 22. We were wiped out financially. If it weren’t for Social Security survivor benefit check coming into Darline, we wouldn’t have made it. I don’t need a lecture from Democrats about Social Security.

HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: I want to save it, just like Ronald Reagan did.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Let’s talk about the economy, if We could.

Governor Pataki.

PATAKI: Yes?

HEWITT: Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are both proposing raising taxes on hedge fund managers who pay at a lower rate. Governor Pataki, you were the governor of New York, home of Wall Street.

Do you agree that hedge fund managers need to be paying a higher rate?

PATAKI: I would throw out the entire corrupt tax code.

(APPLAUSE)

It’s a symbol of the corruption and the power of the lobbyists and the special interests in Washington. It is 74,000 pages of incomprehensible gobbledygook.

What I would do is get rid of the 1.4 million every year in exemptions and loopholes, dramatically lower the rates. The normal American person is paying higher taxes than they should because of loopholes, and one of them is that carried interest loophole.

I would tax that income the same as ordinary income. I’d lower the rate to 24 percent for all Americans, but I would not give a special break to the Wall Street fat caps — fat cats.

HEWITT: So you are with Jeb Bush and Donald Trump on the hedge fund?

PATAKI: It’s hard for me to say I’m with Donald trump on anything, but on this issue, I agree with him. But let me just make one other point.

It’s not just throwing out the tax code to break the back of the special interests that control Washington. It’s other reforms. I would propose a law — right now there are over 400 former members of the House and Senate who are registered lobbyists in Washington. I would propose a law on day one, you serve one day in the House or Senate, there’s a lifetime ban on you ever being a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

You get elected, you go back home. You don’t stay and support the special interests. (APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Governor Jindal — Governor Jindal, that’s three Republicans running for president who support hedge fund managers paying a higher rate. Are you the fourth?

JINDAL: Two things, Jake. One, I’m absolutely for all of these carve-outs and loopholes and special interests for as — they get lobbyists. They get sweetheart deals you and I and the rest of this audience couldn’t get.

So as part of an overall comprehensive tax reform that has a lower, flatter tax code, sure. As a single, I am just to raise taxes, no. I don’t want to give the government more money.

The government has grown over this president where now, it’s going to overwhelm the American economy. We’ve got to cut the size of the government economy.

Nobody else running for president has done that. I’m the only candidate. I’ve cut my state budget 26 percent. Everybody else talks about it, we have done it.

So, there’s a part of overall tax reform that cuts rates, flattens and lowers the tax code, sure. But I’m not for raising taxes on anybody. We already have too much money going to D.C.

HEWITT: Let’s stay on the topic of taxes.

PATAKI: Can I just…

HEWITT: I want to bring in my colleague, Dana Bash.

BASH: Senator Santorum, you just heard Governor Jindal and Governor Pataki talk about tax reform.

Jeb Bush has proposed a tax reform plan, and in it, he limits deductions, including the popular home mortgage deduction. Would you do the same as president?

SANTORUM: Actually, I’m going to be proposing a plan, I call it the 20/20 perfect vision for America as flat tax, a 20 percent flat tax on income, 20 percent flat tax on capital gains and on corporations.

We eliminate all the deductions, special interest provisions and corporations. We deal with the carried interest issue, because everybody pays the same 20 percent. So, there’s no advantage as to how you take your income. That will create growth.

We’re going to allow expensing for corporations. SANTORUM: For manufacturing, again, I print — I pledged, when I

announced that I was going to run for president on the factory floor that I would make America the number one manufacturer in the world. Why? Because we need to put Americans back to work.

Hard working Americans, who are not doing well in this economy, and we start creating jobs here, and manufacturing. These people from all skill levels are going to be able to work. We put a 20 percent rate on corporations, we’re competitive with almost every country in the world. We allow for expensing, we have a three year phase in. We start at zero for manufacturers, phase it up to 20. You’re going to see an enormous investment of capital, and equipment. You’re going to see people — you’re going to have problems finding folks are going to be able to work in manufacturing. That’s how many jobs we’re going to create.

So, the answer is, you know, we’re going to lower, and flatten taxes. We’re going to put government on a — on a budget. A 10 percent across the board cut…

BASH: …times up, Senator.

SANTORUM: …employment. We’ve got a lot of plans.

BASH: …OK, times up, Senator. Governor, just to bring you back into this, you said that you would be OK with what is effectively raising taxes on hedge fund managers as part of a tax reform plan. Would you aslo be for doing away with people’s deductions for their mortgages.

PATAKI: No, I would not. I would keep that deduction. I would lower the rates dramatically, so, yes, that root that has a special carve out would pay more, but everybody else is going to pay less.

I would keep the home mortgage deduction, the charitable deduction, and others. And, by the way, you know, I agree with Rick on manufacturing, but my approach is different. I would pass a rate on manufacturing of 12 percent, the lowest in the developed world so we can make this America again. I know how important those jobs are.

When I work — went through college, Christmas and summer vacations, I worked in a factory. My grandparents worked in a factory. We have the opportunity now with lower energy costs, with the world labor cost getting higher, to make things in America so we don’t have to worry about China.

Lower the tax burden on manufacturing, improve the work skills…

TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor…

PATAKI: …of Americans. Get rid of job killing regulations. If we’re going to…

TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor…

PATAKI: …If we’re going to make this America… TAPPER: …I want to turn — you’re going to be involved in the

next question…

SANTORUM: …Let me just…

TAPPER: …Senator Graham…

SANTORUM: …He talked about manufacturing, and the fact is that we have a zero percent rate that faces the 20, we’d have a seven percent repatriation, so money — about two trillion dollars over seas…

TAPPER: …Thank you, Senator…

SANTORUM: …Would come back, and be invested in equipment here. We will create more jobs with this plan, than any plan out…

TAPPER: …Thank you Senator. Senator Graham, I want to turn to the minimum…

GRAHAM: If you want to see manufacturing, come to South Carolina…

TAPPER: …Well, let’s talk about South Carolina…

GRAHAM: …We’ll show ‘ya.

TAPPER: …Senator, let’s turn to the minimum wage.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Senator Santorum is the only person on the stage who has proposed increasing the federal minimum wage. How would that affect South Carolinians? Do you agree with Senator Santorum that the federal minimum wage should be increased?

GRAHAM: Well, I know this. That when my mom and dad owned a restaurant, the bar, the pool room, that if you increased the minimum wage it’d been hard to hire more people.

Hillary Clinton has a list a mile long to help the middle class. We’re talking all around this. The middle class for the last six and a half years has been squeezed, and squeezed hard.

To the middle class, I understand who you are. You’re one broken down car from not going on vacation. You’re from one sick child away from having to change your whole budget.

Here’s what I want to do as your president. I want to grow this economy. When Boeing came to South Carolina to build a 787, everybody paid more they would have lost their employees to Boeing. If you’re a waitress out there wanting more money, I’m not going to increase the minimum wage, I’m going to try to create an environment where somebody else will open up a restaurant across the street to hire you away at a higher rate, or they’ll have to pay you more to keep you. You got to borrow money to create jobs in this country. Banking

is locked down because of Dodd-Frank. The tax code is a complete mess, but nobody’s talked about the elephant in the room, which is debt. Not one more penny to the federal government until w2e come up with a plan to get out of debt.

TAPPER: Senator Graham, thank you so much. Senator Santorum…

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Senator Graham is suggesting that your proposal would not allot South Carolinians to hire more workers.

SANTORUM: Lindsay, what percentage of American workers make the minimum wage right now?

GRAHAM: It’s probably a small bit, but the ones that get it…

SANTORUM: It’s less than one percent.

GRAHAM: Yeah, but I…

SANTORUM: …So, what you’re saying, what every Republican’s up here saying is we’re against the minimum wage because, if you’re not for increasing it, than whoevers making the minimum wage right now…

GRAHAM: …Have you ever thought why all of us say that…

SANTORUM: …The answer is Republicans don’t believe in a floor wage in America. Fine, you go ahead and make that case to the American public, I’m not going to. Not from a party that supported bailouts. I didn’t, but this party did.

MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

SANTORUM: Not from a party that supports special interest tax provisions for a whole bunch of other businesses, and, but, when it comes to hardworking Americans who are at the bottom of the income scale, we can’t provide some level of income support? What I’ve proposed is not anything but the (ph) presidents (ph) proposed (ph) I believe that would be harmful to the American public, but a $.50 cents an hour increase over three years, which is what I’m proposing.

SANTORUM: So we would have a minimum wage which would be roughly in the area of what it’s been historically, about 5 percent of wages.

To me, if you’re going to talk to 90 percent of American workers — by the way, 90 percent of American workers don’t own a bar. They don’t own a business. They work for a living. They’re wage — most of them are wage earners.

And Republicans are losing elections because we’re not talking about them. All we want to talk about is, what happened to our business? There are people who work in that business.

I was at a — I was at the convention four years ago, and on the signs — on all of the seats the night I spoke was a sign that said, “We built that,” because Barack Obama had talked about how businesses didn’t build their own businesses.

Then we trotted out one small-business person after another for almost an hour that night talking about how they built their businesses. And that’s wonderful.

But you know what we didn’t do? We didn’t bring one worker on that stage.

How are you going to win, ladies and gentlemen? How are we going to win if 90 percent of Americans don’t think we care at all…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

SANTORUM: … about them and their chance to rise…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. We have to take a quick break.

When we come back, confrontation or negotiation? How will these candidates attempt to handle Russian President Vladimir Putin? That’s next.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: And we’re back at the CNN Republican Debate at the Reagan Library in beautiful Simi Valley, California.

TAPPER: Let’s turn now to some issues of foreign policy.

Senator Graham, you all oppose the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a Republican, is pushing for a U.S. military strike against Iran, against its nuclear facilities.

Senator Graham, would you authorize, as president, a nuclear strike against — I mean, sorry — a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities?

GRAHAM: If I believed they were trying to break out and get a bomb, absolutely. And here’s the most important thing: they know I would if I had to.

And none of us are going to be able to defend this country adequately until we rebuild our military. A weak economy, a military in decline, the world on fire, does that sound familiar to you?

Michael, does that sound familiar to you?

The first thing I’m going to do as commander in chief on day one is call the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and say, what do you need that you don’t have?

We’re cutting our military; we’re on track to have the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915 and John Kasich says he wants to close more bases. I want to rebuild our military and I want the Iranians to know that, if I had to, I would use it.

The worst nightmare in the world is a radical Islamic regime with a weapon of mass destruction. The only reason 3,000 of us died on 9/11 is not 3 million, not 3 million is because they couldn’t get the weapons to kill us. They’re on track to get a bomb even if they don’t cheat.

This deal is a nightmare for Israel. They are coming here if we don’t watch it terrorism with a nuclear capability sponsored by Iran. So, yes, I would use military force to stop them. I would set this deal aside and I would get you a better deal.

If you gave $100 billion, I could get almost anybody out of jail. We couldn’t even get our hostages out of jail.

TAPPER: Governor —

(APPLAUSE) TAPPER: — Hugh — I’m going to go to Hugh Hewitt for a question for Governor Pataki.

HEWITT: There are other ways, Governor, than bombing Iran.

I want to quote Rick Santorum.

“We should send a very clear message that If you are a scientist and you’re going to work on a nuclear program to develop a bomb for Iran, you are not safe.”

Does that message work?

Is anything that works on the table?

PATAKI: Not on the table but I think there’s a lot that does work. And that is to have a strong America, a strong military and a resolve where the Iranians know that not only are we going to reject this deal on day one and reimpose sanctions but, if they move forward with the nuclear program, their safety for those facilities will be at risk.

I’ll tell you a couple of things I’d do. I’d give the Israelis bombs called MOPs, massive ordnance penetrators. Give them to Israel. Let the Iranians know we’re prepared to work with Israel to make sure they never have a nuclear weapon.

And let me point out that Hillary Clinton, supporting this deal, she was the senator from New York on September 11th, she saw what happened at the hands of radical Islam. This is the senator who did the reset program with Russia, who allowed the Middle East to deteriorate to flames, who has lied about Benghazi and is now supporting the Iranian deal.

That’s the opponent we’re going to have next November. We have got to win this election. Everything we say is wonderful. But we have to win and, once we win, we have to actually do what we say. I can do this.

HEWITT: Senator Santorum, stay on that: any means necessary?

Is that what you meant to say?

Is that what’s still on this table after this, what many of us believe is a catastrophic deal?

SANTORUM: As you know, Hugh, 12 years ago I authored the Iran Freedom Support Act, which put sanctions on the Iran nuclear program as we came within four votes of passing a very strong version of that. The four people who opposed on the floor: Joe Biden, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And we came four votes short.

But for 12 years, I have been laser-beam focused on the issue of Iran with a nuclear weapon. Why? Because I understand who they are.

Yes, they are radical Islamists, that’s true. But their particular version of it, which is an apocalyptic version, which is a death cult, they believe in bringing about the end of the — end of the world. If you — if you poll Iranians and Iraqis, Shiites in the region, more than two-thirds of them believe that the end of the world is going to come within their lifetime.

Why? Because their regime preaches it. They believe in bringing about the end of times. That’s their theological goal and we are in the process of giving them a nuclear weapon to do just that.

That’s why, on day one, I would say to the Iranian government, you open up all of these facilities for inspection, you make them available to the U.N. and to the U.S., everything, we can go everywhere or else we will take out those facilities.

And when people say, you’re going to start a war —

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

SANTORUM: — my response is, no, I’m going to stop a war because a nuclear Iran is the end.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

Senator Graham —

(APPLAUSE)

JINDAL: Jake, I’d like to answer that question.

TAPPER: We’re bringing you in on this question as well.

TAPPER: Senator Graham, Vladimir Putin in recent days has sent an estimated six more tanks, four helicopters and Russian ground troops into Syria to help support President Assad, an enemy of the United States. The Russian military is also buzzing American planes and Naval vessels around the world.

Your front-runner, Donald Trump, says he can do details with President Putin, that the two of them will get along, quote, “very well.”

Why would your confrontational approach work better than Mr. Trump’s negotiation?

GRAHAM: Do you think Putin would be in the Ukraine or Syria today if Ronald Reagan were president? No.

This is what happens when you have a weak, unqualified commander- in-chief who doesn’t understand the role America plays in the world.

Why is it bad for you that Russia’s helping Assad? He’s the magnet for Sunni extremists. The Syrian people are not going to accept him as their legitimate leader.

By Assad being helped by Russia, it means the war never ends. It means the next 9/11, which is most likely to occur from an attack from Syria. It’s more likely.

At the end of the day, if I’m president of the United States, I’ve told you what I’m going to do. There’s nobody left in Syria to train. We’re going to get a regional army who doesn’t like ISIL, who won’t accept Assad, because he’s a puppet of Iran. We’re going in the ground, and we’re going to destroy the caliphate, pull it up by roots, and we’re going to hold the territory.

This is a slap in a face from Putin to Kerry and Obama. Assad must go. If he doesn’t go, this war never ends…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: … and if the war in Syria continues, it is coming here.

For God’s sakes, let’s get on with…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: … with fixing the problem in Syria.

TAPPER: Governor Jindal, how would President Jindal…

(APPLAUSE)

… get the Russians out of Syria?

JINDAL: Well, Jake, I want to answer that question. I want to go back to Iran. I didn’t get a chance to answer that as well.

Look, on Russia, across the world, dictators walk all over this president. He treats our friends like dirt. He lets our enemies walk all over us.

The only group he’s able to out-negotiate are the Senate Republicans. They never should’ve passed this bad Corker bill. Instead of a two-thirds vote to reject — to approve the Iran deal, now it takes a two-thirds vote to reject the Iran deal. I want to ask Lindsey a question. Will the Senate Republicans —

they still have time — are they willing to use the nuclear option, meaning get rid of the filibusters, stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power?

Now is the time for the Senate Republicans to stand up and fight. We are tired of the establishment saying there’s nothing we can do.

