Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 October 9, 2016: The second Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

The second Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript

Source: Vox, 10-9-16

Anderson Cooper: Thank you very much.

We’re honored to be here. Also the Commission on Presidential Debates for sponsoring this. This is obviously a town hall format tonight — a chance for the Americans on this stage and thousands of people who have sent in questions online to ask questions directly to the candidates.

Martha Raddatz: After they’ve asked their questions, they’ve promised to remain silent and I know you’ve heard this before this evening, but no outbursts of any kind. We want to keep this focused on the candidates and the people who are asking the questions here. We appreciate your cooperation and we’ll start shortly. Great to see you all.

MR: Good evening. I’m Martha Raddatz from ABC news.

AC: I’m Anderson Cooper from CNN. We want to welcome you to Washington University for the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Sponsored by the commission on presidential debates. Tonight’s debate is a town hall format, which gives voters the chance to directly ask questions. The night really belongs to the people in this room and to people across the country who have submitted questions online.

The people you see on this stage were chosen by the Gallup organizations. They are all from the St. Louis area and told Gallup they haven’t committed to candidate. Each of them came here with questions they want to ask. And we saw those questions for the first time this morning. And son and I and our team from ABC and CNN are the only ones who have seen them. Both candidates will have two minutes to answer each audience and online question, we hope to get to as many as we can, so we’ve asked the audience not to slow things down with applause. Except for now. Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump and democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Thank you very much for being here. We’re going to begin with a question from one of members in our town hall. Each of you will have two minutes to respond to this question. Secretary Clinton, you won the coin toss.

Voter: Thank you and good evening. The last debate could have been rated as MA: mature audiences, per TV parental guidelines. Do you feel you’re models appropriate and positive behavior for today’s youth.

Clinton: Thank you. Are you a teacher? Yes, I think that that’s a very good question. Because I’ve heard from lots of teachers and parents about some of their concerns. About some of the things that are being said and done in this campaign. And I think it is very important for us to make clear to our children that our country really is great because we’re good.

And we are going to respect one another. Lift each other up. We are going to be looking for ways to celebrate our diversity.

And we are going to try to reach out to every boy and girl as well as every adult, to bring them into working on behalf of our country. I have a very positive and optimistic view about what we can do together.

That’s why the slogan of my campaign is stronger together, because when we work together, if we overcome the divisiveness that sometimes sets Americans against one another and instead make big goals, and I’ve set forth some big goals — getting the economy to work for everyone, not just those at the top. Making sure we have the best education system from preschool to college and making it affordable and so much else. If we set those goals and go together to try to achieve them, there’s nothing in my opinion that America can’t do.

So that’s why I hope that we will come together in this campaign. Obviously, I’m going to earn your vote, hoping to be elected in November, and I can promise you, I will work with every American.

I want to be the president for all Americans, regardless of your political beliefs, where you come from, what you look like, your religion. I want us to heal our country and bring it together. Our children and grandchildren deserve that.

AC: Thank you. You have two minutes.

DT: Well, I actually agree with that. I agree with everything she said. I began this campaign because I was so tired of seeing such foolish things happen to our country. This is a great country. A great land. I’ve gotten to know the people of the country over the last year and a half that I’ve been doing this as a politician. I cannot believe I’m saying that about myself, but I guess I have been a politician, and my whole concept was to make America great again.

When I watched the Iran deal being made, some horrible things like Obamacare, health insurance, and health care is going up with numbers that are astronomical, 68 percent, 71 percent, when I look at the Iran deal and how bad a deal it is for us. It’s a one-sided transaction. Where we’re giving back $150 billion to a terrorist state really the number one terror state, we’ve made them a strong country from really a very weak country from just three years ago.

When I look at all of the things that I see and all of the potential that our country has — we have such tremendous potential. Whether it’s in business and trade, where we’re doing so badly. Last year, we had almost $800 billion trade deficit. Other words, trading with other countries. We had an $800 billion deficit. It’s hard to believe.

Inconceivable. We’re going the make great deals. Haivng a strong border is going to bring back law and order. Just today policeman were shot — two, killed. And this is happening on a weekly basis. We have to bring back respect to law enforcement. At the the same time, we need the take care of people on both sides. We need justice. But I want to do things that haven’t been done, including fixing and making inner-cities better for African-Americans and for the Latinos, Hispanics, and I look forward to making America great again.

AC: Thank you, Mr. Trump. The question from Patrice was are you both modeling appropriate behaviors for today’s youth. We received a lot of questions about the tape released on Friday. You called what you said locker room banter — kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women.

DT: I don’t think you understood.

This was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologize to my family. To the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk. When we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have frankly drowning people in steel cages, wars, and horrible, horrible fights all over — so many bad things happening. We haven’t seen anything like this, the carnage all over the world. Can you imagine the people that are frankly doing so well against us with ISIS? And they look at our country and see what’s going on. Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re going to defeat ISIS.

ISIS happened a number of years ago in a vacuum left because of bad judgment, and I will tell you, I will take care of ISIS.

AC: So, Mr. Trump —

DT: Get on to much more important things and much bigger things.

AC: For the record, are you saying, what you said on the bus 11 years ago, that you did not kiss women without consent or grope women without consent.

DT: I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.

AC: So, you’re saying you never did that.

DT: I said things that frankly, you hear these things. And I was embarrassed by it. But I have tremendous respect for women.

AC: Have you ever done those things?

DT: No, I have not. I will tell you that I’m going the make our country safe. We’re going to have borders in our country, which we don’t know. People are pouring into our country and coming in from the Middle East and other places.

We’re going to make America safe again. Make America great again, but safe again. And we’re going to make America wealthy again because if you don’t do that, it just, it sounds harsh to say, but we have to — I would build up the wealth.

AC: Thank you, Mr. Trump.

DT: Other nations are taking our jobs and wealth.

AC: Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?

HC: Well, like everyone else, I spent a lot of time thinking over the last 48 hours about what we heard and saw. You know, with prior Republican nominees, for president, I disagreed with them. Politics, policies, principles.

But I never questioned their fitness to serve. Donald Trump is different. I said starting back in June, that he was not fit to be president and commander in chief. And many Republicans and independents have said the same thing. What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women. What he thinks about women. What he does to women.

And he has said that the video doesn’t represent who he is. But I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly what he is. Because we’ve seen this throughout the campaign. We have seen him insult women. We’ve seen him rate women. On their appearance. Ranking them from one to 10. We’ve seen him embarrass women on TV and on Twitter. We saw him after the first debate spend nearly a week denigrating a former Miss Universe in the harshest, most personal terms, so, yes, this is who Donald Trump is. But it’s not only women and it’s not only this video that raises questions about his fitness to be our president.

Because he has also targeted immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, Muslims, and others, so, this is who Donald Trump is, and the question for us, the question our country must answer is that this is not who we are. That’s why, to go back to your question, I want to send a message we all should. To every boy and girl and indeed to the entire world.

That America is great and we are great, because we are good and we will respect one another. And we will work with one another and we will celebrate our diversity.

These are very important values to me because this is the America that I know and love. And I can pledge to you tonight that this is the America that I will serve if I’m so fortunate enough to become your president.

MR: And we want to get to some questions —

DT: Am I allowed to respond to that?

MR: Yes.

DT: It’s just words, folks. Just words. Those words, I’ve been hearing them for many years. I heard them when they were running for the Senate. In New York.

Where Hillary was going to bring back jobs to upstate New York and she failed. I’ve heard them where Hillary is constantly talking about the inner cities of our country, which are a disaster. Education-wise. Job0-ise. Safety-wise. In every way possible, I’m going to help the African Americans, help the Latinos, Hispanics. I am going to help the inner cities.

She’s done a terrible job for the African Americans. She wants their votes and does nothing and then comes back four years later. We saw that firsthand when the United States senator she campaigned where the —

MR: Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump — I want to get to audience questions and online questions.

DT: So, she’s allowed to do that, but I’m not allowed to respond. Sounds fair.

DT: This tape is generating intense interest. In just 48 hours, it’s become the single most talked about story of the entire 2016 [cycle] on Facebook with millions and millions of people discussing it on social network.

As we said, we want to bring in questions from voters around country via social media and our first on this topic. Jeff from Ohio asks on Facebook, Trump says the campaign has changed him. When did that happen? So, Mr. Trump, let me add to that. When you walked off that bus at age 59, were you a different man, or did that behavior continue until just recently? And you have two minutes for this.

DT: That was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I am a person who has great respect for people, for my family, for the people of this country. And certainly I’m not proud of it, but that was something that happened. If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse, mine are words, his was action. This is what he has done to women. There’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women, so you can say any way you want to say it, but Bill Clinton was abusive to women.

Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously. Four of them are here tonight. One of the women, who is a wonderful woman, at 12 years-old, was raped at 12. Her client she represented got him off and she’s seen laughing at the girl who was raped. She is here with us tonight, so, don’t tell me about words. And absolutely, I apologize for those words. But it is things that people say, but what President Clinton did, he was impeached, lost his license to practice law. He had to pay an $850,000 fine. To one of the women. Paula Jones, who’s also here tonight.

And I will tell you that when Hillary brings up a point like that and talks about words that I said 11 years ago, I think it’s disgraceful and I think she should be ashamed of herself, if you want to know the truth.

HC: First, let me say so much of what he just said is not right, but he gets to run his campaign any way he chooses. He gets to decide what he gets to talk about.

Instead of answering people’s questions, laying out the plans we have that make a better life and a better country. That’s his choice. When I hear something like that, I am reminded of what my friend, Michelle Obama, advised us all.

When they go low, you go high.

And look, if this were just about one video, maybe what he’s saying tonight would be understandable, but everyone can draw their own conclusions at this point about whether or not the man in video or on the stage respects women. But he never apologizes for anything to win.

He never apologized to Mr. And Mrs. Khan, the gold star family whose son died in the line of duty, and Donald insulted and attacked them for weeks over their religion. He never apologized to the distinguished federal judge who was born in Indiana, but Donald said he couldn’t be trusted to be a judge because his parents were, quote, Mexican. He never apologized to the reporter that he mimicked and mocked on national television.

And our children were watching. And he never apologized for the racist lie that President Obama was not born in the United States of America. He owes the president apology. He owes our country an apology and he needs to take responsibility for his actions and words.

DT: Well, you owe the president an apology because as you know very well, your campaign Sidney Blumenthal, another real winner that you have and he’s the one that got this started along with your campaign manager and they were on television just two weeks ago, she was, saying exactly that. So, you really owe him an apology. You’re the one that sent the pictures around your campaign. Sent the pictures around with president Obama, long before I was involved. Number two, Michelle Obama. I’ve gotten to see the commercials that they did on you.

And I’ve gotten to see some of the most vicious commercials I’ve ever seen of Michelle Obama talking about you, Hillary. So, you talk about friend, go back and take a look at those commercials. A race where you lost fair and square.

Unlike the Bernie Sanders race, where you won, but not fair and square, in my opinion. All you have to do is take a look at Wikileaks and see what they say about Sanders and see what Wasserman-Schultz had in mind. Never had a chance. I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil, but when you talk about apology, I think the one you should really be apologizing for and this thing you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 e-mails that you deleted and that you acid washed and then the two boxes of e-mails and other things last week taken from an office and are now missing. I’ll tell you what I didn’t think I’d say this and I’m going to say it and hate to say it: If I win, I’m going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there’s never been so many lies, so much deception.

Never been anything like it and we’re going to have a special prosecutor. When I speak, I go out and speak, the people of this country are furious. In my opinion, the people that have been long-term workers at the FBI are furious. There has never been anything like this, where e-mails and you get a subpoena and after getting the subpoena, you delete 33,000 e-mails and then acid watch them or bleach them. A very expensive process, so we’re going to get a special prosecutor because people have been, their lives have been destroyed for doing one fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace and honestly, you ought to be ashamed.

HC: Let me just talk about e-mails because everything he just said is absolutely false. But I’m not surprised. And the first debate, and —

AC: The audience needs to calm down here.

HC: I told people it would be impossible be fact checking all the the time — I’d never get to talk about anything I want to do or how we’re going to make lives better for people. So go to HillaryClinton.com. You can fact check him in realtime, last time at the first debate, we had millions of people fact checking, so expect we’ll have millions more fact checking. It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country.

DT: Because you’d be in jail.

AC: We want to remind the audience to please not — talk out loud. Please do not applaud. You’re just wasting time.

MR: You’ve said your handing of your e-mails was a mistake. You disagreed with James Comey, calling it quote extremely careless. The FBI said there were 110 e-mails, eight of which were Top Secret, and it was possible hostile actors did gain access. You don’t call that extremely careless?

HC: I’ll repeat it because I want everyone to hear it. That was a mistake and I take responsibility. For using a personal e-mail account. Obviously, if I were to do it over again, I would not. I’m not making any excuses. It was a mistake.

And I am very sorry about that. But I think it’s also important to point out where there are some misleading accusations from critics and others.

After a year long investigation, there is no evidence that anyone hacked the server I was using and no evidence that anyone can point to at all anyone who says otherwise has no basis. That any classified material ended up in the wrong hands. I take classified materials very seriously and always have when I was on the senate armed services committee, I was privy to a lot of classified material.

Obviously, as secretary of state, I had some of the most important secrets that we possess such as going after bin laden so I am very committed to taking classified information seriously. There is no evidence that any classified information ended up in the wrong hands.

DT: And yet, she didn’t know the word the letter C on a document.

Right? She didn’t even know what that letter meant. You know, it’s amazing. I’m watching Hillary go over facts. And she’s going after fact after fact and lying again. Because she said she, you know, what she did — the e-mail — was fine. You think it was fine? I don’t think so. She said that 33,000 e-mails had to do with her daughter’s wedding, number one and a yoga class.

Right? She didn’t even know what that letter meant. You know, it’s amazing. I’m watching Hillary go over facts. And she’s going after fact after fact and lying again. Because she said she, you know, what she did — the e-mail — was fine. You think it was fine? I don’t think so. She said that 33,000 e-mails had to do with her daughter’s wedding, number one and a yoga class.

Maybe we’ll give three or four or five; 33,000 e-mails deleted and now, she’s saying there wasn’t anything wrong more importantly, that was after getting the subpoena. Got it from the United States Congress and I’ll be honest, I am so disappointed in congressmen, including Republicans, for allowing this to happen. Our justice department — where her husband goes on to the back of a plane for 39 minutes, talks to the attorney general, days before a ruling is going to be made on her case. But for you to say that there was nothing wrong with you deleting 39,000 e-mails, again, you should be ashamed of yourself. What you did and this is after getting a subpoena from the United States Congress.

Moderator: We have to move on. Secretary Clinton, you can respond.

Moderator: We want to give the audience a chance here.

DT: Let alone after getting a subpoena from the United States government.

Moderator: Clinton, you can respond. We have to move on to an audience question.

HC: Look, it’s just not true, so please —

DT: You didn’t delete them?

AC: Allow her to respond, please.

DT: 33,000.

HR: Not, well, we turned over 35,000 so —

DT: What about the other 15,000?

AC: Please allow her to respond. She didn’t talk while you talked.

HC: Yes, that’s true, I didn’t. In the first debate and I’m going to try not to in this debate because I’d like to get to the questions.

DT: Get off this question.

HC: Okay, Donald, I know you’re into big diversion tonight, anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it’s exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you.

Moderator: We have a question from Ken. About health care.

DT: I’d like to know why aren’t you bringing up the e-mails? It hasn’t been finished.

Moderator: Ken has a question.

DT: Nice, one on three.

Ken: Thank you. The Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, it is not affordable. Premiums have gone up. Deductibles have gone up. Copays have gone up. Prescriptions have gone up and the coverage has gone down. What will you do to bring the cost down, and make coverage better?

AC: That first one goes to secretary Clinton because you started out the last one to the audience.

HC: He wants to start. He can start. Go ahead, Donald.

DT: No, I’m a gentlemen, go ahead.

HC: Well, I think he was about to say he’s going to solve it by repealing it and getting rid of the Affordable Care Act and I’m going to fix it. Because I agree with you. Premiums have gotten too high. Copay, deductibles, prescription drug costs — and I’ve laid out a series of options we can take to try to get those costs down. Here’s what I don’t want people to forget when we talk about ranging in the cost. When the Affordable Care Act passed, it wasn’t just 20 million [people who] got insurance who didn’t have it before. That was a good thing.

I meet these people all the time and they tell in what a difference it meant having that. But if [anything] else, the 170 million of of us who got insurance through our employees, got big benefits. Number one, insurance companies can’t deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition.

Number two, no lifetime limits, which is a big deal in you have serious health problems. Number three, women can’t be charged more than men for health insurance, which is the way it used to be. Number four, if you’re under 26, and your parents have a policy, you can be on that policy until age 26. So I want very much to save what works and is good about the affordable care act, but we’ve got to get costs down. We’ve got to provide additional help to small businesses. To know that they can afford to provide health insurance. But if we repeal it as Donald has proposed and start over again, all of those benefits are lost to everybody. Not just people who get their health insurance on the exchange. And then we would have to start all over again. Right now, we are at 90 percent health insurance coverage. That’s highest we’ve ever been in our country. I want us to get 100% and keep costs down and quality up.

AC: You have two minutes.

DT: It is such a great question and maybe the question I get almost more than anything else. Outside of defense. Obamacare is a disaster. You know it. We all know it. It’s going up at numbers that nobody’s seen worldwide. Nobody’s ever seen numbers like this for health care. Only gets worse. Their method of fixing it is to go back and ask congress for more and more money. We have almost $20 trillion in debt. Obamacare will never work. It’s very bad. Very bad health insurance. Far too expensive. And not only expensive for the person that has it, unbelievably expensive for our country. One of the biggest line items very shortly. We have to repeal it. And replace it. With something absolutely much less expensive.

And something that works. Where your plan can actually be tailored. We have to get rid of the lines around the state. Artificial lines, where we stop insurance companies from coming in and competing because they want and President Obama and whoever was working on it, they want to leave those lines because that gives the insurance companies essentially monopolies. We want competition.

You’ll have the finest health care plan there is. She wants to go to a single payer plan, which would be a disaster. Somewhat similar to Canada. If you’ve noticed the Canadians, when they need a big operation, they come into the United States in many cases, because their system is so slow. It’s catastrophic in certain ways. But she wants to go to single payer, which means the government basically rules everything. Hillary Clinton has been after this for years. Obamacare was the first step.

Obamacare is a total disaster, and not only are your rates going up by numbers nobody’s believed, but your deductibles are going up so unless you get hit by a truck, you’re never going to be able to use it. It is a disastrous plan and has to be repealed. And replaced.

MR: Your husband called Obamacare quote, the craziest thing in the world. Small business owners are getting killed, coverage is cut in half. Was he [exaggerating] or simply telling the truth.

HC: He clarified, and it’s clear. Look, we are in a situation in our country, where if we were to start all over again, we might come up with a different system. But we have an employer based system. That’s where the vast majority of people get their health care. And the Affordable Care Act was meant to try to fill the gap between people who were too poor and couldn’t put together any resources to afford health care, namely, people on medicaid. Obviously, medicare, which is a single payer system. Which takes care of our elderly, and does a great job doing it, by the way, and then all of the people who were employed.

But people who were working, but didn’t have the money to afford insurance and didn’t have anybody, an employer, anybody else to help them. That was the slot that the Obama care approach was to take. And like I say, 20 million people now have health insurance. So, if we just rip it up and throw it away, what Donald’s not telling you is we just turn it back to the insurance companies the way it used to be and that means the insurance companies get to do pretty much whatever they want, including saying “look, sorry, you’ve got diabetes, you had cancer, your child has asthma.” You may not be able to have insurance because you can’t afford it, so let’s fix what’s broken about it, but let’s not throw it away and give it back to the insurance companies. That’s not going to work.

MR: Mr. Trump —

DT: First of all, Hillary, everything’s broken about it. Everything. Number two, Bernie Sanders said Hillary Clinton has very bad judgment. This is a perfect example of it.

MR: Mr. Trump, you’ve said you want to end Obamacare and make coverage accessible for people with preexisting conditions. How do you force insurance companies to do that if you’re no longer mandating — what does that mean?

DT: I’ll tell you. You’re going to have plans that are so good because we’re going to have some competition. Once we break out the lines and allow the competition to come.

AC: Are you going to have a mandate that Americans have to have health insurance?

DT: President Obama by keeping those — and it was almost gone until just right toward the end of the passage of Obamacare, which was a fraud. You know that, because Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, said it was a great lie. It was big lie. President Obama said you keep your plan, the whole thing was a fraud and it doesn’t work.

When we get rid of those lines, you have competition and we’ll be able to keep preexisting and help people that can’t get, don’t have money because we are going to have people protected. And Republicans feel this way. Believe it or not and strongly this way. We’re going to block grant. Into the states. Block grant into medicaid. So we will be able to take care of people without the necessary funds to take care of themselves.

MR: Now a question for both candidates.

Voter: There are 3.3 Muslims in the United States and I’m one of them. You’ve mentioned working with Muslim nations, but with islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being a threat to the country after the election is over.

MR: Mr. Trump.

DT: You’re right about Islamophobia and that’s a shame. One thing we have to do is we have to make sure that because there is a problem, whether we like it or not — and we could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem and we have to be sure that muslims come in and report when they see something going on. When they see hatred going on, they have to report it.

In San Bernardino, many people saw the bombs all over the apartment of the two people that killed 14 and wounded many, many people. Horribly wounded. Never be the same. Muslims have to report the problems when they see them. And you know, there’s always a reason for everything. If they don’t do that, it’s a very difficult situation for our country because you look at Orlando. And you look at San Bernardino and the World Trade Center. Look at Paris. The horrible, these are radical islamic terrorists. And she won’t even mention the word and nor will President Obama.

He won’t use the term, “radical Islamic terrorism.” Now, to solve the problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name. She won’t say the name and President Obama won’t say the name. But the name is there. It’s “radical Islamic terror” and before you solve it, you have to say the name.

Moderator: Secretary Clinton.

HC: Thank you for asking your question, and I’ve heard this question from a lot of Muslim Americans across our country. Because unfortunately, there’s been a lot of very divisive, dark things said about Muslims.

And even someone like the young man who sacrificed himself defending our country from the United States army has been subject to attack by Donald. I want to say just a couple of things. First, we’ve had Muslims in America since George Washington. And we’ve had many successful Muslims.

We just lost a particular well-known one with Muhammad Ali. My vision of America is an America where everyone has a place. If you’re willing to work hard, you do your part, you contribute to the community. That’s what America is. That’s what we want America to be for, for our children and grandchildren. It’s also very short-sighted and even dangerous. To be engaging in the kind of rhetoric that Donald has about Muslims.

We need American Muslims to be part of our eyes and ears on our front lines. I’ve worked with a lot of different Muslim groups around America. I’ve met with a lot of them and heard how important it is for them to feel they are wanted and included and part of our country, part of our homeland security and that’s what I want to see. It’s also important I intend to defeat ISIS.

To do so, in a coalition with majority Muslim nations. Right now, a lot of those nations are hearing what Donald says and wondering, “why should we cooperate with the Americans?” and this is a gift to ISIS and the terrorists. Violent jihadist terrorist. We are not at war with Islam. And it is a mistake and it plays into the hands of the terrorists to act as though we are. So, I want a country where citizens like you and your family are just as welcome as anyone else.

MR: Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

Mr. Trump, in December, you said this. “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the united States until we can figure out what the hell is going on. We have no choice. We have no choice.” Your running mate said this week that the Muslim ban [is not your] position. Is that correct? And if it is, was it a mistake to have a religious test?

DT: First of all, Captain Kahn is an American hero and if I were president at this time, he would be alive today because unlike her, who voted for the war without knowing what she was doing, I would not have had our people in Iraq. Iraq was disaster. So he would have been alive today. The Muslim ban is something that in some form has morphed into a extreme vetting. From certain areas of the world. Hillary Clinton wants to allow —

MR: And why did it morph into that? Answer the question. Do you still believe —

DT: Why don’t you interrupt her?

MR: Would you please explain whether or not the ban still stands?

DT: It’s called extreme vetting. We are going to areas like Syria. Where they’re coming in by the tens of thousands because of Barack Obama. And Hillary Clinton wants to allow a 550 percent increase over Obama.

People are coming into our country like we have no idea who they are. Where they are from. What their feeling about our country is and she wants 550 percent more. This is going to be the great Trojan horse of all time. I believe in building safe zones, in having other people pay for them as an example, the gulf states who are not carrying their weight, but have nothing but money, and take care of people but I don’t want to have with all the problems this country has and all of the problems that you see going on, hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria when we know nothing about them. We know nothing about their values and we know nothing about their love for our country.

MR: And Secretary Clinton, let me ask you about that. Because you have asked for an increase from ten to 65,000 Syrian refugees. We know you want tougher vetting. That’s not a perfect system. So, why take the risk of having those refugees come into the country?

