Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 April 14, 2016: 8th Democratic Presidential Debate in Brooklyn Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Transcript: Democratic Presidential Debate in Brooklyn

Source: NYT, 4-14-16

Following is a transcript of the Democratic debate, as transcribed by the Federal News Service.

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, you can now move to your lecterns while I explain a few ground rules. As moderator, I’ll guide the discussion, asking questions and follow-ups. You’ll also get questions from Dana Bash and Errol Louis. You’ll each have one minute and 15 seconds to answer questions, 30 seconds for follow- ups. Timing lights will signal when your time is up. Both candidates have agreed to these rules now. Opening statements, you’ll each have two minutes.

Let’s begin with Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Wolf, thank you very much. CNN, thank you very much. Secretary Clinton, thank you very much.

When we began this campaign almost a year ago, we started off at 3 percent in the polls. We were about 70 points behind Secretary Clinton. In the last couple of weeks, there were two polls out there that had us ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

Of the last nine caucuses and primaries, we have won eight of them, many of them by landslide victories.

(APPLAUSE)

Over the last year, we have received almost 7 million individual campaign contributions, averaging — guess what — $27 apiece, more individual campaign contributions than any candidate in American history at this point in a campaign.

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The reason that our campaign has done so well is because we’re doing something very radical: We’re telling the American people the truth. And the truth is that this country is not going to move forward in a significant way for working people unless we overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision…

(APPLAUSE)

… and unless we have real campaign reform so that billionaires and super PACs cannot buy elections.

(APPLAUSE)

This campaign is also determined to end a rigged economy where the rich get richer and everybody else get poorer, and create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.

Thank you.

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton? CLINTON: Well, first of all, it’s great to be here in New York, and I am delighted to…

(APPLAUSE)

… have this chance to discuss the issues that are important to our future. I was so honored to serve as a senator from New York for eight years…

(APPLAUSE)

… and to work to provide opportunity for all of our citizens to make it possible that we could knock down the barriers that stand in the way of people getting ahead and staying ahead.

And during those eight years, we faced some difficult challenges together. We faced 9/11. We worked hard to rebuild New York. I was particularly concerned about our first responders and others who’d been affected in their health by what they had experienced. We worked hard to bring jobs from Buffalo to Albany and all parts of New York to give more hard-working people a chance to really make the most out of their own talents.

And we worked hard to really keep New York values at the center of who we are and what we do together.

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(APPLAUSE)

And that is — that is exactly what I want to do as your president. We will celebrate our diversity. We will work together, bringing us back to being united, setting some big, bold, progressive goals for America. That’s what I’m offering in this campaign, to build on the work, to build on the value that we share here in New York, to take those to Washington, and to knock down those barriers that in any way hold back not only individual Americans, bur our country from reaching our full potential. That is what my campaign is about.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

We are going to deal with many of the issues both of you just raised. I want to begin with a question that goes right to the heart of which one of you should be the Democratic presidential nominee.

BLITZER: Senator Sanders, in the last week, you’ve raised questions about Secretary Clinton’s qualifications to be president. You said that something is clearly lacking in terms of her judgment and you accused her of having a credibility gap.

So let me ask you, do you believe that Secretary Clinton has the judgment to be president?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I’ve known Secretary Clinton, how long, 25 years?

We worked together in the Senate. And I said that in response to the kind of attacks we were getting from the Clinton, uh, campaign. “Washington Post” headline says “Clinton Campaign says Sanders is Unqualified” and that’s what the surrogates were saying.
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Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and the intelligence to be a president?

Of course she does.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: But I do question…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — but I do question her judgment. I question a judgment which voted for the war in Iraq…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country, voted for virtually every disastrous trade agreement which cost us millions of decent-paying jobs. And I question her judgment about running super PACs which are collecting tens of millions of dollars from special interests, including $15 million from Wall Street.

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I don’t believe that that is…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — the kind of judgment we need to be the kind of president we need.

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton?

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:Well, it is true that now that the spotlight is pretty bright here in New York, some things have been said and Senator Sanders did call me unqualified. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life. That was a first.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: And then he did say that…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — he had to question my judgment. Well, the people of New York voted for me twice to be their senator from New York and…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — and…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — and President Obama trusted my judgment enough to ask me to be secretary of State for the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: So, look, we have disagreements on policy. There’s no doubt about it. But if you go and read, which I hope all of you will before Tuesday, Senator Sanders’ long interview with the “New York Daily News,” talk about judgment and talk about the kinds of problems he had answering questions about even his core issue, breaking up the banks.

When asked, he could not explain how…

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: — that would be done and…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — when asked…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — when asked about a number of foreign policy issues, he could not answer about Afghanistan, about Israel, about counterterrorism, except to say if he’d had some paper in front of him, maybe he could.

I think you need to have the judgment on day one to be both president and commander-in-chief.

BLITZER: Senator…

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(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And let’s talk about judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And let us talk about the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I led the opposition to that war. Secretary Clinton voted for that. Well, let’s talk about judgment. Let’s talk about super PACs and 501(c)(4)s, money which is completely undisclosed.

Where does the money come from?

Do we really feel confident about a candidate saying that she’s going to bring change in America when she is so dependent on big money interests?

I don’t think so.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, let me…

SANDERS: We have…

CLINTON: — let me just say…

SANDERS: — (INAUDIBLE)…

CLINTON: — let me — let me say…

BLITZER: Madam Secretary, let him finish.

CLINTON: OK.

SANDERS: Thirdly, we have got to understand that in America, we should be thinking big, not small.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

SANDERS: We need to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people. So I…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — my (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

Secretary?

CLINTON: Well, make — make no mistake about it, this is not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on President Obama. President Obama…

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(BOOS)

CLINTON: You know, let me tell you why. You may not like the answer, but I’ll tell you why. President Obama had a super PAC when he ran. President Obama took tens of millions of dollars from contributors. And President Obama was not at all influenced when he made the decision to pass and sign Dodd-Frank, the toughest regulations…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — on Wall Street in many a year.

CLINTON: So this is — this is a phony — this is a phony attack that is designed to raise questions when there is no evidence or support, to undergird the continuation that he is putting forward in these attacks.

BLITZER: Thank, Secretary. We’re going to continue on this, but I want Dana Bash to continue with the questioning.

BASH: Secretary Clint, the government announced yesterday that five of the biggest banks on Wall Street have failed to develop plans to dismantle themselves in the event of another financial crisis. This is the second time in two years those banks neglected to come up with credible plans. So, as president, would you call on regulators to start the process of breaking up these banks? Something that the law not only allows, but actually explicitly encourages?

CLINTON: Absolutely. You know, this is what I’ve saying for the past year. No bank is too big to fail, no executive too powerful to jail.

I have been talking about what we should be doing under Dodd- Frank. I’m glad that Senator Sanders is now joining in talking about Dodd-Frank, because Dodd-Frank sets forth the approach that needs to be taken. I believe, and I will appoint regulators who are tough enough and ready enough to break up any bank that fails the test under Dodd-Frank.

There are two sections there. If they fail either one, that they’re a systemic risk, a grave risk to our economy, or if they fail the other, that their living wills, which is what you’re referring to, is inadequate.

Let’s look at what is at stake here. We can never let Wall Street wreck Main street again. I spoke out against Wall Street when I was a Senator from New York. I have been standing up and saying continuously we have the law. We’ve got to execute under it. So, you’re right. I will move immediately to break up any financial institution, but I go further because I want the law to extend to those that are part of the shadow banking industry. The big insurance companies, the hedge funds, something that I have been arguing for now a long time…

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BASH: … Thank you, Secretary. Senator Sanders, you were recently asked what you would replace the big Wall Street banks with if you could break them up. You said, quote, “That’s their decision.”

Why would you trust the banks to restructure themselves? SANDERS: First, Dana…

BASH: when you said the whole business model was fraudulent?

SANDERS: That’s right. So, let’s start off with the basic premise. A few days ago Goldman Sachs formally reached a settlement with the United States government for $5 billion dollars. What Goldman Sachs acknowledged was, essentially, that they were selling fraudulent packages of subprime mortgage loans.

Goldman Sachs was not the only bank, other banks, of course, did the same. Now, I don’t need Dodd-Frank now to tell me that we have got to break up these banks, A, because they’re based on fraudulent principles, and B, because when you have six financial institutions that have assets equivalent to 58% of the GFP of this country, they are just too big, too much concentration of wealth and power.

BASH: But, Senator…

SANDERS: The point is we have got to break them up so that they do not pose a systemic risk and so that we have a vibrant economy with a competitive financial system.

BASH: But Senator, you didn’t answer the specific question which is not just about breaking up the banks, but why allow the banks to do it themselves?

SANDERS: Because I’m not sure that the government should say is you are too big to fail. You’ve got to be a certain size. And, then the banks themselves can figure out what they want to sell off. I don’t know that it’s appropriate that the Department of Treasury to be making those decisions. What we need is to make sure that they are safe.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Dana, you know — I love being in Brooklyn.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

CLINTON: Dana, let me add here that there are two ways to at this under Dodd-Frank, which is after all the law we passed under President Obama, and I’m proud that Barney Frank, one of the authors, has endorsed me because what I have said continuously is, yes, sometimes the government may have to order certain actions. Sometime the government can permit the institution themselves to take those actions. That has to be the judgement of the regulators.

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But, there’s another element to this. I believe strongly that executives of any of these organizations should be financially penalized if there is a settlement.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: They should have to pay up through compensation or bonuses because we have to go after not just the big giant institution, we have got to go after the people who are making the decisions in the institutions.

BASH: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

CLINTON: And hold them accountable as well.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Sanders, you have consistently criticized Secretary Clinton for accepting money from Wall Street. Can you name one decision that she made as senator that shows that he favored banks because of the money she received?

SANDERS: Sure. Sure. The obvious decision is when the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of wall street brought this country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Recession — the Great Depression of the ’30s, when millions of people lost their jobs, and their homes, and their life savings, the obvious response to that is that you’ve got a bunch of fraudulent operators and that they have got to be broken up.

That was my view way back, and I introduced legislation to do that. Now, Secretary Clinton was busy giving speeches to Goldman Sachs for $225,000 a speech.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: So the problem response — the proper response in my view is we should break them up. And that’s what my legislation does.

CLINTON: Well, you can tell, Dana, he cannot come up with any example, because there is no example.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: It is important — it’s always important. It may be inconvenient, but it’s always important to get the facts straight. I stood up against the behaviors of the banks when I was a senator.

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I called them out on their mortgage behavior. I also was very willing to speak out against some of the special privileges they had under the tax code. When I went to the secretary of state office, the president — President Obama led the effort to pass the Dodd-Frank bill.

That is the law. Now, this is our ninth debate. In the prior eight debates, I have said, we have a law. You don’t just say, we’re upset about this. I’m upset about it. You don’t just say, go break them up. You have a law, because we are a nation of laws.

BASH: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

CLINTON: So I support Dodd-Frank, but I have consistently said that’s not enough. We’ve got to include the shadow banking sector.

BASH: Thank you. Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton called them out. Oh my goodness, they must have been really crushed by this. And was that before or after you received huge sums of money by giving speaking engagements? So they must have been very, very upset by what you did.

Look, here is the difference and here is the clear difference. These banks, in my view, have too much power. They have shown themselves to be fraudulent organizations endangering the well-being of our economy.

If elected president, I will break them up. We have got legislation to do that, end of discussion.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Secretary Clinton, if I may, Senator Sanders keeping bringing up the speeches that you gave to Goldman Sachs. So I’d like to ask you, so you’ve said that you don’t want to release the transcripts, until everybody does it, but if there’s nothing in those speeches that you think would change voters’ minds, why not just release the transcripts and put this whole issue to bed?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, first of all — first of all, there isn’t an issue. When I was in public service serving as the senator from New York, I did stand up to the banks. I did make it clear that their behavior would not be excused.

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I’m the only one on this stage who did not vote to deregulate swaps and derivatives, as Senator Sanders did, which led to a lot of the problems that we had with Lehman Brothers.

Now, if you’re going to look at the problems that actually caused the Great Recession, you’ve got to look at the whole picture. It was a giant insurance company, AIG. It was an investment bank, Lehman Brothers. It was mortgage companies like Countrywide.

I’m not saying that Senator Sanders did something untoward when he voted to deregulate swaps and derivatives…

BASH: Madam Secretary…

CLINTON: … but the fact is he did.

CLINTON: And that contributed to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and started the cascade…

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Senator Sanders, one second, please. Secretary Clinton, the question was about the transcripts of the speeches to Goldman Sachs.

(APPLAUSE)

Why not release them?

CLINTON: I have said, look, there are certain — there are certain expectations when you run for president. This is a new one. And I’ve said, if everybody agrees to do it — because there are speeches for money on the other side. I know that.

But I will tell you this, there is — there is a long-standing expectation that everybody running release their tax returns, and you can go — you can go to my website and see eight years of tax returns. And I’ve released 30 years of tax returns. And I think every candidate, including Senator Sanders and Donald Trump, should do the same.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Secretary Clinton, we’re going to get to the tax returns later, but just to put a button on this, you’re running now for the Democratic nomination.

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CLINTON: Right.

BASH: And it is your Democratic opponent and many Democratic voters who want to see those transcripts. It’s not about the Republicans…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, let’s set the same standard for everybody. When everybody does it, OK, I will do it, but let’s set and expect the same standard on tax returns. Everybody does it, and then we move forward.

BLITZER: Thank you.

SANDERS: Well, let me respond. Secretary Clinton, you just heard her, everybody else does it, she’ll do it. I will do it.