(APPLAUSE)

All night tonight, we’ve heard Republicans say things like, “Well, if the Supreme Court’s ruled, there’s nothing I can do about religious liberty,” you know. “The president did this. There’s nothing we can do about it for two more years.”

There is something we can do. We won the Senate. We won the House. What was the point of winning those chambers if we’re not going to do anything with them?

You’re going back tonight. You still have time before the Thursday deadline. Will y’all use the nuclear option to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power?

(APPLAUSE)

GRAHAM: Bobby, you were in the Congress, and all I can tell you, to everybody here, if you want to repeal Obamacare, get a new president. If you want to defund Planned Parenthood, elect a pro-life president, because that’s the only way.

If we pass the Cardin bill, Graham, Menendez, it would go to the president. He would veto it. 67 votes are required to override the veto.

JINDAL: Lindsey…

GRAHAM: Wait a minute. Now, you asked me a question. So I don’t want to take off the table the ability to slow down Obama in his last 13 to 14 months, because I want 60 votes to stop what I think he’s going to do between now and January 2017. Five Republicans deflect — leave — we’re in trouble.

So folks, the world really is the way it is. President Obama is president. The goal is to get him out of there and pick somebody who would actually do something to repeal Obamacare, who would get you a better agreement.

So Bobby, he would veto the bill, we don’t have 67 votes, and you’re giving away a defense against Obama for the rest of his presidency.

No, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to tell you things I can’t do. I’m not going to tell you by shutting the government down, we’re going to defund Obamacare as long as he’s president. All that does is hurt us. I am trying to lead this party to winning.

JINDAL: Lindsey, well, that’s my frustration.

(APPLAUSE)

JINDAL: Listen to what you’ve heard. You — you basically heard a Senate Republican say, “We can’t defund Planned Parenthood, despite these barbaric videos.”

GRAHAM: Are you going to shut the government down?

JINDAL: “We can’t — we can’t…”

GRAHAM: Are you going to shut the government…

JINDAL: “… we can’t get rid of Obamacare” — Lindsey, let me answer this question now. I wish the Senate Republicans had half the fight in them the Senate Democrats did.

Look, President Obama didn’t give up on Obamacare when they lost the Senate election in Massachusetts. I want my side to follow the Constitution. They broke the Constitution, they broke the law, but they forced Obamacare down our throats, even when they didn’t have 60 votes.

I wish Republicans in D.C. had half the fight of the Senate Democrats to get rid of Obamacare, to defund Planned Parenthood.

(APPLAUSE)

If we can’t defund Planned Parenthood now, if we can’t stand for innocent human life after these barbaric videos, it is time to be done with the Republican Party.

We defunded them in Louisiana. Let’s defund them in D.C.

JINDAL: If we can’t win…

TAPPER: (INAUDIBLE)…

JINDAL: — on that issue, there is no point for being cheaper Democrats, no point grabbing a second liberal party. It is time to get rid of the Republican Party, start over with a new one that’s at least conservative.

Give Harry Reid and Pelosi credit. At least they fight for what they believe in. I want senators and House members in DC to fight for what we believe in, as well. It’s time to have Republican…

TAPPER: Well…

JINDAL: — with a backbone in DC.

GRAHAM: Can I just say something?

(APPLAUSE)

GRAHAM: You know, Bobby, we’re running to be president of the United States, the most important job in the free world. With it comes a certain amount of honesty. I’m tired of telling people things they want to hear that I know we can’t do.

He is not going to sign a bill that would defund ObamaCare. If I am president of the United States, I wouldn’t put one penny in — in my budget for Planned Parenthood, not one penny. I’m as offended by these videos as you are.

But the one thing I’m not going to do going into 2016 is shut the government down and tank our ability to win. What you’re saying and what Senator Cruz is saying, I am really sick of hearing, trying to get the bottom…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: — the Republican Party in a position…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator…

GRAHAM: — to win. That’s what I’m trying to do. And that does matter to me (INAUDIBLE)…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. The final question…

GRAHAM: It matters a lot.

TAPPER: The final questions for these four Republicans as the top contenders get ready to take their places on the debate stage when we come back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to the CNN Republican debates at the Reagan Library in beautiful Simi Valley, California. We have time for one more question for the candidates.

Governor Pataki, let’s start with you. You have all spent the last hour and a half debating each other. The other 11 candidates are on their way to the stage.

What is the one thing as a candidate that you offer that no one at the next debate can offer?

PATAKI: I think there are two things, Jake. Two things that we need as Republicans.

First, we have to win the election. You’re going to hear a lot of great ideas, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that. None of it matters unless you win the election.

And the second is, once you win, you have to be able to govern successfully. You’ve heard a lot of fighting back and forth, you didn’t get this done, you didn’t get that done. That’s the way Washington is today. You have to have a leader, a president, who will actually get a conservative agenda through. I’m running because I have done both those things, and I did them

in one of the most liberal states in America. I got elected three times in the state of New York. Twice by the largest pluralities ever for a Republican. I ran as a Republican conservative.

If I get the nomination, I will be able to get broad support and win this election, and take the White House back for our party. But more importantly, once I’ve won, I will put in place a sweeping conservative agenda. I did that in New York.

Over $143 billion in tax cuts. More than the other 49 states combined. Taking one million people off welfare and putting them into jobs, in a state where the Democrats control the state assembly.

TAPPER: Thank you, senator.

PATAKI: 103-47. I got them to support a conservative agenda. If I get elected president, I will make things work in Washington.

TAPPER: Thank you. PATAKI: For the Republican party and for the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: I came to Washington in the most unlikely way. I defeated a 14-year incumbent, a 60 percent Democratic district. I went to Washington thinking I was only going to be there for one term, and so I just shook things up.

We sent the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to jail. We ended 40 years, 40 years of Democratic control of the Congress. And I led that fight with reforms, substantive reforms, welfare reform. I led the charge — I wrote the bill when I was in the House. I led the charge in the United States Senate.

Partial-birth abortion — in fact, three pro-life bills, bipartisan pro-life bills. I mentioned the Iran bill. We also passed one on Syria. Health savings accounts, as many of you know, I authored the original bill on health savings accounts, pushed that through the Congress for private sector health care reform.

An outsider who came to Washington from the tough state of Pennsylvania, and we got conservative things done. I made things happen in a town where things don’t happen very much. Now, after 10 years of seeing the mess, the retreat that we see in the Republican party in Washington, D.C., it’s time to get someone who is an outsider.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

SANTORUM: Who can go to Washington, D.C., and get things done. You know what, you have a lot of folks who will tell you a lot of things. Look at their record. I went to Washington as an outsider.

TAPPER: Thank you.

SANTORUM: Shook things up, got things done.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

SANTORUM: And that’s why you can trust me to do it again.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Santorum.

Governor Jindal, what is something that you offer as a candidate that the other 11 candidates coming on stage in a few minutes cannot offer?

JINDAL: Jake, I’m a doer, not a talker. Look, the idea of America is slipping away from us. If you want somebody who is going to manage the slow decline of this country, makes incremental changes, vote for somebody else. If you want to vote for somebody who understands what is at stake — Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts across this country, and the Senate Republicans have already given up, even without a fight.

I am tired of this surrender (ph) caucus, I am angrier at the Republicans in D.C. than I am at the president. The president is a socialist. At least he fights for what we believe in.

We don’t need to just send any Republican to the White House. We need to sent somebody who understands that it’s time to make big changes. It’s time to take on the establishment, it’s time to take on the D.C. permanent governing class.

Every Republican says they will shrink the size of the government. I’m the only one that has done it. Cut our budget 26 percent.

If you want somebody that’s going to make incremental change, vote for somebody else. It’s time to get the idea of America back. At some point, we’re going to be held — we’ll be asked, what did you do when the idea of America was slipping away?

I’ll promise you this. I will give every ounce of blood, energy, sweat I’ve got to save the idea of America, the greatest country in the history of the world.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Senator Graham?