HC: First of all, I will not let anyone into our country that I think poses a risk to us. But there are a lot of refugees, women and children, think of that picture we all saw of that 4-year-old boy with the blood on his forehead because he had been bombed by the Russian and Syrian air forces. There are children suffering in this catastrophic war. Largely I believe because of Russian aggression. And we need to do our part.

We by no means are carrying anywhere near the load that Europe and others are. But we will have vetting that is as tough as it needs to be from our professionals, our intelligence experts and others. But it is important for us as a policy, you know, not to say as Donald has said, we’re going to ban people based on a religion. How do you do that? We are a country founded on religious freedom and liberty.

How do we do what he has advocated without causing great distress within our own country … are we going to have religious tests?

When people fly into our country? And how do we expect to be able to implement those? So, I thought that what he said was extremely unwise. And even dangerous. And indeed, you can look at the problem began da on a lot of the terrorists sites and what Donald Trump says about muslims is used to recruit fighters.

Because they want to create a war between us. And the final thing I would say, this is the tenth or 12th he’s denied being for the war in Iraq. We have it on tape. The entire press corps has looked at it. Never stops him from saying what he wants to say. You can see it.

DT: Has not been debunked.

MR: I’d like to move on.

DT: She just went about 25 second over her time. Could I just respond to this, please?

MR: Very quickly, please.

DT: Hillary Clinton in terms of having people come into our country, we have many criminal illegal aliens, when we want to send them back to their country, their country says we don’t want them. In some cases, they’re murders and they don’t want them. Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, said that’s okay, we can’t force it. Let me tell you, I’m going to force them right back into their country. Their murderers and some very bad people. When Bernie Sanders said she had bad judgment, she has really bad judgment because we are letting people into this country that are going to cause problems and crime like you’ve never seen.

We’re letting drugs pour through our southern border at a record clip and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen. I.C.E. just endorsed me — 16,500 just endorsed me and they endorsed me because I understand the border. She doesn’t. She wants amnesty for everybody. Come right in. Come right over. It’s a horrible thing she’s doing. She’s got bad judgment. And honestly, so bad that she should never be president of the United States. That, I can tell you.

AC: I want to move op. This next question from the public through the bipartisan Open Debate, where Americans submitted questions that generated millions of votes. It was reported that excerpts of secretary Clinton’s paid speeches, in which she has refused to release, and one line, in which you say you need both a public and private position on certain issues. So, [Two], from Virginia asks, Is it okay for politicians to be two-faced? Is it acceptable for a politician to have a private stance?

HC: Right, as I recall, that was something I said about Abraham Lincoln, and after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie calledLincoln. It was a master class watching President Lincoln get the congress to approve the 13th amendment. It was principled and strategic. I was making the point that it is hard sometimes to get the congress to do what you want to do. To keep working at it. And yes, President Lincoln was trying to convince some people to use some arguments. That was a great I thought a great display of presidential leadership.

But you know, let’s talk about what’s really going on because our intelligence community said the Kremlin, meaning Putin and the Russian government, our directing the attacks, the hacking, on American accounts to influence our election. Other sites, where the Russians hack information. We don’t know if it’s accurate information and then they put it out. We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election. And believe me, they’re not doing it to get elected. They’re doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump. Now, maybe because he has praised Putin, maybe because he says he agrees with a lot of what Putin wants to do, maybe because he wants to do business in Moscow, I don’t know the reasons.

But we deserve answers. We should demand that will Donald release all of his tax returns so that people can see what are the entanglements and the financial relationships.

We should demand that will Donald release all of his tax returns so that people can see what are the entanglements and the financial relationships.

Moderator: We’re going to get to that later. Secretary, Clinton, you’re out of time.

DT: I think I should respond because so ridiculous. Now she’s blaming — she got caught in a total lie. Her papers went out to everybody at the banks, and she said things Wikileaks that just came out. She lied. Now she’s blaming the lie on the late great Abraham Lincoln. That’s one that I haven’t — okay, honest Abe never lied. That’s the good thing. That’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you. That’s a big, big difference — we’re talking about some difference.

But as far as other elements of what she was saying, I don’t know Putin. I think it would be great if we got along with Russia because we could fight ISIS together as an example. But I don’t know Putin. I notice anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians — she doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia and the reason is because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know about Russia but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I have no businesses. I have no loans from Russia.

I have a very, very great balance sheet, so great when I did the old post office on Pennsylvania avenue, the united States government, because of my balance sheet which they actually know very well, chose me to do the old post office between the white house and congress, chose me to do the old post office. One of the primary area things, perhaps the primary thing was balance sheet. But I have no loans with Russia. You could go to the United States government and they would probably tell you that because they know my sheet very well in order to get that development. I had to have. Now the facts are very simple

First of all, I pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. Many of her friends took bigger deductions, Warren Buffett took a massive deduction, Soros took a massive deduction. Many of the people giving her all this money that she can do many more commercials from me took massive deductions. I pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, about you, but as soon as my routine audit is finished I’ll release my returns.

AC: We have a question from Spencer Moss. Spencer?

Spencer: Good evening. My question is, what specific tax provisions will you change to insure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share intachs oo.

DT: One thing I would do is get rid of carried interest. One of the greatest provisions for people like me, I give up a lot when I run because I knock out the tax code. She could have done this be years ago. She’s a United States senator. She complains that Donald Trump took advantage of the tax code. Well, why didn’t she change it? Why didn’t you change it when you were a senator? The reason you didn’t is all your friends take the same advantage that I do. You have provisions in the tax code that frankly we could change. But you wouldn’t change it because all of these people give you the money so you can take negative ads on Donald Trump. But and I say that about a lot of things. I’ve heard Hillary complaining about so many different things over the years. I wish you would have done this. For 30 years, she’s been doing this stuff. She never changed and she never will change. We’re getting rid of carried interest provisions. I’m lowering taxes actually because I think it’s so important for corporations because we have corporations leaving massive corporations and little ones, little ones can’t form. We’re getting rid of regulations which goes hand in hand with the lowering of the taxes. We’re bringing the tax rate down from 35 percent to 15 percent. We’re cutting taxes for the middle class.

I will tell you we are cutting them big league for the middle class. I will tell you, Hillary Clinton is raising your taxes, folks. You can look at me. She’s raising your taxes really high. And what that’s going to do is a disaster for the country.

But she is raising your taxes and I’m lowering your taxes. That in itself is a big difference. We are going to be thriving again. We have no growth in this country. If China has a GDP of 7 percent, it’s like a national catastrophe. We’re down to 1 percent. And that’s like no growth. We’re going lower in my opinion. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that our taxes are so high. Just about the highest in the world. And I’m bringing them down to one of the lower in the world. And I think it’s so important, one of the most important things we can do. But she is raising everybody’s taxes massively.

Moderator: Secretary Clinton, you have two minutes. The question is, what specific tax provisions will you change to ensure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes.

HC: Well, everything you’ve heard everywhere Donald just now is not true. I’m sorry I have to keep saying this, but he lives in an alternative reality. It is sort of amusing to hear somebody who hasn’t paid federal income taxes in maybe 20 years talking about what he’s going to do. I’ll tell you what he’s going to do. His plan will give the wealthy and corporations the biggest tax cuts they’ve ever had. More than the Bush tax cuts by at least a factor of two. Donald always takes care of Donald and people like Donald and this would be a massive gift. And indeed, the way that he talks about his tax cuts would end up raising taxes on middle class families, millions of middle class families. Here’s what I want to do. I have said nobody who makes less than $250,000 a year, and that’s the vast majority of Americans as you know, will have their taxes raised because we’ve got to go where the money is. The money is with people who have taken advantage of every single break in the tax code. Yes, when I was a senator, I did vote to close corporate loopholes.

I voted to close, I think one of the loopholes he took advantage of when he claimed a billion dollar loss that enabled him to avoid paying taxes. I want to have a tax on people who are making a million dollars called the Buffett rule. Yes, Warren Buffett has gone out and said somebody like him should not be paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. I want a surcharge on income above $5 million. I want to invest in you. I want to invest in hard-working families. I think it’s been unfortunate but it’s happened since the great recession, the gains have all gone to the top. We need to reverse that. People like Donald who paid zero in taxes, zero for our vets, zero for our military, zero for health and education, that is wrong. And we’re going to make sure that nobody, no corporation, and no individual can get away without paying his fair share to support our country.

AC: Mr. Trump, I want to give you the chance to respond. I want to tell viewers. In the last month, taxes were the number one issue on Facebook for the first time in the campaign. The New York Times published three pages of your 1995 tax returns. You claimed a $916 million loss which means you could have avoided paying personal income taxes for years.

You said you pay property taxes, real estate taxes. You have not answered a simple question. Did you use the loss to avoid paying personal federal income taxes?

DC: Of course I do. So do all of her donors or most of her donors. I know many of her donors. They took massive tax write-offs.

AC: Have you paid personal federal tax?

DT: A lot of my write-off was depreciation and that Hillary as a senator allowed. The people that give her all this money want it. I understand it the tax code better than anybody that’s run for president. Hillary Clinton, it’s extremely complex. Hockey has friends that want the carried interest provision which is very important to Wall Street people. But they really want the carried interest provision. Which I believe Hillary’s leaving. Very interesting why she’s leaving carried interest. Number one, I pay tremendous numbers of taxes. I absolutely used it. So did Warren Buffett and so did George Soros and so did many of the other people that Hillary is getting money from. Now, I won’t mention their names because they’re rich but they’re not famous. We don’t make them famous.

AC: Can you say how many years you have avoided paying personal federal income taxes?

DC: Of course I do. So do all of her donors or most of her donors. I know many of her donors. They took massive tax write-offs.

AC: Have you paid personal federal tax?

DT: A lot of my write-off was depreciation and that Hillary as a senator allowed. The people that give her all this money want it. I understand it the tax code better than anybody that’s run for president. Hillary Clinton, it’s extremely complex. Hockey has friends that want the carried interest provision which is very important to Wall Street people. But they really want the carried interest provision. Which I believe Hillary’s leaving. Very interesting why she’s leaving carried interest. Number one, I pay tremendous numbers of taxes. I absolutely used it. So did Warren Buffett and so did George Soros and so did many of the other people that Hillary is getting money from. Now, I won’t mention their names because they’re rich but they’re not famous. We don’t make them famous.

AC: Can you say how many years you have avoided paying personal federal income taxes?

DT: No, but I pay tax and pay federal tax, too. I have a write-off, a lot of it is depreciation. It’s a wonderful charge. If she had a problem for 30 years, she’s been doing this, Anderson. I say it all the time. She talks about health care. Why didn’t she do something about it? She talks about taxes. She doesn’t do anything about anything other than talk. With her, it’s all talk and no action. In the past — and again, Bernie Sanders, it’s really bad judgment. She has made bad judgment not only on taxes, she’s made bad judgments on Libya, on Syria. On Iraq. I mean, her and Obama, whether you like it or not, the way they got out of Iraq, the vacuum they’ve left, that’s why ISIS formed in the first place. They started from that little area and now they’re in 32 different nations, Hillary. Congratulations. Great job.

Moderator: I want you to be able to respond, secretary Clinton.

HC: Well, here we go again. I’ve been in favor of getting rid of carried interest for years. Starting when I was a senator from New York. But that’s not the point here.

DT: Why didn’t you do it? Why didn’t you do it.

HC: Because I was a senator with a Republican president. I will be the president.

DT: You could have done it if you were an effective —

HC: That’s exactly right.

DT: If you were an effective senator, could you have done it. But you were not an effective senator.

AC: Please allow her to respond. She didn’t interrupt you.

HC: Under our constitution, presidents have something called veto power. Look, he has now said repeatedly 30 years this and 30 years that. So let me talk about my 30 years in public service. I’m very glad to do so. Eight million kids, every year, have health insurance because when I was first lady, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the children’s health insurance program. Hundreds of thousands of kids now have a chance to be adopted because I worked to change our adoption and foster care system.

After 9/11, I went to work with Republican mayor, governor and president to rebuild New York and to get health care for our first responders who were suffering because they had run toward danger and gotten sickened by it. Hundreds of thousands of National Guard and reserve members have healthcare because of work that I did. And children [receive] safer medicines because I was able to pass a law that required the dosing to be more carefully done.

When I was secretary of state, I went around the world advocating for our country but also advocating for women’s rights to make sure that women had a decent chance to have a better life. And negotiated a treaty with Russia to lower nuclear weapons. Four-hundred pieces of legislation have my name on it as a sponsor or cosponsor when I was a senator for eight years. I worked very hard and was very proud to be re-elected in new York by an even bigger margin than I had been elected the first time. And as president, I will take that work, that bipartisan work, that finding common ground because you have to be able to get along with people to get things done in Washington.

MR: Thank you, secretary.

HC: I’ve proven that I can and for 30 years, I’ve produced results for people.

MR: Thank you, secretary.

MR: We’re going to move on to Syria. Both of you have mentioned that.

DT: She said a lot of things that were false. I think we should be allowed —

MR: Mr. Trump, this is about the audience.

DT: She’s been a disaster as a senator.

MR: We’re going to move on. The heart breaking video of a 5-year-old Syrian boy sitting in an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble after an air striking in Aleppo focused the world’s attention on the horrors of the war in Syria with 136 million views of on Facebook alone.

But there are much worse … coming out of Aleppo every day now where in the past few weeks alone, 400 people have been killed, at least 100 of them children. Days ago, the state department called for a war crimes investigation of the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad and Russia for their bombardment of Aleppo. This next question comes through social media through Facebook.

Diane from Pennsylvania asks, if you were president what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? Isn’t it a lot like the holocaust when the US waited too long before we helped? Secretary Clinton, we’ll begin with your two minutes.

HC: Well, the situation in Syria is catastrophic. And every day that goes by, we see the results of the regime by Assad in partnership with the Iranians on the grounds, the Russians in the air bombarding places in particular Aleppo where there are hundreds of thousands of people probably about 250,000 still left. And there is a determined effort by the Russian air force to destroy Aleppo in order to eliminate the last of the Syrian rebels who are really holding out against the Assad regime. Russia hasn’t paid any attention to ISIS. They’re interested in keeping Assad in power.

So I when I was secretary of state, advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones. We need to some leverage with the Russians because they are not going to come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution unless there is some leverage over them. And we have to work more closely with our partners and allies on the ground. But I want to emphasize that what is at stake here is the ambitions and the aggressiveness of Russia. Russia has decided that it’s all in in Syria. And they’ve also decided who they want to see become president of the United States too, and it’s not me. I’ve stood up to Russia. I’ve taken on Putin and others and I would do that as president. I think wherever we can cooperate with Russia, that’s fine. And I did as secretary of state. That’s how we got a treaty reducing nuclear weapons. It’s how we got the sanctions on Iran that put a lid on the Iranian nuclear program without firing a single shot. So I would go to the negotiating table with more leverage than we have now but I do support the effort to investigate for crimes, war crimes committed by the Syrians and the Russians and try to hold them accountable.

Moderator: Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

DT: First of all, she’s there with the so-called line in the sand.

HC: No, I wasn’t. I was gone. I hate to interrupt you but at some point we needed to do some fact checking.

DT: You were in contact with the White House and perhaps sadly, Obama probably still listened to you. I don’t think he would listen to you very much anymore. Obama draws the line in the sand. It was laughed at all over the world what happened. Now, with that being said, she talks tough against Russia. But our nuclear program has fallen way behind and they’ve gone wild with their nuclear program. Not good. Our government shouldn’t have allowed that to happen.

Russia is new in terms of nuclear. We are old. We’re tired. We’re exhausted in terms of nuclear. A very bad thing. She talks tough, she talks really tough against Putin. And against Assad. She talks in favor of the rebels. She doesn’t even know who they are. Every time we take rebels, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else, we’re arming people, and you know what happens? They end up being worse than the people. Look what she did in Libya with Gaddafi. Gaddafi’s out. It’s a mess. ISIS has a good chunk of their oil. I’m sure you probably have heard that. It was a disaster. The fact is almost everything she’s done in foreign policy has been a mistake and it’s been a disaster. But if you look at Russia, just take a look at Russia, and look at what they did this week where I agree, she wasn’t there but possibly she’s consulted. We sign a peace treaty. Everyone’s excited.

What Russia did with Assad and with Iran who you made very powerful with the dumbest deal I’ve ever seen, the Iran deal with the $1.7 billion in cash which is enough to fill up this room. But look at — Iran now and Russia are now against us. So she wants to fight. She wants to fight for rebels. There’s only one problem. You don’t even know who the rebels are.

Moderator: Mr. Trump it, your two minutes is up.

DT: One thing I have to say. I don’t like Assad at all but Assad is killing ISIS. Russia is killing ISIS. And Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.

MR: Mr. Trump, let me repeat the question. If you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? I want to remind you what your running mate said. He said provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and if Russia continues to be involved in air-strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.

DT: Okay. He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree.

MR: You disagree with your running mate.

DT: Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and Iran who she made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a very powerful nation and very rich nation, very, very quickly. Very, very quickly.

I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria. They had a chance. That was the line.

MR: What do you think will happen if Aleppo falls.

DT: It is a disaster.

MR: What do you think will happen if it falls?

DT: I think it basically has fallen.

Let me tell you something. You take a look at Mosul. The biggest problem I have with the stupidity of our foreign policy, we have Mosul. We have … coming out of Washington and Iraq, we will be attacking mosul in three or four weeks. All of these bad leaders from ISIS are leaving Mosul. Why can’t they do it quietly? Why can’t they do the attack, make it a sneak attack and after the attack is made, inform the American public that we’ve knocked out the leaders, we’ve had a tremendous success. People leave. Why do they have to say we’re going to be attacking mosul within the next four to six weeks which is what they’re saying. How stupid is our country.

MR: There are sometimes reasons the military does that. Psychological warfare.

DT: I can’t think of any. I’m pretty good at it. We have general Flynn. I have 200 generals and admiral who’s endorse me. I have 21 congressional medal of honor recipients who endorse me.

We talk about it all the time. They understand, why can’t they do something secretively where they go in and they knock out the leadership. How — why would these people stay there? I’ve been reading now.

MR: Tell me what your strategy is.

DT: — for weeks about Mosul. It’s the harbor between Raqqah and Mosul, this is where they think the ISIS leaders would be. They’re gone. Because everybody’s talking about how Iraq which is us with our leadership goes into fight mosul. Now, with these 200 admirals and generals, they can’t believe it. All I say is this.

General George Patton, general Douglas MacArthur are spinning in their grave as the stupidity of what we’re doing in the Middle East.

MR: Secretary Clinton, you want Assad to go. You advocated arming rebels. It looks like that may be too late for Aleppo. You talk about diplomatic efforts. Those have failed. Cease fires have failed. Would you introduce the threat of U.S. Military force beyond a no-fly zone against the Assad regime to back up diplomacy?

HC: I would not use American ground forces in Syria. I think that would be a very serious mistake. I don’t think American troops should be holding territory which is what they would have to do as an occupying force. I don’t think that is a smart strategy.

I do think the use of special forces which we’re using, the use of enablers and trainers in Iraq which has had some positive effects are very much in our interests and so I do support what is happening, but let me just.

MR: What would you do differently than president Obama is doing?

HC: Martha, I hope by the time —

DT: Everything.

HC: I hope by the time I am president, that we will have pushed ISIS out of Iraq. I do think that there is a good chance that we can take Mosul. And you know, Donald says he knows more about ISIS than the generals. No, he doesn’t. There are a lot of very important planning going on and some of it is to signal to the Sunnis in the area as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters that we all need to be in this.

That takes a lot of planning and preparation. I would go after Baghdadi. I would specifically target Baghdadi because I think our targeting of Al Qaeda leaders — and I was involved in a lot of the those operations, highly classified ones — made a difference. That could help. I would also consider arming the Kurds. The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria as well as Iraq. And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles but I think they should have the equipment they need so that kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way that we take Raqqah after pushing ISIS out of Iraq.

MR: Thank you very much.

DT: It’s funny she went over a minute over and you don’t stop her. When I go one second over —

Moderators: You have had many answers.

DT: It’s very interesting.

Moderators: A question from James Carter. Mr. Carter?

James Carter: My question is, do you believe you can be a devoted president to all the people in the United States?

Moderator: That question begins for Mr. Trump.

DT: Absolutely. I mean, she calls our people deplorable. A large group and irredeemable. I will be a president for all of our people. And I’ll be a president that will turn our inner cities around and will give strength to people and will give economics to people and will bring jobs back because nafta signed by her husband is perhaps the greatest disaster trade deal in the history of the world. Not in this country. It stripped us of manufacturing jobs. We lost our jobs. We lost our money. We lost our plants. It is a disaster. Now she wants to sign tpp even though now she says she’s for it. She called it the gold standard. She lied. It turned out she did say the gold standard and she said she didn’t say it. They actually said that she lied and she lied. But she’s lied about a lot of things.

I would be a president for all of the people. African-Americans, the inner cities. Devastating what’s happening to our inner cities. She’s been talking about it for years. As usual, she talks about it, nothing happens. She doesn’t get it done. Same with the Latino Americans. The hispanic Americans. The same exact thing. They talk, they don’t get it done. You go into the inner cities and you see it’s 45 percent poverty. African-Americans now 45 percent poverty in the inner cities. The education is a disaster.

Jobs are essentially nonexistent. I mean, it’s — you know, and I’ve been saying big speeches where I have 20,000 and 30,000 people, what do you have to lose? It can’t get any worse. She’s been talking about the inner cities for 25 years. Nothing’s going to ever happen. Let me tell you, if she’s president of the United States, nothing’s going to happen. It’s going to be talk. All of her friends the taxes we were talking about, and I would just get it by osmosis. She’s not doing me any favors. By doing all the others favors, she’s doing me favors. She’s all talk. It doesn’t get done. Look at her senate run, take a look at upstate New York.

Moderator: Your two minutes is up. You have two minutes, Secretary Clinton.

HC: Well, 67 percent of the people voted to re-elect me when I ran for my second term. And I was very proud and very humbled by that. Mr. Carter, I have tried my entire life to do what I can to support children and families. You know, right out of law school, I went to work for the children’s defense fund. Donald talks a lot about you know, the 30 years I’ve been in public service. I’m proud of that.

You know, I started off as a young lawyer working against discrimination against African-American children in schools and in the criminal justice system. I worked to make sure that kids with disabilities could get a public education. Something that I care very much about. I have worked with Latinos, one of my first jobs in politics was down in south Texas registering Latino citizens to be able to vote. So I have a deep devotion to use your absolutely correct word.

To making sure that an every American feels like he or she has a place in our country. And I think when you look at the letters that I get, a lot of people are worried that maybe they wouldn’t have a place in Donald Trump’s America. They write me and one woman wrote me about her son Felix. She adopted him from Ethiopia. He’s 10 years old now. This is the only one country he’s known. He listens to Donald on TV and said to miss mother, will he send me back to Ethiopia if he gets elected. Children Liston what is being said, to go back to the very, very first question. And there’s a lot of fear in fact, teachers and parents are calling it the trump effect. Bullying is up. A lot of people are feeling uneasy, a lot of kids are expressing their concerns.

So first and foremost, I will do everything I can to reach out to everybody. Democrats, Republicans, independents, people across our country. If you don’t vote for me, I still want to be your president. I want to be the best president I can be for every American.

Moderator: Your two minutes is up.

I want to follow up on something Donald Trump actually said to you, a comment you made last month. You said that half his supporters are deplorables, racist, xenophobic, islamophobic. You later said you regretted saying half. You didn’t express regret for using the term deplorables. How can you unite a country if you’ve written off tens of millions of Americans.

HC: Within hours I said I was sorry about the way I talked about that. My argument is not with his supporters. It’s with him and with the hateful and divisive campaign he has run and the inciting of violence at his rallies and the very brutal kinds of comments about not just women, but all kinds of Americans. And what he has said about African-Americans and Latinos, about Muslims, about P.O.W.S, about immigrants, about people with disabilities, he’s never apologized for. And so, I do think that a lot of the tone and tenor that he has said, I’m proud of the campaign that Bernie Sanders and I ran. We ran a campaign based on issues, not insults. He is supporting me 100 percent.

Moderator: Thank you.

HC: Because we talked about what we wanted to do. We might have had some differences and we had a lot of debates but we believed that we could make the country better. I was proud of that.

Moderator: I give you a minute.

DT: We have a divided nation. We have a very divided nation. You look at Charlotte. You look at Baltimore. You look at the violence that’s taking place in the inner cities, Chicago, you take a look at Washington, D.C., we have an increase in murder within our cities. The biggest in 45 years. We have a divided nation because people like her, and believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart. And when she said deplorables, she meant it. And when she said irredeemable, they’re irredeemable, you didn’t mention that, but when she said they’re irredeemable, that might have even been worse.

AC: She said some of them.

DT: She’s got tremendous hatred. And this country cannot take another four years of Barack Obama and that’s what you’re getting with her.

AC: Mr. Trump, let me follow up with you. In 2008, wrote in one of your books the most important characteristic of a good leader is discipline. You said if a leader doesn’t have it “He or she won’t be one for very long.” In the days after the first debate, you sent out a series of tweets from 3 am to 5 am, Including one that told people to check out a sex tape. Is that discipline.