(APPLAUSE)

I am going to release all of the transcripts of the speeches that I gave on Wall Street behind closed doors, not for $225,000, not for $2,000, not for two cents. There were no speeches.

(APPLAUSE)

And second of all, of course we will release our taxes. Jane does our taxes. We’ve been a little bit busy lately. You’ll excuse us. But we will…

BLITZER: Senator…

SANDERS: We will get them out.

BLITZER: Senator…

CLINTON: Well, you know, there are a lot of copy machines around.

BLITZER: Senator, when are you — when are you — you’ve been asked for weeks and weeks to release your tax returns.

SANDERS: Well, I think we got one that’s coming out tomorrow.

BLITZER: Which one?

SANDERS: Last year’s.

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BLITZER: 2014?

SANDERS: Yes.

BLITZER: What about 2013, all the other ones?

SANDERS: You’ll get them, yes. Yeah, look, I don’t want to get anybody very excited. They are very boring tax returns. No big money from speeches, no major investments. Unfortunately — unfortunately, I remain one of the poorer members of the United States Senate. And that’s what that will show.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: So, Senator, just to be clear, tomorrow you will release the 2014 tax returns from you and your family?

SANDERS: Yes.

BLITZER: And what about the earlier ones? What’s the problem… SANDERS: Yes.

BLITZER: What’s taking so long? Because you just have to go to the filing cabinet, make a copy, and release them.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Wolf, the answer is, you know, what we have always done in my family is, Jane does them. And she’s been out on the campaign trail. We will get them out. We’ll get them out very shortly. It’s not a big deal.

BLITZER: Thank you. Senator, Senator, you’ve slammed companies like General Electric and Verizon for moving jobs outside of the United States. Yesterday, the CEO of Verizon called your views contemptable and said in your home state of Vermont Verizon has invested more than $16 million and pays millions of dollars a year to local businesses. He says you are, quote, “uninformed on this issue” and disconnected from reality. Given your obvious contempt for large American corporations, how would you as president of the United States be able to effectively promote American businesses around the world?

SANDERS: Well, for a start, I would tell the gentleman who’s the CEO at Verizon to start negotiating with the Communication Workers of America.

(APPLAUSE)

And this is — this is a perfect example, Wolf, of the kind of corporate greed which is destroying the middle class of this country. This gentleman makes $18 million a year in salary. That’s his — that’s his compensation. This gentleman is now negotiating to take away health care benefits of Verizon workers, outsource call center jobs to the Philippines, and — and trying to create a situation where workers will lose their jobs. He is not investing in the way he should in inner cities in America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Senator, but the question was, the question was, given your contempt for large American corporations, as president, how would you be able to promote American business around the world?

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SANDERS: First of all, the word contempt is not right. There are some great businesses who treat their workers and the environment with respect.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Verizon happens not to be one of them.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And what we need to do is to tell this guy Immelt, who’s the head of General Electric, he doesn’t like me, well, that’s fine. He has outsourced hundreds of thousands of decent-paying jobs throughout the world…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — cut his workforce here substantially and in a given year, by the way, it turns out that both Verizon and General Electric, in a given year, pay nothing in federal income tax despite making billions in profits.

(BOOS)

BLITZER: But Senator, experts say that no matter the means to bring back these jobs to the United States, prices of goods for consumers in the United States would go up, which would disproportionately impact the poor and middle class.

So how do you bring back these jobs to the United States without affecting the cost of goods to America’s middle class and poor?

SANDERS: Well, for a start, we’re going to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And number two, while it is true we may end up paying a few cents more for a hamburger in McDonald’s, at the end of the day, what this economy desperately needs is to rebuild our manufacturing sector with good-paying jobs.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: We cannot continue to sustain the loss of millions of decent-paying jobs that we have seen over the last 20, 30 years, based on trade agreements of which Secretary Clinton has voted for almost every one of those. That has got to change.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Secretary…

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: — Secretary Clinton?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, first of all, I do have a very comprehensive plan to create more jobs and I think that has to be at the center of our economic approach. And so I think it is important that we do more on manufacturing. I went to Syracuse and laid out a $10 billion plan that would, I believe, really jump-start advanced manufacturing.

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I have seen the results of what can happen when we have the government cooperating with business. And that’s exactly what I will do.

When I was secretary of State, I helped to lead the way to increased exports of American good around the world, which supports tens of thousands of jobs.

So I think you’ve got to go at this with a sense of how to accomplish the goal we are setting — more good jobs with rising incomes for people everywhere from inner cities to rural areas to every distressed community in America. And that’s exactly what my plan would bring about.

I think we have a pretty good record if we look at what happened…

BLITZER: Senator…

CLINTON: — in the 1990s, we got 23 million new jobs and incomes went up for everybody.

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: Let’s do that again in America.

BLITZER: Senator, how do you…

SANDERS: I’m going to respond…

BLITZER: I’ll have you respond in a moment.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Stand by.

SANDERS: Well, look…

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton… (CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You will respond in a moment, but I have to follow-up with Secretary Clinton.

You stood on the stage with Governor Cuomo in support of new legislation to raise New York’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. But you do not support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

As president…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: — if a Democratic Congress put a $15 minimum wage bill on your desk, would you sign it?

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CLINTON: Well, of course I would. And I have supported…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — I have supported the fight for 15. I am proud to have the endorsement of most of the unions that have led the fight for 15. I was proud to stand on the stage with Governor Cuomo, with SEIU and others who have been leading this battle and I will work as hard as I can to raise the minimum wage. I always have. I supported that when I was in the Senate.

SANDERS: Well, look…

CLINTON: But what I have also said is that we’ve got to be smart about it, just the way Governor Cuomo was here in New York. If you look at it, we moved more quickly to $15 in New York City, more deliberately toward $12, $12.50 upstate then to $15. That is exactly my position. It’s a model for the nation and that’s what I will do as president.

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: Go as quickly as…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — to get to $15.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I am sure a lot of people are very surprised to learn that you supported raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, wait a minute…

SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE).

CLINTON: — wait a minute. SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE).

CLINTON: — wait, wait…

SANDERS: That’s just not accurate. Well…

CLINTON: Come on, I have stood on the debate stage…

SANDERS: — well and I…

CLINTON: — with Senator Sanders eight…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — times.

SANDERS: Excuse me.

CLINTON: I have said the…

SANDERS: Well…

CLINTON: Exact same thing.

BLITZER: Secretary, Senator, please.

CLINTON: If we can…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — raise it to $15 in New York…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — or Los Angeles or Seattle…

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BLITZER: Secretary, the viewers…

CLINTON: — let’s do it.

BLITZER: If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you.

SANDERS: OK.

BLITZER: So please…

SANDERS: I will…

BLITZER: — don’t talk over each other.

SANDERS: I believe I was…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Go ahead.

SANDERS: — responding.

All right? When this campaign began, I said that we got to end the starvation minimum wage of $7.25, raise it to $15. Secretary Clinton said let’s raise it to $12. There’s a difference. And, by the way, what has happened is history has outpaced Secretary Clinton, because all over this country, people are standing up and they’re saying $12 is not good enough, we need $15 an hour.

CLINTON: OK.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Go ahead, Secretary. Secretary?

SANDERS: And suddenly…

BLITZER: Secretary, go ahead.

SANDERS: To suddenly…

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much.

SANDERS: To suddenly announce now that you’re for $15, I don’t think is quite accurate.

BLITZER: All right. Secretary?

CLINTON: All right. I have said from the very beginning that I supported the fight for $15. I supported those on the front lines of the fight for — it happens to be true. I also — I supported the $15 effort in L.A. I supported in Seattle. I supported it for the fast food workers in New York.

The minimum wage at the national level right now is $7.25, right? We want to raise it higher than it ever has been, but we also have to recognize some states and some cities will go higher, and I support that. I have taken my cue from the Democrats in the Senate, led by Senator Patty Murray and others, like my good friend Kirsten Gillibrand, who has said we will set a national level of $12 and then urge any place that can go above it to go above it.

Going from $7.25 to $12 is a huge difference. Thirty-five million people will get a raise. One in four working mothers will get a raise. I want to get something done. And I think setting the goal to get to $12 is the way to go, encouraging others to get to $15. But, of course, if we have a Democratic Congress, we will go to $15.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: Well, I think the secretary has confused a lot of people. I don’t know how you’re there for the fight for $15 when you say you want a $12-an-hour national minimum wage.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, in fact — in fact, there is an effort, Patty Murray has introduced legislation for $12 minimum wage. That’s good. I introduced legislation for $15 an hour minimum wage which is better.

(APPLAUSE)

And ultimately what we have got to determine is after massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 0.1 percent, when millions of our people are working longer hours for low wages…

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: I think we have got to be clear, not equivocate, $15 in minimum wage in 50 states in this country as soon as possible.

BLITZER: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re going to turn to another critically important issue right now, guns in America. Secretary Clinton, you’ve said that Vermont, Senator Sanders’ home state, has, quote, “the highest per capita number of guns that end up committing crimes in New York.” But only 1.2 percent of the guns recovered in New York in 2014 were from Vermont. Are you seriously blaming Vermont, and implicitly Senator Sanders, for New York’s gun violence?

CLINTON: No, of course not. Of course not. This is — this is a serious difference between us.

(LAUGHTER)

And what I want to start by saying — it’s not a laughing matter — 90 people on average a day are killed or commit suicide or die in accidents from guns, 33,000 people a year. I take it really seriously, because I have spent more time than I care to remember being with people who have lost their loved ones.

So, yes, we have a problem in America. We need a president who will stand up against the gun lobby. We need a president who will fight for commonsense gun safety reforms.

(APPLAUSE)

And what we have here is a big difference. Senator Sanders voted against the Brady Bill five times. He voted for the most important NRA priority, namely giving immunity from liability to gun-makers and dealers, something that is at the root of a lot of the problems that we are facing.

Then he doubled down on that in the New York Daily News interview, when asked whether he would support the Sandy Hook parents suing to try to do something to rein in the advertising of the AR-15, which is advertised to young people as being a combat weapon, killing on the battlefield. He said they didn’t deserve their day in court.

CLINTON: I could not disagree more.

And, finally, this is the only industry in America, the only one.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: That has this kind of special protection. We hear a lot from Senator Sanders about the greed and recklessness of Wall Street, and I agree. We’ve got to hold Wall Street accountable…

BLITZER: … Thank you…

CLINTON: … Well, what about the greed and recklessness of gun manufacturers and dealers in America?

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BLITZER: Senator? Well, the only problem is, Wolf, she didn’t answer your question.

You asked her whether she thought that Vermont was responsible. You asked her whether she thought that Vermont was responsible for a lot of the gun violence. You made the point what she said was totally absurd.

BLITZER: I asked her, are you seriously blaming Vermont and implicitly Senator Sanders for New York’s gun violence. She said no. But, go ahead.

SANDERS: Then why did she put out that statement?

CLINTON: I put it out…

SANDERS: … Excuse me, I think I’m responding now.

BLITZER: Please, go ahead sir.

SANDERS: A statement that was refuted by the governor of the state of Vermont, who was a supporter of hers, who said, yeah, in campaigns people tend to exaggerate.
Video
Highlights From the Democratic Debate

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton met in the Democratic presidential debate Thursday night in New York, where each has a major history.
By CNN on Publish Date April 14, 2016. Photo by Chang W. Lee/The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »

* embed

Here is the fact on guns. Let’s talk about guns. That horrible, horrible Sandy Hook — what’s the word we want to use, murder, assault, slaughter, unspeakable act.

Back in 1988, I ran for the United States Congress one seat in the state of Vermont. I probably lost that election, which I lost by three points, because I was the only candidate running who said, you know what? We should ban assault weapons, not seen them sold or distributed in the United States of America.

I’ve got a D-minus voting record from the NRA.

(APPLAUSE)

And, in fact, because I come from a state which has virtually no gun control, I believe that I am the best qualified candidate to bring back together that consensus that is desperately needed in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you.

(CHEERING)

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton, I want you to respond to that, but why did you put out that statement blaming Vermont and its gun policy for some of the death of — by guns in New York?

CLINTON: Well, the facts are that most of the guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from out of state. They come from the states that don’t have kind of serious efforts to control guns that we do in New York.

But let me say this — in 1988, as we’ve heard on every debate occasion, Senator Sanders did run for the Congress and he lost. He came back in 1990 and he won, and during that campaign he made a commitment to the NRA that he would be against waiting periods.

And, in fact, in his own book, he talks about his 1990 campaign, and here’s what he said. He clearly was helped by the NRA, because they ran ads against his opponent. So, then he went to the Congress, where he has been a largely very reliable supporter of the NRA. Voting — he kept his word to the NRA, he voted against the Brady Bill five times because it had waiting periods in it.

Thankfully, enough people finally voted for it to keep guns out of the hands of who should not have them.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator, I want you to respond, but I also want you to respond to this. You recently said you do not think crime victims should be able to sue gun makers for damages. The daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School who was killed back in the 2012 mass shooting, says you owe her and families an apology. Do you?

SANDERS: What we need to do is to do everything that we can to make certain that guns do not fall into the hands of people who do not have them.

Now, I voted against this gun liability law because I was concerned that in rural areas all over this country, if a gun shop owner sells a weapon legally to somebody, and that person then goes out and kills somebody, I don’t believe it is appropriate that that gun shop owner who just sold a legal weapon to be held accountable and be sued.

But, what I do believe is when gun shop owners and others knowingly are selling weapons to people who should not have them — somebody walks in.SANDERS: They want thousands of rounds of ammunition, or they want a whole lot of guns, yes, that gun shop owner or that gun manufacturer should be held liable.

BLITZER: So, Senator, do you owe the Sandy Hook families an apology?