GRAHAM: Well, number one, I will win a war that we can’t afford to lose. I have a plan to destroy radical Islam because it has to be. These are religious Nazis running while President Obama has made one mistake after another and it’s caught up with us.

What do I have to offer that’s different?

I get my foreign policy from being in on the ground. I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan in the Middle East 35 times in the last decade, trying to understand how we got in this mess.

Our leading candidate gets his foreign policy from watching television.

And what I heard last night is the Cartoon Network, oh, I’m big, I’m strong, we’re going to hit them in the head.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: That’s not foreign policy. That’s a cartoon character.

John Kasich, a good friend of mine, said in New Hampshire, we’re going to close more bases on his watch.

On my watch, we’re going to open up more bases. The military is in decline, folks. We’re going to have the smallest military in modern times, spending half of what we’d normally spend by the end of this decade.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: What do I offer? What do I offer?

To make your families safe and our country strong again, a vision and a determination to win a war that we cannot afford to lose.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Graham.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Our thanks to the candidates for a great debate. In just a moment, we’re bringing the candidates from both of tonight’s debates together for a group photo. That will be a first in this campaign.

And then, of course, the main event, the top 11 candidates going head to head. I will be back as moderator.

Right now, let’s go to my colleague, Anderson Cooper.

 

Full Text Obama Presidency September 16, 2015: President Barack Obama’s remarks to the business roundtable urging against a government shutdown transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President to the Business Roundtable

Source: WH, 9-16-15

Business Roundtable Headquarters
Washington, D.C.

11:24 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Randall, and thank you to everybody here at the Business Roundtable for having me today.  I’m just going to say a few words and then hopefully spend a lot of time taking your questions.

Seven years ago today was one of the worst days in the history of our economy.  If you picked up the Wall Street Journal that morning, you read that the shocks from AIG and Lehman were spreading worldwide.  The day before, stocks had suffered their worst loss since 9/11.  In the months after, businesses would go bankrupt, millions of Americans would lose their jobs and their homes, and our economy would reach the brink of collapse.

That’s where we were when I became chief executive.  Here’s where we are today:  Businesses like yours have created more than 13 million new jobs over the past 66 months -– the longest streak of job growth on record.  The unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in over seven years.  There are more job openings right now than at any time in our history.  Housing has bounced back.  Household wealth is higher than it was before the recession.  We have made enormous strides in both traditional energy sources and clean energy sources while reducing our carbon emissions.  And our education system is actually making significant progress with significant gains in reducing the dropout rate, reading scores increasing, math scores increasing.  And, by the way, more than 16 million people have health insurance that didn’t have it before.

So this progress is a testament to American business and innovation.  It’s a testament to the workers that you employ.  But I’m going to take a little credit, too.  It’s a testament to some good policy decisions.  Soon after we took office, we passed the Recovery Act, rescued our auto industry, worked to rebuild our economy on a stronger foundation for growth.  Other countries in some cases embraced austerity as an ideology without looking at the data and the facts, tried to cut their way out of recession.  The results speak for themselves.  America has come back from crisis faster than almost every other advanced nation on Earth.  And at a time of significant global volatility, we remain the world’s safest, smartest investment.

Of course, I will not be satisfied — and we as a country shouldn’t be satisfied — until more working families are feeling the recovery in their own lives.  But the fact is that what I’ve called middle-class economics has been good for business.  Corporate profits have hit an all-time high.  Slowing health care prices and plummeting energy costs have helped your bottom lines.  Manufacturing is growing at the fastest clip in about two decades.  Our workforce is more educated than ever before.  The stock market has more than doubled since 2009, and 2015 is on pace to be the year with the highest consumer confidence since 2004.  And America’s technological entrepreneurs have continued to make incredible products that are changing our lives rapidly.
Now, you wouldn’t know any of this if you were listening to the folks who are seeking this office that I occupy.  (Laughter.)  In the echo chamber that is presidential politics, everything is dark and everything is terrible.  They don’t seem to offer many solutions for the disasters that they perceive -– but they’re quick to tell you who to blame.

I’m here to say that there’s nothing particularly patriotic or American about talking down America, especially when we stand as one of the few sources of economic strength in the world.

Right now, we’ve got the chance to build on progress that we have made and that is acknowledged worldwide.  We have a chance to grow the economy even faster, create jobs even faster, lift people’s incomes and prospects even faster.  We just have to make some sensible choices.  And I’m going to focus on one particular example.  America’s next fiscal year is almost upon us, which means that Congress has about two weeks to pass a budget.  If they don’t, they will shut down America’s government for the second time in two years.

Democrats are ready to sit down and negotiate with Republicans right now, today, as we speak.  But it should be over legitimate questions of spending and revenue –- not unrelated ideological issues.  You’ll recall that two years ago Republicans shut down the government because they didn’t like Obamacare.  Today, some are suggesting the government should be shut down because they don’t like Planned Parenthood.  That’s not good sense and it’s not good business.  The notion that we’d play chicken with an $18 trillion economy and global markets that are already skittish all because of an issue around a women’s health provider that receives less than 20 cents out of every thousand dollars in the federal budget, that’s not good policymaking.

The last time Republicans shut down the government, it cost our economy billions of dollars; consumer confidence plummeted.  I don’t think anybody here thinks that’s going to be good for your business.

I’ve always believed what our first Republican President, a guy from my home state named Abraham Lincoln, believed –- that through government we should do together those things that we can’t do as well by ourselves.  Funding infrastructure projects.  Educating the best workforce in the world.  Investing in cutting-edge research and development so that businesses can take that research and take some risks to create new products and new services.  Setting basic rules for the marketplace that encourage innovation and fair competition that help a market-based economy thrive.  Creating a safety net that not only helps the most vulnerable in our society but also frees all of us to take risks and protect against life’s uncertainties.  And welcoming, rather than disparaging, the striving immigrants that have always been the source of continued renewal, economic vibrancy and dynamism in our economy.

So my hope is that Congress aims a little higher than just not shutting the government down.  That’s a good start, we’d like them to achieve that, but I think we can do better.  We can actually do some things to help the economy grow.  After the last shutdown, both parties came together and unwound some of the irrational cuts to our economy and military readiness that’s known as sequester.  That agreement expires in two weeks as well.  And for those of you who are not steeped in federal budget terminology, sequester basically are automatic topline cuts that don’t discriminate, don’t think through what are good investments and what is waste.  And if we don’t reverse the cuts that are currently in place, a lot of the drivers of growth that your companies depends on — research, job training, infrastructure, education for our workforce — they are going to be reduced effectively at a time when other countries around the world are racing to get ahead of us.  On the other hand, if Congress does reverse dome of these cuts, then our own budget office estimates it would add about half a million jobs to our economy next year alone, about 0.4 percent to GDP.

And keep in mind that we can afford it right now — all the things I said at the front in terms of the recovery that we’ve made.  We’ve also reduced the deficit by two-thirds.  Right now it’s about 2.8 percent of GDP.  We’ve reduced our deficit faster than some of those countries that pursued strict austerity policies and weren’t thinking about how to grow the economy.

And so we are well positioned without adding to the deficit.  I want to repeat — since I took office, we’ve cut the deficit by more than two-thirds.  And the good news is we might actually be moving beyond some of the stale debates we’ve been having about spending and revenue over the past several years if what economists and people who are knowledgeable about the federal budget are listened to as opposed by this being driven by short-term politics.

People in both parties, including some of the leading Republican candidates for President, have been putting out proposals.  Some I agree with, some I don’t.  I’ll give you one example, though.  You’ve got two leading candidates on the Republican side who have said that we should eliminate the carried interest loophole.  Now, there’s disagreement in this room around that.  But I will tell you that keeping this tax loophole, which leads to folks who are doing very well paying lower rates than their secretaries, is not in any demonstrable way improving our economy.

On the other hand, if we close the tax loophole, we could double the number of workers in America’s job training programs.  We could help another 4 million students afford college.  These are sensible choices that if you were running your business and you took a look at it, you’d make that decision.  Well, America should too.

And this is an example of how we can maintain fiscal responsibility while at the same time making the investments that we need to grow.