DT: It was just take a look at the person she built up to be this wonderful girl scout who was no girl scout. Just so you understand, when she said 3:00 in the morning, take a look at Benghazi. She said who is going to answer it the call at 3:00 in the morning. Guess what, she didn’t answer because when ambassador Stevens.

AC: The question is, is that the discipline of a good leader?

DT: Six-hundred times. She said she was awake at 3:00 in the morning and she also sent a tweet out at 3:00 in the morning. She said she’ll be awake. Guess what happened.

Ambassador Stevens sent 600 requests for help. And the only one she talked to was Sidney Blumenthal who is her friend and not a good guy by the way. So you know, she shouldn’t be talking about that. Now, tweeting happens to be a modern day form of communication. I mean, you can like it or not like it. I have, between Facebook and Twitter, I have almost 25 million people. It’s a very effective way of communication. So you can put it down, but it is a very effective form of communication. I’m not unproud of it to be honest with you.

AC: Secretary Clinton, does Mr. Trump have the discipline to be a good leader

HC: No.

DT: I’m shocked to hear that.

HC: Well, it’s not only my opinion. It’s the opinion of many others. National security experts, Republicans, former Republican members of congress.

But it’s in part because those of us who have had the great privilege of seeing this job up close and know how difficult it is and it’s not just because I watched my husband take a $300 billion deficit and turn it into a $200 billion surplus and 23 million new jobs were created and incomes went up for everybody. Everybody. African-American incomes went up 33 percent.

And it’s not just because I worked with George W. Bush after 9/11. And I was very proud that when I told him what the city needed, what we needed to recover, he said you’ve got it and he never wavered. He stuck with me. And I have worked and I admire President Obama. He inherited the worst financial crisis since the great depression. That was a terrible time for our country.

We have to move along. Nine million people lost their jobs. Five million homes were lost and $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out. We are back on the right track. He would send us back into recession with his tax plans.

Moderator: Secretary Clinton, we are moving to an audience question. We’re almost out of time.

DT: We have the slowest growth since 1929.

Moderator: We’re moving on to another question.

DT: Our country has the slowest growth.

Moderator: We want to get to the audience. Thank you very much both of you. We have another audience question. Beth Miller has a question for both candidates.

Beth Miller: Good evening. Perhaps the most important aspect of this election is the supreme court justice. What would you prioritize as the most important aspect of selecting a Supreme Court justice?

Moderator: We begin with your two minutes, secretary Clinton.

HC: You’re right. This is one of the most important issues in this election. I want to appoint supreme court justices who understand the way the world really works. Who have real life experience, who have not just been in a big law firm and maybe clerks for a judge and then gotten on the bench. Maybe they tried some more cases. They actually understand what people are up against because I think the current court has gone in the wrong direction. And so I would want to see the supreme court reverse Citizens United, and get dark unaccountable money out of our politics. Donald doesn’t agree with that.

I would like the supreme court to understand that voting rights are still a big problem in many parts of our country. That we don’t always do everything we can to making it possible for people of color and older people and young people to be able to exercise their franchise. I want a supreme court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose and I want a supreme court that will stick with marriage equality.

Now, Donald has put forth the names of some people that he would consider. And among the ones that he has suggested are people who would reverse Roe v. Wade and reverse marriage equality. I think that would be a terrible mistake and would take us backwards. I want a supreme court that doesn’t always side with corporate interests. I want a supreme court that understands because you’re wealthy and you can give more money to something doesn’t mean you have any more rights than anybody else. So I have very clear views about what I want to see to tend to change the balance on the supreme court, and I regret deeply that the senate has not done its job and they have not permitted a vote on the person that president Obama, a highly qualified person, they’ve not given him a vote to be able to be have the full complement of nine supreme court justices. I think that was a dereliction of duty.

I hope that they will see their way to doing it, but if I am an so fortunate enough as to be president, will immediately lid move to make sure that we fill that. We have nine justices on behalf of our people.

Moderator: You’re out of time. Mr. Trump?

DT: Justice Scalia, great judge. Died recently. And we have a vacancy.

I am looking to appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice Scalia. I’m looking for judges, and I’ve actually picked 20 of them. So that people would see highly respected, highly thought of, and actually very beautifully reviewed by just about everybody. But people that will respect the constitution of the United States. And I think that this is so important. Also, the second amendment which is totally under siege by people like Hillary Clinton. They’ll respect the second amendment. And what it stands for, what it represents.

So important to me. Hillary mentioned something about contributions just so you understand. I will have in my race more than $100 million put in of my money, meaning I’m not taking all of this big money from all of these different corporations like she’s doing. What I ask is this. I’m putting in more by the time it’s finished, I’ll have more than $100 million invested. Pretty much self-funding. We’re raising money for the Republican Party and we’re doing tremendously on the small donations — $61 average or so.

I ask Hillary, why doesn’t she make $250 million by being in office? She used the power of her office to make a lot of money. Why isn’t she funding not for $100 million but why don’t you put $10 million or $20 million or $25 million into your own campaign? It’s $30 million less for special interests that will tell you exactly what to do and it would be a nice sign to the American public. Why aren’t you putting some money in. You’ve made a lot of it because of the fact you’ve been in office. Made a lot of it while you were secretary of state. Why aren’t you putting money into your own campaign, I’m curious.

MR: We’re going to get on to one more question.

HC: The question was about the supreme court. I want to quickly say, I respect the second amendment. But I believe there should be comprehensive background checks and we should close the gun show loophole and close the online loophole.

Moderator: We have one more question, Mrs. Clinton. We have one more question from Ken Boone about energy policy. Ken?

Ken: What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs? While at the same time, reminding environmentally friendly and minimizing it job loss for fossil power plant workers?

DT: Such a great question. Energy is under siege by the Obama administration. Absolute siege of the E.P.A — is killing these energy companies and foreign companies are now coming in, buying so many of our different plants and then rejiggering the plants so that they can take care of their oil. We are killing, absolutely killing our energy business in this country.

Now, I’m all for alternative forms of energy, including wind, solar, etcetera. But we need much more than wind and solar and you look at our miners. Hillary Clinton wants to put all the miners out of business. There say thing called clean coal. Coal lasts for thousands of years in this country. We have so many things — because of technology, we have unbelievable — of the last seven years, we have found tremendous wealth right under our feet. So much wealth. Especially when you have $20 billion in debt.

I will bring our companies back. They will make money. They will pay off our tremendous budget deficits which are tremendous. But we are putting our energy companies out of business. We have to bring back our workers. You take a look at what is happening to steal and — happening to steel and China dumping steel, which is killing our workers. We have to guard our energy companies. We have to make it possible. The EPA is so restrict it, they are putting our energy companies out of business. All you have to do is go to a great place like West Virginia or Ohio, which is phenomenal, or places like Pennsylvania, and you see what they are doing to the people — miners and others, in the energy business and it’s a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace.

AC: Two minutes.

HC: That was very interesting.

First of all, China is illegally dumping steel in the United States and Donald is buying it to build his buildings. That is something I fought against as a senator and I would have a trade prosecutor to make sure we don’t get taken advantage of by China, on steel or anything else. You know, because it sounds like you are in the business or are aware of people in the business. You know that we are now for the first time ever energy independent. We are not dependent on the Middle East. But the Middle East still controls a lot of the prices. The price of oil has been way down and that has had a damaging effect on a lot of the oil companies, right? We are, however, producing a lot of natural gas, which serves as a bridge to more renewable fuels. I think that is an important transition. We have got to remain energy independent.

It gives us much more power and freedom than to be worried about what goes on in the Middle East. We have enough worries about what goes on over there than having to worry about that. So I have a comprehensive energy policy, but it really does include fighting climate change, because I think that is a serious problem. And I support moving toward more clean, renewable energy as quickly as we can, because I think we can be the 21st century clean energy superpower and create millions of new jobs and businesses. I also want to make sure we do not leave people behind. That is why I am the only candidate, from the very beginning of this campaign, who had a plan to help us revitalize coal country. Because those coal miners and their grandfathers , they dug that coal out. A lot of them died, were injured. I don’t want to walk away from them. The power — the price of coal is down worldwide. We have to walk away. I hope you will go to hillaryclinton.com and see the entire policy.

MR: We have think then one more question and it comes from Carl Becker.

Carl: Good evening. My question to both of you is — regardless of the current rhetoric — would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?

MR: Mr. Trump, would you like to go first?

HC: Well, I certainly will. Because I think that’s a very fair and important question. I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that, and I think that is something that as a mother and her grandmother, is very important to me.

So, I believe that this election has become in part so conflict oriented, so intense because there’s a lot at stake. This is not an ordinary time. This is not an ordinary election. We are going to be choosing a president who will set policy for — not just four or eight years, but because of some of the important decisions we have to make here at home and around the world, from the supreme court to energy and so much else — so there is a lot at stake. It’s one of the most consequential elections we have had. And that is why I have tried to put forth specific policies and plans, trying to get it off of the personal and put it on to what it is I want to do as president. And that is why I hope people will check on that for themselves so they can see, yes, I have spent 30 years — actually may little more, working to help kids and families and I want to take that experience to the white house and do that every single day.

MR: Mr. Trump?

DT: I consider her statement about my children a very nice compliment. I don’t know if it was meant to be a compliment. I’m very proud of my children. They have been wonderful, wonderful kids. I consider that a compliment. I will say this about Hillary. She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She is a fighter. I disagree with much of what she is fighting for. I do disagree with her judgment in many cases, but she does fight hard and she doesn’t quit and she doesn’t give up and I consider that to be a very good trait.

MR: Thanks to both of you. Anderson: Want to thank both of the candidates. We want to thank the university here. This concludes the town hall commission. Thank you to everyone who watched.

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Full Text Political Transcripts January 7, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at CNN “Guns In America” Town Hall

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at CNN “Guns In America” Town Hall

Source: WH, 1-7-16

George Mason University
Fairfax, Virginia

8:00 P.M. EST

MR. COOPER: Good evening from George Mason University here in Fairfax, Virginia.  We are here tonight to talk about one of the most divisive issues in America today — guns.  Their protection is enshrined in the Constitution, in the Second Amendment, and gun ownership is an integral part of American history and culture.

There are some 30,000 gun deaths in America each year.  Two-thirds of them are suicides; one-third of them are homicides.  So the question we want to confront tonight is how you find a balance between protecting the rights of American citizens who want to own guns, but preventing guns from getting into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

We brought together people here tonight who represent really all sides of the issue — gun owners, gun sellers, people who have survived shootings or lost loved ones.  Some here believe that having more guns makes us all safer, and believe the right to bear arms defines us, preserves us from tyranny and cannot be compromised in any way.  Others here tonight believe just as passionately that more needs to be done to limit the sale of firearms.  And we respect all of their views, and we want to hear from as many as we can tonight in the hour ahead.

One voice you will not hear from tonight is the National Rifle Association.  They’re the nation’s largest, most influential and powerful gun rights group.  We invited them to be here — I think their office is just a couple miles away.  They declined to take part.  Some of their members are here tonight, though.  We’re very thankful for that.  And so are representatives from the National Firearms Retailers Association.

This town hall is not something the White House dreamed up or that the White House organized.  CNN approached the White House shortly after the San Bernardino terror attack with this idea.  And we’re pleased that they agreed to participate and pleased to welcome tonight the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.

MR. COOPER:  Hello, Mr. President.  Welcome.

THE PRESIDENT:  Great to see you.

MR. COOPER:  Good to see you.  Let me start.  Have you ever owned a gun?

THE PRESIDENT:  I have never owned a gun.  Now, up at Camp David, we’ve got some skeet shooting, so on a fairly regular basis, we get a 12-gauge and — I’m not making any claims about my marksmanship.

MR. COOPER:  Before you were President, did you ever feel a desire to get a gun, feel the need to get a gun?

THE PRESIDENT:  I grew up mostly in Hawaii, and other than hunting for wild pig — which they do once in a while — there’s not the popularity of hunting and sportsmanship with guns as much as there are in other parts of the country.

MR. COOPER:  I mean, I ask the question because there’s a lot of people out there who don’t trust you, obviously, on the issue of guns.  You keep saying you don’t want to take away everybody’s guns.  But there’s a lot of people out there tonight watching who don’t believe you.  There are a lot of people in this room who, frankly, don’t believe you.  And it’s not just that you don’t really have personal experience having owned a gun, but that things you’ve said:  Support for Australia’s tough anti-gun policies.  They banned semi-automatic assault rifles.  They banned even shotguns in Australia.  You’ve praised their policies over and over.

Back in 2008, you said — you talked about “bitter Americans clinging to their guns.”  Even now, these executive actions have caused a lot of concern among a lot of people.  What can you say to somebody tonight to convince them that you don’t want to take away everybody’s guns and you’re not coming for their guns?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, Anderson, I think it’s useful to keep in mind I’ve been now President for over seven years and gun sales don’t seem to have suffered during that time.

MR. COOPER:  If anything, actually —

THE PRESIDENT:  They’ve gone up.  I’ve been very good for gun manufacturers.  More importantly — I’ll tell you a story that I think indicates how I see the issue.

Back in 2007-2008, when I was campaigning, I’d leave Chicago, a city which is wonderful, I couldn’t be prouder of my city, but where every week there’s a story about a young person getting shot.  Some are gang members and it’s turf battles.  Sometimes it’s innocent victims.

MR. COOPER:  Fifty-five people have been shot in Chicago in the last seven days.

THE PRESIDENT:  Sometimes it’s happened just a few blocks from my house, and I live in a reasonably good neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

So that’s one image — talking to families who’ve gone through the pain of losing somebody because of violence in Chicago — gun violence.

Michelle and I are then campaigning out in Iowa, and we’re going to farms and we’re going to counties.  And at one point, Michelle turned to me and she said, you know, if I was living in a farmhouse, where the sheriff’s department is pretty far away, and somebody can just turn off the highway and come up to the farm, I’d want to have a shotgun or a rifle to make sure that I was protected and my family was protected.  And she was absolutely right.

And so part of the reason I think that this ends up being such a difficult issue is because people occupy different realities.  There are a whole bunch of law-abiding citizens who have grown up hunting with their dad, or going to the shooting range, and are responsible gun owners.  And then there’s the reality that there are neighborhoods around the country where it is easier for a 12 or 13-year-old to purchase a gun — and cheaper — than it is for them to get a book.

MR. COOPER:  But what you’re proposing, what you proposed this week, the executive actions, the other things, are they really going to be effective?  And I ask this because the vast majority of felons out there — I mean, we can all agree criminals should not get guns; we want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.  The vast majority of criminals get their guns from — either illegally or from family or friends.  So background checks is not something that’s going to affect them, is it?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, but that’s not exactly accurate.  Look, first of all, it’s important for everybody to understand what I’ve proposed and what I haven’t proposed.  What I’ve said consistently throughout my presidency is I respect the Second Amendment; I respect the right to bear arms; I respect people who want a gun for self-protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship.  But all of us can agree that it makes sense to do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of people who would try to do others harm, or to do themselves harm.

Because every year we’re losing 30,000 people to gun violence.  Two-thirds of those are actually suicides.  Hundreds of kids under the age of 18 are being shot or shooting themselves, often by accident — many of them under the age of five.  And so if we can combine gun safety with sensible background checks and some other steps, we’re not going to eliminate gun violence, but we will lessen it.  And if we take that number from 30,000 down to, let’s say, 28,000, that’s 2,000 families who don’t have to go through what the families at Newtown or San Bernardino or Charleston went through.

And so what we’ve proposed is that if you have a background check system that has a bunch of big loopholes, which is why a lot of criminals and people who shouldn’t have guns are able to get guns —

Q    But they’re not buying them at gun shows — only 1 percent of criminals are buying them at gun shows.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, but this is what happens.  Let’s go back to the city of Chicago that has strong gun control laws.  And oftentimes the NRA will point to that as an example and say, see, these things don’t work.  Well, the problem is, is that about 30, 40 percent of those guns are coming from Indiana, across the border, where there are much laxer laws.  And so folks will go to a gun show and purchase a whole bunch of firearms, put them in a van, drive up into Mike Pfleger’s neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, where his parish is, open up the trunk, and those things are for sale.

Now, technically, you could say those folks bought them illegally, but it was facilitated by the fact that what used to be a small exception that said collectors and hobbyists don’t need to go through a background check has become this massive industry where people who are doing business are, in fact, saying that they’re not in the business of selling guns, but are.

And all we’re saying here is, is that we want to put everybody on notice that the definition of doing business — which means you have to register, and it means you have to run a background check — is if you are making a profit and repeatedly selling guns, then you should have to follow the same rules as every other gun dealer.  And what that means —

MR. COOPER:  There are a lot of people who believe that’s not specific enough because there’s a lot of fathers and sons who sell guns every now and then and at gun shows.  Are they going to have to now start doing background checks?  Are they going to start to have to register?

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, what the Justice Department has done is provided a whole range of very specific examples.  And what we ultimately need I believe is for Congress to set up a system that is efficient, that doesn’t inconvenience the lawful gun seller or purchaser, but that makes sure that we’re doing the best background check possible.

And the fact, Anderson, that the system may not catch every single person, or there may be a circumstance where somebody doesn’t think that they have to register and do, and that may cause some red tape and bureaucracy for them, which — or inconvenience — has to be weighed against the fact that we may be able to save a whole bunch of families from the grief that some of the people in this audience have had to go through.

And keep in mind, for the gun owners who are in attendance here, my suspicion is, is that you all had to go through a background check and it didn’t prevent you from getting a weapon. And the notion that you should have to do that but there are a whole bunch of folks who are less responsible than you who don’t have to do it doesn’t make much sense.

So why we should resist this — keep in mind that, historically, the NRA was in favor of background checks.  Historically, many in the Republican Party were in favor of background checks.  And what’s changed is not that my proposals are particularly radical.  What’s changed is we’ve suddenly created an atmosphere in which I put out a proposal like background checks or, after Sandy Hook, was calling on Congress, along with people like Gabby Giffords, who herself was a victim of gun violence — we put out a proposal that is common sense, modest, does not claim to solve every problem, is respectful of the Second Amendment, and the way it is described is that we’re trying to take away everybody’s guns.

And part of the reason I welcomed this opportunity by CNN to have a good discussion and debate about it is because our position is consistently mischaracterized.  And, by the way, there’s a reason why the NRA is not here.  They’re just down the street, and since this is the main reason they exist, you’d think that they’d be prepared to have a debate with the President.

MR. COOPER:  They haven’t been to the White House for years.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, no, no — we’ve invited them.  We’ve invited them.

MR. COOPER:  So, right now, tonight, you’re saying you would be —

THE PRESIDENT:  We have invited them repeatedly.  But if you listen to the rhetoric, it is so over the top and so over-heated, and, most importantly, is not acknowledging the fact that there’s no other consumer item that we purchase —

Q    So is that an open invitation that —

THE PRESIDENT:  Hold on a second.  Let me finish this point, Cooper.  There’s nothing else in our lives that we purchase where we don’t try to make it a little safer if we can.  Traffic fatalities have gone down drastically during my lifetime.  And part of it is technology, and part of it is the National Highway Safety Administration does research and they figure out, you know what, seatbelts really work.  And then we passed some laws to make sure seatbelts are fastened.  Airbags make a lot of sense; let’s try those out.  Toys — we say, you know what, we find out that kids are swallowing toys all the time, let’s make sure that the toys aren’t so small that they swallow them if they’re for toddlers or infants.  Medicine — kids can’t open aspirin caps.

Now, the notion that we would not apply the same basic principles to gun ownership as we do to everything else that we own just to try to make them safer, or the notion that anything we do to try to make them safer is somehow a plot to take away guns, that contradicts what we do to try to create a better life for Americans in every other area of our lives.

MR. COOPER:  And just so I’m clear, tonight you’re saying you would welcome to meet with the NRA?

THE PRESIDENT:  Anderson, I’ve said this repeatedly — I’m happy to meet with them.  I’m happy to talk to them.  But the conversation has to be based on facts and truth and what we’re actually proposing, not some imaginary fiction in which Obama is trying to take away your guns.

The reason, by the way, that gun sales spike not just before I propose something — every time there is a mass shooting, gun sales spike.  And part of the reason is, is that the NRA has convinced many of its members that somebody is going come grab your guns — which is, by the way, really profitable for the gun manufacturers.  It’s a great advertising mechanism, but it’s not necessary.  There’s enough of a market out there for people who want protection, who are sportsmen, who wants to go hunting with their kids.  And we can make it safer.

MR. COOPER:  I want to open this up to people in our audience.

THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.

MR. COOPER:  People have traveled far.  I want you to meet Taya Kyle.  She’s the widow of Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL, author of “American Sniper.”  Taya wrote a book, “American Life: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal.”

Taya, we’re happy you’re here.  What do you want to ask the President?

Q    I appreciate you taking the time to come here.  And I think that your message of hope is something I agree with, and I think it’s great.  And I think that by creating new laws you do give people hope.  The thing is that the laws that we create don’t stop these horrific things from happening, right?  And that’s a very tough pill to swallow.

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.

Q    We want to think that we can make a law and people will follow it.  But by the very nature of their crime, they’re not following it.  By the very nature of looking at the people who hurt our loved ones here, I don’t know that any of them would have been stopped by the background check.  And yet — I crave that desire for hope, too.  And so I think, part of it, we have to recognize that we cannot outlaw murder, because the people who are murdering are — they’re breaking the law, but they also don’t have a moral code that we have.  And so they could do the same amount of damage with a pipe bomb.  The problem is that they want to murder.

And I’m wondering why it wouldn’t be a better use of our time to give people hope in a different way, to say, you know what, we — well, first of all, actually, let me back up to that. Because with the laws, I know that at least the last I heard, the federal prosecution of gun crimes was like 40 percent.  And what I mean by that is that there are people lying on these forms already, and we’re not prosecuting them.  So there’s an issue there, right?  But instead, if we can give people hope and say that also during this time, while you’ve been President, we are at the lowest murder rate in our country — all-time low of murders.  We’re at an all-time high of gun ownership, right?  I’m not necessarily saying that the two are correlated, but what I’m saying is that we’re at an all-time low for a murder rate.  That’s a big deal.

And yet, I think most of us in this country feel like it could happen at any moment.  It could happen to any of us at any time, at a moment’s notice.  When you talk about the NRA, and after a mass shooting that gun sales go up, I would argue that it’s not necessarily that I think somebody is going to come take my gun from me, but I want the hope, and the hope that I have the right to protect myself, that I don’t end up to be one of these families; that I have the freedom to carry whatever weapon I feel I need, just like your wife said on that farm.  The sheriff is not going to get to my house, either.  And I understand that background checks aren’t necessarily going to stop me from getting a gun, but I also know that they wouldn’t have stopped any of the people here in this room from killing.  And so it seems like almost a false sense of hope.

So why not celebrate where we are?  I guess that’s my real question — is celebrate that we’re good people, and 99.9 percent of us are never going to kill anyone.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let me make a couple of points.  First of all, thanks to your husband for his service, and thank you for your service, because of extraordinary heroism that he and your family have shown in protecting all of us.  And I’m very grateful for that.

Number two, what you said about murder rates and violent crime generally is something that we don’t celebrate enough.  The fact of the matter is, is that violent crime has been steadily declining across America for a pretty long time.  And you wouldn’t always know it by watching television, but overall, most cities are much safer than they were 10 years ago or 20 years ago.

Now, I’d challenge the notion that the reason for that is because there’s more gun ownership, because if you look at where are the areas with the highest gun ownership, those are the places, in some cases, where the crime rate hasn’t dropped down that much.  And the places where there’s pretty stiff restrictions on gun ownership, in some of those places the crime has dropped really quickly.  So I’m not sure that there’s a one-to-one correlation there.

But I think the most important point I want to make is that you will be able to purchase a firearm.  Some criminals will get their hands on firearms even if there’s a background check.  Somebody may lie on a form.  Somebody will intend to commit a crime but they don’t have a record that shows up on the background check system.

But in the same way that we don’t eliminate all traffic accidents, but over the course of 20 years, traffic accidents get lower — there’s still tragedies, there’s still drunk drivers, there’s still people who don’t wear their seatbelts — but over time, that violence was reduced, and so families are spared.  That’s the same thing that we can do with gun ownership.

There is a way for us to set up a system where you, a responsible gun owner, who I’m assuming, given your husband and your family, is a much better marksman than I am, can have a firearm to protect yourself, but where it is much harder for somebody to fill up a car with guns and sell them to 13-year-old kids on the streets.  And that is I think what we’re trying to do.

What we’re also trying to do is make the database more effective — so that’s part of the proposal — which, by the way, will convenience you when you go to the store, because if we can set up a 24/7 background check system, then that means that it’s less likely that things slip through the cracks or it’s more difficult for you to get your background check completed.