SANDERS: No, I don’t think I owe them an apology. They are in court today, and actually they won a preliminary decision today. They have the right to sue, and I support them and anyone else who wants the right to sue.

CLINTON: Well, I believe that the law that Senator Sanders voted for that I voted against, giving this special protection to gun manufacturers and to dealers, is an absolute abdication of responsibility on the part of those who voted for it.

This is a — this is a unique gift given to only one industry in the world by the United States Congress, as Senator Murphy from Connecticut said, we have tougher standards holding toy gun manufacturers and sellers to account than we do for real guns.

And the point that Senator Sanders keeps making about how he wouldn’t want a mom and pop store — that was not the point of this. And if he can point to any, any incident where that happened, I would love to hear about it.

What was really going on, I’ll tell you, because it has a lot to do with New York City. New York City was on the brink of being able to hold manufacturers and dealers accountable through a very carefully crafted legal strategy.

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: The NRA came to their supporters in the Congress and said, stop it, stop it now, and Senator Sanders joined those who did.

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: Let me just reiterate — just reiterate so there is no confusion, decades ago, before it was popular, in a rural state with no gun control, Bernie Sanders said, let’s ban assault weapons, not see them distributed in the United States of America.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

Let’s turn it over to Errol Lewis, of New York 1 Time Warner Cable News.

LOUIS: Secretary Clinton, the 1994 crime bill that you supported added 100,000 police officers across the country and banned certain assault weapons. It also imposed tougher prison sentences and eliminated federal funding for inmate education.

Looking at the bill as a whole, do you believe it was a net positive or do you think it was a mistake?

CLINTON: Well, I think that it had some positive aspects to it. And you mentioned some of them. The Violence Against Women Act, which has been a very important piece of legislation, in my opinion.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And it also did some things which were to provide more opportunities for young people. So if we were to have the balance sheet on one side, there are some positive actions and changes.

On the other side, there were decisions that were made that now we must revisit and we have to correct. I think that sentences got much too long. The original idea was not that we would increase sentences for non-violent low-level offenders, but once the federal government did what it did, states piled on.

So we have a problem. And the very first speech I gave in this campaign was about what I will do to reform the criminal justice system and end the over-mass incarceration.

So I think that if all of us go and look back at where we were, Senator Sanders voted for the crime bill, and he says the same thing, there were some good things, and things that we have to change and learn from.

So that’s how I see it. And I think we ought to be putting our attention on forging a consensus to make the changes that will divert more people from the criminal justice system to start.

LOUIS: Thank you, Secretary.

CLINTON: To tackle systemic racism and divert people in the beginning.

LOUIS: Now earlier this year, a South Carolina voter told your daughter Chelsea, quote, “I think a lot of African-Americans want to hear, you know what, we made a mistake.” Chelsea said she has heard you apologize, but went on to say that if the voter hadn’t heard it then, quote, “it’s clearly insufficient.”

Do you regret your advocacy for the crime bill?

CLINTON: Well, look, I supported the crime bill. My husband has apologized. He was the president who actually signed it, Senator Sanders…

LOUIS: But what about you, Senator?

CLINTON: … voted for it. I’m sorry for the consequences that were unintended and that have had a very unfortunate impact on people’s lives.

I’ve seen the results of what has happened in families and in communities.

CLINTON: That’s why I chose to make my very first speech a year ago on this issue, Errol, because I want to focus the attention of our country and to make the changes we need to make. And I also want people…

(APPLAUSE)

… especially I want — I want white people — I want white people to recognize that there is systemic racism. It’s also in employment, it’s in housing, but it is in the criminal justice system, as well.

(APPLAUSE)

LOUIS: Senator Sanders, earlier this week at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, you called out President Clinton for defending Secretary Clinton’s use of the term super-predator back in the ’90s when she supported the crime bill. Why did you call him out?

SANDERS: Because it was a racist term, and everybody knew it was a racist term.

(APPLAUSE)

Look, much of what Secretary Clinton said was right. We had a crime bill. I voted for it. It had the Violence Against Women Act in it. When as mayor of Burlington, we worked very hard to try to eliminate domestic violence. This took us a good step forward. We’re talking about the weapon that killed the children in Sandy Hook. This banned assault weapons, not insignificant.

But where we are today is we have a broken criminal justice system. We have more people in jail than any other country on Earth. And in my view, what we have got to do is rethink the system from the bottom on up. And that means, for a start — and we don’t talk about this. The media doesn’t talk about it — you got 51 percent of African-American kids today who graduated high school who are unemployed or underemployed. You know what I think? Maybe we invest in jobs and education for those kids, not jails and incarceration.

(APPLAUSE)

And I’ll tell you what else. And I’ll tell you what else I think. And that is, we have got — and this is the difference between the secretary and myself as I understand it. We have got to have the guts to rethink the so-called war on drugs. Too many lives… BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: Too many lives have been destroyed because people possessed marijuana, millions over a 30-year period. And that is why I believe we should take marijuana out of the federal Controlled Substance Act.

(APPLAUSE)

LOUIS: Thank you. Thank you. Let’s — let’s get Secretary Clinton’s response.

CLINTON: Well, look, I think that, as Senator Sanders said about what I said, I will say about what he said. I think that we recognize that we have a set of problems that we cannot ignore and we must address. And that is why I have been promoting for my entire adult life, I think, the idea of investing early in kids, early childhood education, universal pre-K, like what Mayor de Blasio brought to New York. We have got to help more kids get off to a good start. That’s why I want a good teacher in a good school for every child, regardless of the ZIP Code that child lives in…

LOUIS: Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: … and to be really focused on how we build ladders of opportunity and tear down these barriers that stand in the way of people getting ahead.

LOUIS: Your time’s up, Secretary Clinton.

Senator Sanders, I have a question for you related to this. So you’ve said that by the end of your first term as president, the U.S. will no longer lead the world in mass incarceration. To fulfill that promise, you’d have to release roughly half a million prisoners. How are you going to do that, since the vast majority of American prisoners are not under federal jurisdiction?

SANDERS: We’re going to work with state governments all over this country. And you know what? In a very divided Congress, and a very divided politics in America, actually the one area where there is some common ground is conservatives understand that it’s insane to be spending $80 billion a year locking up 2.2 million people.

With federal and presidential leadership, we will work with state governments to make sure that people are released from jail under strong supervision, that they get the kind of job training and education they need so they can return to their communities. On this one, Errol, actually I think you’re going to see progressive and conservative support. We can do it, if we’re prepared to be bold.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Secretary. We have to take a quick commercial break. We have a lot more questions for Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Let’s turn to another critically important issue.

Senator, Secretary, the issue of energy and the environment.

Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders has said you are in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry. You say you’re sick and tired of him lying about your record.

What are his lies?

CLINTON: Well, let me start by saying we need to talk about this issue and we should talk about it in terms of the extraordinary threats that climate change pose to our country and our world. And that’s why for the last many years, both in the Senate and as secretary of State, it’s been a big part of my commitment to see what could be done.

But there has never been any doubt that when I was a senator, I tried — I joined with others to try to get rid of the subsidies for big oil. And I have proposed that again, because that’s what I think needs to be done as we transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

CLINTON: And everyone who’s looked at this independently, “The Washington Post” and others, who give us both hard times when called for on facts, have said that this is absolutely an incorrect false charge.

So, we both have relatively small amounts of contributions from people who work for fossil fuel companies. Best we can tell from the reports that are done.

But, that is not being supported by big oil, and I think it’s important to distinguish that. And, let’s talk about what each of us has proposed to try to combat greenhouse gas emissions and put us on the fastest track possible to clean energy.

BLITZER: Thank you. We’re going to get to that to, but I want you to respond, Senator.

SANDERS: It is one thing, as the Secretary indicated, to talk about workers. I’m sure I have contributions, you have contributions from workers in every industry in the country. But, as I understand it, 43 lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry maxed out, gave the maximum amount of money to Secretary Clinton’s campaign.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Now, that’s not saying — and, then some people say, well, given the hundreds of millions of dollars she raises it’s a small amount. That’s true. But, that does not mean to say that the lobbyists thought she was a pretty good bet on this issue.

Now, what I think is when we look at climate change now, we have got to realize that this is a global environmental crisis of unprecedented urgency.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

And, it is not good enough. You know, if we, God forbid, were attacked tomorrow the whole country would rise up and say we got an enemy out there and we got to do something about it. That was what 9/11 was about.

We have an enemy out there, and that enemy is going to cause drought and floods and extreme weather disturbances. There’s going to be international conflict.

(APPLAUSE) I am proud, Wolf, that I have introduced the most comprehensive climate change legislation…

BLITZER: …. Thank you…

SANDERS: … Including a tax on carbon. Something I don’t believe Secretary Clinton supports.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton, go ahead and respond.

CLINTON: Well, let’s talk about the global environmental crisis. Starting in 2009 as your Secretary of State, I worked with President Obama to bring China and India to the table for the very first time, to get a commitment out of them that they would begin to address their own greenhouse gas emissions.

(APPLAUSE)

I continued to work on that throughout the four years as Secretary of State, and I was very proud that President Obama and America led the way to the agreement that was finally reached in Paris with 195 nations committing to take steps to actually make a difference in climate change.

(APPLAUSE)

And, I was surprised and disappointed when Senator Sanders attacked the agreement, said it was not enough, it didn’t go far enough. You know, at some point putting together 195 countries, I know a little bit about that, was a major accomplishment…

BLITZER: … Thank you…

(APPLAUSE CHEERING)

CLINTON: … And, our President led the effort to protect our world and he deserve our appreciation, not our criticism…

BLITZER: … Go ahead, Senator…

SANDERS: … Let’s talk about that. When you were Secretary of State, you also worked hard to expand fracking to countries all over the world.

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: The issue here — of course the agreement is a step forward, but you know agreements and I know agreements, there’s a lot of paper there. We’ve got to get beyond paper right now.

We have got to lead the world in transforming our energy system, not tomorrow, but yesterday.

(APPLAUSE) And, what that means, Wolf, it means having the guts to take on the fossil fuel industry. Now, I am on board legislation that says, you know what, we ain’t going to excavate for fossil fuel on public land. That’s not Secretary Clinton’s position.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Let us support a tax on carbon…

BLITZER: … Secretary Clinton…

SANDERS: … Not Secretary Clinton’s position.

BLITZER: … Go ahead and respond.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, I’m a little bewildered about how to respond when you have an agreement which gives you the framework to actually take the action that would have only come about because under the Obama administration in the face of implacable hostility from the Republicans in Congress, President Obama moved forward on gas mileage, he moved forward on the clean power plant. He has moved forward on so many of the fronts that he could given the executive actions that he was able to take.

(APPLAUSE)

And, you know, I am getting a little bit — I’m getting a little bit concerned here because, you know, I really believe that the President has done an incredible job against great odds and deserves to be supported.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

CLINTON: Now, it’s easy — it’s easy to diagnose the problem. It’s harder to do something about the problem. And…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary. We’ll continue on this. Errol — Errol Louis, go ahead with your question.

SANDERS: Wolf. Wolf.

BLITZER: We’re going to continue on this. Errol, go ahead.

LOUIS: OK. Secretary Clinton, as secretary of state, you also pioneered a program to promote fracking around the world, as you described. Fracking, of course, a way of extracting natural gas. Now as a candidate for president, you say that by the time you’re done with all your rules and regulations, fracking will be restricted in many places around the country. Why have you changed your view on fracking?

CLINTON: No, well, I don’t think I’ve changed my view on what we need to do to go from where we are, where the world is heavily dependent on coal and oil, but principally coal, to where we need to be, which is clean renewable energy, and one of the bridge fuels is natural gas.

And so for both economic and environmental and strategic reasons, it was American policy to try to help countries get out from under the constant use of coal, building coal plants all the time, also to get out from under, especially if they were in Europe, the pressure from Russia, which has been incredibly intense. So we did say natural gas is a bridge. We want to cross that bridge as quickly as possible, because in order to deal with climate change, we have got to move as rapidly as we can.

That’s why I’ve set big goals. I want to see us deploy a half a billion more solar panels by the end of my first term and enough clean energy to provide electricity to every home in America within 10 years.

(APPLAUSE)

So I have big, bold goals, but I know in order to get from where we are, where the world is still burning way too much coal, where the world is still too intimidated by countries and providers like Russia, we have got to make a very firm but decisive move in the direction of clean energy.

LOUIS: Thank you, Secretary. All right, Senator?

SANDERS: All right, here is — here is a real difference. This is a difference between understanding that we have a crisis of historical consequence here, and incrementalism and those little steps are not enough.

(APPLAUSE)

Not right now. Not on climate change. Now, the truth is, as secretary of state, Secretary Clinton actively supported fracking technology around the world. Second of all, right now, we have got to tell the fossil fuel industry that their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet.

(APPLAUSE)

And that means — and I would ask you to respond. Are you in favor of a tax on carbon so that we can transit away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy at the level and speed we need to do?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, I have laid out a set of actions that build on what President Obama was able to accomplish, building on the clean power plan, which is currently under attack by fossil fuels and the right in the Supreme Court, which is one of the reasons why we need to get the Supreme Court justice that President Obama has nominated to be confirmed so that we can actually continue to make progress.

I don’t take a back seat to your legislation that you’ve introduced that you haven’t been able to get passed. I want to do what we can do to actually make progress in dealing with the crisis. That’s exactly what I have proposed.

LOUIS: OK, thank you, Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: And my approach I think is going to get us there faster without tying us up into political knots with a Congress that still would not support what you are proposing.

(CROSSTALK)

LOUIS: Senator Sanders, you’ve said that climate change is the greatest change to our nation’s security.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton did not answer one simple question.