So the bottom line is this:  Seven years ago, if we had listened to some politicians who said we could only cut our way to prosperity, the fact is we’d be worse off today.  If we listen to them now, then we’re going to be worse off tomorrow.

I hope that you will talk to your friends in Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike.  As Congress flirts with another shutdown, remind them of what is at stake.  We will have some disagreements sometimes.  I do not expect to get 100 percent of what I want in any conversation, including with my wife.  But I do expect us to stay focused on why we’re here, which is to help the American people and businesses like yours and your workers do better.  That’s our job.  We’re not supposed to be impeding progress.  We’re supposed to be advancing progress, accelerating it.

And if our leaders can put common sense over ideology and the good of the country before the good of the party, then we’ll do just fine.  Despite the perennial doom and gloom that I guess is inevitably part of a presidential campaign, America is winning right now.  America is great right now.  We can do even better.  But the reason that I’m so confident about our future is not because of our government or the size of our GDP or our military, but because everybody in this country that I meet — regardless of their station in life, their race, their religion, the region they live in — they do believe in a common creed that if people work hard in this country, they should be able to get ahead.  And I know that’s what you believe.  That’s the values that you try to instill in our companies, as well.  My hope is, is that that decency, that hard work, that common sense is going to be reflected here in Washington.

So with that, let me take some questions.  And I’m going to start with Randall, because since he volunteered for what I’m sure is a thankless job of being head of the — (laughter).

Q    I’ll get it going here.  I know there are a lot of other questions for you.  But Leader McConnell was just here a little earlier, and he gave us all a cause to exhale, talking about the budget and seemed confident that we would get a place where we would have a budget.  And in the context of that he spoke about how split government can actually provide opportunities for getting big things done that might be hard to get done otherwise.  And he caused a head-snapper with all of us when he gave you a very strong compliment over —

THE PRESIDENT:  My head is snapping.  (Laughter.)  What did I do?

Q    Trade Promotion Authority, and how you worked that and you worked it very aggressively.  And, by the way, all of us in here — Mike Froman, I don’t know if he’s here, and Jeff Zients are very complimentary of the work that was done there.

So now you have the authority to get a trade deal done.  It’s going to have to come back to Congress, and so forth.  Talk to us a little bit about your view of the opportunity to get the Trans-Pacific deal done.

THE PRESIDENT:  I am confident that we can get it done, and I believe we can get it done this year.  The trade ministers should be meeting again sometime in the next several weeks.  They have the opportunity to close the deal.  Most chapters have been completed at this point.  And I’m confident that it will, in fact, accomplish our central goal, which is to make sure that we’ve got a level playing field for American businesses and American workers in the fastest-growing region of the world.

There are going to be unprecedented protections for labor standards and environmental standards, but also for IP protection, also for making sure that when any company here makes an investment, that they’re not being disadvantaged but are instead being treated like domestic companies for commercial purposes.

And so the notion here is, is that we’ve got 11 nations who represent the fastest-growing, most populous part of the world buying into a high-standards trade deal that allows us and your companies on a consistent basis to compete.  And the good news is, is that with a lot of tough negotiating and a lot of pushing and pulling — mainly by Mr. Froman, but occasionally I get called in to lob a call into one of my counterparts — I think that we’re going to get this done.

Now, the key then, once we close the negotiations and we have an agreement, is to get TPP through Congress.  We got it through.  I will return the compliment of Mitch McConnell worked very hard and very creatively to get it done.  We should not assume, though, that because the authority was done, that we automatically are going to be able to get TPP done.

And I’ll be honest with you, the reason is that the politics around trade are tough.  And I said this even in the run-up to getting TPA authority.  A lot of Americans, when they think of trade, think of plants in their hometown or nearby shutting down and moving to Mexico or China, and American manufacturing and good-paying jobs being lost.  That’s the image of trade.

And the argument that I have made consistently to Democrats has been that there may have been some mistakes made in past trade agreements in not, for example, having enforceable labor and environmental provisions that put American companies that are doing the right thing at a disadvantage; that there weren’t enough safeguards for intellectual property and the abuses of state-owned enterprises and subsidies that companies may have been involved with.

But that’s the status quo now.  And if you want to correct those things, we’ve got to raise the bar.  I didn’t fully persuade all my Democratic colleagues, because the politics are tough.  And I was willing to take my case to the Democratic caucus and to talk to my friends in organized labor and say that we can’t look backwards, we’ve got to look forward.  We’re going to have to compete in these areas.

Here’s the concern politically, is that I think within the Republican Party some of the same impulses that are anti-immigration reform, some of the same impulses that see the entire world as a threat and we’ve got to wall ourselves off, some of those same impulses also start creeping into the trade debate.  And a party that traditionally was pro free trade now has a substantial element that may feel differently.

And so the BRT, I think — you know, you got to put Engler to work over there.  To their credit, both Mitch McConnell and John Boehner I think are on the right program here, but they’re going to need some help potentially with their membership, because the closer we get to political season, the tighter some of these votes get.  I will tell you this, though:  I am confident that if I’m presenting an agreement to Congress, that it will meet the commitment that I made that this would be the highest standard, most progressive trade deal in American history.  It will be good for American business and American workers.

Q    Hi, Mr. President.  Thank you for being with us.  I wanted to ask you about cybersecurity.  You put an executive order in place earlier this week because of the issues we have with information-sharing and with liabilities.  And we at the BRT are very supportive of the legislation that has passed the House and is now in progress in the Senate.  And I wanted to just get your thoughts on how you’re thinking about this, and also with the upcoming visit of the President of China about cybersecurity and our relationship with China.

THE PRESIDENT:  This is an issue that is not going away.  It is going to be more and more important, and it is going to be very challenging.  It’s challenging in part because the Internet itself, the architecture of it was not intended to carry trillions of dollars of transactions and everybody’s personal information.  It was designed for a couple of professors to trade academic papers.  And so the kind of security that we were looking for was not embedded into the DNA of the Internet.

And the vulnerabilities are significant and they are being exploited by not just state actors, but also non-state actors and criminal gangs at an accelerating pace.  So this is something that from a national security perspective and from a business perspective we’re going to have to continue to concentrate on.

One of the big issues that you mentioned, Maggie, that we’re focused on, is this encryption issue.  And there is a legitimate tension around this issue.  On the one hand, the stronger the encryption, the better we can potentially protect our data.  And so there’s an argument that says we want to turbocharge our encryption so that nobody can crack it.  On the other hand, if you have encryption that doesn’t have any way to get in there, we are now empowering ISIL, child pornographers, others to essentially be able to operate within a black box in ways that we’ve never experienced before during the telecommunications age.  And I’m not talking, by the way, about some of the controversies around NSA; I’m talking about the traditional FBI going to a judge, getting a warrant, showing probable cause, but still can’t get in.

So we’ve created a process around which to see if we can square the circle here and reconcile the need for greater and greater encryption and the legitimate needs of national security and law enforcement.

And I won’t say that we’ve cracked the code yet, but we’ve got some of the smartest folks not just in government but also in the private sector working together to try to resolve it.  And what’s interesting is even in the private sector, even in the tech community, people are on different sides of this thing.

With respect to China, this will probably be one of the biggest topics that I discuss with President Xi.  We have repeatedly said to the Chinese government that we understand traditional intelligence-gathering functions that all states, including us, engage in.  And we will do everything we can to stop you from getting state secrets or transcripts of a meeting that I’ve had, but we understand you’re going to be trying to do that.  That is fundamentally different from your government or its proxies engaging directly in industrial espionage and stealing trade secrets, stealing proprietary information from companies.  That we consider an act of aggression that has to stop.

And we are preparing a number of measures that will indicate to the Chinese that this is not just a matter of us being mildly upset, but is something that will put significant strains on the bilateral relationship if not resolved, and that we are prepared to some countervailing actions in order to get their attention.