And we’re also trying to close a loophole that has been developing over the last decade where now people are using cut-out trusts and shell corporations to purchase the most dangerous weapons — sawed-off shotguns, automatic weapons, silencers — and don’t have to go through background checks at all.  And we don’t know whether — are these sales going to drug traffickers? We don’t know who’s purchasing them right now.  And so what we’re saying is, you know what, that is something that we’ve got to do something about.

The same thing is true with Internet sales, where one study has shown that one out of 30 persons who are purchasing weapons over the Internet turn out to have a felony record.  And that’s not something you want to see.

MR. COOPER:  I think one question a lot of people have about you is do you believe the fundamental notion that a good guy with a gun or a good woman with a gun is an important bulwark against a bad person with a gun?  And before you answer, I want you to meet Kimberly Corban.  Kimberly was a college student in Colorado in 2006 — Kimberly is right over there.  She was raped by a man who broke into her apartment.  She testified for three hours in the trial against him.  Her attacker was sentenced to 24-years-to-life in prison.  And I know that attack, Kimberly, changed your view of handguns.  What’s your question for the President?

Q    Absolutely.  As a survivor of rape and now a mother to two small children, it seems like being able to purchase a firearm of my choosing, and being able to carry that wherever me and my family are, it seems like my basic responsibility as a parent at this point.  I have been unspeakably victimized once already, and I refuse to let that happen again to myself or my kids.  So why can’t your administration see that these restrictions that you’re putting to make it harder for me to own a gun, or harder for me to take that where I need to be is actually just making my kids and I less safe?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Kimberly, first of all, obviously, your story is horrific.  The strength you’ve shown in telling your story and being here tonight is remarkable.  And so I’m really proud of you for that.

I just want to repeat that there’s nothing that we’ve proposed that would make it harder for you to purchase a firearm. And now, you may be referring to issues like concealed carry, but those tend to be state-by-state decisions, and we’re not making any proposals with respect to what states are doing.  They can make their own decisions there.  So there really is no — nothing that we’re proposing that prevents you or makes it harder for you to purchase a firearm if you need one.

There are always questions as to whether or not having a firearm in the home protects you from that kind of violence.  And I’m not sure we can resolve that.  People argue it both sides.  What is true is, is that you have to be pretty well trained in order to fire a weapon against somebody who is assaulting you and catches you by surprise.  And what is also true is there’s always the possibility that that firearm in a home leads to a tragic accident.  We can debate that, round or flat.

But for now, what I just want to focus on is that you certainly would like to make it a little harder for that assailant to have also had a gun.  You certainly would want to make sure that if he gets released, that he now can’t do what he did to you to somebody else.  And it’s going to be easier for us to prevent him from getting a gun if there’s a strong background system in place — background check system in place.

And so if you look at the statistics, there’s no doubt that there are times where somebody who has a weapon has been able to protect themselves and scare off an intruder or an assailant.  But what is more often the case is that they may not have been able to protect themselves but they end up the victim of the weapon that they purchased themselves.  And that’s something that can be debated.  In the meantime, all I’m focused on is making sure that a terrible crime like yours that was committed is not made easier because somebody can go on the Internet and just buy whatever weapon they want without us finding out whether they’re a criminal or not.

MR. COOPER:  Kimberly, thank you for being here.  I appreciate it.

You talked about Chicago, and there’s a lot of folks from Chicago here tonight.  I want you to meet — or I want everybody to meet, because I know you’ve met her before, Cleo Pendleton.  She’s sitting over there.  And I should point out — I think I said it earlier — 55 shootings in Chicago in just the past seven days.  Cleo Pendleton, her daughter, Hadiya, performed at your second inauguration.  She was shot to death a little more than a week later.  She was 15 years old.  She was an honor student, a majorette.  And you being here tonight honors her, so thank you very much for being here.  What’s your question to the President?

Q    Well, I want to say thank you, first of all, for making it more difficult for guns to get in the hands of those that shouldn’t have them.  Thank you for the action you took on Tuesday.  But I want to ask a question — how can we stop the trafficking of guns from states with looser gun laws into states with tougher gun laws?  Because I believe that’s the case often in Chicago, and possibly the source of the gun that shot and murdered my daughter.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, it’s great to see you again.  And part of the reason that we do this is because when you meet parents of wonderful young people and they tell their stories, at least for me, I think of Malia and I think of Sasha and I think of my nieces and I think of my nephews.  And the pain that any of us go through with a loss like that is extraordinary. And I couldn’t be prouder of the families who are here representing both sides but who’ve been affected in those ways.

If we are able to set up a strong background check system — and my proposal, by the way, includes hiring — having the FBI hire a couple hundred more people to help process background checks, because they’re big numbers, you’re talking about 20 million checks that are getting done every year — hiring 200,000 — or 200 more ATF agents to be able to go after unscrupulous gun dealers, then that will apply across the country.

And so, some states may have laws that allow for conceal-and -carry; some states may not.  There’s still going to be differences.  But what will at least be consistent across the country is that it’s a little bit harder to get a gun.

Now, we can’t guarantee that criminals are not going to have ways of getting guns.  But, for example, it may be a little more difficult and a little more expensive, and the laws of supply and demand mean that if something is harder to get and it’s a little more expensive to get, then fewer people get them.  And that, in and of itself, could make a difference.

So if somebody is a straw purchaser — and what that means is they don’t intend the guns for themselves, they intend to resell them to somebody else — they go to a gun show in Indiana, where right now they don’t have to do a background check, load up a van, and open up that van and sell them to kids in gangs in Chicago — if now that person has to go through a background check, they’ve got to register, ATF has the capacity then to find out if and when a gun is used in a crime in Chicago where that gun had come from.  And now you know here’s somebody who seems to be willing to sell a gun to a 15-year-old who had a known record.

MR. COOPER:  But you’re only going to be asking people to get a license and do background checks if they give out business cards, if they’re selling weapons that are in the original packaging.  Somebody just walking around a gun show selling a weapon is not necessarily going to have to register.

THE PRESIDENT:  No — look, there’s going to be a case-by-case evaluation:  Are they on an ongoing basis making a profit and are they repeatedly selling firearms.

MR. COOPER:  I want you to meet Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Arizona.  He’s a Republican running for Congress.  After the recent terror attacks, Sheriff, I know you’ve been telling citizens to arm themselves to protect their families.  What’s your question to the President?

Q    Well, first, deputies’ slow response time has been mentioned a couple times.  I want to be clear that my deputies have a very fast emergency response —

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sure that’s true.

Q    Yes.  Mr. President, you’ve said you’ve been thwarted by — frustrated by Congress.  As a sheriff, I oftentimes get frustrated.  But I don’t make the laws and I’ve sworn an oath to enforce the law, to uphold the Constitution, the same oath you’ve taken.  And the talk and why we’re here is all these mass shootings, and yet you’ve said in your executive action it wouldn’t have solved even one of these or the terrorist attack —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t say that.  I didn’t say that it wouldn’t solve one.

Q    Well, looking at the information, what would it have solved?  Now, knowing —

MR. COOPER:  None of the recent mass shootings, I should point out, none of the guns were purchased from an unlicensed dealer.

Q    Correct.  And that’s what I’m speaking to — the executive action that you mentioned earlier.  Aspirin, toys, or cars, they’re not written about in the Constitution.  I want to know — and I think all of us really want to get to the solution, and you said don’t talk past each other — what would you have done to prevent these mass shootings and the terrorist attack?  And how do we get those with mental illness and criminals — that’s the real problem here — how are we going to get them to follow the laws?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, appreciate your service.  Good luck on your race.  You sure you want to go to Congress?

Q    I don’t want to talk about —

THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  I’m sure that’s true.  That will hurt you.  And I’m sure it’s a Republican district.  (Laughter.)

Look, crime is always going to be with us.  So I think it’s really important for us not to suggest that if we can’t solve every crime, we shouldn’t try to solve any crimes.  (Applause.)

And the problem when we talk about that guns don’t kill people; people kill people, or it’s primarily a mental health problem, or it’s a criminal and evil problem and that’s what we have to get at — all of us are interested in fighting crime.  I’m very proud of the fact that violent crime rates have continued to go down during the course of my presidency.  I’ve got an Attorney General, an FBI that works very closely with local law enforcement in busting up crime rings all the time.  That’s a huge priority to us.  And we’re probably providing grants to your department to help go after criminals.

The challenge we have is that in many instances, you don’t know ahead of time who’s going to be the criminal.  It’s not as if criminals walk around with a label saying, “I’m a criminal.”  And, by the way, the young man who killed those kids in Newtown, he didn’t have a criminal record, and so we didn’t know ahead of time, necessarily, that he was going to do something like that. But he was able to have access to an arsenal that allowed him in very short order to kill an entire classroom of small children.  And so the question then becomes, are there ways for us — since we can’t identify that person all the time, are there ways for us to make it less lethal when something like that happens?

And I mentioned this during my speech at the White House a couple of days ago.  Right around the time of Newtown, in China, a guy who was obviously similarly deranged had a knife and started attacking a bunch of schoolchildren.  About the same number were cut or stabbed by this guy.  But most of them survived.  And the reason was because he wasn’t yielding a semi-automatic.

So the main point I think that I want to make here is that everybody here is in favor of going after criminals, locking them up, making sure that we’re creating an environment where kids don’t turn into criminals and providing the support that they need.  Those are all important things.  Nobody is saying we need to be going soft on criminals.

What we do have to make sure of is that we don’t make it so easy for them to have access to deadly weapons.  In neighborhoods like Chicago — I keep on using Chicago — this is all across the country.  You go into any neighborhood, it used to be that parents would see some kids messing around on the corner and they’d say, “Yo” — even if they weren’t the parent of those children — “go back inside, stop doing that.”  And over time, it was a lot harder to discipline somebody else’s kid and have the community maintain order, or talk to police officers if somebody is doing something wrong, because now somebody is worried about getting shot.

And if we can create an environment that’s just a little bit safer in those communities, that will help.  And if it doesn’t infringe on your Second Amendment rights, and it doesn’t infringe on your Second Amendment rights, and you’re still able to get a firearm for your protection, why wouldn’t we want to do that?

MR. COOPER:  We’ve got to take a break.  (Applause.)  We’re going to take a quick break.  Our live town hall conversation, “Guns in America,” with President Barack Obama continues right after this.

* * * *

MR. COOPER:  And welcome back.  We’re live at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, continuing our live town hall conversation with President Barack Obama, “Guns In America,” talking to voices from all sides of the issue, including the President.

You made your announcement just the other day in a very obviously emotional ceremony at the White House.  And I want to play just a moment from it for those who haven’t seen it.

(Video is shown.)

I think a lot of people were surprised by that moment.

THE PRESIDENT:  I was, too, actually.  I visited Newtown two days after what happened, so it was still very raw.  It’s the only time I’ve ever seen Secret Service cry on duty.  And it wasn’t just the parents.  You had siblings — 10-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 3-year-olds, who, in some cases, didn’t even understand that their brother or sister weren’t going to be coming home.  And I’ve said this before — it continues to haunt me.  It was one of the worst days of my presidency.

But, look, I want to emphasize that there are a lot of tragedies that happen out there as a consequence of the victims of crime.  There are police officers who are out there laying down their lives to protect us every single day.  And tears are appropriate for them, as well, and I visit with those families, as well — victims of terrorism, soldiers coming home.

There’s a lot of heartache out there.  And I don’t suggest that this is the only kind of heartache we should be working on. I spent a lot of time and a lot of hours — in fact, a lot more hours than I spend on this — trying to prevent terrorist attacks.  I spend a lot of time and a lot of hours trying to make sure that we’re continuing to reduce our crime rate.

There are a whole bunch of other answers that are just as important when it comes to making sure that the streets of places like Chicago and Baltimore are safer.  Making sure kids get a good early childhood education.  Making sure that we’re teaching conflict resolution that doesn’t involve violence.  Making sure that faith communities are able to reach out to young people and intervene in timely ways.

So this is not a recipe for solving every problem.  Again, I just want to emphasize that the goal here is just to make progress.  And it’s interesting, as I enter into my last year as President, I could not be prouder of the work that we’ve done. But it also makes you really humble, because you realize that change takes a long time and a lot of the work you do is just to incrementally make things better so that, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, the crime rate has gone down.

That’s not just because of my administration.  That’s the groundwork that was laid by a bunch of good work by law enforcement and others for years, across administrations, on a bipartisan basis.

The same is true with traffic safety.  The same is true with advances in medicine.  The same can be true with this if we stop exaggerating or mischaracterizing the positions of either side and we just come up with some sensible areas that people agree with.  Background checks are an example:  The majority of gun owners agree with this.

MR. COOPER:  You talk about faith communities.  Father Michael Pfleger is here.  I know you know him well.  He’s a Roman Catholic priest in Chicago.  For those who don’t know, his church is St. Sabina on the South Side of Chicago.  I was there about a month ago.  It was a great honor to be there.

Father, you’ve given a lot of eulogies for a lot of kids in your community.  Far too many over the 40 years that you have been there.  What your question for the President?

Q    Mr. President, first of all, thank you for your courage and your passion, and keep pushing.  I happen to be from one of those cities where violence is not going down.  Not only, as Anderson mentioned, the 55 shot, there’s been 11 killed in seven days in Chicago.  And one of the main reasons for that is the easy access to guns.  It’s easier to get a gun in my neighborhood than it is a computer.  And the reality is, is because many of those guns have been bought legally.  And I understand why people are pushing against you, because I understand it’s a business and it’s about a business, and so if we cut back the easy access to guns, less money for gun manufacturers, less money for the gun lobby.  I understand the business of it.  But that business is causing blood and the kids that are dying in Chicago.  And for many years, nobody even cared about Chicago because the violence is primarily black and brown.

The reality is that I don’t understand why we can’t title guns just like cars.  If I have a car and I give it to you, Mr. President, and I don’t transfer a title and you’re in an accident, it’s on me.  We don’t take cars away by putting titles on them.  Why can’t we do that with guns and every gun in America?  So if somebody who’s buying 200 guns, selling them on the streets, if they can’t transfer those titles, then they’re going to be held responsible for the guns that they sell.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Father Mike, first of all, for those of you who don’t know him, has been working since before I moved to Chicago, and I was a 23-year-old when I first met him.  And somehow I aged and he didn’t.  (Laughter.)

MR. COOPER:  Your gray hair is not going back, I can tell you from experience.

THE PRESIDENT:  He was always the best-looking priest in Chicago.  (Laughter.)  But Father Pfleger has done heroic work at St. Sabina Parish.

Issues like licensing, registration, that’s an area where there’s just not enough national consensus at this stage to even consider it.  And part of it is, is people’s concern that that becomes a prelude to taking people’s guns away.  I mean, part of the challenge in this is that the gun debate gets wrapped up in broader debates about whether the federal government is oppressive.  And there are conspiracy theories floating around the Internet these days all the time.  We did a military exercise in Texas, and a whole bunch of folks were sure that this was the start of martial law, and were suggesting maybe don’t cooperate with the United States Army in an effort to prepare so that if they get deployed overseas, they can handle it.  But that’s how difficult sometimes these debates are.

But I want to pick up on some things where I think there should be consensus.  One of those areas that I talked about at the speech, part of the proposal is developing smart gun technology.  Now, this is an interesting example.  I don’t exactly understand this, and maybe there will be somebody in the audience who explains it to me.  Back in 1997, the CEO of Colt said we can design, or are starting to develop guns where you can only use it if you’ve got a chip, where you wear a band or a bracelet, and that then protects your 2-year-old or 3-year-old from picking up the gun and using it.  And a boycott was called against him, and they had to back off of developing that technology.  The same with Smith & Wesson.  They were in the process of developing similar technology, and they were attacked by the NRA as “surrendering.”

Now, to me, this does not make sense.  If you are a gun owner, I would think that you would at least want a choice so that if you wanted to purchase a firearm that could only be used by you — in part to avoid accidents in your home, in part to make sure that if it’s stolen, it’s not used by a criminal, in part, if there’s an intruder, you pull the gun but somehow it gets wrested away from you, that gun can’t be turned on you and used on you — I would think there might be a market for that.  You could sell that gun.

Now, I’m not saying that necessarily would be the only gun that’s available, but it seems to me that that would be something that in any other area, in any other product, any other commercial venture, there would be some research and development on that because that’s a promising technology.

It has not been developed primarily because it’s been blocked by either the NRA, which is funded by gun manufacturers, or other reasons.  In part, what we proposed was, you know what, we’re going to do some of the research.  We’ll work with the private sector.  (Applause.)  We’ll figure out whether or not this technology can be developed — (applause) — and then give everybody a choice in terms of the kind of firearm that they want to purchase — because I think that there will, in fact, be a market for that.  And over time, that’s an example of how we could reduce some of the preventable gun deaths that are out there.

MR. COOPER:  I want to bring in somebody who actually knows a lot about selling guns.  I want you to meet Kris Jacob.  He’s vice president of the American Firearms Retailers Association.  He’s the owner of the Bullseye Indoor Shooting Range and gun store in San Rafael, California.  Kris, it’s great to have you here.  First of all, how is business under President Obama?  Because everything I read says gun sales have been going up.  Every time he talks about guns, gun sales go up.

Q    It’s been busy.  And certainly I think that shows, as Taya said earlier, that there’s a very serious concern in this country about personal security.  And the sheriff is right — they do everything they possibly can to make sure they get there as quickly as they possibly can.  And my question is actually focused around law enforcement, as well.  There’s 53,000 licensed gun dealers in the United States who stand behind the counter and say no to people all day.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    We feel it’s our responsibility to make sure that people who have a criminal past, people who are mentally ill or are having a bad day don’t get possession of firearms.  So we assist law enforcement all the time in the process of making sure that those things don’t change hands inside our commercial market if they shouldn’t.  It’s a very serious responsibility for us, and as a group, we take it very seriously.

My question is around the executive order related to the investigators, the inspectors, the adding of 200 inspectors who are more on the auditing and record-keeping side.  Why not add 200 ATF agents on the law enforcement side to keep the criminals and the bad guys out of the stores in the first place?  I mean, the problem seems to me to be — you mentioned dealers who are less responsible than others, and certainly it’s possible that those folks are out there, but if we can enforce the laws that already exist, the tens of thousands of gun laws that are on the books right now, it might create a very significant deterrent in just getting those people in the stores.

MR. COOPER:  Let me also point out the number of ATF agents during your administration has actually declined.  So even if you hired 200 more —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, but not because of my budget.

MR. COOPER:  But even if you hired 200 more, it will get it to what it was right before you took office.

THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.  Well, look, first of all, there are a whole bunch of responsible gun dealers out there.  And my hope would be that those gun dealers would support making sure that everybody is following the same rules that they are.  That’s number one.

Number two is we’re not writing a new law.  Only Congress can do that.  This is about enforcing existing laws, and closing what has grown into a massive loophole where a huge percentage of guns — many of whom end up being traced to crime — are not going through the responsible gun dealers, but are going through irresponsible folks who are not registered as doing business.  And the whole goal here is to clarify and to put on notice that if you’re a business, even if you don’t have bricks and mortar, then you’re supposed to register, you’re supposed to conduct background checks.  So the issue is not where you do it, it’s what you’re doing.  And that should not be something that threatens responsible gun dealers across the country.

In terms of the ATF, it is absolutely true that the ATF budget has been shrank because — has been shrunk — it’s a little late — (laughter) — you knew what I meant — (laughter) — and part of it is because the politicizing of this issue.  So many in the Republican Congress feel as if the ATF is not their friend, but their enemy.  Part of the story I was telling —

MR. COOPER:  You said this issue should be politicized, though.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, but what I mean by that, Anderson, is, is that they have been portrayed as trying to take people’s guns away as opposed to trying to make sure that the laws are enforced.  And one of the most frustrating things that I hear is when people say — who are opposed to any further laws — why don’t you just enforce the laws that are on the books, and those very same members of Congress then cut ATF budgets to make it impossible to enforce the law.  (Applause.)

And by the way, the ATF is a law enforcement agency working under the FBI that is doing enormous work in going after criminals and drug cartels, and have a pretty dangerous job.  So it’s not as if doing background checks or auditing gun sales is all that they’re doing.

Part of my proposal is also developing better technologies so that we can do tracing of shells when a crime is committed in order to figure out who exactly are the perpetrators of the crime and where did they obtain the weapon.  So there’s a whole bunch of other elements to this that are going to be important.  But my hope is, is that responsible gun dealers like yourself and your organization are going to be supportive of this proposal, because it should actually help push away unscrupulous dealers and that means more customers for you guys.

MR. COOPER:  I want to bring in Mark Kelly.  As you know, a former astronaut, husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who we’re proud to say is here tonight.  Five years ago this week in Tucson, Arizona, Congresswoman Giffords was shot.  Six others were killed.  Captain, your question?

Q    Well, thank you for being here, Mr. President.  As you know, Gabby and I are both gun owners.  We take gun ownership very seriously and really think about the voices of responsible gun owners in this debate.  But I want to follow up to something Father Pfleger said and your answer to his question, and it’s about expanded background checks.  Often, what you hear in the debate of expanding background checks to more gun sales — and, as you know, Gabby and I are 100 percent behind the concept of somebody getting a background check before buying a gun — but when we testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, we heard not only from the gun lobby but from United States senators that expanding background checks will — not may — will lead to a registry, which will lead to confiscation, which will lead to a tyrannical government.

So I would like you to explain, with 350 million guns in 65 million places, households, from Key West to Alaska — 350 million objects in 65 million places — if the federal government wanted to confiscate those objects, how would they do that?  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, look, first of all, every time I see Gabby, I’m just so thrilled because I visited her in the hospital, and, as I mentioned I think in the speech in the White House, as we left the hospital then to go to a memorial service, we got word that Gabby had opened her eyes for the first time.  And we did not think that she was going to be here, and she is.  And Mark has just been extraordinary.  And, by the way, Mark’s twin brother is up in space right now and is breaking the record for the longest continuous orbiting of the planet, which is pretty impressive stuff.

What I think Mark is alluding to is what I said earlier — this notion of a conspiracy out there, and it gets wrapped up in concerns about the federal government.  Now, there’s a long history of that.  That’s in our DNA.  The United States was born suspicious of some distant authority.

MR. COOPER:  But let me just jump in — is it fair to call it a conspiracy?  I mean, there’s a lot of people who really believe this deeply — that they just don’t trust you.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, Cooper, yes it is fair to call it a conspiracy.  What are you saying?  (Applause.)  Are you suggesting that the notion that we are creating a plot to take everybody’s guns away so that we can impose martial law —

MR. COOPER:  Not everybody, but there is certainly a lot of people —

THE PRESIDENT:  — is a conspiracy?  Yes, that is a conspiracy.  I would hope that you would agree with that.  (Applause.)  Is that controversial except on some websites around the country?

MR. COOPER:  There are certainly a lot of people who just have a fundamental distrust that you do not want to get — go further and further and further down this road.

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, I mean, I’m only going to be here for another year.  I don’t know — when would I have started on this enterprise, right?  (Laughter.)

I come from the state of Illinois, which — we’ve been talking about Chicago, but downstate Illinois is closer to Kentucky than it is to Chicago.  And everybody hunts down there and a lot of folks own guns.  And so this is not, like, alien territory to me.  I’ve got a lot of friends like Mark who are hunters.  I just came back from Alaska, where I ate a moose that had just been shot — and it was pretty good.

So, yes, it is a false notion that I believe is circulated for either political reasons or commercial reasons in order to prevent a coming together among people of goodwill to develop common-sense rules that will make us safer while preserving the Second Amendment.

And the notion that we can’t agree on some things while not agreeing on others and the reason for that is because, well, the President secretly wants to X would mean that we’d be paralyzed about doing everything.  I mean, maybe when I proposed to make sure that unsafe drugs are taken off the market that, secretly, I’m trying to control the entire drug industry, or take people’s drugs away.  But probably not.  What’s more likely is I just want to make sure that people are not dying by taking bad drugs.

MR. COOPER:  You wrote an op-ed that just got published.  A lot of people probably have not read it yet.  One of the things you say in it is that you are not going to campaign for, vote for any candidate, regardless of what party they’re in, if they do not support common-sense gun reform.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  I meant what I said.  And the reason I said that is this.  The majority of people in this country are a lot more sensible than what you see in Washington, and the reason that Washington doesn’t work well in part is because the loudest, shrillest voices, the least compromising, the most powerful or those with the most money have the most influence.

And the way Washington changes is when people vote.  And the way we break the deadlock on this issue is when Congress does not have just a stranglehold on this debate — or, excuse me — the NRA does not have a stranglehold on Congress in this debate — (applause) — but it is balanced by a whole bunch of folks — gun owners, law enforcement, the majority of the American people — when their voices are heard, then things get done.

The proposals that we’ve put forward are a version — a lawful, more narrow version — of what was proposed by Joe Manchin and Senator Toomey of Pennsylvania, a Republican and a Democrat, both of whom get straight-A scores from the NRA.  And somehow, after Newtown, that did not pass the Senate.  The majority of senators wanted it, but 90 percent of Republicans voted against it.  And I’ll be honest with you, 90 percent of those senators didn’t disagree with the proposal, but they were fearful that it was going to affect them during the election.