LOUIS: Excuse me, Senator, Senator, Senator, Senator, Senator…

SANDERS: Are you for a tax on carbon or not? LOUIS: I have a question for you. You’ve said that climate change is the greatest threat to our nation’s security. You’ve called for a nationwide ban on fracking. You’ve also called for phasing out all nuclear power in the U.S. But wouldn’t those proposals drive the country back to coal and oil, and actually undermine your fight against global warming?

SANDERS: No, they wouldn’t. Look, here’s where we are. Let me reiterate. We have a global crisis. Pope Francis reminded us that we are on a suicide course. Our legislation understands, Errol, that there will be economic dislocation. It is absolutely true. There will be some people who lose their job. And we build into our legislation an enormous amount of money to protect those workers. It is not their fault…

SANDERS: It is not their fault that fossil fuels are destroying our climate.

But we have got to stand up and say right now, as we would if we were attacked by some military force, we have got to move urgency — urgently and boldly.

What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator — senator, jobs…

SANDERS: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: — jobs are one thing, but with less than 6 percent of all U.S. energy coming from solar, wind and geothermal, and 20 percent of U.S. power coming from nuclear, if you phase out all of that, how do you make up…

SANDERS: Well, you don’t phase…

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: — that difference?

SANDERS: — it all out tomorrow. And you certainly don’t phase nuclear out tomorrow. But this is what you do do.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: What you do do is say that we are going to have a massive program — and I had introduced — introduced legislation for 10 million solar rooftops. We can put probably millions of people to work retrofitting and weatherizing buildings all over this country.

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: Saving — rebuilding our rail system.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Our mass transit system.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: If we approach this, Errol, as if we were literally at a war — you know, in 1941, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we moved within three years, within three more years to rebuild our economy to defeat Nazism and Japanese imperialism. That is exactly the kind of approach we need right now.

BLITZER: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Lead the world.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let’s turn to another critically important issue…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: — the issue of national security and foreign policy.

Secretary Clinton, President Obama says the worst mistake in office that he made over these past seven and a half years was not preparing for Libya after Moammar Qadafi was removed. You were his secretary of State.

Aren’t you also responsible for that?

CLINTON: Well, let me say I think we did a great deal to help the Libyan people after Qadafi’s demise. And here’s what we did.

We helped them hold two successful elections, something that is not easy, which they did very well because they had a pent up desire to try to chart their own future after 42 years of dictatorship.

I was very proud of that.

We got rid of the chemical weapons stockpile that Qadafi had, getting it out of Libya, getting it away from militias or terrorist groups.

We also worked to help them set up their government. We sent a lot of American experts there. We offered to help them secure their borders, to train a new military.

They, at the end, when it came to security issues, Wolf, did not want troops from any other country, not just us, European or other countries, in Libya.

And so we were caught in a very difficult position. They could not provide security on their own, which we could see and we told them that, but they didn’t want to have others helping to provide that security.

And the result has been a clash between different parts of the country, terrorists taking up some locations in the country.

And we can’t walk away from that. We need to be working with European and Arab partners…

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: — with the United Nations in order to continue to try to support them.

The Libyan people deserve a chance at democracy and self- government. And I, as president, will keep trying to give that to them

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: According to “The New York Times.”..

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — for President Obama, this was a pretty tough call, like a 51-49 call, do you overthrow Qadafi, who, of course, was a horrific dictator?

“The New York Times” told us it was Secretary Clinton who led the effect for that regime change. And this is the same type of mentality that supported the war in Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Look…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — Qadafi, Saddam Hussein are brutal, brutal murdering thugs. No debate about that.

But what we have got to do and what the president was saying is we didn’t think thoroughly about what happens the day after you get rid of these dictators.

Regime change often has unintended consequences in Iraq and in Libya right now, where ISIS has a very dangerous foothold. And I think if you studied the whole history of…

BLITZER: Yes.

SANDERS: — American involvement in regime change, you see that quite often.

BLITZER: Secretary, we’re going to let you respond.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Yes, well, I…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — I…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — I — I would just point out that there was a vote in the Senate as to whether or not the United States should support the efforts by the Libyan people to protect themselves against the threats, the genocidal threats coming from Gadhafi, and whether we should go to the United Nations to seek Security Council support.

Senator sanders voted for that, and that’s exactly what we did.

SANDERS: No.

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: We went to the United Nations — yes, he did. We went to the United Nations Security Council. We got support from the Security Council. And we then supported the efforts of our European and Arab allies and partners.

This was a request made to our government by the Europeans and by the Arabs because of their great fear of what chaos in Syria would do to them. And if you want to know what chaos does, not just to the people inside but the people on the borders, look at Syria.

Nobody stood up to Assad and removed him, and we have had a far greater disaster in Syria than we are currently dealing with right now in Libya.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton made this charge in previous debates and just repeating it doesn’t make it truer. What you are talking about is what I think was what they call the unanimous consent, you know what that is, where basically, do we support Libya moving to democracy?

Well, you know what, I surely have always supported Libya moving to democracy. But please do not confuse that with your active effort for regime change without contemplating what happened the day after. Totally different issue.

CLINTON: Well, that isn’t…

SANDERS: Second of all — second of all, if I might, in terms of Syria, in terms of Syria…

BLITZER: Senator, let her respond to that, then we’ll get to that.

Go ahead, Secretary.

CLINTON: There was also in that a reference to the Security Council, and I know you’re not shy when you oppose something, Senator. So, yes, it was unanimous. That’s exactly right, including you.

And what we did was to try to provide support for our European and Arab allies and partners. The decision was the president’s. Did I do the due diligence? Did I talk to everybody I could talk to? Did I visit every capital and then report back to the president? Yes, I did. That’s what a secretary of state does.

But at the end of the day, those are the decisions that are made by the president to in any way use American military power. And the president made that decision. And, yes, we did try without success because of the Libyans’ obstruction to our efforts, but we did try and we will continue to try to help the Libyan people.

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Go ahead, Senator.

SANDERS: If you listen, you know — two points. Number one, yes, 100-0 in the Senate voted for democracy in Libya and I would vote for that again. But that is very different from getting actively involved to overthrow and bring about regime change without fully understanding what the consequence of that regime change would be.

Second of all, I know you keep referring to Barack Obama all night here, but you in Syria, you in Syria talked about a no-fly zone, which the president certainly does not support, nor do I support because, A, it will cost an enormous sum of money, second of all, it runs the risk of getting us sucked into perpetual warfare in that region.

Thirdly, when we talk about Syria right now, no debate, like Gadhafi, like Saddam Hussein, Assad is another brutal murdering dictator, but right now our fight is to destroy ISIS first, and to get rid of Assad second.

CLINTON: Well, I think Senator Sanders has just reinforced my point. Yes, when I was secretary of state I did urge, along with the Department of Defense and the CIA that we seek out, vet, and train, and arm Syrian opposition figures so that they could defend themselves against Assad.

The president said no. Now, that’s how it works. People who work for the president make recommendations and then the president makes the decision. So I think it’s only fair to look at where we are in Syria today.

And, yes, I do still support a no-fly zone because I think we need to put in safe havens for those poor Syrians who are fleeing both Assad and ISIS and have some place that they can be safe.

BLITZER: Staying on national security, Dana Bash has a question.

BASH: Senator Sanders, in 1997, you said this about NATO, you said, quote: “It is not the time to continue wasting tens of billions of dollars helping to defend Europe, let alone assuming more than our share of any cost associated with expanding NATO.”

Do you still feel that way?

SANDERS: Well, what I believe, if my memory is correct here, we spend about 75 percent of the entire cost of the military aspect of NATO. Given the fact that France has a very good health care system and free public education, college education for their people, the U.K. has a good National Health Service and they also provide fairly reasonable higher education, you know what, yeah, I do believe that the countries of Europe should pick up more of the burden for their defense. Yes, I do.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: And just following up, Senator Sanders, Donald Trump also argues that NATO is unfair economically to the U.S. because America pays a disproportionate share. So how is what you say about NATO and your proposal different than his?

SANDERS: Well, you got to ask — you got to ask Trump. All I can tell you is, with a huge deficit, with 47 million people living in poverty, with our inner cities collapsing, yeah, I do think countries like Germany and U.K. and France and European countries whose economy, or at least its standard of living and health care and education, they’re doing pretty well.

So I would not be embarrassed as president of the United States to stay to our European allies, you know what, the United States of America cannot just support your economies. You got to put up your own fair share of the defense burden. Nothing wrong with that.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: I support our continuing involvement in NATO. And it is important to ask for our NATO allies to pay more of the cost. There is a requirement that they should be doing so, and I believe that needs to be enforced.

But there’s a larger question here. NATO has been the most successful military alliance in probably human history. It has bound together across the Atlantic countries that are democracies, that have many of the same values and interests, and now we need to modernize it and move it into the 21st century to serve as that head of our defense operations in Europe when it comes to terrorism and other threats that we face. So…

BASH: But, Madam Secretary… CLINTON: … yes, of course they should be paying more, but that doesn’t mean if they don’t we leave, because I don’t think that’s in America’s interests.

BASH: That’s going to be part of my — my question to you is, to that point, there are 28 countries in the alliance, and the United States gives more money to NATO’s budget than 21 of those countries combined. If they don’t agree to pay more, as you suggested, then what would you do as commander-in-chief?

CLINTON: I will stay in NATO. I will stay in NATO, and we will continue to look for missions and other kinds of programs that they will support. Remember, NATO was with us in Afghanistan. Most of the member countries also lost soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan. They came to our rallying defense after 9/11. That meant a lot.

And, yes, we have to work out the financial aspects of it, but let’s not forget what’s really happening. With Russia being more aggressive, making all kinds of intimidating moves toward the Baltic countries, we’ve seen what they’ve done in Eastern Ukraine, we know how they want to rewrite the map of Europe, it is not in our interests. Think of how much it would cost if Russia’s aggression were not deterred because NATO was there on the front lines making it clear they could not move forward.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.”

(APPLAUSE)

What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?

SANDERS: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.

(APPLAUSE)

But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Free Palestine!

SANDERS: Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

SANDERS: And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run — and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

SANDERS: So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people.

That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think…

BLITZER: … Thank you, Senator…

SANDERS: …to an approach that works in the Middle East.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BLITZER: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, end its disproportionate responses?
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CLINTON: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages.

(APPLAUSE)

They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.

So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist tact, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.

(APPLAUSE)

That does not mean — that does not mean that you don’t take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there’s always second guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and…

BLITZER: … Thank you…

CLINTON: … just let me finish. The rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the Late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister Barat put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator, go ahead — go ahead, Senator.

SANDERS: I don’t think that anybody would suggest that Israel invites and welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue.

And, you evaded the answer. You evaded the question. The question is not does Israel have a right to respond, nor does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism. That’s not the debate. Was their response disproportionate?

I believe that it was, you have not answered that.

(CHEERING)

CLINTON: I will certainly be willing to answer it. I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible.

(AUDIENCE REACTION)

I’m not saying it’s anything other than terrible. It would be great — remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.

CLINTON: And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.

So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Senator.

SANDERS: I read Secretary Clinton’s statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: So here is the issue: of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people.

That is what I believe the world wants to us do and that’s the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise.

CLINTON: Well, if I — I want to add, you know, again describing the problem is a lot easier than trying to solve it. And I have been involved, both as first lady with my husband’s efforts, as a senator supporting the efforts that even the Bush administration was undertaking, and as secretary of state for President Obama, I’m the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel.

There were only four of us in the room, Netanyahu, Abbas, George Mitchell, and me. Three long meetings. And I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.

I was absolutely focused on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: A final word, Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: There comes a time — there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well…

BLITZER: Secretary.

CLINTON: … you know, I have spoken about and written at some length the very candid conversations I’ve had with him and other Israeli leaders. Nobody is saying that any individual leader is always right, but it is a difficult position.

If you are from whatever perspective trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist, that is a very difficult challenge.

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. And I think, again, it is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Clinton and others, Jimmy Carter and others have tried to do the right thing.

All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Secretary.

We have to take another quick, quick break. But much more on the CNN Democratic presidential debate live from Brooklyn, New York. That is coming up right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN presidential debate. We’re here in Brooklyn. Secretary, Senator, both of you talk about major reforms to college tuition, health care, and Social Security, all of which will take significant changes from Congress, currently controlled by Republicans.

Senator Sanders, you’re promising health care and free college for all, and those plans would be met with both political and practical challenges. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says your initiatives would cost up to $28 trillion and, even after massive tax increases, that would add as much as $15 trillion to the national debt. How is this fiscally responsible?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, I disagree with that study. There are many economists who come up with very, very different numbers.

For example, we are the only country, major country on Earth, that does not guarantee health care to all people, and yet we end up spending almost three times what the British do, 50 percent more than the French. My proposal, a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program, will save…

(APPLAUSE)

… will save middle-class families many thousands of dollars a year in their health care costs. Public colleges and universities tuition free? Damn right. That is exactly what we should be doing.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And I’d pay for that — I’d pay for that by telling Wall Street that, yeah, we are going to have a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will bring in more than enough money to provide free tuition at public colleges and universities and lower the outrageous level of student debt.

Wolf, we have seen in the last 30 years a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 0.1 percent. The establishment does not like this idea, but, yes, I am determined to transfer that money back to the working families of this country.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Secretary, go ahead and respond.

CLINTON: Well, again — again, I absolutely agree with the diagnosis, the diagnosis that we’ve got to do much more to finish the work of getting universal health care coverage, something that I’ve worked on for 25 years. Before there was something called Obamacare, there was something called Hillarycare. And we’re now at 90 percent of coverage; I’m going to get us to 100 percent.