My hope is, is that it gets resolved short of that, and ultimately the goal should be to have some basic international framework that won’t be perfect because there’s still going to be a lot of non-state actors and hackers who are very good, and we’re still going to have to have good defense and still have to be able to find the fingerprints of those and apprehend them, and stop networks that are engaged in cybercrime.

But among states, there has to be a framework that is analogous to what we’ve done with nuclear power because nobody stands to gain.  And, frankly, although the Chinese and Russians are close, we’re still the best at this.  And if we wanted to go on offense, a whole bunch of countries would have some significant problems.  And we don’t want to see the Internet weaponized in that way.  That requires I think some tough negotiations.  That won’t be a one-year process, but we’d like to see if we can — if we and the Chinese are able to coalesce around a process for negotiations, then I think we can bring a lot of other countries along.

Q    And we will work with you on that too.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.

Q    Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Ursula.

Q    Thank you for being here.  It’s also good to be reminded occasionally of some of the progress that we’ve made in like a complete sentence.  So I think thank you for that, as well.  And some recent ones — TPA is good; even the Iran deal, really good.  Health care standing up.  All good.  The place that we haven’t made a lot of progress but that’s really important for business and business progress is on tax and tax reform.

And what we’re getting to now is I think almost kind of like being backed in the corner.  So since you can’t get a grand deal, we’re starting to talk about sub-deals.  And the sub-deals in and of themselves are destructive, in the Business Roundtable’s view, to the grand deal, which is total tax reform or comprehensive tax reform.  So can you help us think about how we should negotiate this duality that we’re in right now?  And where do you think we’re going to end up?

THE PRESIDENT:  We put forward a proposal early on that I’m confident I could sell to this group.  Not everybody would be thrilled but I think I could argue that over time would be good for business, because essentially what we proposed was the traditional framework for tax reform:  close loopholes, lower rates.  We’d address international taxation in ways that currently put American businesses at a disadvantage and would allow for a repatriation, but would not simply empty out the Treasury and would generate enough revenue that we could actually also pay for some infrastructure.

And our hope was that we’d get some nibbles on the other side.  To his credit, Paul Ryan expressed real interest in discussions and negotiations.  But your previous speaker, Mitch McConnell, has said that he is not interested in getting tax reform — comprehensive tax reform of that sort done.

So there’s still work being done.  We’re still in conversations with Mr. Ryan.  And I know that Senator Schumer and others have still been working on the possibilities of a fairly robust package.  But ultimately you’re going to have to have the leader of the Senate majority party bought in to try to get this done.

I understand why tax reform is elusive — because those of us who believe in a simpler, fairer, more competitive tax framework in the abstract sometimes look at our bottom lines and say, I don’t know, that deduction is helping us pretty good here.  And even if this organization has been supportive, there are other business organizations in town that have some pretty strong influence over the Republican Party that haven’t been as wild on it, partly because their view is, is that the only kind of tax reform that’s acceptable is one that would also lower all rates, regardless of its effect on the deficit.  That’s just not something that is viable.

So we’re going to keep on working on it.  My suggestion would be that the BRT continue to encourage Speaker Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell to come up with an ambitious package.  And what I can assure you is, is that the White House will take it seriously.  We don’t expect that everything in our original package would go forward.

But the one thing that we couldn’t do — and I get concerned sometimes that what is labeled as tax reform ends up just being cuts, you’re not closing the loopholes, and as a consequence it’s a huge drain on the Treasury.  We then suddenly are accused of running up the deficit to help your tax rates, and we’re not doing enough to help grow the economy and help ordinary workers.  So that’s the one direction we can’t go in.

Yes, Tom.

Q    Thank you for being here.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on energy policy.  I know we talk a lot about all of the above, but I think what’s really changing kind of in an unprecedented way here recently are technology revolutions that are occurring either in the production of energy, or perhaps, more importantly, in the use of energy, that gives Americans I think a way to play offense in what has been a set of unprecedented challenges.  What’s your thoughts on that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Tom, I think you described it well.  I am much more optimistic about our ability to get a handle around energy that is good for our economy, good for business, good for consumers, good for job creation, and maybe saves the planet in the process.  I’m much more optimistic about that now than I was when I started as President.

And a good example is just when you look at what’s happened with solar.  I mean, we’re not quite at Moore’s law yet, but the pace at which the unit costs for solar energy have gone down is stunning.  We’ve seen not quite the same pace, but similar progress around wind.  Our natural gas production is unprecedented.  And I have been very supportive of our natural gas production as being not only important to our economy but also geopolitically.  It’s a huge recipe for energy independence as long as we get it — the methane discharge issues — right.  And I think there are ways of doing that with sound science.  So that’s on the production side.

And, as you said, on the utilization side, all of you are — there’s not a company here that is not producing significantly more product with less energy than you were just 10 years ago, and certainly than you were 20 years ago.  Everybody here has seen the power of tracking utilization, identifying waste, and timing issues around when is energy expensive, when is energy cheap.  So there’s enormous progress on the commercial side.  And then individual households now with things like Nest or the equivalence, we’re able to fine-tune our energy usage in ways that we just haven’t seen before.

And then you’ve got the whole transportation sector in which we’ve continued to make significant progress in Detroit as well as upstarts like Tesla.  There are still some distribution network issues around the transportation revolution, although companies like UPS are doing a great job I think already experimenting with their fleets.  So that’s all good news.

I would say that the big challenge now, if we’re going to realize all the potential here, is to work with utilities so that they have a business model in which they’re making money while seeing this change in distribution patterns and grid, because I think that there’s still some legitimate economic issues there that have to be sorted through.  And it’s tricky because it’s a patchwork system; we don’t have one national grid, obviously.

The second thing is, investment in basic research needs to continue.  Battery technology is greatly improved, but we still haven’t seen all the breakthroughs that I think that we can make with battery technology that would make a huge difference in storage.  And that’s an exciting area for development.

And then I would urge the BRT and some of you individually, as companies have already done this, view the issue of climate change and the Paris Conference that’s going to be coming up at the end of this year as an opportunity rather than as a problem.  Because this is coming; it’s coming generationally.  If you talk to your kids or my kids, they are much more attuned to this issue.  Consumers are going to be caring about it more and more.  The environmental effects that we’re seeing — I’m going to be calling Jerry Brown later today just to talk about California wildfires.  Some of you may have read the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada — lowest it’s been in 200 years.  The flooding problems that we’re already seeing in places like South Florida; it’s just during high tide.  Suddenly billions of dollars of property is under water.

So this is coming.  And for us to be out ahead of it and to think about how our ingenuity and our science can solve these problems is going to give us a jump on everybody else.  So there is a pledge that some members of the BRT have organized around supporting a strong Paris agreement.  I would encourage you to sign up on that and look for opportunities on this.  And that includes companies that have been in the traditional fossil fuel area.  Because if you know how to do oil and gas well, you can figure out how to do solar well, you can figure out to make money doing it.  You can figure out how to create efficiencies that help your bottom line.

And what we’ve tried to do with the Clean Power Plan is to give states flexibility, understanding everybody has got a different energy mix.  So, down south, we approved the first nuclear plant in a generation, basically, because we think nuclear needs to be part of that package.  I’m a big believer that there are going to be different ways to skin the cat on this thing.  We just have to set a baseline in which all of us understand the direction we need to go.  Instead of us spending a lot of time fighting science, let’s go with science.  We usually do better when we’re on the side of facts and evidence and science.  Just as a general rule, that’s proved to be our strength as Americans.

Jim.

Q    If I could just turn back to China for a second.  There are a lot of issues we’ve got to sort out, and you mentioned a couple of them — cybersecurity, their feelings about TPP, their own economy.  Their inward turn in the name of creating a consumer economy has had some protectionist elements that we don’t like.  I think, though — I think many in this room would like to see some kind of positive outcome from this summit, as well, that underlines our mutual benefit if we can figure out some of these things and find a way for the world’s two biggest economies to see a path forward as well as all the issues we’ve got.

Do you have a comment on the tone you’re going to try to set with the President, and roles that we could play in supporting both the — managing our relationship as well as finding a future for it?