So all I’m saying is, is that this debate will not change and get balanced out so that lawful gun owners and their Second Amendment rights are protected, but we’re also creating a pathway towards a safer set of communities — it’s not going to change until those who are concerned about violence are not as focused and disciplined during election time as those who are.  And I’m going to throw my shoulders behind folks who want to actually solve problems instead of just getting a high score from an interest group.  (Applause.)

MR. COOPER:  We have time for one more question.  And we talked about Chicago a little bit.  We haven’t really heard from young people tonight — no offense to those who have spoken.  (Laughter.)  I’m in the same category as you all.  Sorry, Father.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re a kid.

MR. COOPER:  There’s a lot of kids, as you know, growing up in Chicago, fearful of walking to school, fearful of coming home from school.  A lot of kids have been killed on buses.  There’s a lot of moms of kids who have been killed in the streets of Chicago.  And I want you to meet Trey Bosley.  He’s 18 years old. He’s a high school student.  And his brother Terrell was shot and killed nearly 10 years ago while he was helping a friend in a church parking lot.  Terrell would have turned 28 years old on this Tuesday.  What’s your question, Trey?

Q    As you said, I lost my brother a few years ago — well, 10 years ago.  And I’ve also lost a countless amount of family members and friends to gun violence, as well.  And just growing up as a young black teen in Chicago, where you’re surrounded by not only just gun violence but police brutality, as well, most of aren’t thinking of our life on a long-term scale.  Most of us are either thinking day to day, hour to hour — for some, even minute to minute.  I want to thank you for your stand against gun violence for not only the victims of gun violence, but those on the verge of being victims of gun violence.  And my question to you is, what is your advice to those youth growing up surrounded by poverty and gun violence?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, Trey, I couldn’t be prouder of you.  And I know — is that your momma next to you?  I know she’s proud of you right now.  So good job, Mom.

When I see you, Terrell, I think I about my own —

MR. COOPER:  Trey.

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me — Trey.  When I see you, I think about my own youth, because I wasn’t that different from you.  Probably not as articulate and maybe more of a goof-off.  But the main difference was I lived in a more forgiving environment.  If I screwed up, I wasn’t at risk of getting shot.  I’d get a second chance.  There were a bunch of folks who were looking out for me, and there weren’t a lot of guns on the streets.  And that’s how all kids should be growing up, wherever they live.

My advice to you is to continue to be an outstanding role model for the young ones who are coming up behind you.  Keep listening to your mom.  Work hard and get an education.  Understand that high school and whatever peer pressure or restrictions you’re under right now won’t matter by the time you’re a full adult, and what matters is your future.  But what I also want to say to you is, is that you’re really important to the future of this country.

And I think it is critical in this debate to understand that it’s not just inner-city kids who are at risk in these situations.  Out of the 30,000 deaths due to gun violence, about two-thirds of them are actually suicides.  That’s part of the reason why we are investing more heavily also in mental health under my proposal.

But while the majority of victims of gun homicide are black or Hispanic, the overwhelming majority of suicides by young people are white.  And those, too, are tragedies.  Those, too, are preventable.  I’m the father of two outstanding young women, but being a teenager is tough.  And we all remember the times where you get confused, you’re angry, and then the next thing you know, if you have access to a firearm what kind of bad decisions you might make.  So those are deaths we also want to prevent.

Accidental shootings are also deaths we want to prevent.  And we’re not going to prevent all of them.  But we can do better.  We’re not going to, through this initiative alone, solve all the problems of inner-city crime.  Some of that, as I said, has to do with investing in these communities and making sure there’s good education and jobs and opportunity — (applause) — and great parents, and moral responsibility, and ethical behavior, and instilling that in our kids — that’s going to be important.

So this is not a proposal to solve every problem.  It’s a modest way of us getting started on improving the prospects of young men and young women like you, the same way we try to improve every other aspect of our lives.  That’s all it is.

And if we get started — as I said before, it used to be people didn’t wear seatbelts, didn’t have airbags.  It takes 20, 30 years, but you look and then you realize all these amazing lives of young people like this who are contributing to our society because we came together in a practical way, looking at evidence, looking at data, and figured out how can we make that work better.

Right now, Congress prohibits us even studying through the Center for Disease Control ways in which we could reduce gun violence.  That’s how crazy this thing has become.  Let’s at least figure out what works.  And some of the proposals that I’m making may turn out are not as effective as others.  But at least let’s figure it out, let’s try some things.  Let’s not just assume that — every few weeks there’s a mass shooting that gets publicity, every few months there’s one that gets national publicity, every day there are a whole bunch of folks shot on streets around the country that we don’t even hear about.  That is not something that we can be satisfied with.

And part of my faith and hope in America is just that — not that we achieve a perfect union, but that we get better.  And we can do better than we’re doing right now if we come together.  (Applause.)

Thank you.

MR. COOPER:  Mr. President, thank you very much for your time.

THE PRESIDENT:  Appreciate it very much.

                             END           9:13 P.M. EST

Campaign Buzz October 18, 2011: CNN / Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC) GOP Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Candidates Mitt Romney & Rick Perry Fight & Clash over the Economy, Health Care & Immigration — Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan in the Hot Seat

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The Republican presidential primary candidates met for a debate Tuesday night at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. It was the fifth time the candidates had gathered since Labor Day.

IN FOCUS: CNN / WESTERN REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE

  • Las Vegas Republican debate: The Live Blog: Tonight at 8 p.m. eastern time seven Republican candidates running for president will take the stage in Las Vegas for the fifth debate in the last six weeks…. – WaPo
  • Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC)/CNN Debate at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino: The following is a transcript of the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nev…. – NYT, 10-19-11

Faith and religion

Gov. Rick Perry: “I can no more remove my faith than I can [the fact that] I’m the son of a tenant farmer. That individual expressed an opinion. I didn’t agree with it, Mitt…. “Americans understand faith, and what they’ve lost faith in is the current resident” of the White House…. “I did not agree with Pastor Jeffress’ remarks. I cannot apologize more than that.”

Tax plans

Gov. Rick Perry: “Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something. You don’t need a big analysis to figure this thing out. Go to New Hampshire where they don’t have a sales tax, and you’re fixing to give them one.”
“They’re not interested in 9-9-9. What they’re interested in is flatter and fairer. At the end of the week, I’m going to be laying out a plan that clearly — I’ll bump plans with you, brother, and we’ll see who has the best idea about how you get this country working again.”

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson: “What would you replace the income tax with?” “I’ll say ‘nothing,'” Paul said.

Foreign aid:

Gov. Rick Perry: “I think it’s time for this country to have a very real debate about foreign aid. I think it’s time for us to have a very serious conversation about defunding the United Nations. … Why are we funding that particular organization?”

Rep. Ron Paul: “It’s taking from poor people in this country and giving to rich people in other countries.”

Herman Cain: “If we clarify who our friends are and clarify who our enemies are.”

Health plans

Gov. Rick Perry: Perry: Texas has “one of the finest healthcare systems in the world.”

Border security

Gov. Rick Perry: while a fence separating the U.S. and Mexico border can be built, “there’s a better way.” Primarily that would be putting “boots on the ground” and using technology to create a “virtual defense zone along that border … with strategic fencing in obvious places where it matters.”

  • The Caucus: Las Vegas Debate Wrap-Up: In the most contentious debate so far, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry clashed repeatedly. It signaled the start of a tough new phase of the campaign…. – NYT, 10-19-11
  • Las Vegas Debate Fact Check: New York Times reporters examine statements from candidates in the Republican field on immigration, the economy, foreign policy and health care…. – NYT, 10-18-11
  • GOP debate in Vegas: Winners and losers: The latest – and most contentious – Republican presidential debate of the 2012 cycle has wrapped up in Las Vegas, which means it’s time to look at who had a night to remember and who had one to forget:
    Winners: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum
    Losers: Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman Draw: Rick Perry, Ron Paul…. –
    CBS News, 10-19-11
  • Candidates swap barbs in GOP debate: Herman Cain’s surge in the polls made him an early target in the CNN Western Republican debate but before it was over, Republican presidential rivals were taking personal shots at each other…. – CNN, 10-18-11
  • Four takeaways from the GOP debate in Las Vegas: Rick Perry came out swinging in this debate, notes DCDecoder. Herman Cain’s 999 plan took some hits, and Mitt Romney had some red-faced moments…. –

    1. Rick Perry – don’t call it a comeback.
    2. Herman Cain is apparently incapable of answering any question about foreign policy without fumbling. Hard.
    3. The longer Rick Santorum sticks around, the more nervous Romney, Perry and to some extent Cain, are going to be.
    4. Mitt Romney can have pretty thin skin.

    CS Monitor, 10-19-11

  • Gloves come off, candidates go all out in Las Vegas debate:
    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    Seven of the top GOP presidential candidates faced off in Las Vegas
    Jon Huntsman decided to boycott Nevada and instead will campaign in New Hampshire
    Frontrunners Cain, Romney and Perry came under frequent attack
    Romney and Perry face off, trade sharp accusations

    Republican presidential candidates face off in the Western Republican Debate, moderated by Anderson Cooper, at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday on CNN, the CNN mobile apps and CNN.com/Live. Tweet your questions to #CNNDebate on Twitter.
    Tuesday night was fight night in Las Vegas. Seven Republican presidential candidates clashed sharply over issues such as illegal immigration, taxes and health care at a presidential debate in Nevada sponsored by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference.
    But it was the three Republican frontrunners — former Godfather’s Pizza executive Herman Cain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov Rick Perry — who came under frequent attack.
    The long-standing bad blood between Romney and Perry boiled over in the debate’s first hour as the two GOP heavyweights traded harsh accusations and showed flashes of anger…. – CNN, 10-18-11

  • A Fierce Clash for Romney and Perry as Republican Candidates Debate: Mitt Romney came under intensive attack from his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination at a debate here Tuesday night, with a newly assertive Rick Perry leading a sometimes personal barrage against him on conservative consistency, health care policy and even the immigration status of yard workers at his home.
    Seven of the Republican candidates for president gathered again tonight for the eighth debate of the year and the first held in the West.
    It was the most acrimonious debate so far this year. Marked by raised voices, accusations of lying and acerbic and personal asides, it signaled the start of a tough new phase of the primary campaign a little more than two months before the first votes are cast.
    Mr. Romney responded aggressively to the attacks and sometimes testily. Once, after Mr. Perry spoke over him, he turned to the debate moderator, Anderson Cooper of CNN, to plead, “Anderson?”…. – NYT, 10-18-11
  • Republican debate: What we learned in Las Vegas: * Mitt and Rick, not BFF: Before last night’s debate, most of the skirmishing between the former Massachusetts governor and the Texas governor was at the staff level. No longer. Perry repeatedly got into Romney’s face and Romney repeatedly took umbrage.
    Perry’s attack on Romney employing illegal immigrant lawn service workers was decidedly personal and aggressive, and, for the first time in these debates, Romney got visibly angry. The extended “let me finish, no let me talk” exchange over immigration rapidly escalated to the point where it was very uncomfortable (and yet strangely alluring) to watch.
    The ill will between the men seems to set the stage for a very nasty next few months as the two best-funded candidates in the race (not to mention their super PACs) will soon take to the television airwaves to continue the argument begun last night.
    * Perry — not dead yet : Perry’s performance was somewhat uneven — he was terrific in the earlier part of the debate and less so as it wore on — but overall it was by far his best showing. Perry actually seemed like he wanted to be there; he was energetic and feisty.
    We’ve written before that Republican primary voters want to nominate a fighter, someone they believe can take the fight to President Obama on all fronts. Last night, Perry was that guy…. – WaPo, 10-19-11
  • Mitt Romney aide: He stood up to ‘bully’ Rick Perry at debate: Mitt Romney’s adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell a bit ago, gave the line that the frontrunner’s camp has used to spin Rick Perry’s performance – that he was too aggressive…. – Politico, 10-19-11
  • Perry calling for flat tax: Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling for a flat tax. Perry told the Western Republican Leadership Conference on Wednesday that he’ll unveil the tax as part of his broad plan to revive the economy and create jobs. … – AP, 10-19-11
  • Perry to unveil flat tax plan: Rick Perry will outline a plan next week to replace the US tax code with a federal “flat tax,” he told an audience in Las Vegas Wednesday. Continue Reading Perry’s plan, he told the Western Republican Leadership Conference… – Politico, 10-19-11
  • Rick Perry Previews His Next Economic Plan: After his strongest debate performance since his entrance in the presidential race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry shared a portion of his forthcoming economic growth plan which he will unveil in next week in South Carolina…. – ABC News, 10-19-11
  • Rick Perry continues the tough talk: “I am not a candidate of the establishment”: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, fresh from his feisty attacks on Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s GOP “fight night” CNN debate in Las Vegas, hit the Western Republican Leadership Conference Wednesday and kept up the jabs… – San Francisco Chronicle, 10-19-11
  • Las Vegas Republican debate: How each candidate fared: Seven GOP presidential candidates showed up in Las Vegas last night for what ended up being the most contentious debate of the campaign cycle. While much of the attention focused on Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Herman Cain…. – WaPo, 10-19-11
  • All against Cain: Upstart targeted in GOP debate: Republican presidential contenders attacked upstart Herman Cain’s economic plan as a tax increase waiting to happen Tuesday night, moving swiftly in a fiery campaign debate to blunt the former businessman’s … – Boston Globe, 10-18-11
  • Republican presidential debate puts Herman Cain to test: In what has become a near-weekly ritual, the 2012 Republican presidential field came together on a debate stage Tuesday — this time, one that tested whether Herman Cain is a serious contender…. – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • Republicans brawl in Vegas: Tonight’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas was anything but dull. From the get-go, it was a free-for-all, with Herman Cain the principal target of his competitors…. – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • Herman Cain could be haunted by hostage question from Las Vegas Republican debate: Foreign policy has never been Herman Cain’s strong suit. But his response in the Las Vegas debate on the possibility of exchanging a soldier for Guantanamo Bay prisoners can’t be good for the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO. Not only did Cain contradict … – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • Cain: I can feel the bull’s-eye: Herman Cain said Tuesday he could feel the pressure from his fellow 2012 candidates ahead of the CNN Western Leadership Conference Debate in Las Vegas. “The way it feels is that you got this big bull’s-eye on your back, and it keeps getting … – CNN, 10-18-11
  • GOP candidates take the stage to debate again: Former pizza magnate Herman Cain had a chance Tuesday night to convince voters he’s not just the latest fad, debating fellow Republican presidential candidates in economically hard-hit Nevada as he enjoyed his new standing atop opinion polls. … – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • GOP debate: Cain and Romney win: Everyone stepped up their game for Tuesday’s Republican debate in Las Vegas. Even Gov. Rick Perry (Tx.) was energetic and feisty on the stage — for a bit. But the winners were the acknowledged frontrunners…. – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • Romney still the best at this, Perry not as bad, and the loser? Anderson Cooper: Romney still the best at this, Perry not as bad, and the loser? Anderson Cooper. Well, it was the feistiest debate — Rick Perry even stayed awake for the whole thing, which was a nice change… – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • Romney’s Lawn Care History and the Fight Over Immigration: Rick Perry’s most pointed attack against Mitt Romney in Tuesday night’s debate concerned an immigration matter that came to light when Mr. Romney was campaigning for president four years ago. … – NYT, 10-18-11
  • Analysis: Rick Perry Takes Off The Gloves At Las Vegas Debate, But Doesn’t Land a Knock-out Punch: For the first time since he got into the Presidential race just over two months ago, Rick Perry finally looked comfortable on the debate stage. Gone was the laconic and vaguely dazed Texas Governor. In his place was a feisty candidate eager to engage … – ABC News, 10-18-11
  • GOP debate: Rick Perry accuses Mitt Romney of being a hypocrite on immigration: Herman Cain’s 15 minutes were up Tuesday night as heavy hitters Mitt Romney and Rick Perry debunked him and went after each other in the nastiest exchange yet of the GOP debates.
    Perry let loose and accused front-runner Romney of being a hypocrite on immigration because the former Massachusetts governor hired illegal workers at his own home…. – NY Daily News, 10-18-11
  • Sparks fly as GOP presidential candidates debate: Republican presidential candidates brawled Tuesday over Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan and Mitt Romney’s record on illegal immigration and health care, as rivals hammered the two top-tier contenders…. – Miami Herald, 10-18-11
  • Rick Perry delivers his most aggressive debate performance of the campaign season: An animated Rick Perry delivered his most aggressive debate performance of the 2012 presidential campaign Tuesday, leading a concerted attack on the leaders of the GOP pack, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain. … – Houston Chronicle, 10-18-11
  • Mitt Romney bashed on healthcare, immigration at Vegas debate: The 2012 Republican debates turned raucous, and highly personal, Tuesday night as front-running Mitt Romney got dragged into the fray over his Massachusetts healthcare plan and onetime hiring of illegal immigrants…. – LAT, 10-18-11
  • Romney says religion shouldn’t be a factor: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says voters should not choose their president based on the candidate’s religious beliefs or the place where they worship…. – Atlanta Journal Constitution, 10-18-11
  • Romney and Perry spar at Nevada debate Cain faces heightened scrutiny of ‘9-9-9’ economic plan: A long-awaited showdown between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry erupted at Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate, in an occasionally personal battle between the two GOP heavyweights.
    Romney and Perry sparred throughout the two-hour CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference debate in Las Vegas, mostly overshadowing an early pile-on of Herman Cain and his “9-9-9” economic plan.
    Perry called Romney a hypocrite, while the former Massachusetts governor retorted that the Texan was suffering from some recent rough debate outings. The body language of both turned visibly cool as they talked past one another at points.
    The fireworks emerged halfway through the first hour of the debate, when Perry accused Romney of having hired illegal immigrants as landscapers at one of his homes. Perry has been looking to reverse a slide in the polls driven in part by poor debate performances…. – MSNBC, 10-18-11
  • Romney, Cain under fire at GOP debate Top two Republicans under siege in first hour of Vegas debate: The two candidates leading the contest for the Republican presidential nomination found themselves under siege early at Tuesday night’s debate in Las Vegas.
    The GOP hopefuls took turns hammering former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” economic plan. And a long-awaited showdown between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry erupted late in the first hour, and took an occasionally personal tone.
    Cain, whose plan dominated last Tuesday’s debate and most of the political discussion in the week since then, quickly found himself on defense over his plan, which calls for nine percent taxes on personal income, corporate income, and sales. Cain accused his opponents of “mixing apples and oranges” for suggesting that taxpayers would have to double up on state taxes and Cain’s plan, which affects federal taxes…. – MSNBC, 10-18-11
  • Debate Interrupted: Republican presidential candidates former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, left, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, talk across Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, second from left, and businessman Herman Cain during a Republican presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
    Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas produced some of the feistiest exchanges yet, including this one, where candidates had a hard time letting each other complete a sentence. Transcript courtesty of CNN:
    Former Sen. Rick SANTORUM: The final point I would make to Governor Romney, you just don’t have credibility, Mitt, when it comes to repealing Obamacare. You are — you are — your plan was the basis for Obamacare. Your consultants helped Obama craft Obamacare. And to say that you’re going to repeal it, you just — you have no track record on that that — that we can trust you that you’re going to do that…. – National Journal, 10-18-11

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 18, 2011: CNN / Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC) GOP Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada — Candidates Mitt Romney & Rick Perry Fight & Clash in 8th Debate over the Economy, Health Care & Immigration — Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan in the Hot Seat — Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The Republican presidential primary candidates met for a debate Tuesday night at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. It was the fifth time the candidates had gathered since Labor Day.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC)/CNN Debate at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino

The following is a transcript of the Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC)/CNN Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nev., as provided by Federal News Service.

Speakers: Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-MINN.

Rep. Ron Paul, R-TEXAS

Gov. Rick Perry, R-TEXAS

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-PA.

Former Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-GA.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-MASS.

Hermain Cain

Moderator: Anderson Cooper

ANDERSON COOPER: All right. Let’s — time to begin, and we’ll begin with actually a question in the hall.

Q: This is for all candidates. What’s your position on replacing the federal income tax with a federal sales tax?

MR. COOPER: I’ll direct that to Congresswoman Bachmann . You’ve been very critical of Herman’s Cain 9-9-9 plan, which calls for a 9 percent sales tax and 9 percent income tax and 9 percent corporate tax. In fact, you said it would destroy the economy. Why?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): Well, I am a former federal tax litigation attorney, and also my husband and I are job creators.

One thing I know about Congress, being a member of Congress for five years, is that any time you give the Congress a brand-new tax, it doesn’t go away. When we got the income tax in 1913, the top rate was 7 percent. By 1980 the top rate was 70 percent. If we give Congress a 9 percent sales tax, how long will it take a liberal president and a liberal Congress to run that up to maybe 90 percent?

Who knows?

What I do know is that we all have to be concerned about the hidden tax of the value-added tax, because at every step and stage of production, you’d be taxing that item 9 percent on the profits. That’s the worry. In my plan — again, that’s a tax plan, it’s not a jobs plan. My plan for economic recovery is real jobs right now.

I have a tax plan, I have a jobs plan, I have an energy plan and a plan to really turn this country around and create millions of high- paying jobs.

MR. COOPER: Mr. Cain, a lot of prominent conservatives now are coming forward saying that your 9-9-9 plan would actually raise taxes on middle-class voters, on lower-income voters.

HERMAN CAIN: The thing that I would encourage people to do before they engage in this knee-jerk reaction is read our analysis. It is available at Hermancain.com. It was performed by Fiscal Associates. And all of the claims that are made against it, it is a jobs plan. It is revenue neutral. It does not raise taxes on those that are making the least. All of those are simply not true.

The reason that my plan — the reason that our plan is being attacked so much is because lobbyists, accountants, politicians, they don’t want to throw out the current tax code and put in something that’s simple and fair. They want to continue to be able to manipulate the American people with a 10-million-word mess. Let’s throw out the 10-million-word mess and put in our plan, which will liberate the American workers and liberate American businesses. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Senator Santorum, will his plan raise taxes?

RICK SANTORUM: Herman’s well-meaning. I — and I love his boldness and it’s great. But the fact of the matter is, I mean, reports are now out that 84 percent of Americans would pay more taxes under his plan. That’s the analysis. And it makes sense, because when you — what you — when you don’t provide a standard deduction, when you don’t provide anything for low-income individuals and you have a sales tax and an income tax and, as Michele said, a value added tax, which is really what his corporate tax is, we’re talking about major increases in taxes on people.

He also doesn’t have anything that takes care of the families. I mean, you have a — you have a situation where under Herman’s plan a single person pays as much in taxes as a — as a man and a woman raising three children. We — every — ever since we’ve had the income tax in America, we’ve always taken advantage of the fact that we want to encourage people to — to have children and not have to pay more — already to raise children, but also pay that additional taxes. We gave some breaks for families. He doesn’t do that in this bill. And we’re going to — we’ve seen that happen in Europe, and what happened? Boom! Birth rates went in the — into the — into the basement.

It’s a — it’s a bad tax for — I — again, it’s bold. I give him credit for starting a debate, but it’s not good for families and it’s not good for low-income people.

MR. COOPER: I’m going — I’m going to give you 30 seconds to respond. That 84 percent figure comes from the Tax Policy Center.

MR. CAIN: That simply is not true. I invite people to look at our analysis which we make available. Secondly, the point that he makes about it’s a value added tax, I’m sorry, Representative Bachmann, it’s not a value added tax. It’s a single tax. And if — I invite every American to do their own math, because most of these are kneejerk reactions.

And we do provide a provision, if you read the analysis, something we call “opportunity zones” —

MR. COOPER: All right.

MR. CAIN:  — that will in fact address the issue of those making the least.

MR. COOPER: I want to bring Congresswoman Bachmann in, since she was referenced by you.

REP. BACHMANN: But Anderson, how do you not have a value added tax? Because at every level of production, you have a profit, and that profit gets taxed, because you produce one portion at one level, and then you take it to the next supplier or vender at the next level and you have — you have an exchange. That is a taxable event. And ultimately, that becomes a value added tax. It’s a hidden tax, and any time the federal government needs revenue, they dial up the rate.

And the American people think that it’s the — the — it is the vendor that creates the tax, but it’s the government that creates the tax. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor — Governor Perry, in your state, you have a 6 1/4 percent sales tax. Would taxpayers pay more under the 9-9-9 plan?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something: You don’t have to have a big analysis to figure this thing out. Go to New Hampshire, where they don’t have a sales tax, and you’re fixing to give them one. They’re not interested in 9- 9-9. What they’re interested in is flatter and fairer. At the end of the week, I’m going to be laying out a plan that clearly — I’ll bump plans with you, brother — and we’ll see who has the best idea about how you get this country working again.

And one of the ways — right here in Nevada, you’ve got 8-plus percent. You want nine cents on top of that and 9 cents on a new home — or 9 percent on a new home, 9 percent on your Social Security, 9 percent more? I don’t think so, Herman. It’s not going to fly.