And with respect to college, I think we have to make college affordable. We are pricing out middle-class, working, and poor families. There’s no doubt about that.

But I do think when you make proposals and you’re running for president, you should be held accountable for whether or not the numbers add up and whether or not the plans…

(APPLAUSE)

… are actually going to work. And just very briefly, on health care, most of the people who have analyzed what Senator Sanders put out — remember, he had a plan for about, I don’t know, 18, 20 years. He changed in the middle of this campaign. He put out another plan. People have been analyzing the new plan. And there is no doubt by those who have analyzed it, progressive economists, health economists, and the like, that it would pose an incredible burden, not just on the budget, but on individuals. In fact, the Washington Post called it a train-wreck for the poor. A working woman on Medicaid who already has health insurance would be expected to pay about $2,300.

The same for free college. The free college offer — you know, my late father said, if somebody promises you something for free, read the fine print. You read the fine print, and here’s what it says.

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

CLINTON: The fine print says this, that it will — the federal government will cover two-thirds of the cost and require the states, even those led by Republican governors…

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead. Thank you.

CLINTON: … to carry out what the remaining one-third of the cost.

SANDERS: I know what Secretary Clinton is saying.

BLITZER: Secretary please.

SANDERS: We are not a country that has the courage to stand up to big money and do what has to be done for the working families of the country.

(APPLAUSE)

Secretary Clinton will have to explain to the people of our country how it could be that every other major country on Earth manages to guarantee health care to all of their people, spending significantly less per capita than we can.

I live 50 miles away from Canada, you know? It’s not some kind of communist authoritarian country. They’re doing OK. They got a health care system that guarantees health care to all people. We can do the same.

In terms of public colleges and universities, please don’t tell me that we cannot do what many other countries around the world are doing. Kids should not be punished and leave school deeply in debt, for what crime? For trying to get an education.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: So, yes, we are going to pay for it…

CLINTON: Well…

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton — Secretary Clinton, go ahead.

CLINTON: We have — we have a difference of opinion. We both want to get to universal health care coverage. I did stand up to the special interests and the powerful forces, the health insurance companies and the drug companies.

(APPLAUSE)

And perhaps that’s why I am so much in favor of supporting President Obama’s signature accomplishment with the Affordable Care Act, because I know how hard it was to get that passed, even with a Democratic Congress. So rather than letting the Republicans repeal it or rather starting all over again, trying to throw the country into another really contentious debate, let’s make the Affordable Care Act work for everybody…

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

CLINTON: … let’s get to 100 percent coverage, let’s get the cost down, and let’s guarantee health care.

BLITZER: Secretary, let’s talk about Social Security, another critically important issue. Senator Sanders has challenged you to give a clear answer when it comes to extending the life of Social Security and expanding benefits. Are you prepared to lift the cap on taxable income, which currently stands at $118,500? Yes or no, would you lift the cap?

CLINTON: I have said repeatedly, Wolf, I am going to make the wealthy pay into Social Security to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. That is one way. If that is the way that we pursue, I will follow that.

CLINTON: But there are other ways. We should be looking at taxing passive income by wealthy people. We should be looking at taxing all of their investment.

But here’s the real issue, because I — I’ve heard this, I’ve seen the reports of it. I have said from the very beginning, we are going to protect Social Security. I was one of the leaders in the fight against Bush when he was trying to privatize Social Security.

But we also, in addition to extending the Trust Fund, which I am absolutely determined to do, we’ve got to help people who are not being taken care of now. And because Social Security started in the 1930s, a lot of women have been left out and left behind.

And it’s time that we provide more benefits for widows, divorcees, for caregivers, for women who deserve more from the Social Security…

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

CLINTON: — system and that will be my highest priority.

BLITZER: Senator?

Go ahead, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: An interesting comment, but you didn’t answer the question.

CLINTON: I did. If that’s the way we’re…

SANDERS: No, you didn’t. My legi…

CLINTON: — yes, I did.

SANDERS: Can I answer…

CLINTON: I did answer the…

SANDERS: — may I please…

CLINTON: Well, don’t — don’t put words…

SANDERS: — can I have… (CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — into my mouth and say something…

SANDERS: — do I not?

CLINTON: — that’s not accurate.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator.

SANDERS: All right. Essentially what you described is my legislation, which includes (INAUDIBLE)…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Now, we’ve got — here is the issue. Your answer has been the same year after year. In fact, the idea that I’m bringing forth, I have to admit it, you know, it wasn’t my idea. It was Barack Obama’s idea in 2008, the exact same idea.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: He called for lifting the cap, which is now higher — it’s at 118 — and starting at 250 and going on up. If you do that, you’re going to extend the life of Social Security for 58 years. You will significantly expand benefits by 1,300 bucks a year for seniors and disabled vets under $16,000 a year.

What’s wrong with that?

Are you prepared to support it?

CLINTON: I have supported it. You know, we are in vigorous agreement here, Senator.

SANDERS: You have sup…

CLINTON: I think it’s important…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — to point out that…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — you know, we’re — we’re having a discussion about the best way to raise money from wealthy people to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. Think about what the other side wants to do. They’re calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme. They still want to privatize it.

In fact, their whole idea is to turn over the Social Security Trust Fund to Wall Street, something you and I would never let happen.

SANDERS: All right, so…

CLINTON: So, yes, we both want to make sure…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Look, Wolf…

CLINTON: — Social Security (INAUDIBLE)…

SANDERS: — I am very glad that…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — and well-funded…

SANDERS: I am very glad to…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: — campaign of challenging, if I hear you correctly, Madam Secretary, you are now coming out finally in favor of lifting the cap on taxable income…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — and extending and expanding Social Security. If that is the case, welcome on board. I’m glad you’re here.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: No.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Errol — Errol Louis, go ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We are going…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — we are…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — we are going…

LOUIS: Secretary…

CLINTON: I — as he said, I’ve said the same thing for years. I didn’t say anything different tonight. We are going to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. There is still something called Congress. Now, I happen to support Democrats and I want to get Democrats to take back the majority in the United States Senate…

BLITZER: Errol…

CLINTON: — so a lot of — a lot of what we’re talking about can actually be implemented…

BLITZER: Errol, hold on a second.

CLINTON: — when I am president.

LOUIS: Secretary…

BLITZER: Go ahead.

Hold on, Errol…

SANDERS: — I’m still…

BLITZER: — Errol. Hold on.

SANDERS: I’ve got to admit…

BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator.

SANDERS: — maybe I’m a little bit confused.

Are you or are you not supporting legislation to lift the cap on taxable income and expand Social Security for 58 years and increase benefits…

CLINTON: I am…

SANDERS: — yes or no?

CLINTON: I have said yes, we are going to pick the best way or combination…

SANDERS: Oh, you — ah.

(APPLAUSE)

(BOOS)

SANDERS: OK.

CLINTON: — or combination of ways…

(BOOS)

CLINTON: — you know…

(BOOS)

CLINTON: — it — it’s all — it’s always a little bit, uh, challenging because, you know, if Senator Sanders doesn’t agree with how you are approaching something, then you are a member of the establishment.

Well, let me say then…

SANDERS: Well, look…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — let me say this…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — we are going to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. We’ve got some good ideas to do it. Let’s get a Congress elected…

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: — that will actually agree…

BLITZER: Well, thank you…

CLINTON: — with us in doing it.

BLITZER: Errol, go ahead.

LOUIS: OK, Secretary Clinton, I’ve got a question for you from a reader…

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: Let me interject here.

LOUIS: — of the “New York Daily News.”

SANDERS: Yes, Secretary Clinton…

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: — you are a member of the establishment.

LOUIS: — this was a reader…

SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE).

LOUIS: — of “The Daily News” who sent us a…

(CHEERING)

LOUIS: — a question for you.

LOUIS: Just a second, Senator.

Hannah Green (ph) wants to know your position, Secretary Clinton, regarding President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Gaarland to the Supreme m Court. President Obama said earlier this week that he would not withdraw the nomination, even after the presidential election. If elected, would you ask the president to withdraw the nomination?

CLINTON: I am not going to contradict the president’s strategy on this. And I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals. I fully support the president.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And I believe that the president — the president is on the right side of both the Constitution and history. And the Senate needs to immediately begin to respond. So I’m going to support the president. When I am president, I will take stock of where we are and move from there.

LOUIS: Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Well, there is no question. I mean, it really is an outrage. And it just continues, the seven-and-a-half years of unbelievable obstructionism we have seen from these right-wing Republicans.

I mean, a third-grader in America understands the president of the United States has the right to nominate individuals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Apparently everybody understands that except the Republicans in Congress.

LOUIS: So, Senator Sanders, would you ask him to withdraw the nomination?

SANDERS: Yes, but here is the point, and obviously i will strongly support that nomination as a member of the Senate. But, if elected president, I would ask the president to withdraw that nomination because I think — I think this.

I think that we need a Supreme Court justice who will make it crystal clear, and this nominee has not yet done that, crystal clear that he or she will vote to overturn Citizens United and make sure that American democracy is not undermined.

(APPLAUSE) CLINTON: You know, there is no doubt that the only people that I would ever appoint to the Supreme Court are people who believe that Roe V. Wade is settled law and Citizens United needs to be overturned.

And I want to say something about this since we’re talking about the Supreme Court and what’s at stake. We’ve had eight debates before, this is our ninth. We’ve not had one question about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care, not one question.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And in the meantime we have states, governors doing everything they can to restrict women’s rights. We have a presidential candidate by the name of Donald Trump saying that women should be punished. And we are never asked about this.

And to be complete in my concern, Senator Sanders says with respect to Trump it was a distraction. I don’t think it’s a distraction. It goes to the heart of who we are as women, our rights, our autonomy, our ability to make our own decisions, and we need to be talking about that and defending Planned Parenthood from these outrageous attacks.

BASH: Senator Sanders, your response.

SANDERS: You’re looking at a senator and former congressman who proudly has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record, who will take on those Republican governors who are trying to restrict a woman’s right to choose, who will take on those governors right now who are discriminating outrageously against the LGBT community, who comes from a state which led the effort for gay marriage in this country, proudly so.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: Who not only thinks we are not going to — not defund Planned Parenthood, we’ve got to expand funding for Planned Parenthood.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Sanders, you’ve spoken a lot tonight about your votes in Congress. You have been in Congress for over a quarter of the century, and there as an independent, not a Democrat.

Now you’re seeking the Democratic nomination, but Secretary Clinton has suggested that she’s not even sure you are a Democrat. Are you?

SANDERS: Well, why would I be running for the Democratic nomination to be president of the United States?

(APPLAUSE) SANDERS: But here is a good point. You know, in virtually all of the general election match-up polls between Trump and Secretary Clinton and Trump and Bernie Sanders, in almost all of those polls, I do better than Secretary Clinton both in the CNN poll I was 20 points ahead of Trump.

I think Secretary Clinton was 12 points. And you know why? Because in fact a whole lot of people — this may be a shock to the secretary, but there a whole lot of independents in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Sanders…

SANDERS: And we are not going to win the White House based on just long-term Democratic votes. We have got to reach out to independents and I think I am well qualified to do that.

BASH: Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I am in this race as a Democrat. I have raised millions of dollars for my colleagues in the United States Senate to help them get elected. I will do everything I can to open the Democratic party to the young people who are flocking into our political campaign.

(CHEERING)

BASH: On that very subject, on that very subject, Secretary Clinton mentions electing a Democratic congress several times. She says that she raised $15 million for the Democratic party in the first three months of this year. You don’t appear to have raised any money for the party. Yesterday you did announce that you will help three members of Congress who have endorsed you. Why aren’t you doing more to help the party you say you want to lead?

SANDERS: The truth is, and you can speak to my colleagues, we have raised millions of dollars to the DSCC. I have written letter that have raised, if I may use the word, huge amount of money so that’s just not accurate.

But, I will also say, and this is important and maybe the Secretary disagrees with me, but I am proud that millions of young people who previously were not involved in the political process are now coming into it, and I do believe, I do believe that we have got to open the door of the Democratic party to those people.

(APPLAUSE)

And, I think the future of the Democratic party is not simply by raising money from wealthy campaign contributors. I think that the way we are doing it in this campaign…

BASH: … Thank you Senator.

SANDERS: $27 a contribution…

BASH: … Senator, your time is up…

SANDERS; not being dependent on Wall Street, or big money, that is the future of the Democratic Party that I want to see.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BASH: Thank you, Senator Sanders. Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Let us talk about where we are in this race. I’ve gotten more votes than anybody running. 9.6 million at the last count.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

That is 2.3 million more than Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

And it is 1.4 million more than Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

I think you have to look at the facts. And, the facts are that I’m putting together a very broad-based, inclusive coalition from the South to the North, from the East to the West, with African-American, Latinos, women, union households, working people and I am very proud of the campaign we are running. It is a campaign that will not only capture the Democratic nomination, but a campaign that will defeat whoever the Republican end up nominating.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BASH: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

CLINTON: And, I want to say — I also want to say that I do — I do think it is absolutely critical and incredible that we have so many young people involved in the political process. I applaud all of those who are applauding you, Senator Sanders. We’re happy that they are supporting you, that they are passionately committed to you and to the issues.

But, let me also say it’s going to be important that we unify the Democratic party when the nomination process has been completed…

BASH: … Secretary Clinton, thank you.

CLINTON: And, I know something about that…

BASH: … Secretary Clinton…

CLINTON: Thank you so much. Because, when I went to the very end of the 2008 campaign with then Senator Obama…

BASH: …Secretary Clinton, you’re out of time…

CLINTON: … We did unify the party, and we did elect a Democratic president…

BASH: …Senator Sanders, on that note….