THE PRESIDENT:  My tone with respect to China has been pretty consistent.  It doesn’t jump up and down depending on where the polls are.  My view is that China should be and will continue to be an economic competitor; that we need to make sure that we are reaching an understanding with them about our presence as a Pacific power, but that it is in our interest for China to continue what has been dubbed a “peaceful, orderly rise.”  I think that’s good for the world.

China is a big place with a lot of people.  And we’re better off if those people are eating and have shelter and are buying consumer goods, rather than starving and writhing on the streets.
And so what I’ve consistently communicated, first to President Hu when I came into office, now President Xi, is our goal is to have them as a partner in helping to maintain a set of international rules and norms that benefit everybody; that in fact, we’re what facilitated China’s rise.  They were essentially riding on our backs for the last 30 years because we were underwriting peace, security, the free flow of commerce, international rules in the financial sector.

And as they have matured, what we’ve said to them is, with power comes responsibility, so now you’ve got to step up.  You can’t act as if you are a third-world country and pursue protectionist policies, or engage in dumping, or not protect intellectual property at a time when we’re now — when you’re now the second and, eventually, probably the first-largest economy in the world.

You can’t simply pursue an export-driven strategy, because you’re too big.  You’re not going to be able to grow your economy at the same pace over the next 20 years that you did in the last 20 years.  Once your economy reaches a certain size, there’s not enough global market to absorb that, which means that you’ve got to start thinking about transparency within your own economy, and how are you setting up a safety net so that workers have some cushion, and in turn, are willing to spend money as opposed to stuffing it in a mattress.

You’ve got to be concerned about environmental issues, because you can’t breathe in Beijing.  And that spills over for all of us.  And as a large country with a powerful military, you can’t go around pushing your little neighbors around just because you’re bigger, but you have to start abiding by a basic code of conduct and a set of rules, because ultimately, you will be advantaged by everybody following the rules.

And I think in some areas, the Chinese understand this; I think in other areas, they don’t.  I think in other areas, they still see themselves as the poor country that shouldn’t have any obligations internationally.  And in some cases, they still feel that when we call them on issues like their behavior in the South China Sea, or on intellectual property theft, that we are trying to contain them as opposed to us just wanting them to abide by the same rules that helped create an environment in which they can rise.

The good news is that our fates are sufficiently intertwined, that — and in many ways, they still need us a lot more than we need them; that I think that there are going to be continuing areas in which they move, as long as we don’t resort to the kind of loose talk and name-calling that I notice some of our presidential candidates engage in — people you know.  (Laughter.)  It tends not to be constructive.

So bottom line, though, is, Jim, I think this summit will be useful.  I think there are going to be a lot of outcomes around things like energy and climate change, around improvements in how they deal with investors that will show constructive progress.  I think our military-to-military conversations have been much better than they were when I began office.

The one thing I would suggest that the BRT can do — two things.  Number one — and I think I’ve said this to some of you in the past — when your companies have a problem in China and you want us to help, you have to let us help.  Don’t tell us on the side, we’ve got this problem, you need to look into it, but then — but leave our names out of it because we want to be punished kind of thing.

Typically, we are not effective with the Chinese unless we are able to present facts and evidence of a problem.  Otherwise, they’ll just stonewall and slow-walk issues.  So if we’re seeing problems in terms of the competitive environment there, in terms of protecting your IP, in terms of unfair competition that runs afoul of understanding the principles that have already been established, you’ve got to let us know and let us be your advocates.  That’s important.

The second thing I think everybody here should do is not fall into the same trap that we fell into around Japan in the 1980s, which is somehow China is taking over just like Japan was taking over, and we’re in inevitable decline.  This whole argument — I’m just going to go on a quick rant here for a second — (laughter) — this whole notion that somehow we’re getting out-competed, out-dealt, out-this, out-that, we’re losing, we’re in — nobody outside the United States understands what we’re talking about.  (Laughter.)

I mean we’ve got problems.  We’ve got issues.  Our biggest problem is gridlock in Washington and that’s just not making some sensible policies.  But overall, our cards are so much better than everybody else’s.  Our pool of quality businesses and talent, and our institutions, and our rule of law, and how we manage and adapt to new and changing circumstances, and our dominance in knowledge-based industries — nobody matches us.  And we attract — the best talent around the world still wants to come here if we’d just let them come.

So I think it’s important for business voices to point out every once in a while America is in the driver’s seat if we make some smart decisions.   And that’s not a partisan comment, that is just the facts.  There is not a country out there, including China, that wouldn’t look at us with envy right now.

And so our problem is not that China is going to out-negotiate us, or that Mr. Putin is sort of out-strategizing us.  Anybody taken a look at the Russian economy lately?  That’s not our problem.  Our problem is us, typically.  We engage in — and I’m being generous when I say “we,” — (laughter) — but we engage in self-inflicted wounds like this potential government shutdown.  It’s unnecessary.

I’ve got time for a couple more questions.  Good to see you.  How you doing?  How you doing, Ed?  How is everybody back home?

Q    Very good.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.

Q    Along that, in that same vein, looking earlier this summer, the expiration of the Ex-Im Bank authorization.

THE PRESIDENT:  Speaking of self-inflicted wounds.

Q    Understand.  And part of the ongoing discussion, debate here in Washington, the Senate has attached a reauthorization, as you know, to the transportation bill, which is now down at the House.  And on Monday the Roundtable sent a letter to the leadership on both sides in Congress pointing out really the benefits of reauthorization, that some of those get lost in this debate.  Because really, it’s been characterized as only benefitting a few companies, which ignores the thousands of people who are basically employed by our suppliers across the country, and the impact — positive impact that has, as well as it’s a net generator revenue for the governor — for the government.  And we have plans to have further discussions later today and this week with leadership in the House.

Do you have any — we had a good discussion with your team this morning.  Do you have any insights that you could share with us that would help us in getting that reauthorization?

THE PRESIDENT:  It is mind-boggling that this wasn’t reauthorized a year ago.  And it is this weird reversal in which the principle opponents are the tea party caucus in the Republican Party.

Somehow, Ex-Im Bank has become this cause célèbre of what some of the presidential candidates called “crony capitalism.”  And what’s ironic is obvious — I think some of you know the backstory.  There was I think a member of this organization that kind of started this whole thing because they were upset about some planes being sold to a competitor on a route, and suddenly this caught fire in the right wing Internet.  And it’s just hard to explain.

Look, Ed, I had a group of small businesses, ranging from, what, four people to a couple of hundred people, talking about how they use Ex-Im.  This is the only way that they can get into these markets.  And as you said, Ex-Im doesn’t cost the government.  This is not a money loser for us.  And I don’t have to tell Emil (ph) or Jim how important it is.  I keep on telling them I expect a gold watch from them because it seems like every time I take a foreign trip I’ve got to sell some turbine or plane.  (Laughter.)

And I was concerned about Jeff’s announcement that jobs that were here in the United States are now going to be overseas because we don’t get this done.  But that’s true for the supply chain; it’s also true for some smaller companies that use Ex-Im directly.  It’s not just that they’re part of the GE or Boeing supply chain, it’s that they’re selling tea to a country and this is the only mechanism they have to be able to make those sales.

The good news is McConnell and Boehner both say they want to get it done.  As you said, we’ve already shown there are sufficient votes for it in the Senate, and we actually think there are sufficient votes for it in the House.  I would concentrate your attention on House Republican caucus members.  And I think you have to flood the zone and let them know this is important.  And that includes, by the way, talking to individual members who, in their districts, potentially have companies that are being adversely affected as long as Ex-Im is frozen.

But my expectation is it gets done during the course of these budget negotiations.  And we’re going to push as hard as we can to get it, though.

Q    Mr. President, thank you for being here today.  One of the issues that we deal with and we talked about last time you were here was regulations.  And one of the areas that the Business Roundtable is very focused on these days is the ozone rule, which October 1, your administration will be coming out with a recommendation associated with that.