MR. COOPER: Mr. Cain, 30 seconds. (Scattered applause.)

MR. CAIN: This is — this is an example of mixing apples and oranges. The state tax is an apple. We are replacing the current tax code with oranges. So it’s not correct to mix apples and oranges.

Secondly, it is not a value-added tax — tax. If you take most of the products — take a loaf of bread. It does have five taxes in it right now. What the 9 percent does is that we take out those five invisible taxes and replace it with one visible 9 percent. So you’re absolutely wrong. It’s not a value-added tax.

Now one other quick thing.

MR. COOPER: Your time’s up. I’m sorry.

MR. CAIN: This whole — this whole thing about —

MR. COOPER: You’ll have another 30 seconds, trust me. They’re going to go —

MR. CAIN: Tonight?

MR. COOPER: Yes, I guarantee it. (Laughter.) In about a minute.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you called his plan “dangerous” today.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (R-TX): Oh, it is, because it raises revenues. And the worst part about it, it’s regressive. A lot of people that have — aren’t paying any taxes — and I like that. I don’t think that we should even things up by raising taxes.

(Applause.) So it is a regressive tax. So it’s very, very dangerous in that thing, and it will raise more revenues.

But the gentleman asked the question — he didn’t even ask what we’re talking about. He asked the question, what are you going to replace the income tax with. And I say, nothing. That’s what we should replace it with. (Cheers, applause.)

But I do want to make the point that spending is a tax. As soon as the government spend money, eventually it’s a tax. Sometimes we put a direct tax on the people. Sometimes we borrow the money. And sometimes we print the money. And then when prices go up, like today the — the — the wholesale price index went up 7 percent rate. And if you look at the free market, prices are going up 9 and 10 percent. So that is the tax.

So spending is the tax. That is the reason I offered the program to cut $1 trillion out of the first-year budget that I offer. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Mr. Cain, 30 seconds.

MR. CAIN: Once again, unfortunately, none of my distinguished colleagues who have attacked me up here tonight understand the plan. They’re wrong about it being a value-added tax. We simply remove the hidden taxes that are in goods and services with our plan and replace it with a single rate, 9 percent. I invite every family to do your own calculations with that arithmetic.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, you have your own 59-point plan. In the last debate, Mr. Cain suggested it was too complicated. Is simpler better?

MR. ROMNEY: Oftentimes simpler is better. But — and I know we’re not supposed to ask each other questions, but if you permit, Herman, are you saying that the state sales tax will also go away?

MR. CAIN: No. That’s an apple.

MR. ROMNEY: Oh. Oh, OK.

MR. CAIN: We are replacing a bunch of oranges. (Laughter, applause.)

MR. ROMNEY: So — so then Governor Perry was right.

MR. CAIN: No, he wasn’t. He was mixing apples and oranges.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, but will the people in Nevada not have to pay Nevada sales tax and, in addition, pay the 9 percent tax?

MR. CAIN: Governor Romney, you are doing the same thing that they’re doing. You’re mixing apples and oranges.

You’re going to pay the state —

MR. ROMNEY: I’m —

MR. CAIN: No, no, no, no. You’re going to pay the state sales tax, no matter what.

MR. ROMNEY: Right.

MR. CAIN: Whether you throw out the existing code and you put in our plan, you’re still going to pay that. That’s apples and oranges.

MR. ROMNEY: Fine.

MR. CAIN: Yes.

MR. ROMNEY: And I am going to be getting a bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it, because I’m going to pay both taxes.

MR. CAIN: No, no.

MR. ROMNEY: And the people of Nevada don’t want to pay both taxes. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. CAIN: No –

MR. ROMNEY: Let me make this comment. Let me — let’s just — let’s just step back here. We got a lot of people in America that are out of work. We got a lot of people in this state — 13.4 percent of the people in this state out of work. We got home prices going down. We got to talk about how to get America growing again, how to start adding jobs, raising incomes.

And tax is part of it. I want to reduce taxes on our employers, to make it easier to invest in America. I want to reduce taxes on middle-income families.

I like your chutzpah on this, Herman, but I have to tell you, the analysis I did, person by person, return by return, is that middle- income people see higher taxes under your plan. If it’s lower for the middle class, that’s great, but that’s not what I saw. I have to tell you, I want to get our burden down on our employers, on our people. I want to make sure our regulations work to encourage the private sector, as opposed to put a damper on it. I want to get trade opening up new markets for America.

I want to also find a way to get our energy resources — and they’re all over the world or all over this country — using for — used for us. This is time to get America growing again, and that’s what this campaign ought to be about.

MR. COOPER: Thank you, Governor.

Mr. Speaker, you — (cheers, applause) — Speaker Gingrich, you have said in recent days that Mr. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would be a harder sell than he lets on. How so?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, you just watched it.

MR. : Yeah. (Laughter.)

REP. BACHMANN: (Inaudible.)

MR. GINGRICH: I mean, there — look, there — there — there are — first of all, I think that Herman Cain deserves a lot of credit. He’s had the courage to go out and take a specific, very big idea — (applause) — at the right level — and he has us — he has us at least talking about something that matters, as opposed to the junk that all too often is masquerading as politics in this country.

So I think that’s important.

There are two parts to this. The first is, if you take his plan — and I think it’s in the interest of the whole country to have serious people take his plan and go through it step by step — there are real — there are much more complexities than Herman lets on. OK? When 9-9-9 — when you get into details, like you pay it on a new product, you don’t pay it on an old product, et cetera, there’s a lot more detail here than he lets on.

Second, I favor very narrow, focused tax cuts, such as zero capital gains, a hundred percent expensing, because I think, as Governor Romney said, jobs are the number-one challenge of the next two or three years. Get something you can do very fast. Change on this scale takes years to think through if you’re going to do it right. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, you also said at the last debate that everyone should pay something. Does that mean that you would raise taxes on the 47 percent of Americans who currently don’t pay taxes?

REP. BACHMANN: I believe absolutely, every American benefits by this magnificent country; absolutely, every American should pay something, even if it’s a dollar. (Cheers, applause.) Everyone needs to pay something in this country.

That’s why, with my tax plan I take a page out of not theory but what’s provable and what works. What is provable and what works was the economic miracle that was wrought by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. That’s the — that is the plan that I look at.

I also want to completely abolish the tax code. I want to flatten the tax for all of Americans, simplify that tax for all of Americans. And that creates job growth, which is exactly what we need to have, because to be able to fuel the fire for this economy, again, it is the tax code but it doesn’t end with the tax code.

It’s the regulatory burden that costs us $1.8 trillion every year, but it’s more than that cost. It’s jobs that are lost. So we need to repeal “Obamacare,” repeal the jobs and housing destruction act known as Dodd-Frank. (Applause.)

President Obama’s plan has been a plan for destruction of this economy just — and failure.

MR. COOPER: Thank you.

REP. BACHMANN: I plan to change that with real jobs right now: michelebachmann.com. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: We’ve been talking about Herman Cain’s plan. Let’s talk about Governor Romney’s plan. Governor Perry, you have said that Governor Romney was an abject failure in creating jobs when he was governor of Massachusetts. If you’ve read his 59-point plan, has it changed your mind?

GOV. PERRY: Well, here’s the nine that we need to get focused on, and it’s not 9-9-9 and it’s not 59; it’s that 9 percent unemployment in this country. And that’s where we got to get focused in America, is how to create an environment where the men and women get back to work. It’s the reason I laid out a plan, Newt, this last week to get this energy that’s under our feet.

We’ve got 300 years of resources right under our feet in this country. Yet we’ve got an administration that is blockading our ability to bring that to the — to the surface, whether it’s our petroleum or our natural gas or our coal. And 1.2 million jobs could be put to work. Americans who are sitting out there listening to this conversation tonight, somebody wants someone on this stage to say: Listen, we got an idea here how to get you to work and take care of your family and have the dignity of a job.

And that’s exactly what I did with my plan: laid it out where Americans understand we don’t have to wait on OPEC any more. We don’t have to let them hold us hostage. America’s got the energy. Let’s have American energy independence. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, does Governor Perry have the answer?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, he’s absolutely right about — about getting energy independence and taking advantage of our natural resources here. We’re an energy-rich nation that’s acting like an energy-poor nation. And that’s something I’ve been talking about for some time, as the governor has. He’s absolutely right.

But there are also a lot of good jobs we need in manufacturing and high-tech jobs and good service jobs, technology of all kinds. America produces an economy that’s very, very broad, and that’s why our policy to get America the most attractive place in the world for investment and job growth encompasses more than just energy. It includes that, but also tax policy, regulatory policy, trade policy, education, training and balancing the federal budget. And that starts with — with repealing “Obamacare,” which is a huge burden on this economy. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Senator Santorum, does Mitt Romney have the answers for jobs?

MR. SANTORUM: I agree with — with — with all of what Governor Romney and both — and Governor Perry said. I would add the fact that — that I’ve put forward the plan that’s going to allow for income mobility. That’s a new term, but I’ve been using it for a long time, which is people at the bottom part of the income scale being able to rise in society. Believe it or not, studies have been done that show that in Western Europe, people at the lower parts of the income scale actually have a better mobility going up the ladder now than in America.

And I believe that’s because we’ve lost our manufacturing base. No more stamp, “Made in America” is really hurting people in the middle. And that’s why I’ve focused all of the real big changes in the tax code at manufacturing. I’d cut the corporate rate for manufacturing to zero, repeal all regulations affecting manufacturers that cost over $100 million and replace them with something that’s friendly they can work with. We repatriate $1.2 trillion that manufacturers made overseas and allow them to bring it back here if they invest it in plants and equipment. They can do it without having to pay any — any excise tax.

The final point I would make to Governor Romney: You just don’t have credibility, Mitt, when it comes to repealing “Obamacare.” You are — you are — your plan was the basis for “Obamacare.” Your consultants helped Obama craft “Obamacare.” (Applause.) And to say that you were going to repeal it, you just — you have no track record on that that we can trust you that you’re going to do that.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. PERRY: We don’t.

MR. ROMNEY: You know, this, I think, is either our eighth or ninth debate. And each chance I’ve had to talk about “Obamacare,” I’ve made it very clear, and also my book. At the time — by the way, I crafted the plan in the last campaign, I was asked: Is this something that you would have the whole nation do? And I said, no; this is something that was crafted for Massachusetts. It would be wrong to adopt this as a nation.

MR. SANTORUM: That’s not what you said.

MR. ROMNEY: You’re shaking — you’re shaking — you’re shaking your head.

MR. SANTORUM: Governor, no, that’s not what you said. That happens — that happens —

(Cross talk.)

MR. COOPER: Guys —

MR. ROMNEY: Let me — his turn, OK, and mine.

(Cross talk.)

MR. SANTORUM: Governor, Governor, hold on.

MR. ROMNEY: I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you let me speak? Why don’t you let me speak?

MR. SANTORUM: You’re allowed to speak. You’re allowed to change your — (inaudible). You can’t change the facts.

MR. ROMNEY: Rick, you had your chance, let me speak. Rick, you had your chance, let me speak. Rick —

MR. SANTORUM: You’re out of time. You’re out of time.

MR. COOPER (?): He ate into your time. (Boos.) I’m sorry, Rick.

(Cross talk.)

MR. ROMNEY: I haven’t had a chance to respond yet —

MR. SANTORUM: You did.

MR. ROMNEY:  — because you were interrupting me the entire time I was trying to speak. So let me make it very clear.

MR. COOPER: Another 20 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: Look, we’ll let everybody take a look at the fact checks. I was interviewed by Dan Balz. I was interviewed in this debate stage with you four years ago. I was asked about the Massachusetts plan, was it something I’d impose on the nation. And the answer is: absolutely not. It was something crafted for a state. And I’ve said time and again, “Obamacare” is bad news. It’s unconstitutional, it caused way too much money — a trillion dollars — and if I’m president of the United States, I will repeal it for the American people. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: All right, Senator Santorum.

MR. SANTORUM: Mitt, the governor of Massachusetts just — is coming forward saying we have to pick up the job left undone by — by “Romneycare,” which is doing something about cutting health care costs. What you did is exactly what Barack Obama did: focused on the wrong problem. Herman always says you’ve got to find the right problem. Well, the right problem is health care costs. What you did with a top-down government-run program was focus on the problem of health care access.

You expanded the pool of insurance without controlling costs. You’ve blown a hole in the budget up there. And you authored in “Obamacare,” which is going to blow a hole in the budget of this country.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, I’ll give you 30 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: I’m sorry, Rick, that you find so much to dislike in my plan. But I’ll tell you, the people of Massachusetts like it by about a 3-to-1 margin. And we dealt with the challenge that we had, a lot of people that were expecting government to pay their way. And we said, you know what? If people have the capacity to care for themselves and pay their own way, they should.

I can tell you this. There’s — it’s absolutely right that there’s a lot that needs to be done. And I didn’t get the job done in Massachusetts, and getting the health care costs down in this country is something I think we got to do at the national level. I intend to do that.

But one thing’s for sure: What Obama has done has imposed on the nation a plan that will not work, that must be repealed. And when it comes to knowledge about health care and how to get our health care system working, I may not be a doctor, like (this one ?) over here, but I sure understand how to bring the cost of health care down and how to also make sure that we have a system that works for the American people. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. : Didn’t do it.

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?

MR. : You didn’t do it.

MR. ROMNEY: (We ?) did.

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, you’ve also been very critical of Mitt Romney’s plan, not only on “Obamacare” but his plan to lower the capital gains tax only on those earning under $200,000.

MR. GINGRICH: I want to stay on health for a minute, OK? I mean, let’s just focus. (Laughter.)

The Boston — the Boston Herald today reported that the state of Massachusetts is fining a local small business $3,000 because their $750 a month insurance plan is inadequate, according to the bureaucrats in Boston. Now, there’s a fundamental difference between trying to solve the problems of this country from the top down and trying to create environments in which doctors and patients and families solve the problem from the bottom up.

And candidly, Mitt, your plan ultimately, philosophically — it’s not “Obamacare.” That’s not a fair charge. But your plan essentially is one more big-government, bureaucratic, high-cost system which, candidly, could not have been done by any other state, because no other state had a Medicaid program as lavish as yours and no other state got as much money from the federal government under the Bush administration for this experiment.

So there’s a lot of big government behind “Romneycare,” not as much as “Obamacare,” but a heck of a lot more than — than your campaign is admitting. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. ROMNEY: (OK ?) —

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: Actually, Newt, we got the idea of an individual mandate from you.

MR. GINGRICH: That’s not true. You got it from the Heritage Foundation.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, it was something — yeah, we got it from you and the — you — got it from the Heritage Foundation and from you.

MR. GINGRICH: No, but — well, you — well, you — (inaudible) —

MR. ROMNEY: But let me — but let me just —

MR. GINGRICH: Wait a second. What you just said is not true.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, I thought —

MR. GINGRICH: You did not get that from me.

MR. ROMNEY: I think you —

MR. GINGRICH: You got it from the Heritage Foundation.

MR. ROMNEY: And — and you’ve never — never supported —

MR. GINGRICH: I was — I agree with them, but I’m just saying what you’ve said to this audience just now plain wasn’t true. That’s not where you got it from.

MR. ROMNEY: OK. Let me ask — have you — have you supported in the past an individual mandate?

MR. GINGRICH: I absolutely did, with the Heritage Foundation, against “Hillarycare.”

MR. ROMNEY: You did support an individual mandate?

MR. GINGRICH: Yes, sir.

MR. ROMNEY: Oh, OK. That’s what I’m saying. We got the idea from you and the Heritage Foundation.

MR. GINGRICH: OK. Little broader. (Laughter.)

MR. ROMNEY: OK.

MR. GINGRICH: Keep on. I —

MR. ROMNEY: All right.

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson —

MR. ROMNEY: Number — all right — number — all right —

MR. COOPER: He still has time. I’m sorry. He still has time. He still has time

MR. ROMNEY: Number two — number two — let me finish —

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson —

MR. COOPER: He still has time. Let him finish.

MR. ROMNEY: I get a little time here. Number — number two, we don’t have a government insurance plan. What we do is rely on private insurers, and people — 93 percent of our people who are already insured — nothing changed. For the people who didn’t have insurance, they get private insurance, not government insurance. And the best way to make markets work is for people to be able to buy their own products from private enterprises. What we did was right for our state, according to the people in our state. And the great thing about a state solution to a state issue is, if people don’t like it, they can change it.

Now there are a lot of things that —

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson —

MR. COOPER: Yeah, Congresswoman Bachmann.

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson, I think it has to be stated that “Obamacare” is so flat-out unpopular that even the Obama administration chose to reject part of “Obamacare” last Friday — (applause) — when they tried to throw out the CLASS Act, which is the long-term care function. The — Secretary Sebelius, who’s the head of Health and Human Services, reported that the government can’t even afford that part and has to throw it out.

And now the administration is arguing with itself. When even the Obama administration wants to repeal this bill, I think we’re going to win this thing. We’re going to repeal it! And I will! (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: We’ve got to take a quick break. We will continue this discussion on the other side. We have a long way to go. We’ll be right back. (Cheers, applause.)

(Announcements.)

MR. COOPER: And welcome back to the continuing debate.

We’ve got a Twitter question. We ended talking about medicine, “Obamacare.” We actually have a Twitter question about it, too. It was a question left at cnndebate. If Obama’s health plan is bad for the U.S., what is the alternative, and how will you implement it?

Congressman Paul, is there any aspect of “Obamacare” that you would like to keep, whether it’s keeping kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26, or no pre-existing conditions?

REP. PAUL: Really not, because he’s just adding on more government. There’s been a lot of discussion about medicine, but it seems to be talking about which kind of government management is best. But our problem is we have too much. We’ve had it for 30, 40 years. We have Medicare; we have prescription drug programs; we have Medicaid.

And what we need — I mean, there’s a pretty good support up here for getting rid of “Obamacare,” because it’s a Democratic proposal and we want to opt out; I think we’d all agree on this. But if you want better competition and better health care, you’re not — you should allow the American people to opt out of government medicine. And — (cheers, applause) — and the way to do this is to not de-emphasize the medical savings account, but let people opt out, pay their bills, get back to the doctor-patient relationship.

There is inflation worked into it. When the government gets involved in an industry, prices always go up. We have tort laws to deal with, and we need more competition in medicine. But most important thing is letting the people have control of their money and getting it out of the hands of the third party. As soon as you go to the government, the lobbyists line up, the drug companies line up, the insurance companies line up. And even with “Obamacare,” the industries, the corporations, get behind it and expect the outcome —

MR. COOPER: All right.

REP. PAUL:  — and already insurance premiums are going up. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Herman Cain, same question: Is there any aspect of so-called “Obamacare” that you would keep?

MR. CAIN: No. I think we all agree that “Obamacare” must be repealed because it is a disaster, and the more we learn about it and the more time goes along, the more we see. We’re all in agreement with that.

But here’s where I would start in answering that question. It’s called H.R. 3400. This was introduced back in 2009, but you didn’t hear a lot of talk about it.

Instead of government being imposed on — on our system, it — it basically passes market — market-driven, patient-centered sort of reforms to allow association health plans, to allow “loser pay” laws, to allow insurance products to be sold across state lines and a whole list of other things.

So that’s a great place to start. It allows the patient and the doctors to make the decisions, not a bureaucrat. I’d start with H.R. 3400. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, in the last debate, Governor Romney pointed out that Texas has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country, over 1 million kids. You were — you did not get an opportunity to respond to that. What do you say to — how do you explain that?

GOV. PERRY: Well, we’ve got one of the finest health care systems in the — in the world in — in — in Texas. As a matter of fact, the Houston — the Texas Medical Center, there’s more doctors, nurses go to work there every morning than anyplace else in America, for the idea that you can have access to health care, some of the finest health care in the world.

But we have a 1,200-mile border with Mexico. And the fact is we have a huge number of illegals that are coming into this country. And they’re coming into this country because the federal government has failed to secure that border. But they’re coming here because there is a magnet. And the magnet is called jobs. And those people that hire illegals ought to be penalized.

And Mitt, you lose all of your standing from my perspective because you hired illegals in your home, and you knew for — about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy. (Boos, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney.

MR. ROMNEY: (Chuckles.) Rick, I don’t think that I’ve ever hired an illegal in my life. And so I’m — I’m looking forward to finding your facts on that because that just doesn’t — just —

GOV. PERRY: I’ll tell you what the facts are. You had the — you — your newspaper — the newspaper —

MR. ROMNEY: Rick, again — Rick, I’m speaking. I’m speaking. I’m speaking. I’m speaking.

GOV. PERRY: And it’s time for you to tell the truth.

MR. ROMNEY: You get — you get 30 seconds —

GOV. PERRY: It’s time for you to tell the —

MR. ROMNEY: The way — the way the rules work here is that I get 60 seconds.

MR. PERRY: But no, but the American people want the truth.

MR. ROMNEY: And you get — and then you get 30 seconds to respond, right? Anderson —

GOV. PERRY: And they want to hear you say that you knew you had illlegals working at your — (boos).

MR. ROMNEY: Will you please — would you please wait? Are you just going to keep talking, or are you going to let me finish with my — what I have to say?

Look, Rick —

Cross talk.)

MR. ROMNEY: This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that, and so you’re going to get — (cheers, applause) — you’re going to get testy. But let’s let — I’ll tell you what: Let me take my time, and then you can take your time.

GOV. PERRY: Great, have at it.

MR. ROMNEY: All right, my time is this, which is I have in my state, when I was governor, I took the action of empowering our state police to enforce immigration laws. When you were governor, you said: I don’t want to build a fence. You put in place a magnet — you talk about magnets — you put in place a magnet to draw illlegals into the state, which is giving a hundred thousand dollars of tuition credit to illlegals that come into this country. (Cheers, applause.)

And then you have states — you have states — the big states of illegal immigrants are California and Florida. Over the last 10 years they’ve had no increase in illegal immigration. Texas has had 60 percent increase in illegal immigrants, in Texas. If there’s someone who has a record as governor with regards to illegal immigration that doesn’t stand up to muster, it’s you, not me.

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, you have 30 seconds. (Cheers, applause.)

GOV. PERRY: You stood here in front of the American people and did not tell the truth, that you had illlegals working on your property. And the newspaper came to you and brought it to your attention, and you still, a year later, had those individuals working for you. The idea that you can sit here and talk about any of us having an immigration issue is beyond me. I’ve got a strong policy — I’ve always been against amnesty. You, on the other hand, were for amnesty.

MR. COOPER: Thirty seconds, then we’ve got to move on to another — (inaudible).

MR. ROMNEY: OK. You had an op-ed in the newspaper saying you were open to amnesty. That’s number one.

Number two, we hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants who were working there. And when that was pointed out to us, we let them go. And we went to them and said —

GOV. PERRY: A year later?

MR. ROMNEY: You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking. (Laughter.) And I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you got to let both people speak. So first, let me speak. (Cheers, applause.)

So we went to the company and we said, look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. That’s — I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals.

It turns out that once again they hired someone who had falsified their documents, had — documents, and therefore we fired them.

And let me tell you, it is hard in this country, as an individual homeowner, to know if people who are contractors working at your home — if they’ve hired people that are illegal. If I’m president, we will put in place an eVerify (sp) system —

MR. COOPER: (Out of time ?).

MR. ROMNEY:  — which you’ve opposed — to make sure that we can find out who’s here legally and not — (cheers, applause) — and crack down on people who come here illegally. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: All right, we’re going to stay on the topic of immigration. (Cheers and applause continuing.)

We’re going to stay on the topic of immigration. Everyone’s going to get a chance to weigh in. This is a question that was left at CNNpolitics.com. As president, will you order completion of the physical border fence along the entire border between the U.S. and Mexico? That’s from Marilyn L.

Herman Cain, let me start with you. Obviously, over the weekend you got a lot of headlines by saying you would have an electrified fence. You then later said it was — (laughter) — you then later said it was a joke. And then last night you said it might be electrified; I’m not walking away from that, I just don’t want to offend anyone. (Laughter, applause.)

So would you build an entire fence along the entire border, and would you have it be electrified? (Laughter.)

MR. CAIN: Allow me to give the serious answer. Yes, I believe we should secure the border for real. And it would be a combination of a fence, technology, as well as possibly boots on the ground for some of the more dangerous areas.

I don’t apologize at all for wanting to protect the American citizens and to protect our agents on the border. (Cheers, applause.) No.

Secondly, the second thing that I would do — see, I believe in let’s solve the whole problem. We must shut the back door, so people can come in the front door. Secondly, promote the existing path to citizenship by cleaning up the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.

Thirdly, enforce the laws, the immigration laws, that are already on the books. (Applause.) And here’s another one of these bold ideas by the nonpolitician up here: Empower the states to do what the federal government is not doing in terms of enforcing those laws. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, you have — you have the — your state has the longest border with Mexico. Is it possible — to the question, is it possible to build a fence an entire — across the entire border?