SANDERS: … Let me, if I may just briefly say something…

BASH: … Senator Sanders, I want to ask you a question about this, and you can incorporate that into your response. Three months now between now and the Democratic convention. Your campaign manager says that you will absolutely take the fight to the floor if neither you nor Secretary Clinton clinches the nomination with pledged delegates alone.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Do you vow to take this fight to Philadelphia no matter what?

SANDERS: I think we’re going to win this nomination to tell you the truth.

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: Look, let me acknowledge what is absolutely true. Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South. No question about it. We got murdered there. That is the most conservative part of this great country. That’s the fact.

But you know what? We’re out of the Deep South now. And we’re moving up. We got here. We’re going to California. We got a number of large states there. And having won seven out of the last eight caucuses and primaries, having a level of excitement and energy among working people and low-income people doing better against Donald Trump and the other Republicans in poll after poll than Secretary Clinton is, yeah, I believe that we’re going to win this nomination, and I believe we’re going to obliterate Donald Trump or whoever the Republican candidate is.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now, let me say this…

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton, go ahead.

CLINTON: I think it’s — I think it’s important for people out there watching this tonight to know that I also have a considerable lead in pledged delegates. And my lead in pledged delegates is actually wider than Barack Obama’s lead was over me.

And in addition to winning states in the Deep South, we won Florida, Texas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri.

(APPLAUSE)

And so I think where we stand today is that we are in this campaign very confident and optimistic, but it all comes down to reaching every single voter. I’m not taking anything for granted or any voter or any place.

So I’m going to work my heart out here in New York until the polls close on Tuesday. I’m going to work in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland, all the way through California. And when we end up with the number of delegates we need, we will unite the party and have a unified convention…

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead. CLINTON: … that we’ll go onto the general election with.

SANDERS: The reason — the reason why in virtually every contest we are winning by very strong margins younger people — and I’m not just talking about very young. You know, the older you get, the younger young gets — 45 or younger — is I think people are sensing that establishment politics and dependence on Wall Street and big money interest is really never going to address the crises that we face.

(APPLAUSE)

And people understand, you can’t take money from powerful special interests into your PAC and then really expect the American people to believe you’re going to stand up to these powerful special interests. So I am very proud of the fact that we have brought millions of new people into the political process…

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: … many of whom previously had given up.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator, very much. The candidates, they will make their final pitches to New York voters right after this.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN presidential debate. It’s time for the candidates’ closing statements. Each candidate will have two minutes. Senator Sanders, you’re first.

SANDERS: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York…

(APPLAUSE)

… the son of an immigrant who came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket, never made a whole lot of money, but was a very proud American, because this country gave him and my mom the opportunity to send their kids to college.

I believe that this country has enormous potential if we have the guts to take on the big money interests who dominate our economic and political life. And I disagree with Secretary Clinton in the belief that you can get money from Wall Street, that you can get money for a super PAC from powerful special interests, and then at the end of the day do what has to be done for the working families of this country. I just don’t accept that.

What I believe is that this country, if we stand together and not let the Trumps of the world divide us up, can guarantee health care to all people as a right, can have paid family and medical leave, can make public colleges and universities tuition-free, can lead the world in transforming our energy system and combatting climate change, can break up the large financial institutions, can demand that the wealthiest people in this country start paying their fair share of taxes.

And we can do that when millions of people stand up, fight back, and create a government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.

(APPLAUSE)

That is what the political revolution is about. That is what this campaign is about. And with your help, we’re going to win here in New York. Thank you. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton? Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Thank you. I am very grateful for the fact that the people of New York gave me the great honor of serving as your senator. You took a chance on me in 2000, and then you re-elected me with one of the biggest margins we’ve had in our state in 2006. During those years, we worked closely together. I tried to have your back, and time and time again, you had mine.

We took on the challenges of 9/11 together. We got the money to rebuild New York. We came to the aid of our brave first responders, construction workers, and others who endangered their own health by helping to save lives and search for survivors.

(APPLAUSE)

We worked to create jobs — despite the disastrous policies of George W. Bush — across New York. And we stood up time and time again against all kinds of vested powerful interests.

I’m asking for your support again in the primary on Tuesday to continue that work together, to take what we did in New York and to take those New York values to the White House, and put them to work on behalf of all of our people, to knock down the barriers that stand in the way.

You know, of course we have economic barriers. I’ve been fighting against those trying to even the odds most of my adult life. But we also have racial barriers, gender barriers, homophobic barriers, disability barriers.

(APPLAUSE)

We have a lot of barriers that stand in the way of people being treated as they should and having the chance to live up to their own God-given potential.

So I am humbly asking for your support on Tuesday. I’ll work my heart out for you again. And together, we won’t just make promises we can’t keep. We’ll deliver results that will improve the lives of the people in New York and in America.

(APPLAUSE)

That’s what we’ll do together. Thank you, New York.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary. Thank you very much, Senator.

I want to thank the candidates for a really terrific debate. Thanks also to Dana Bash and Errol Louis, as well as NY1, the Democratic National Committee, and everyone here at the Duggal Greenhouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Stay with CNN now for complete coverage of the New York primary next Tuesday.

Anderson Cooper picks up our debate coverage right now.

 

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Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 February 25, 2016: 10th Republican debate CNN Telemundo Salem Radio in Houston, Texas transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

10th Republican debate CNN Telemundo Salem Radio in Houston, Texas

Source: Presidential Campaign & Elections

FEB. 25, 2016

Republican debate – CNN/Telemundo/Salem Radio

Time – 8:30 p.m. ET

Location – University of Houston, Houston, Texas

Moderators – Wolf Blitzer, Maria Celeste Arraras, Hugh Hewitt, Dana Bash

Candidates – Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Ben Carson

….READ MORE

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

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 December 19, 2015: Third Democratic Debate in New Hampshire Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Transcript: Read the Full Text of the Third Democratic Debate in New Hampshire

Source: Time, 12-19-15

Three candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination met to debate for the third time Saturday night.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley debated at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. The moderators were David Muir and Martha Raddatz of ABC News.

Here is a complete transcript of the debate.

ANNOUNCER: The race is tight, couldn’t be closer, between Hillary and Bernie right here in New Hampshire. And now, in just moments, with so much on the line, they face each other and the country, live from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, the Democratic debate.

Here again, David Muir and Martha Raddatz.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: And we do say good evening to you from New Hampshire tonight. Over the next two hours, we’re going to have a chance to take a measure of the candidates vying to be the Democratic nominee for president.

It, of course, is the most important thing we do as a democracy: Choosing a president, the individual who will lead us through peace and prosperity, through war and conflict.

RADDATZ: They have all answered many questions in the past few months, but much has changed in the world since they last debated five weeks ago. And this is the last debate of the year. In less than two months, voters in this state will go to the polls.

MUIR: So please welcome the candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, Secretary Hillary Clinton…

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: Governor Martin O’Malley…

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: … and Senator Bernie Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: And good evening to you all. The rules for tonight are very basic and have been agreed to by all three campaigns in advance. Candidates can take up to a minute-and-a-half to respond directly to a question. For a rebuttal, for a follow-up, 45 seconds will be allowed. There are green, yellow, and red lights that each candidate will see to signal when time is running out and when they’re supposed to be finished with their answers.

MUIR: We will be tackling many critical issues right here tonight, and we begin with opening statements, in alphabetical order, and Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Well, thank you. And I’m delighted to be here in New Hampshire for this debate.

You know, the American president has to both keep our families safe and make the economy grow in a way that helps everyone, not just those at the top. That’s the job. I have a strategy to combat and defeat ISIS without getting us involved in another ground war, and I have plans to raise incomes and deal with a lot of the problems that keep families up at night.

I’m very clear that we have a distinct difference between those of us on this stage tonight and all of our Republican counterparts. From my perspective, we have to prevent the Republicans from rolling back the progress that we’ve made. They would repeal the Affordable Care Act, not improve it. They would give more tax breaks to the super-wealthy and corporations, not to the middle class. And they would, despite all their tough talk about terrorism, continue to let people who are on the no-fly list buy guns.

So we have a lot of work to do in this campaign to make it clear where we stand in the Democratic Party, what we will do for our country, and I look forward to this evening’s discussion of real issues that face the American people.

Thank you.

RADDATZ: Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: Martha, thank you. Tonight we have a different debate than the debates that we have been allowed to have so far, because tonight is different because of this reason, that in the course of this presidential campaign America has again been attacked by jihadi terrorists, American lives taken from us. So, yes, we must talk about our ideas to move our economy forward, but the first job of the president of the United States is to protect the people of the United States.

I visited with a number of our neighbors in Northern Virginia at a mosque last Friday. And as I looked out there at the eyes of our neighbors, I also looked in the eyes of veterans. I looked into the eyes of Boy Scouts. I looked into the eyes of moms and dads who would do anything in their power to protect our country’s values and our freedoms.

O’MALLEY: What our nation needs right now is to realize that, while we face a terrible danger, we also face a different sort of political danger. And that is the danger that democracies find themselves susceptible to when unscrupulous leaders try to turn us upon each other. What our country needs right now is new leadership that will bring us together around the values that unite us and the freedoms that we share as Americans.

We will rise to challenge of ISIL and we will rise together to the challenges that we face in our economy. But we will only do so if we hold true to the values and the freedoms that unite us, which means we must never surrender them to terrorists, must never surrender our Americans values to racist, must never surrender to the fascist pleas of billionaires with big mouths.

We are a better country than this. Our enduring symbol is not the barbed wire fence, it is the Statue of Liberty. And America’s best days are in front of us if we move forward together.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Good evening.

I am running for president of the United States because it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics. I’m running for president because our economy is rigged because working people are working longer hours for lower wages and almost all of new wealth and income being created is going to the top one percent. I’m running for president because I’m going to create an economy that works for working families not just billionaires.

I’m running for president because we have a campaign finance system which is corrupt, where billionaires are spending hundreds of millionaires of dollars to buy candidates who will represent their interests rather than the middle class and working families. I’m running because we need to address the planetary crisis of climate change and take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

I’m running for president because I want a new foreign policy; one that takes on Isis, one that destroys ISIS, but one that does not get us involved in perpetual warfare in the quagmire of the Middle East but rather works around a major coalition of wealthy and powerful nations supporting Muslim troops on the ground. That’s the kind of coalition we need and that’s the kind of coalition I will put together.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator Sanders thank you and thank you all.

We do have a lot of important issues to get here tonight and we want to address the controversy of the last 24 hours right off the top because we heard some of the most heated rhetoric of the campaign so far between two of the campaigns on this stage tonight.

Senator Sanders, you fired a campaign staffer you have sued the Democratic National Committee; all of this after your campaign acknowledge that some of your staffers quote, “irresponsibly accessed data from another campaign.” The Clinton campaign called this a very egregious breech of data of ethics and said, quote, “our data was stolen.”

Did they overstate this or were your staffers essentially stealing part of the Clinton playbook?

SANDERS: David, let me give you a little bit of background here.

The DNC has hired vendors. On two occasions, there were breeches in information two months ago. Our staff found information on our computers from the Clinton campaign. And when our staffers said, “whoa, what’s going here?” They went to the DNC quietly.

They went to the vendor and said, “hey, something is wrong,” and that was quietly dealt with. None of that information was looked at. Our staffer at that point did exactly the right thing.

A few days ago a similar incident happened. There was a breach because the DNC vendor screwed up, information came to our campaign. In this case, our staff did the wrong thing — they looked a that information. As soon as we learned that they looked at that information – we fired that person. We are now doing an independent internal investigation to see who else was involved.

Thirdly, what I have a really problem, and as you mentioned – this is a problem, I recognize it as a problem. But what the DNC did arbitrarily without discussing it with us is shut off our access to our information crippling our campaign. That is an egregious act. I’m glad that late last night, that was resolved.

SANDERS: Fourthly, I work — look forward to working with Secretary Clinton for an investigation, an independent investigation, about all of the breaches that have occurred from day one in this campaign, because I am not convinced that information from our campaign may not have ended up in her campaign. Don’t know that.

But we need an independent investigation, and I hope Secretary Clinton will agree with me for the need of that.

Last point. When we saw the breach two months, we didn’t go running to the media and make a big deal about it. And it bothers me very much that, rather than working on this issue to resolve it, it has become many press releases from the Clinton campaign later.

MUIR: But Senator, you do mention the DNC — the vender. But you said of your staff that they did the wrong thing.

SANDERS: Absolutely.

MUIR: So, does Secretary Clinton deserve an apology tonight?

SANDERS: Yes, I apologize.

MUIR: Secretary Clinton…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Not only — not only do I apologize to Secretary Clinton — and I hope we can work together on an independent investigation from day one — I want to apologize to my supporters. This is not the type of campaign that we run.

And if I find anybody else involved in this, they will also be fired.

MUIR: Secretary Clinton, he has apologized. How do your react?

CLINTON: I very much appreciate that comment, Bernie. It really is important that we go forward on this.

I know that you now have your data back, and that there has been an agreement for an independent inquiry into what did happen.

Obviously, we were distressed when we learned of it, because we have worked very hard — I said in the beginning of this campaign, we want to reach as many voters as possible, and we have tens of thousands of volunteers doing that, and entering data all the time to keep up with what people are telling us.

And so, now that, I think, you know, we have resolved your data, we have agreed on an independent inquiry, we should move on. Because I don’t think the American people are all that interested in this.

(APPLAUSE)

I think they’re more interested in what we have to say about all the big issues facing us.