The Business Roundtable position is that we need to maintain the 75 parts-per-billion.  To lower that standard when technology doesn’t exist and when communities are already advancing toward the 75 goal — if you lower it to 70, it’s going to introduce another 200 counties in this country into non-attainment, which basically is a “we’re not open for business.”  And that’s our concern.  Do you have any thoughts on that, or what the administration’s plans are in that regard?

THE PRESIDENT:  There’s a lot of complicated technical issues involved in this, but I’ll try to simplify it as much as possible.

Number one, we’re under a court order to do this.  So I think there may be a misperception that the EPA can do whatever it wants here.  There were lawsuits brought under the previous administration that continued into my administration.  We went before a judge.  We actually, I think properly, got some additional time, because there was the notion that we were going to lower standards a few years ago, and then immediately get new data and force everybody to lower them all over again.  And we said, let’s just do this one time in a sensible way so that people can plan.

But we’ve got some legal constraints.  This is not something that just popped out of my head full blown.  And so I always enjoy seeing the advertising for “Obama’s ozone plan.”  The ozone rules date back to when I was I think still in law school, before I had any gray hair.  And there are some fairly stringent statutory guidelines by which the EPA is supposed to evaluate the standards.  So the EPA is following the science and the statutes as best as it can.

We are mindful that in some cases, because of the nature of where pollutants are generated, where they blow, that this can create a really complicated situation for certain local jurisdictions and local communities, and some states and counties end up being hit worse than others.  And we’re trying to work with those states and those communities as best we can taking in their concerns into account.

So I guess the bottom line is this is — you can legitimately go after me on the clean power plant rule because we — that was hatched by us, and I believe that we need to deal with climate change and — so we can have a lengthy debate about that.

And on ozone, this is an existing statute and an existing mechanism, and we are charged with implementing it based on the science that’s presented to us.  And that’s what we’re trying to do, but we’re taking this input into account.  I recognize some of the concerns.

I will say this — last point I’ll make on this.  Even with the costs associated with implementing the ozone rule, when you do a cost-benefit, the amount of lives saved, asthma averted and so forth is still substantially higher than the costs.  Now, that doesn’t necessarily resolve all the concerns that people may have about local costs being borne, whereas the savings are spread out more broadly.  And those are legitimate economic issues that have to be considered.  And the EPA has been listening to I think every stakeholder there.

But I think what you’ll see in the analysis overall is — we don’t issue a regulation where the costs are not lower than the benefits.  And if you look at the regulations we’ve generally put forward, the costs are substantially lower than the benefits that are generated.

Okay.

Q    Yes, thank you, Mr. President.  Many of us are interested in Cuba.  And the opening there has been positive.  There is a lot of issues to get to full normal relations.  Just how do you see that path happening?  And what’s the future of that in your opinion?  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think it’s going to be an overnight transformation, but I am convinced that by re-engaging Cuba, re-engaging the Cuban people, that we are creating the environment in which a generational change and transition will take place in that country.  And already you’re seeing conversations taking place about how is Cuba going to accommodate an influx of tourists, and how do they think about the Internet and open communications in order to be able to participate in the modern economy?

And that inevitably then leads to questions about can you hire — can a company hire a Cuban directly, a foreign investor, as opposed to going through the government?  And over time, that creates space for personal freedom and I think a long-term political transition.

For now, what we’ve said is that we will step by step look for areas and opportunities within our authorities.  As long as Congress still has the embargo in place, there are certain things we can’t do.  But there are certain things we can do, for example, on telecommunications, and we’re looking for opportunities there.

And we will also continue to press the Cuban government around issues of political freedom.  And when His Holiness the Pope comes, he’s going to be visiting Cuba.  That I think is going to be an opportunity for more interesting conversations inside of Cuba.

My biggest suggestion would be for the BRT just to start having a conversation on a bipartisan basis about lifting the embargo.  It doesn’t necessarily have to happen — or even should happen all in one fell swoop.  But I think if you look at the economic opportunities that are presented, they’re significant.  And it doesn’t make much sense that a country 90 miles off the shore of Florida that is not at this point a significant threat to us, and that has shown itself willing to at least look beyond its borders for the first time — even if it’s still scared of what it might bring — it doesn’t make sense for us to keep sticking to the old ways of doing business.

I’ll actually take one more question, and then I’ll come around and say hi to everybody.  So anybody else?  Yes, go ahead.

Q    Mr. President, again, thank you.  And I know a topic near to your heart has been education for young folks, and you’ve spent a lot of time on this.  And many of us have done things private-public partnerships.  And you recently made a comment about computer science for all high school kids, which I think is an important point, because technology is such a broad topic.  It will infiltrate all jobs in the future.

So maybe a chance to make some comments about how you envision something like that actually taking root over the long term that we could make some progress with it — on scale.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I want to commend Ginni and IBM because you guys have done some terrific work.  Anybody who wants some inspiration, go to the high school that IBM is participating in in Brooklyn where kids — a collaboration between the public school system, the city colleges of New York, the CUNY system and IBM.

And you’ve got kids from — most of them, parents never went to college.  A lot of them immigrant kids.  And they are marching through STEM education, pre-engineering education.  They’re getting essentially college credits by the time they’re sophomore or juniors in high school.  They’re able to save money because in five years in high school, they come out with an associate’s degree.  They then either are transferring to a four-year university with those credits, or they’re starting to work with IBM because they’ve been apprenticing and the curriculum design has given them confidence that if they do well, they’re going to be able to get a job.

That model is something that we’re actually looking to try to duplicate all across the country.  And the good news, as I mentioned at the top, is because of the strong work that Arne Duncan has done, the strong work that a lot of governors and local communities have done to increase accountability, creativity, have high expectations for kids, bust through some of the old bureaucratic obstacles.

We are seeing highest reading scores, highest math scores, highest graduation rates.  And part of our goal here is to improve STEM education generally.  A critical element of that is understanding this computer age that these kids are immersed.  And I don’t want them just to know how to use their phone to play video games; I want them to know how that phone works, and potentially code it and program it.

And what’s remarkable — I’m about the age where — I think my high school just had, like, the first coding class when I was maybe in seventh or eighth grade.  But this is what — you had, like, those cards, and it was — and the punch cards.  And now, the way these — the tools and resources that are available for kids starting in first, second grade — we have these science fairs and these little Girl Scout troops come in and they’ve coded, they’ve designed their own games, and — or simulations of entire towns with people and all kinds of scenarios that they’ve figured out.

And so it’s actually something that they naturally gravitate to.  We just have to start early.  It’s almost like a foreign language, where rather than try to catch kids when they’re in tenth, eleventh, twelfth grade, they get part of the broader curriculum and incorporate it into how you’re teaching math and how you’re teaching science and how you’re teaching social studies.  That seems to be the way in which kids get most engaged.

So we’re doing a lot of work with many of you individually as companies on this STEM education issue.  We hope that you will continue to participate.  You’ve been great partners on that front.

I’ll just say in closing, it’s always a pleasure to be here.  I want to just reiterate, as we enter into the silly season of politics, that the primary thing that is holding back a lot of potential growth, jobs, improved bottom lines, greater stability is well within our control right now, and are things that traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support — Ex-Im Bank, getting TPP done, financing and executing on an infrastructure policy.  I’ve had conversations with folks like Larry Fink and others about if we’re open to looking at new, creative ways of financing it, but the notion that we’re not doing that right now makes absolutely no sense — investing in research and development.

These are not partisan issues.  There are some areas where there have traditionally been legitimate arguments between Democrats and Republicans.  There are some issues — like on environmental regulations, or financial regulations, where Jamie and I may disagree, or Nick and I may disagree.  And we can have those arguments, and we probably won’t convince each other on some of these things.

But what I’m looking at is the low-hanging fruit that are no-brainers and that nobody here would argue with.  And the notion that we’re not doing them right now because — primarily because a faction within one of our parties has gone off the rails and sees a conspiracy around everything, or simply is opposed to anything I propose even if they used to propose it, that’s a problem.

And I think it’s very important for all of you to just step back and take a look at it, because you still have influence on at least some of those folks.  And challenge them.  Why wouldn’t we do things that everybody knows make sense?

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
12:34 P.M. EDT

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