GOV. PERRY: Sure. You can — you can build a fence, but it takes anywhere between 10 and 15 years and $30 billion. There’s a better way, and that’s to build a virtual defense zone, if you will, along that border, which — not unlike what Herman’s talking about. And you can do it with strategic fencing in the obvious places where it matters.

But the way you really stop the activities along that border that are illegal — whether it’s the drug cartels or whether it’s bringing in illegal weapons or whether it’s illegal immigrants that are coming in — is to put boots on the ground.

I — I will tell you, Herman, you put a lot of boots on the ground. You use Predator drones, that are being trained right up here at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, to use that real-time information to give those boots on the ground that information, and they can instantly move to those areas. And that is the way to shut that border down, to secure that border and really make America safe from individuals like those Iranians that are using the drug cartels to penetrate this country. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, do you agree with Governor Perry?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, I think the person who really has a problem with illegal immigration in the country is President Obama. It’s his uncle and his aunt who are illegal aliens who’ve been allowed to stay in this country despite the fact that they’re illegal. (Cheers, applause.)

This last Saturday I was the very first candidate that signed a pledge that said that by a date certain I will build a double-walled fence with a — with a area of security neutrality in between. I will build that because this is what we know. This is an economics issue and a jobs issue. Every year —

MR. COOPER: You’re saying you would build a fence along the entire border?

REP. BACHMANN: I will build it on the entire border, and I’ll tell you why. Every year it costs this country $113 billion in the costs that we put out to pay for illegal aliens. It costs the state and local government, of that amount, 82 billion (dollars). For every household of an American citizen, it costs us $1,000 a year. We are robbing the household of Americans who can’t afford that.

I will build the fence. I will enforce English as the official language of the United States government. (Cheers, applause.) And every — every person who comes into this country will have to agree that they will not receive taxpayer-subsidized benefits of any American citizen.

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. BACHMANN: Thank you.

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, does that — can you actually — does that make sense? She says she can build the fence along the entire border.

GOV. PERRY: As I said, you can build that fence. But by the time that fence gets built —

MR. COOPER: She was also talking about your taxpayer-subsidized benefits.

GOV. PERRY: But my — my point is that by the time that fence gets built, there is a lot better way than to stand here and to — to play to some group of people somewhere and say we’re going to build a fence and then wipe our hands of it. I’ve been dealing with this border for 10 years as the governor. And the reason that we have this issue is because the federal government has failed miserably to defend and secure that border.

REP. BACHMANN: Which is why you build the — (applause).

GOV. PERRY: You know, for someone that’s been in the United States Congress to — to lecture me on the issues that are going on on that border is not right.

Let me tell you, we’ve had to deal with that issue in the state of Texas. We’ve had to deal with the impact on our state. And I put $400 million on that border of Texas taxpayers’ money, Texas ranger recon teams there. We know how to secure the border. I shared with you earlier how to do it. You put the boots on the ground, the aviation assets in the air, and you secure that border.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney —

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, can I respond? Can I respond?

MR. COOPER: He wasn’t — he wasn’t talking about you directly.

REP. BACHMANN: No, (he did respond ?).

MR. ROMNEY: Let’s step back. I think it’s important for us, as Republicans on this stage, to say something which hasn’t been said, and that is I think every single person here loves legal immigration. We respect people who come here legally. (Cheers, applause.)

And the reason we’re so animated about stopping illegal immigration is there are 4 1/2 million people who want to come here, who are in line legally. We want that to happen in an orderly and legal process.

And in terms of how to secure the border, it’s really not that hard. You have a fence, you have enough Border Patrol agents to oversee the fence, and you turn off the magnets — and that’s employers that hire people who they know are here illegally. That’s why you have an e-verify system, so they can know that. And number two, you turn off the magnets, like tuition breaks or other breaks that draw people into this country illegally. It’s not that hard. We have to get the political will to get the job done.

And Governor Perry, you say you’ve got the experience. It’s a bit like saying, you know, the college coach that’s lost 40 games in a row has the experience to go to the NFL. But the truth is, California — I’ll say it again — California and — and Florida have both had no increase in illegal immigration, and yours is up 60 percent over the last 10 years.

MR. COOPER: Time.

Governor Perry, 30 seconds to respond?

GOV. PERRY: Well, the bottom line is, is that we have a federal government that has failed. There is a clear problem here.

And he hit the nail on the head awhile ago. He said there was a magnet of people that will hire illlegals, and you are number one on that list, sir.

(Boos.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Ooh!

GOV. PERRY: And people need to understand that.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Ooh!

GOV. PERRY: You’re one of the problems, Mitt. (Boos.)

MR. COOPER: I think we’ve been down that road.

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, I think we’ve been down that road sufficiently. Sounds like the audience agrees with me.

MR. COOPER: We’ve got to — we’ve — we’re continuing on immigration. We have a question in the audience. (Cheers, applause.)

Q: Good evening. Thank you for the opportunity to ask my question. We have 50 million Latinos and not all of us are illegal. What is the message from you guys to our Latino community?

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich —

(Scattered applause.)

MR. GINGRICH: Well, look —

MR. COOPER:  — President Obama got, I think, 67 percent of the Latino vote the last time around.

MR. GINGRICH: Look, I think that there’s a very clear message to Americans of all backgrounds. Latinos, Korean-Americans, Vietnamese- Americans, there are hundreds of different groups who have come to America. As Governor Romney said, I think anybody who understands America has to be proud of our record as the country which has been the most open in history to legal immigration.

The truth is, most Latinos in the United States aren’t immigrants. Most Latinos in the United States now have been born in the United States. And the fact is, they want virtually exactly what everyone else wants. They want an economy that’s growing. They want a job that has take-home pay. They want to access to health insurance that they can afford. They want a chance to get educated that actually is useful and worthwhile. They want to be able to know that their family’s going to grow up in safety, and they want to have a chance that their country’s going to work to give their children and their grandchildren a better future.

I think we have to have the same message for every American of every ethnic background that we want to make America work again. And you’ll know it’s working because you will have a job and you’ll have a chance to take care of your family.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, there — (cheers, applause) — Congressman Paul, there are some Latino voters who believe that some of these strong anti-immigration laws — anti-illegal immigration laws are actually anti-Latino laws.

What do you say to them?

REP. PAUL: Well, I think some people do believe that. I think a fence is symbolic of that, and I can understand why somebody might look at that. But when we approach this immigration problem, we should look at the incentives, and that are the mandates from the federal government saying that you must educate and must give them free education. You have to remove these incentives. But I don’t think the answer is a fence, whatsoever.

But in order to attract Latino votes, I think — you know, too long, this country has always put people in groups. They penalize people because they’re in groups, and then they reward people because they’re in groups.

But following up on what Newt was saying, we need a healthy economy. We wouldn’t be talking about this. We need to see everybody as an individual. And to me, seeing everybody as an individual means their liberties are protected as individuals and they are treated that way and they’re never penalized that way. So if you have a free and prosperous society, all of a sudden this group mentality melts away.

As long as there’s no abuse — one place where there’s still a lot of discrimination in this country is in our court systems, and I think the minorities come up with a short hand in our court system. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: All right. Herman Cain, the 14th Amendment allows that anybody born in the United States is an American citizen. Should that change?

MR. CAIN: I want to go back and answer this question first, OK? And that is, my message to Latinos, blacks, whites and all Americans is that we must first start with significantly boosting this economy, which is on life support. This is why I have put forth a very bold plan, and I’m not afraid to try and sell it to the American people. I’m not afraid to fight for it when I become president of the United States of America.

So that’s my message: If we have this economy growing, people will be able to take care of their families and go after their American dream. And until we boost this economy, all of us are going to suffer for a long time.

MR. COOPER: Then let me ask the question of Governor Perry. Governor Perry, the 14th Amendment allows any — anybody — a child of illegal immigrants who’s born here is automatically an American citizen.

Should that change?

GOV. PERRY: Well, let me address Herman’s issue that he just talked about.

MR. COOPER: Actually, I’d rather you — rather you — I’d rather you ask the question — answer that question.

GOV. PERRY: All right, I understand that. You get to ask the questions, and I get to answer like I want to. (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Ooh!

GOV. PERRY: And Herman — Herman talked about —

MR. COOPER: That’s actually a response. That’s not an answer. But go ahead.

GOV. PERRY:  — talked about the — the issue of how we get this country back working. And truly, the plan that I laid out last week, where we talk about the energy industry and this treasure trove that we have under this country.

And we need to recognize that the administration that we have today is blocking mining that could be going on in the state of Nevada. I talked to Brian Sandoval before I came in here today. You have an — an administration that is killing jobs because they want to move us to a green energy. You have a secretary of energy who has basically said he wants to see gas prices up close to the European model, that we want to — the president himself said electricity rates are necessarily going to skyrocket.

That’s what we’ve got to stop. That’s the reason we’ve got to have a president of the United States that understands that you get Americans working, and it addresses these issues that we have in this country. And the fastest way to do it is to open up these federal lands —

MR. COOPER: Time.

GOV. PERRY:  — to pull back those regulations —

MR. COOPER: Time.

GOV. PERRY:  — and get America working again. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: You implicated — to the question on the 14th Amendment, do you support repealing the 14th Amendment?

GOV. PERRY: No.

MR. COOPER: No, you do not.

GOV. PERRY: I do not.

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, do you support it?

REP. BACHMANN: I think there’s a very real issue with magnets in this country. And I think the issue that you’re referring to is the issue of “anchor babies.” And that’s an issue that — that — I was just in Arizona this last weekend, and the state is very concerned because when someone comes illegally across the border specifically for the purpose of utilizing American resources to have a baby here, then all of the welfare benefits then attach to that baby.

This is an issue that we don’t have to deal with with the Constitution. This is an issue that we can deal with legislatively. And there are a lot of Americans that would like us to deal with this issue of anchor babies legislatively. (Applause)

MR. COOPER: Senator Santorum?

MR. SANTORUM: Yeah, I — I’d like to address the issue that the gentleman brought up, which is, what are we going to say to the Latino community, and not one person here mentioned the issue of family, faith, marriage. This is a community that is a faith-filled community; that family is at the center of that community.

I disagree in some respects with Congressman Paul, who says, you know, the country’s founded on the individual. The basic building block of the society is not the individual, it’s the family. It’s the basic unit of society. (Cheers, applause.) And — and the Latino community understands that. They understand the importance of faith and marriage. They understand that bond that builds that solid foundation, and that inculcation of faith and religious freedom.

And I think the Latino community knows that’s at stake in this country. There’s a lot going on right now that’s eroding our religious freedom, that’s eroding the traditional values of marriage and family. And there’s one candidate up here who consistently sounds that theme.

Look, I’m for jobs, too. I’ve got an economic plan. I agree with everything that’s been said. But we keep running roughshod over the fact that this — the family in America and faith in America is being crushed —

MR. COOPER: Time.

MR. SANTORUM:  — by the courts and by our government, and someone has to stand up and fight for those (institutions ?). (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you were referenced directly. Thirty seconds.REP. PAUL: Well, I would like to explain that rights don’t come in bunches. Rights come as individuals. (Applause.) They come from a God. And they come as — each individual has a right to life and liberty.

But I might add about the border control and the — and the Latino vote, is we lack resources there. I think we should have more border guards on and a more orderly transition and run it much better. But where are our resources? You know, we worry more about the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need to bring the Guard units home — (cheers, applause) — and the units back here so we can have more personnel on our border.

(Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: We have a question in the audience.

Q: My question for you is, do you support opening the national nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain?

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, let’s start with you. I’m sorry, go ahead.

MR. GINGRICH: But look, we worked on this when I was speaker. I think that it has to be looked at scientifically. But I think at some point we have to find a safe method of taking care of nuclear waste. And today, because this has been caught up in a political fight, we have small units of nuclear waste all over this country in a way that is vastly more dangerous to the United States than finding a method of keeping it in a very, very deep place that would be able to sustain 10,000 or 20,000 or 30,000 years of geological safety.

MR. COOPER: Is Yucca Mountain that place?

MR. GINGRICH: I’m not a scientist. I mean, Yucca Mountain certainly was picked by the scientific community as one of the safest places in the United States. It has always had very deep opposition here in Nevada. And frankly —

MR. COOPER: You were for opening it in Congress, right? When you were in Congress —

MR. GINGRICH: When I was in Congress, frankly, I worked with the — with the Nevada delegation to make sure that there was time for scientific studies. But we have to find some method of finding a very geologically stable place. And most geologists believe that, in fact, Yucca Mountain is that.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you opposed this.

REP. PAUL: Yes, yes. I’ve opposed this. We’ve had votes in the Congress. There was a time when I voted with two other individuals: the two congressmen from Nevada. And I approach it from a states’ rights position. What right does 49 states have to punish one state and say, we’re going to put our garbage in your state? (Cheers, applause.) I think that’s wrong.

So I think it’s very serious — I think it’s very serious and that, quite frankly, the government shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing any form of energy. And nuclear energy, I think, is a good source of energy, but they still get subsidies, then they assume this responsibility, then we as politicians and the bureaucrats get involved in this and then we get involved with which state’s going to get stuck with the garbage. So I would say the more the free market handles this and the more you deal with property rights and no subsidies to any form of energy, the easier this problem would be solved.

(Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, where do you stand on this?

MR. ROMNEY: Congressman Paul is right on that. (Cheers, applause.) I don’t always agree with him, but I do on that. The idea that 49 states can tell Nevada, “We want to give you our nuclear waste” doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think the people of Nevada ought to have the final say as to whether they want that. And my guess is that for them to say yes to something like that, someone’s going to have to offer them a pretty good deal, as opposed to having the federal government jam it down their throat. (Applause.)

And by the way, if Nevada says, look, we don’t want it, then let other states make bids and say: Hey, look, we’ll take it. Here’s a geological site that we’re evaluated. Here’s the compensation we want for taking it. We want your electric companies around the country that are using nuclear fuel to compensate us, a certain amount per kilowatt hour, a certain amount per ton of this stuff that comes.

Let the free market work and, on that basis, the places that are geologically safe according to science and where the people say the deal’s a good one will decide where we put this stuff. That’s the right course for America. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry?

GOV. PERRY: You know, from time to time, Mitt and I don’t agree. But on this one, he hit it — the nail right on the head. (Applause.)

And I’ll just add that when you think about France, who gets over 70 percent of their energy from nuclear power, the idea that they deal with this issue, that their (classification ?) and that the innovation — and Congressman Paul, you’re correct when it comes to allowing the states to compete with each other. That is the answer to this. We need to have a — a discussion in — in this country about our 10th Amendment and the appropriateness of it as it’s been eroded by Washington, D.C., for all these many years — whether it’s health care, whether it’s education, or whether it’s dealing with energy.

We don’t need to be subsidizing energy in any form or fashion.

Allow the states to make the decision, and some state out there will see the economic issue, and they will have it in their state.

MR. COOPER: We’re going to move on to an issue very important here in the state of Nevada and throughout the West. We have a question from the hall.

Q: Yeah, my question is those of us who own property here in Nevada have been devastated by the real estate bubble. What would you do as president to help fix the overall problem of real estate and foreclosures in America?

MR. COOPER: Senator Santorum, Nevada has the highest rate of foreclosure.

MR. SANTORUM: Yeah, I mean, it’s — it’s a situation right now where, obviously, the market is in — has been decimated. And so now you’re looking at how do you repair. The problem is, in the first place, is that several people up here, the, quote, “businesspeople,” supported the TARP, supported the bailout. Governor — Governors Perry, Romney —

GOV. PERRY: Wrong. (Laughter.)

MR. SANTORUM: No, you wrote a letter on the day of the vote —

GOV. PERRY: No. (Chuckles.)

MR. SANTORUM: You wrote a letter on the day of the vote, Governor, saying to vote for the plan. That’s what — I mean, that — the letter sent —

GOV. PERRY: No, I didn’t.

MR. SANTORUM: Yes, you did, Governor. You —

MR. COOPER: You’ll have a chance to respond. Let him finish.

MR. SANTORUM: Your whole mansion signed it with you. So you supported it. Governor Romney and Herman Cain all supported the TARP program, which started this ball —

MR. CAIN: Not all of it. (Laughter.)

MR. SANTORUM: I mean — I mean, you guys complain about Governor Romney flip-flopping. I mean, look at what’s going on here. I mean, the — the bottom line is you all supported it. You all started this ball rolling where the government injected itself in trying to make — try to — try to fix the market with the government top-down trying to do it and manage decline. And what happened was people who — who did things that were wrong, that invested in things, took risks were bailed out. And the folks who — who acted responsibly are now getting hurt because their houses have gone down in value.

MR. COOPER: I’ve got to allow —

MR. SANTORUM: We need to let the market work. And that’s what hasn’t been happening so far.

MR. COOPER: I’ve got to allow each — three of you to respond, so Governor Perry, you have 30 seconds.

GOV. PERRY: The — the — the fact is Rick just has that wrong. We wrote a letter to Congress asking them to act. What we meant by acting was cut the regulations, cut the taxation burden, not passing TARP. There is clearly a letter out of our office that says that, Rick.

I’ll get you a copy of it, so you’ll understand it.

MR. COOPER: Governor, Governor —

MR. SANTORUM: OK, I — hold on, hold on. I need to respond to that. He sent a letter the day of the vote on the floor of the House saying pass the economic plan. There was only one plan, and that was the plan that was voted on the floor. It was TARP. You sent a letter on that day saying vote for that plan.

Now you can send a letter later saying I didn’t mean it, but when you said it, it was the only plan that was in play, and that — that was the TARP plan.

MR. ROMNEY: (Inaudible) — was this — oh, I’m sorry.

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, do you want — do you want to respond, Governor Perry?

GOV. PERRY: I’m — I’m just telling you, I know what we sent. I know what the intention was. You can read it any way you want, but the fact of the matter — I wasn’t for TARP, and have talked about it for years since then afterwards.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: There’s an effort on the part of people in Washington to think somehow they know better than markets how to — how to rebalance America’s economy. And the idea of the federal government running around and saying, hey, we’re going to — we’re going to give you some money for trading in your old car, or we’re going to give you a few thousand bucks for buying a new house, or we’re going to keep banks from foreclosing if you can’t make your payments, these — these kinds of actions on the part of government haven’t worked.

The right course is to let markets work. And in order to get markets to work and to help people, the best thing we can do is to get the economy going. And that’s why the fundamental restructuring I’ve described is so essential to help homeowners and people across this country.

MR. COOPER: Mr. Cain, I want you to be able to respond. Thirty seconds. (Applause.)

MR. CAIN: I have said before that we were in a crisis at the end of 2008 with this potential financial meltdown. I supported the concept of TARP, but then when this administration used discretion and did a whole lot of things that the American people didn’t like, I was then against it. So yes — and I’m honing (sic) up to that.

Now, getting back to the gentleman’s question, in terms of what we need to do, we need to get government out of the way. It starts with making sure that we can boost this economy and then reform Dodd- Frank and reform a lot of these other regulations that have gotten in the way —

MR. COOPER: Time.

MR. CAIN:  — and let the market do it, just like Mitt has talked about.

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, does the federal government have a role in keeping people in their homes, saving people from foreclosure in the state of Nevada?

REP. BACHMANN: That was the question that was initially asked. And what I want to say is this: Every day I’m out somewhere in the United States of America, and most of the time I am talking to moms across this country. When you talk about housing, when you talk about foreclosures, you’re talking about women who are at the end of their rope because they’re losing their nest for their children and for their family. And there are women right now all across this country and moms across this country whose husbands, through not fault of their own, are losing their job and they can’t keep that house. And there are women who are losing that house.

I’m a mom. I talk to these moms. I just want to say one thing to moms all across America tonight. This is a real issue; it’s got to be solved. President Obama has failed you on this issue of housing and foreclosures. I will not fail you on this issue. I will turn this country around. We will turn the economy around. We will create jobs. That’s how you hold on to your house. Hold on, moms out there. It’s not too late.

MR. COOPER: We have another question. This one is a Twitter question. How do you explain the Occupy Wall Street movement happening across the country, and how does it relate with your message?

Herman Cain, I got to ask you. You said, quote: Don’t blame — a couple — two weeks ago you said, don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job, you’re not rich, blame yourself.

That was two weeks ago. The movement has grown. Do you still say that? (Applause.)

MR. CAIN: Yes, I do still say that. And here’s why. (Cheers, applause.) I still stand by my statement, and here’s why. They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they’re directing their anger at the wrong place. Wall Street didn’t put in failed economic policies. Wall Street didn’t spend a trillion dollars that didn’t do any good.

Wall Street isn’t going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion. They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration. (Cheers, applause.) So I do stand by that.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you’ve been — Congressman Paul, you’ve been critical of Governor Romney for holding fundraisers with Wall Streeters. Do you think he understands what the protest is about? Do you understand?

REP. PAUL: Well, I think Mr. Cain had blamed the victims. There’s a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle, and we can’t blame the victims. But we also have to point — I’d go to Washington as well as Wall Street, but I’d go over to the Federal Reserve. (Cheers, applause.) They — they create the financial bubbles. And you have to understand that; you can solve these problems if you don’t know where these bubbles come from.

But then when the bailout came and — supported by both parties. You have to realize, oh, wait, the Republicans were still in charge. So the bailouts came from both parties. Guess who they bailed out? The big corporations, the people who were ripping off the people in the derivatives market. And they said, oh, the world’s going to come to an end unless we bail out all the banks. So the banks were involved, and the Federal Reserve was involved.

But who got stuck? The middle class got stuck. They got stuck. They lost their jobs, and they lost their houses. If you had to give money out, you should have given it to the people who were losing it in their mortgages, not to the banks. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Mr. Cain, do you want to respond? He referenced you, so if you want to respond, you have 30 seconds.

MR. CAIN: All I want to say is that Representative Paul is partly right, but he’s mixing problems here, that it’s more than one problem. Look, the people — the bank — yes, the banks and the businesses on Wall Street, yes; the way that was administered was not right.

But my point is this: What are the people who are protesting want from bankers on Wall Street? To come downstairs and write them a check? This is what we don’t understand.

Take — go and get to the source of the problem, is all I’m saying. And that’s the White House.

MR. COOPER: I’ve got to give you 30 seconds, Senator (sic), then we’ll go to Governor Romney — Congressman.

REP. PAUL: Yes. The argument is — it’s said the program was OK, but it was mismanaged. But I work on the assumption that government’s not very capable of managing almost anything — (applause) — so you shouldn’t put that much trust in the government.

You have to — you have to trust the marketplace. And when the government gets involved, they have to deal with fraud. And how many people have gone to jail either in the government’s Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac that participated in this? And nobody suffers the consequences. All these investigations, and yet the people who lose their jobs and lose their houses — it’s their fault, according — that’s why they’re on Wall Street. And we can’t blame them. We have to blame the business cycles —

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. PAUL:  — and the economic policies that led to this disaster. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, you originally called the protests dangerous. You said it was class warfare. You recently sounded more sympathetic. Where do you stand now? What is your message to those people protesting?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, we can spend our time talking about what happened three years ago and what the cause was of our collapse, but let’s talk about what’s happened over the last three years. We’ve had a president responsible for this economy for the last three years, and he’s failed us. He’s failed us in part because he has no idea how the private sector works or how to create jobs. On every single issue, he’s made it harder for our economy to reboot. And as a result, we have 25 million Americans out of work — or stopped looking for work, or part-time work and can’t get full-time employed. Home values going down. You have median income in America that in the last three years has dropped by 10 percent.

Americans are hurting across this country, and the president’s out there campaigning. Why isn’t he governing? He doesn’t understand — he doesn’t have a jobs plan, even now. (Applause.) This is — this is a critical time for America, and I — and — and I can tell you that this is time to have someone who understands how the economy works, who can get America working again. Instead of dividing and blaming, as this president is, let’s grow America again and have jobs that are the envy of the world. And I know how to do it.

(Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: All right. We’ve got to take a quick break. We’re going to continue right on the other side. We’ll be right back.

(Announcements.)

MR. COOPER: And welcome back to the CNN GOP debate, live from the Venetian in Las Vegas. Let’s continue.

We’ve got an email question that was left at CNNPolitics.com. This is from a Mike Richards, who says: With the controversy surrounding Robert Jeffress, is it acceptable to let the issue of a candidate’s faith shape the debate?

Senator Santorum, this is in reference to a Baptist pastor who, at the Values Voter summit, after introducing Governor Rick Perry, said of — said that Mitt Romney is not a Christian and that Mormonism is a cult. Those were his words. (Boos.)

Should — should voters — should voters pay attention to a candidate’s religion?

MR. SANTORUM: I think they should pay attention to the candidate’s values, what the candidate stands for. (Cheers, applause.) That’s — that’s what’s at play, and the person’s faith. And — and you look at that faith and what the faith teaches with respect to morals and values that are reflected in that person’s belief structure.