O’MALLEY: Yeah, David, look, for crying out loud, our country has been attacked, we have pressing issues involving how we’re going to adapt to this changing era of warfare.

Our economy — people are working harder and being left behind. You want to know why things don’t get done in Washington? Because for the last 24 hours, with those issues being so urgent to people as they tune in tonight, wondering how they’re even be able to buy presents for their kids.

Instead, we’re listening to the bickering back and forth. Maybe that is normal politics in Washington, but that is not the politics of higher purpose that people expect from our party.

We need to address our security issues, we need to address the economic issues around the kitchen table. And if people want a more high-minded politics and want to move our country forward, go on to martinomalley.com and help my campaign move our country forward.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR (?): All three candidates are weighing in.

SANDERS: Let me agree with Governor O’Malley and let me agree with Secretary Clinton. You know, we had this incident before, Secretary, with your famous e-mails. Right?

And what I said and I think what Governor O’Malley is saying, and I hope you say, is when the middle class of this country is disappearing, when we have massive income and wealth inequality, when we’re the only major country on earth not guaranteeing health care to all people, all the issues that the governor talked about, the secretary talked about, those are the issues. Media notwithstanding.

Those are the issues that the American people want discussed. I hope those are the issues we’ll discuss.

MUIR: Good let’s move on — Senator Sanders, let’s move on right to some of those issues.

(APPLAUSE)

It is just six days before Christmas, as we all know in this country. It’s typically a joyful time, as it is this year, as well. But it’s also an anxious time. President Obama has acknowledged that what we saw in San Bernardino was an act of terrorism. But we remember the president said, right before Thanksgiving, there is no known specific and credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland.

We now know that this couple had assembled an arsenal. They were not on law enforcement’s radar. They were completely undetected. So as we approach another holiday, with the president again saying, late this week, no credible threat, Secretary Clinton, how confident should the American people be, that there aren’t others like that couple right now in the U.S. going undetected?

And what would you do as president to find them?

CLINTON: Well, first, the most important job of being president is obviously to keep our country safe and to keep the families of America safe.

I have a plan that I’ve put forward to go after ISIS. Not to contain them, but to defeat them. And it has three parts. First, to go after them and deprive them of the territory they occupy now in both Syria and Iraq.

CLINTON: Secondly, to go after and dismantle their global network of terrorism. And thirdly, to do more to keep us safe. Under each of those three parts of my plan, I have very specific recommendations about what to do.

Obviously, in the first, we do have to have a — an American-led air campaign, we have to have Arab and Kurdish troops on the ground. Secondly, we’ve got to go after everything from North Africa to South Asia and beyond.

And then, most importantly, here at home, I think there are three things that we have to get right. We have to do the best possible job of sharing intelligence and information. That now includes the internet, because we have seen that ISIS is a very effective recruiter, propagandist and inciter and celebrator of violence.

That means we have to work more closely with our great tech companies. They can’t see the government as an adversary, we can’t see them as obstructionists. We’ve got to figure out how we can do more to understand who is saying what and what they’re planning.

And we must work more closely with Muslim-American communities. Just like Martin, I met with a group of Muslim-Americans this past week to hear from them about what they’re doing to try to stop radicalization. They will be our early warning signal. That’s why we need to work with them, not demonize them, as the Republicans have been doing.

O’MALLEY: David, I am the very first…

MUIR: (inaudible) thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

I am the very first post-9/11 mayor and the very first post-9/11 governor. I understand, from the ground up, that when attacks like San Bernardino happen, when attacks like the attacks of 9/11 happen, that when people call 911, the first people to show up are the local first responders.

Many of the things Secretary Clinton said are absolutely true, but they underscore a lack of investment that we have, as a nation, failed to make over these last 15 years in intelligence gathering, intelligence analysis, intelligence sharing. Not only in theater, in Syria and Iraq and other places where we embalk (ph) ourselves in toppling dictators without having any idea what comes next, but here in the homeland, as we protect people from this threat of the lone wolves and these changing tactics and strategies.

I believe that what’s happened here is that the president had us on the right course, but it’s a lack of battle tempo. We have to increase the battle tempo, we have to bring a modern way of getting things done and forcing the sharing of information and do a much better job of acting on it in order to prevent these sorts of attacks in the future.

MUIR: And we’re going to break down these issues tonight, but I do want to go to Senator Sanders because the concern going into Christmas is significant, as you know. A new ABC News poll shows 77 percent of Americans have little or no confidence in the government’s ability to prevent a lone wolf attack. How would you specifically find would-be terrorist who are going undetected?

SANDERS: I’m one of the 77 percent. I think this is a very difficult issue. Let me agree with much of what the secretary and the governor have said. Let me tell you what I think we have got to do. I think it’s a two-pronged issue.

Number one, our goal is to crush and destroy ISIS. What is the best way to do it? Well, I think there are some differences of opinion here, perhaps between the secretary and myself. I voted against the war in Iraq because I thought unilateral military action would not produce the results that were necessary and would lead to the kind of unraveling and instability that we saw in the Middle East.

I do not believe in unilateral American action. I believe in action in which we put together a strong coalition of forces, major powers and the Muslim nations. I think one of the heroes in a real quagmire out there, in a dangerous and difficult world, one of the heroes who we should recognize in the Middle East is King Abdullah II of Jordan. This small country has welcomed in many refugees.

And Abdullah said something recently, very important. He said, “Yes, international terrorism is by definition an international issue, but it is primarily an issue of the Muslim nations who are fighting for the soul of Islam. We the Muslims should lead the effort on the ground.” And I believe he is absolutely right.

MUIR: Senator, thank you.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, in the wake of the San Bernardino attack, you all emphasized gun control. But our latest poll shows that more Americans believe arming people, not stricter gun laws, is the best defense against terrorism. Are they wrong?

CLINTON: Well, I think you have to look at both the terrorism challenge that we face abroad and certainly at home and the role that guns play in delivering the violence that stalks us. Clearly, we have to have a very specific set of actions to take. You know, when Senator Sanders talks about a coalition, I agree with him about that. We’ve got to build a coalition abroad. We also have to build a coalition at home. Abroad, we need a coalition that is going to take on ISIS. I know how hard that is. I know it isn’t something you just hope people will do and I’ve worked on that…

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, can we stick to gun control?

CLINTON: Yes, I’m getting…

RADDATZ: Are they wrong?

CLINTON: … I’m getting to that. Because I think if you only think about the coalition abroad you’re missing the main point, which is we need a coalition here at home. Guns, in and of themselves, in my opinion, will not make Americans safer. We lose 33,000 people a year already to gun violence, arming more people to do what I think is not the appropriate response to terrorism.

I think what is…

(APPLAUSE)

Is creating much deeper, closer relations and, yes, coalitions within our own country. The first line of defense against radicalization is in Muslim-American community. People who we should be welcoming and working with.

I worry greatly that the rhetoric coming from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump, is sending a message to Muslims here in the United States and literally around the world that there is a “clash of civilizations,” that there is some kind of Western plot or even “war against Islam,” which then I believe fans the flames of radicalization.

So guns have to be looked at as its own problem, but we also have to figure out how we’re going to deal with the radicalization here in the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Senator Sanders — wait just a moment, please, Governor O’Malley.

Senator Sanders, we’ve seen those long lines of people buying guns in record numbers after the Paris attacks. Would you discourage people from buying a gun?

SANDERS: It’s a country in which people choose to buy guns. I think half of the — more than half of the people in my own state of Vermont, my guess here in New Hampshire, are gun owners. That’s the right of people.

But this is what I do believe. I believe that when we have some 300 million guns in this country, I believe that when we have seen these horrific mass killings, not only in San Bernardino, but in Colorado and movie theaters in Colorado, I think we have got to bring together the vast majority of the people who do in fact believe in sensible gun safety regulations.

For example, talking about polls, a poll recently came out, overwhelming majority of the American people say we should strengthen the instant background check. Who denies that it is crazy…

(APPLAUSE)

Who denies that it is crazy to allow people to own guns who are criminals or are mentally unstable? We’ve got to eliminate the gun show loophole. In my view, we have got to see that weapons designed by the military to kill people are not in the hands of civilians.

I think there is a consensus.

(APPLAUSE)

I think — I’m not going to say that everybody is in agreement. It’s a divided country on guns. But there is a broad consensus on sensible gun safety regulations that I, coming from a state that has virtually no gun control, will do my best to bring together.

O’MALLEY: Martha, if I may…

RADDATZ: Thank you, Senator Sanders.

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: I think we’re going to go on…

O’MALLEY: Excuse me, no.

MUIR: Governor, we have to abide the rules here, we’ll call on you here shortly, but…

O’MALLEY: I am the only person on this stage who has actually…

MUIR: But I do want pick up on something…

O’MALLEY: … passed comprehensive gun safety legislation with a ban on combat assault weapons, David.

And, look, there are profound differences…

(APPLAUSE)

O’MALLEY: Senator Sanders voted against the Brady Bill. Senator Sanders voted to give immunity to gun dealers. And Senator Sanders voted against even research dollars to look into this public health issue.

Secretary Clinton changes her position on this every election year, it seems, having one position in 2000 and then campaigning against President Obama and saying we don’t need federal standards.

Look, what we need on this issue is not more polls. We need more principle. When ISIL does training videos that say the easiest way to get a combat assault weapon in the United States of America is at a gun show, then we should all be waking up. We need comprehensive gun safety legislation and a ban on assault weapons.

RADDATZ: Governor, now — and let me stay with gun control for a minute, then. You talk about assault weapons. Even if you were able to ban the purchase of assault weapons tomorrow, Americans already own an estimated 7 to 10 million semi-automatic rifles.

Would you make it illegal to own those weapons, force people to turn them in? And if not, how would banning the sales really make a difference?

O’MALLEY: Because, Martha, it would prevent people like the guy that just got charged yesterday perhaps from being able to buy combat assault weapons. You know, we are the only nation, only developed nation on the planet…

RADDATZ: But, again, I’m not talking about buying. Would you have them confiscated? The ones that are already here?

O’MALLEY: No, Martha, I would not. And that’s not what we did in Maryland. But you know what we did in Maryland? We overcame the NRA’s objections. We overcame all of the crowds that were coming down there.

We did our own rallies. And at least if we enact these laws in a prospective way, we can address a major vulnerability in our country. ISIL videos, ISIL training videos are telling lone wolves the easiest way to buy a combat assault weapon in America is at a gun show.

And it’s because of the flip-flopping, political approach of Washington that both of my two colleagues on this stage have represented there for the last forty years.

SANDERS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s calm down a little bit, Martin.

CLINTON: Yes, let’s tell the truth, Martin.

O’MALLEY: I am telling the truth.

SANDERS: First of all, let’s have some rules here, commentators.

MUIR: We will.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: All right.

MUIR: But let me just establish that for you, senator. Really quickly governor, we are going to call on you tonight and it’s very clear you have a lot to say but please wait until you’re called upon. And senator, he invoked your record and I’ll let you respond.

SANDERS: He sure did.

MUIR: I’ll let you respond.

CLINTON: He invoked mine as well.

MUIR: And you will get some to as well.

SANDERS: Sure did. All right. First off, we can do all the great speeches we want but you’re not going to succeed unless there is a consensus. In 1988, just to set the record straight governor, I ran for the U.S. House. We have one House member from Vermont, three candidates in the race. One candidate said, you know what, I don’t think it’s a great idea that we sell automatic weapons in this country that are used by the military to kill people very rapidly.

Gun people said, there were three candidates in the race, you vote for one of the others, but not Bernie Sanders. I lost that election by three percentage points. Quite likely, for that reason. So please, do not explain to me, coming from a state where democratic governors and republican governors have supported virtually no gun control.

(CROSSTALK)

Excuse me. Do not tell me that I have not shown courage in standing up to the gun people, in voting to ban assault weapons, voting for instant background checks, voting to end the gun show loop hole and now we’re in a position to create a consensus in America on gun safety.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator, thank you. I want to move on here. Secretary Clinton, you brought up Donald Trump a short time ago.

CLINTON: I do and this is an important issue and I know we’ll get to a lot of other critical ones as well. I actually agree with Governor O’Malley about the need for common sense gun safety measures. And I applaud his record in Maryland. I just wish he wouldn’t misrepresent mine. I have been for the Brady bill, I have been against assault weapons.

I have voted not to give gun makers and sellers immunity. And I also know that — and I’m glad to see this — Senator Sanders has really moved in face of the facts about what we’re confronting in our country. I know that he has said in the two previous that he wants to take on this immunity issue because we need to send a strong message to the gun manufacturers, to the sellers, to the gun lobby.

And I would hope, Senator Sanders, that you would join the Democrats who are trying to close the Charleston loophole, that you would sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to remove the absolute immunity. We need to move on this consensus that exists in the country. It’s no longer enough just to say the vast majority of Americans want common sense gun safety measures including gun owners.

We need, and only the three of us will do this, nobody on the Republican side will even admit there’s a problem. And in whatever way the three of us can we need to move this agenda forward and begin to deal with the gun lobby and the intimidation that they present.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Secretary Clinton, thank you. We’re going to move on from guns here and go back to something you mentioned a short time ago. You brought up Donald Trump first here this evening. We’ve now seen the polling done well after his proposed ban on Muslims coming to America. Thirty-six percent of Americans, more than a third, agree with him.

You have weighed in already on Donald Trump. You’ve weighed in on the proposed ban. But what would you say to the millions of Americans watching tonight who agree with him? Are they wrong?

CLINTON: Well I think a lot of people are understandably reacting out of fear and anxiety about what they’re seeing. First what they saw in Paris, now what they have seen in San Bernardino. And Mr. Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people and to make think there are easy answers to very complex questions.