So that’s — those are important things. I — I — I’m a Catholic. Catholic has a — has social teachings. Catholic has teachings as to what’s right and what’s wrong. And those are legitimate things for voters to look at, to say if you’re a faithful Catholic, which I try to be — fall short all the time — (chuckles) — but I try to be — and — and it’s a legitimate thing to look at as to what the tenets and teachings of that faith are with respect to how you live your life and — and how you would govern this country.

With respect to what is the road to salvation, that’s a whole different story. That’s not applicable to what — what the role is of being the president or a senator or any other job. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, do you agree with that?

MR. GINGRICH: Well, I — I think if the question is does faith matter, absolutely. How can you have a country which is founded on truth, which begins, “We are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights” — how — how can you have the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which says religion, morality and knowledge being important, education matters? That’s the order: religion, morality and knowledge.

Now, I happen to think that none of us should rush in judgment of others in the way in which they approach God. And I think that all of us up here, I believe, would agree. (Cheers, applause.) But I think all of us would also agree that there’s a very central part of your faith in how you approach public life. And I, frankly, would be really worried if somebody assured me that nothing in their faith would affect their judgments because then I’d wonder, where’s your judgment — how can you have judgment if you have no faith? And how can I trust you with power if you don’t pray? (Applause.)

Who you pray to, how you pray, how you come close to God is between you and God. But the notion that you’re endowed by your creator sets a certain boundary on what we mean by America. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, Mitt Romney asked you to repudiate the comments of that pastor who introduced you on that stage. He didn’t make the comments on the stage. He made them afterward in an interview. Will you repudiate those comments?

GOV. PERRY: Well, our faith — I can no more remove my faith than I can that I’m the son of a tenant farmer. I mean, the issue is, are we going to be individuals who stand by our faith? And I have said I didn’t agree with that individual’s statement. And our Founding Fathers truly understood and had an understanding of freedom of religion. And this country is based on, as Newt talked about, these values that are so important as we go forward, and the idea that we should not have our freedom of religion, to be taken away by any means.

But we also are a country that is free to express our opinions. That individual expressed an opinion. I didn’t agree with it, Mitt, and I said so.

But the fact is, Americans understand faith, and what they’ve lost faith in is the current resident of the White House. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, is that — is that acceptable to you?

MR. ROMNEY: You know, with — with regards to the disparaging comments about my faith, I’ve heard worse, so I’m not going to lose sleep over that.

What I actually found that was most troubling in what the reverend said in the introduction was he said, in choosing our nominee, we should inspect his religion. And someone who’s a good moral person is not someone who we should select; instead, we should choose someone who subscribes to our religious belief.

That — that idea that we should choose people, based upon their religion, for public office is what I find to be most troubling, because the founders of this country went to great length to make sure, and even put it in the Constitution, that we would not choose people who represent us in government based upon their religion; that this would be a nation that recognized and respected other faiths, where there’s a plurality of faiths, where there was tolerance for other people and faiths. That’s bedrock principle.

And it was that principle, Governor, that I wanted you to be able to say, no, no, that’s wrong, Reverend Jeffress. Instead of saying, as you did, that introduction knocked the ball out of the park, I’d have said: Reverend Jeffress, you got that wrong, we should select people not based upon their faith — even though — and I don’t suggest you distance yourself from your faith, any more than I would, but the concept that we select people based on the church or the synagogue they go to, I think is a very dangerous and enormous departure from the principles of our Constitution. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Would you still like him to say that?

MR. ROMNEY: I’m sorry?

MR. COOPER: Would you still like the governor to say that, or was that something you wanted —

MR. ROMNEY: I’ll — I’ll let him — it’s — as his choice.

MR. COOPER: Do you want to respond to that, Governor Perry?

GOV. PERRY: I have. I said I did not agree with the — Pastor Jeffress’ remarks. I don’t agree with them. I can’t apologize any more than that.

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, that’s fine.

MR. COOPER: We’ve got a question from the audience.

Q: Currently there’s a deficit reduction measure to cut defense spending by $500 billion. Would you support such a reduction in defense spending? And if elected president, how will you provide a strong national defense?

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, should defense be cut?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, $500 billion is the amount that the questioner had mentioned. And don’t forget, this was a historic week when it came to American foreign policy. We saw potentially an international assassination attempt from Iran on American soil. That says something about Iran, that they disrespect the United States so much that they would attempt some sort of a heinous act like that.

Then we saw the president of the United States engage American troops in a fourth conflict in a foreign land. This is historic.

Then on Sunday we heard the reports that now that in Iraq that the 5,000 troops that were going to be left there won’t even be granted immunity by Iraq. This is how disrespected the United States is in the world today, and it’s because of President Obama’s failed policies. He’s taken his eyes off the number-one issue in the world. That’s an Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. That makes all of us much danger — (applause) — and the president of Iran is —

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. BACHMANN:  — is a genocidal maniac. We need to stand up against Iran. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman —

REP. BACHMANN: And as president of the United States, I will. We will be respected again in the world.

MR. COOPER: The question, though, was about budget cuts, and is everything on the table in terms of cutting the budget?

REP. BACHMANN: Every — absolutely everything in the —

MR. COOPER: So defense spending would be on the table — should be.

REP. BACHMANN: Defense spending is on the table, but again, Anderson, now with the president — he put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa. We already were stretched too thin, and he put our special operations forces in Africa.

MR. COOPER: I just want to make sure — OK, just — it’s on the table.

REP. BACHMANN: It’s on the table, but we cannot cut it by $500 billion. We can’t do that to our brave men and women who are on the ground fighting for us.

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?

MR. GINGRICH: Look, I mean, if you want to understand how totally broken Washington is, look at this entire model of a supercommittee, which has now got a magic number to achieve, and if it doesn’t achieve the magic number, then we’ll all have to shoot ourselves in the head, so when they come back with a really dumb idea to merely cut off our right leg, we’ll all be grateful that they are only semi-stupid instead of being totally stupid. (Cheers, applause.)

Now the idea that you’ll — the idea that you’ll have a bunch historically illiterate politicians who have no sophistication about national security trying to make a numerical decision about the size of the defense budget tells you everything you need to know about the bankruptcy of the current elite in this country — in both parties.

The fact is, we ought to first figure out what threatens us. We ought to figure out what strategies will respond to that. We should figure out what structures we need for those strategies. We should then cost them.

I found — helped found the Military Reform Caucus. I’m a hawk, but I’m a cheap hawk. But the fact is — (laughter) — the fact is, to say I’m going to put the security of the United States up against some arbitrary budget number is suicidally stupid. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you proposed — (cheers, applause).

MR. GINGRICH: I should have done — (inaudible).

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you just proposed eliminating the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Interior, Housing and Urban Development. (Laughter.) You say it’ll save a trillion dollars — (whistles, cheers) — in one year. You’re proposing a 15-percent cut to the Defense Department. Can you guarantee national security will not be hurt by that?

REP. PAUL: I think it would be enhanced. I don’t want to cut any defense. And you have to get it straight. There’s a lot of money spent in the military budget that doesn’t do any good for our defense. What — how does — how does it help us to keep troops in Korea all these years? We’re broke. We have to borrow this money. Why are we in Japan? Why do we subsidize Germany, and they subsidize their socialized system over there because we pay for it. We’re broke.

And this whole thing that this can’t be on the table, I’ll tell you what. This debt bubble is the thing you’d better really worry about, because it’s imploding on us right now; it’s worldwide. We are no more removed from this than the man in the moon. It’s going to get much worse.

And to cut military spending is a wise thing to do. We would be safer if we weren’t in so many places. We have an empire; we can’t afford it. The empires always bring great nations down. We’ve spread ourselves too thinly around the world. This is what’s happened throughout history.

And we’re doing it to ourselves. The most recent empire to fail was a(n) empire that went into, of all places, Afghanistan.

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. PAUL: Then went broke. So where are we in Afghanistan? I say it’s time to come home. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Time.

We do have a Twitter question. Given that Israel has just negotiated with Palestine for a soldier, would any of you negotiate for a hostage? Herman Cain, let me ask this to you. A few hours ago you were asked by Wolf Blitzer, if al-Qaida had an American soldier in captivity and they demanded the release of everyone at Guantanamo Bay, would you release them? And you said, quote, “I could see myself authorizing that kind of a transfer.” Can you explain?

MR. CAIN: The rest of the statement was quite simply you would have to consider the entire situation. But let me say this first: I would have a policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists. We have to lay that principle down first. (Applause.)

Now, then you have to look at each individual situation and consider all the facts. The point that I made about this particular situation is that I’m sure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to consider a lot of things before he made that. So on the surface, I don’t think we can say he did the right thing or not. A responsible decision-maker would have considered everything.

MR. COOPER: But you’re saying you could — I mean, in your words, you said that, “I could see myself authorizing that kind of a transfer.” Isn’t that negotiating with, in this case, al-Qaida?

MR. CAIN: I don’t recall him ever saying that it was al-Qaida- related.

MR. COOPER: Yeah, he did. He said —

MR. CAIN: Well, I don’t — I — my policy would be we cannot negotiate with terrorists. That’s where we have to start as a fundamental principle.

MR. COOPER: Senator Santorum.

MR. SANTORUM: Oh, absolutely not. I mean, you can’t negotiate with terrorists, period. To address Congressman Paul’s answer and the other answer on — on military spending, I would absolutely not cut one penny out of military spending. They — the first order of the federal government — the only thing the federal government can do that nobody — no other level of government can do is protect us.

It is the first duty of the president of the United States, is to protect us. (Applause.) And we should — we should have the resources and we should have all the resources in place to make sure that we can defend our borders, that we can make sure that we — we — when we engage in foreign countries, we do so to succeed. That’s been the problem in this administration. We’ve had political objectives instead of objectives for success, and that’s why we haven’t succeeded.

And as Michele said and correctly said, the central threat right now is Iran — the disrespect, yes, but it’s more than that. They sent a message. The two countries that they went after was the leader of the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia, and the leader of the, quote, “secular world,” the United States. This was a call by Iran to say: We are the ones who are going to be the supreme leader of the Islamic world.

MR. COOPER: Time.

MR. SANTORUM: We are going to be the supreme leader of the secular world. And that’s why they attacked here. And by the way, they did it in coordination with Central and South Americans, which I had been talking about and writing about for 10 years.

MR. COOPER: Time.

Congressman Paul, you were referenced in that answer. Thirty seconds.

REP. PAUL: Well, I think we’re on economic suicide if we’re not even willing to look at some of these overseas expenditures, 150 bases — 900 bases, 150 different countries. We have enough weapons to blow up the world about 20, 25 times. We have more weapons than all the other countries put together, essentially. And we want to spend more and more and you can’t cut a penny? I mean, this is why we’re at an impasse. I mean, this — I want to hear somebody up here willing to cut something, something real. (Cheers, applause.)

This budget is in bad shape, and the financial calamity is going to be much worse than anybody ever, you know, invading this country. Which country? Are they going to invade this country?

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. PAUL: They can’t even shoot a missile — (inaudible).

MR. COOPER: We have a question in the hall that gets — gets to your — gets to your question. The question in the hall on foreign aid — yes, ma’am.

Q: The American people are suffering in our country right now. Why do we continue to send foreign aid to other countries when we need all the help we can get for ourselves?

(Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, what about that? I mean —

GOV. PERRY: Absolutely. I think it’s time for this country to have a very real debate about foreign aid. Clearly, there are places — as a matter of fact, I think it’s time for us to have a very serious discussion about defunding the United Nations. (Cheers, applause.) When you think about — when you think about the Palestinian Authority circumventing those Oslo accords and going to New York to try to create the conflict and to have themselves approved as a state without going through the proper channels, it is a travesty. And I think it’s time not only to have that entire debate about all of our foreign aid, but in particular, the U.N. Why are we funding that organization? (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, should foreign aid be eliminated?

MR. ROMNEY: Foreign aid has several elements. One of those elements is defense, is to make sure that we are able to have the defense resources we want in certain places of the world. That probably ought to fall under the Department of Defense budget rather than a foreign aid budget.

Part of it is humanitarian aid around the world. I happen to think it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to borrow money from the Chinese to go give it to another country for humanitarian aid. We ought to get the Chinese to take care of the people that are — that are — and think of that borrowed money (today ?). (Applause.)

And finally, there’s a portion of our foreign aid that allows us to carry out our — our activities in the world, such as what’s happening in Pakistan, where we’re taking — we’re supplying our troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan.

But let me tell you, we’re spending more on foreign aid than we ought to be spending. And — and Congressman Paul asked, is there a place we can cut the budget. Let me tell you where we cut the budget. Discretionary accounts you bring back to 2008 level. We get rid of “Obamacare.” Number three, we take Medicaid, turn it back to the states, grow it at only 1 (percent) to 2 percent per year.

Number three, we cut — number four, rather, we cut federal employment by at least 10 percent through attrition. And finally, we say to federal employees: You’re not going to make more money than the people in the private sector who are paying for you. We link their compensation. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Time. Congressman Paul?

REP. PAUL: On foreign aid, that should be the easiest thing to cut. It’s not authorized in the Constitution that we can take money from you and give it to particular countries around the world. (Applause.)

To me, foreign aid is taking money from poor people in this country and giving it to rich people in poor countries, and it becomes weapons of war, essentially, no well — no matter how well motivated it is. So while —

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, would you cut aid to Israel?

REP. PAUL: I would cut all foreign aid. I would treat everybody equally and fairly. And I don’t think aid to Israel actually helps them. I think it teaches them to be dependent. We’re on a bankruptcy court — course — and we — and look at what’s the result of all that foreign aid we gave Egypt. I mean, their — their dictator that we pumped up, we spent all these billions of dollars, and now there’s a more hostile regime in Egypt. And that’s what’s happening all around Israel. That foreign aid makes Israel dependent on us. It softens them for their own economy. And they should have their sovereignty back —

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. PAUL:  — they should be able to deal with their neighbors at their own will. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, should we cut foreign aid to Israel?

REP. BACHMANN: No, we should not be cutting foreign aid to Israel. Israel is our greatest ally. The biggest problem is the fact that the president — (applause) — the biggest problem with this administration and foreign policy is that President Obama is the first president since Israel declared her sovereignty put daylight between the United States and Israel. That’s heavily contributed to the current hostilities that we see in the Middle East region.

Cutting back on foreign aid is one thing. Being reimbursed by nations that we have liberated is another. We should look to Iraq and Libya to reimburse us for part of what we have done to liberate these nations.

(Cheers, applause.)

Now, I need to add something on this issue of negotiating for hostages. This is a very serious issue. For any candidate to say that they would release the prisoners at Guantanamo in exchange for a hostage would be absolutely contrary to the historical nature of the United States and what we do in our policy. That’s naive. We cannot do that. The United States has done well because we have an absolute policy: we don’t negotiate.

MR. COOPER: Herman Cain, I’ve got to give you 30 seconds because she was referring to — basically saying you’re naive or — if that’s what you were suggesting.

MR. CAIN: No. I said that I believe in the philosophy of we don’t negotiate with terrorists. I think — I’ve been saying — I would never agree to letting hostages in Guantanamo Bay go. No, that wasn’t the intent at all.

But let me go back to this, if I could, very quickly, in the time that I have left, the question they asked about foreign aid. My approach is an extension of the Reagan approach: peace through strength, which is peace through strength and clarity. If we clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are, and stop giving money to our enemies, then we ought to continue to give money to our friends, like Israel. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: You have 30 seconds, Congressman Paul, then I got to go.

REP. PAUL: As a matter of fact, I don’t want to make a statement, I want to ask a question. Are you all willing to condemn Ronald Reagan for exchanging weapons for hostages out of Iran? We all know that was done.

MR. SANTORUM: Well, that’s not — Iran was a sovereign country, it was not a terrorist organization, number one. That’s —

REP. PAUL (?): Well, they were our good friends —

(Cross talk.)

MR. : They’re a sovereign country — just like the Palestinian Authority is not good friends of Israel.

REP. PAUL: He negotiated for hostages.

MR. SANTORUM: There’s a role — we negotiated with hostages — (inaudible) — the Soviet Union. We’ve negotiated with hostages, depending on the scale. But there’s a difference between releasing terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in response to terrorist demands than —

REP. PAUL: But they’re all suspects, they’re not terrorists. You haven’t convicted them of anything.

MR. SANTORUM:  — than negotiating with other countries where we may have an interest.

And that is certainly a proper role for the United States — (inaudible).

MR. COOPER: We’ve got to take a quick break. I do want to give Speaker Gingrich thirty seconds and then —

MR. GINGRICH: Just very straightforward. (Inaudible) — did a film on Ronald Reagan, there’s a very painful moment in the film when he looks in the camera and says: I didn’t think we did this; I’m against doing it. I went back and looked. The truth is, we did. It was an enormous mistake. And he thought the Iranian deal was a terrible mistake.

MR. COOPER: We’re going to take a short break. Our debate, though, continues on the other side of the break, so stay tuned. (Cheers, applause.) When we return, which candidate has the best chance to beat Barack Obama? It’s going to matter in your vote. Stay with us.

(Announcements.)

(Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: And welcome back. The GOP debate is under way.

Let’s talk about probably the most important issue to everybody on this stage and probably just about everybody on (sic) this room, which is, who can beat President Barack Obama in this next election? (Cheers, applause.)

In today’s new CNN/ORC poll, 41 percent of Republican voters think that Governor Romney has the best chance of beating the president. (Cheers, applause.)

To Senator Santorum, you got 1 percent. Why shouldn’t Republican voters go with the candidate they feel they can best beat — that can best beat President Obama?

MR. SANTORUM: Well, the Pew poll last week asked how many people in this country can name any of us, and less than 50 percent could come up with even one. So the idea that this has any relevance to people who aren’t paying close attention to this debate is — is — is in fact irrelevant.

What’s relevant is to look at the track record. No one in this field has won a swing state. Pennsylvania’s a swing state. We win Pennsylvania, we win the election. The Republican is nominated.

I’ve won it twice. I defeated a Democratic incumbent winning it the first time, and I won the state of Pennsylvania — the only senator to win a state who is a conservative that George Bush lost. Bush lost it by 5. I won it by 6.

So you have someone who’s defeated and — and been matched up against three Democratic incumbents. I’m 3 and 0. Nobody in this field has won a major race against a Democratic incumbent — except me. No one has won a swing state — except me, as a conservative. I didn’t run as a Democrat in Texas when it was popular, one, and win there. I didn’t run as a liberal in 1994. I ran in 1994, the same year Mitt did in — in — in Massachusetts. He ran as a liberal, to the left of Kennedy, and lost. I ran as a conservative against James Carville and Paul Begala, and I won.

In — in — in 2002 he ran as a moderate. He ran as a moderate in — in — in Massachusetts.

I ran for re-election having sponsored and passed welfare reform, having authored the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

MR. COOPER: Time.

MR. SANTORUM: I was for — a moral conservative. I was a foreign policy conservative.

MR. COOPER: Time, sir.

MR. SANTORUM: I was a fiscal conservative, and I got elected in a state that hasn’t an elected a president since 1988 as a Republican.

MR. COOPER: Thank you. (Applause.)

Governor Romney, I’ve got to give you 30 seconds since he referenced you.

MR. ROMNEY: I think the people of America are looking for someone who can beat President Obama and can get the country on the right track. And I believe that they recognize that if we elect someone who’s spent their life in politics, that they’re not going to be able to post up well against President Obama and convince the American people of the truth of the principles that we believe in. I believe that having spent my life in the private sector, having actually created jobs is what allows me to have the kind of support that’s going to allow me to replace President Obama and get the country on the right track again. That for me is the distinguishing feature that’s going to get me elected as the president of the United States.

MR. COOPER: Governor — (cheers, applause) — Governor Perry, was he was referring to you?

GOV. PERRY: If you want to know how someone’s going to act in the future, look how they act in the past. I mean, so, Mitt, while you were the governor of Massachusetts in that period of time, you were 47th in the nation in job creation. During that same period of time we created 20 times more jobs. As a matter of fact, you’ve created 40,000 jobs total in your four years. Last two months we created more jobs than that in Texas.

What we need is someone who will draw a bright contrast between themselves and President Obama. And let me tell you one thing: I will draw that bright contrast.

MR. COOPER: I’ve got to give you 30 seconds. Governor Romney?

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, with regards to track record in the past, Governor, you were the chairman of Al Gore’s campaign. All right? (Laughter.) And there was a fellow — there was a fellow Texan named George Bush running. So if we’re looking at the past, I think we know where you were.

Secondly, our unemployment rate I got down to 4.7 percent. Pretty darn good. I think a lot of people would be happy to have 4.7 percent. And with regards — (cheers, applause) — with regards to the — to the record — to the record in Texas, you probably also ought to tell people that if you look over the last several years, 40 percent, almost half the jobs created in Texas were created for illegal aliens, illegal immigrants.

GOV. PERRY: That is an absolutely falsehood on is face, Mitt.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, it’s — it’s actually — it’s actually —

MR. COOPER: You have 30 seconds, Governor Perry.

GOV. PERRY: That is absolutely incorrect, sir.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, take a look at the study.

GOV. PERRY: There’s a third — there’s been a third party take a look at that study, and it is absolutely incorrect. The fact is Texas has led the nation in job creation. EBay and Facebook and Caterpillar didn’t come there because there weren’t jobs and there wasn’t an environment to — to be created. That’s what Americans are looking for. They’re looking for somebody that they trust, that knows — has the executive governing experience. I’ve got it. You failed as the governor of Massachusetts.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Ooh!

MR. COOPER: I’ve got to give Governor Romney 30 seconds when you said he failed.

MR. ROMNEY: (Chuckles.) I’m very proud of the fact — actually, during the — the four years we were both governors, my unemployment rate in Massachusetts was lower than your unemployment rate in Texas. That’s number one. Number two, getting it down to 4.7 (percent) I’m pretty happy with. We worked very hard to balance our budget, did every year, put in place a rainy-day fund of $2 billion by the time I was finished.

And I’ll tell you this: The American people would be happy for an individual who can lead the country who’s actually created jobs, not just watching them get created by others, but someone who knows how the economy works because he’s been in it. I have. I’ve created jobs. I’ll use that skill to get America working again. That’s what we want. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Herman Cain, you’re — Herman Cain, you’re tied with Governor Romney in some of the polls for the top leadership position right now. Is a — are they the ones — are either Governor Perry or Governor Romney — are they the ones who should be president?

MR. CAIN: (Chuckles.) No, I should be president. (Laughter.)

MR. COOPER: Well, obviously.

MR. CAIN: Governor Romney has a very distinguished career, and I would agree with much of what he has said. And there’s one difference between the two of us in terms of our experience. With all due respect, his business-executive experience has been more Wall Street- oriented. Mine has been more Main Street.

I have managed small companies. I’ve actually had to clean the parking lot. I’ve worked with groups of businesses, et cetera.

And as far as contrasting me with President Obama, if I am fortunate enough to become the Republican nominee, it’s going to be the problem solver who fixes stuff, versus a president who hasn’t fixed anything in this country. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, you’ve got 30 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: I appreciate that. And probably, the fact that we’re doing as well as we are is we both have a private-sector background. That probably helps. But I just want to set the record state of my record — record straight on my record.

I’ve been chief executive officer four times: once for a startup and three times for turnarounds. One was the financial services company, that was the startup; a consulting company, that’s a mainstream business; the Olympics, that’s certainly mainstream; and of course, the state of Massachusetts. In all those settings, I learned how to create jobs.

MR. COOPER: We — your campaigns are telling us we have to end — it’s time — I’m sorry —

REP. BACHMANN: Oh, no, no, no!

EP. PAUL: Oh, wait — wait a second.

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson — Anderson, that is —

MR. COOPER: It’s your campaigns. I’m just —

REP. PAUL: No, just — (inaudible) —

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, this is — Anderson? Anderson — Anderson —

MR. COOPER: If you want to defy your campaigns, go ahead. Go ahead. Congresswoman Bachmann, 30 seconds.

REP. BACHMANN: The good news is the cake is baked. Barack Obama will be a one-term president. There’s no question about this. (Cheers, applause.)

Now the question is, we need to listen to Ronald Reagan who said: No pastels; bold colors. I am the most different candidate from Barack Obama than anyone on this stage.

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?

REP. BACHMANN: We can’t settle in this race.

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, why don’t you get in this?

MR. GINGRICH: Well, let me just — let me just point out a second that maximizing bickering is probably not the road to the White House. (Applause.) And the technique you’ve used maximizes going back and forth, over and over again.

I just want to say two things. I think that I would be the strongest candidate because of sheer substance, if you go to newt.org and look at the 21st century Contract with America. As the nominee, I will challenge Obama to meet the Lincoln-Douglas standard of seven three-hour debates, no timekeep — no moderator, only a timekeeper.

I believe we can defeat him decisively to a point where we re- establish a conservative America on our values. And I think that is a key part of thinking about next year. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: We’d love to host those on CNN.

I want to thank all the candidates, the GOP candidates tonight. (Cheers, applause.)

Want to thank all the candidates for a spirited debate on the stage. We also want to thank our co-sponsor, the Western Republican Leadership Conference, our host the Sands Convention Center at the Venetian.

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