So what I would say is, number one, we need to be united against the threats that we face. We need to have everybody in our country focused on watching what happens and reporting it if it’s suspicious, reporting what you hear. Making sure that Muslim Americans don’t feel left out or marginalized at the very moment when we need their help.

CLINTON: You know, I was a senator from New York after 9/11, and we spent countless hours trying to figure out how to protect the city and the state from perhaps additional attacks. One of the best things that was done, and George W. Bush did this and I give him credit, was to reach out to Muslim Americans and say, we’re in this together. You are not our adversary, you are our partner.

And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.

MUIR: Secretary, thank you.

Senator Sanders, I did want to ask you about a neighbor in San Bernardino who reportedly witnessed packages being delivered to that couple’s home, that it set off red flags, but they didn’t report it because they were afraid to profile. What would you say to Americans afraid to profile? Is it ever acceptable?

SANDERS: Well, the answer is, obviously, if you see suspicious activity, you report it. That’s kind of a no-brainer. You know, somebody is loading guns and ammunition into a house, I think it’s a good idea to call 911. Do it.

(LAUGHTER)

MUIR: But I’m asking about — I’m asking about profiling. Because a lot of people are afraid of that.

SANDERS: But I want to talk — I want to talk about something else, because Secretary Clinton I think made some interesting and good points. What you have now is a very dangerous moment in American history.

The secretary is right: Our people are fearful. They are anxious on a number of levels. They are anxious about international terrorism and the possibility of another attack on America. We all understand that.

But you know what else they’re anxious about? They’re anxious about the fact that they are working incredibly long hours, they’re worried about their kids, and they’re seeing all the new income and wealth — virtually all of it — going to the top 1 percent. And they’re looking around them, and they’re looking at Washington, and they’re saying the rich are getting much richer, I’m getting poorer, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do for my kids?

And somebody like a Trump comes along and says, “I know the answers. The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they’re criminals and rapists, we’ve got to hate the Mexicans. Those are your enemies. We hate all the Muslims, because all of the Muslims are terrorists. We’ve got to hate the Muslims.” Meanwhile, the rich get richer.

So what I say to those people who go to Donald Trump’s rallies, understand: He thinks a low minimum wage in America is a good idea. He thinks low wages are a good idea.

I believe we stand together to address the real issues facing this country, not allow them to divide us by race or where we come from. Let’s create an America that works for all of us, not the handful on top.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator, thank you.

RADDATZ: I want to move to another…

O’MALLEY: Martha, may I — Martha, may I…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: No, no, not yet, Governor O’Malley.

O’MALLEY: Can I share this quick story?

RADDATZ: No, not yet, Governor O’Malley.

O’MALLEY: Oh. All right.

RADDATZ: I’ll come to you when we call on you. Thank you very much.

O’MALLEY: When you come back to me, I’ll share that story.

RADDATZ: You’ll be happy. I’ll let — I’ll let you talk then.

Secretary Clinton, I want to talk about a new terrorist tool used in the Paris attacks, encryption. FBI Director James Comey says terrorists can hold secret communications which law enforcement cannot get to, even with a court order.

You’ve talked a lot about bringing tech leaders and government officials together, but Apple CEO Tim Cook said removing encryption tools from our products altogether would only hurt law-abiding citizens who rely on us to protect their data. So would you force him to give law enforcement a key to encrypted technology by making it law? CLINTON: I would not want to go to that point. I would hope that, given the extraordinary capacities that the tech community has and the legitimate needs and questions from law enforcement, that there could be a Manhattan-like project, something that would bring the government and the tech communities together to see they’re not adversaries, they’ve got to be partners.

It doesn’t do anybody any good if terrorists can move toward encrypted communication that no law enforcement agency can break into before or after. There must be some way. I don’t know enough about the technology, Martha, to be able to say what it is, but I have a lot of confidence in our tech experts.

And maybe the back door is the wrong door, and I understand what Apple and others are saying about that. But I also understand, when a law enforcement official charged with the responsibility of preventing attacks — to go back to our early questions, how do we prevent attacks — well, if we can’t know what someone is planning, we are going to have to rely on the neighbor or, you know, the member of the mosque or the teacher, somebody to see something.

CLINTON: I just think there’s got to be a way, and I would hope that our tech companies would work with government to figure that out. Otherwise, law enforcement is blind — blind before, blind during, and, unfortunately, in many instances, blind after.

So we always have to balance liberty and security, privacy and safety, but I know that law enforcement needs the tools to keep us safe. And that’s what i hope, there can be some understanding and cooperation to achieve.

RADDATZ: And Governor O’Malley, where do you draw the line between national security and personal security?

O’MALLEY: I believe that we should never give up our privacy; never should give up our freedoms in exchange for a promise of security. We need to figure this out together. We need a collaborative approach. We need new leadership.

The way that things work in the modern era is actually to gather people around the table and figure these things out. The federal government should have to get warrants. That’s not some sort of passe you know, antique sort of principle that safeguards our freedoms.

But at the same time with new technologies I believe that the people creating these projects — I mean these products also have an obligation to come together with law enforcement to figure these things out; true to our American principles and values.

My friend Kashif, who is a doctor in Maryland; back to this issue of our danger as a democracy of turning against ourselves. He was putting his 10 and 12-year-old boys to bed the other night. And he is a proud American Muslim. And one of his little boys said to him, “Dad, what happens if Donald Trump wins and we have to move out of our homes?” These are very, very real issues. this is a clear and present danger in our politics within.

We need to speak to what unites us as a people; freedom of worship, freedom of religion, freedom of expression. And we should never be convinced to give up those freedoms in exchange for a promise of greater security; especially from someone as untried and as incompetent as Donald Trump.

RADDATZ: Thank you, Governor O’Malley.

MUIR: Martha, we’re going to turn now to refugees coming to America. And on the subject of refugees, more than half of all Americans now say they oppose taking in refugees from Syria and across the Middle East.

Secretary Clinton, you have said that it would undermine who we are as Americans, shutting our doors. But New Hampshire’s governor, where we are right here tonight, a democrat and a supporter of yours, is among more than 30 governors who are now concerned. Governor Maggie Hassan says, “we should halt acceptance of Syrian refugees until U.S. authorities can assure the vetting process, halt Syrian refugees.” Is she wrong?

CLINTON: Well, I agree that we have to have the toughest screening and vetting…

MUIR: But a halt?

CLINTON: I don’t think a halt is necessary. What we have to do is put all of our resources through the Department of Homeland Security, through the State Department, through our intelligence agencies, and we have to have an increased vetting and screening. Now, this takes, David, 18 months to 24 months, two years.

So I know it’s not going to happen overnight and everything that can be done should be done. But the process should move forward while we are also taking on ISIS, putting together the kind of strategy that I’ve advocated for, and making sure that the vetting and the screening is as tough as possible. Because I do believe that we have a history and a tradition, that is part of our values system and we don’t want to sacrifice our values.

We don’t want to make it seem as though we are turning into a nation of fear instead of a nation of resolve. So I want us to have a very tough screening process but I want that process to go forward. And if at the end of 18 months, 24 months there are people who have been cleared, and I would prioritize widows, and orphans, and the elderly, people who may have relatives, families, or have nowhere else to go. I would prioritize them.

And that would I think give the American public a bit more of a sense of security about who is being processed and who might end up coming as refugees.

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, obviously you were governor yourself at one time. What would you say to New Hampshire’s governor tonight? Is she wrong on this?

O’MALLEY: No, what I would say is this is look, I was the first of the three of us to call for America to accept the 65,000 refugees we were asked to accept. And if this humanitarian crisis increases, we should accept more.

MUIR: So the idea of a halt or a pause?

(APPLAUSE)

O’MALLEY: David, there are wider vulnerabilities than when it comes to refugees. I met recently with some members of the Chaldean Christian communities and the wait times are a year, 18 months, 24 months. There is a pretty excruciating process that refugees go through. We need to invest more in terms of the other sort of visas and the other sort of waivers.

O’MALLEY: What these Chaldean families told me was that their families in Syria, when ISIS moves into their town, they actually paint a red cross across the door and mark their homes for demolition, and that tells the family you’d better get out now. The sort of genocide and brutality that the victims are suffering, these are not the perpetrators.

We need to be the nation whose enduring symbol is the Statue of Liberty, and we need to act like the great country we are, according to our values.

MUIR: Governor, thank you.

RADDATZ: Senator Sanders — Senator Sanders, we’re going to move on. We’re going to move on.

SANDERS: Excuse me. May I have a chance to respond to this issue?

RADDATZ: We’re going to move on to the fight against ISIS. You’re the one who told us we have to follow the rules and break it off.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Yeah, but the rule includes equal — got it. All right.

(LAUGHTER)

RADDATZ: OK. Let’s keep going. Thank you.

SANDERS: All right. Let’s keep going. OK.

RADDATZ: Thank you. I do want to move to the fight against ISIS.

SANDERS: Yeah.

RADDATZ: For the people of New Hampshire, the brutality of ISIS is personal. James Foley grew up here. The first hostage, a journalist, brutally executed last year. You’ve all said ISIS is a ruthless enemy and must be stopped. Al Qaida as well.

Senator Sanders, you voted to send U.S. ground forces to fight in the coalition to help destroy Al Qaida in Afghanistan. Can you then explain you why don’t support sending U.S. combat troops to join a coalition to fight ISIS?

SANDERS: And I also voted and helped lead the effort against the war in Iraq, which will go down in history as one of the worst foreign blunders — foreign policy blunders in the history of our country.

I voted against the first Gulf War, which set the stage, I believe, for the second Iraq war. And what I believe right now, and I believe this is terribly important, is the United States of America cannot succeed, or be thought of as the policeman of the world, that when there’s an international crisis all over the world, in France and in the U.K. Or — hey, just call up the American military and the American taxpayers, they’re going to send the troops.

And if they have to be in the Middle East for 20 or 30 years no problem.

RADDATZ: But why Al Qaida, why not ISIS?

SANDERS: I have a problem with that, Martha. What I believe has got to happen is there must be an international coalition, including Russia, a well-coordinated effort.

But I agree, as I mentioned a moment ago, with King Abdullah. This is a war for the soul of Islam. The troops on the ground should not be American troops. They should be Muslim troops. I believe that countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have got to step up to the plate, have got to contribute the money that we need, and the troops that we need, to destroy ISIS with American support.

RADDATZ: The administration has tried that over and over again. If it doesn’t work and this threat is so great, what’s your plan B?

SANDERS: My plan is to make it work, to tell Saudi Arabia that instead of going to war in Yemen, they, one of the wealthiest countries on Earth, are going to have to go to war against ISIS.

To tell Qatar, that instead of spending $200 billion on the World Cup, maybe they should pay attention to ISIS, which is at their doorstep.

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, you too have ruled out a large U.S. combat force, yet you support sending in special operations forces to Syria, and sending those 100 to 200 troops to Iraq to do exploitation kill raids.

We’ve already lost one Delta Force member in a raid. It has looked very much to me like we’re already in ground combat on frequent trips I’ve made there.

So, are you fooling Americans when you say, we’re not putting American combat troops back into Syria or Iraq?

CLINTON: No. Not at all. I think that what we’re facing with ISIS is especially complicated. It was a different situation in Afghanistan. We were attacked from Afghanistan. Al Qaida was based in Afghanistan. We went after those who had attacked us.

What’s happening in Syria and Iraq is that, because of the failures in the region, including the failure of the prior government in Baghdad, led by Maliki, there has been a resurgence of Sunni activities, as exemplified by ISIS. And we have to support Sunni-Arab and Kurdish forces against ISIS, because I believe it would be not only a strategic mistake for the United States to put ground combat troops in, as opposed to special operators, as opposed to trainers, because that is exactly what ISIS wants.

They’ve advertised that. They want American troops back in the Middle East. They want American soldiers on the ground fighting them, giving them many more targets, and giving them a great recruiting opportunity.

CLINTON: So, I think it’s absolutely wrong policy for us to be even imagining we’re going end up putting tens of thousands of American troops into Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS.

And we do have to form a coalition. I know how hard that is. I have formed them. I put together a coalition, including Arabs, with respect to Libya and a coalition to put sanctions onto Iran. And you have to really work hard at it.

And the final thing I would say, bringing Donald Trump back into it, if you’re going to put together a coalition in the region to take on the threat of ISIS you don’t want to alienate the very countries and people you need to be part of the coalition. And so that is part of the reason why this is so difficult.

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I want — I want to follow up on that. You do support sending special operations forces there. You support what the president has done already. One of the lessons people draw from Vietnam and war since is that a little force can turn into a little more and a little more. President Obama certainly didn’t expect to be sending 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan the first year of his presidency.

Are you prepared to run the risk of a bigger war to achieve your goals to destroy ISIS, or are you prepared to give up on those goals if it requires a larger force?

CLINTON: Well, I just think you’re asking a question with a false choice. I believe if we lead an air coalition, which we are now in the position of doing and intensify it, if we continue to build back up the Iraqi army, which has had some recent success in Ramadi, as you know, if we get back talking to the tribal sheiks in Anbar to try to rebuild those relationships, which were very successful, in going after Al Qaida in Iraq, if we get the Turks to pay more attention to ISIS than they’re paying to the Kurds, if we do put together the kind of coalition with the specific tasks that I am outlining, I think we can be successful in destroying ISIS.

So that’s what I’m focused on, that’s what I’ve outlined and that’s what I would do as president.

RADDATZ: Governor O’Malley.

(APPLAUSE) You’ve emphasized the need for more human intelligence on the ground. What is it our intelligence community is not doing now that needs to be done?

O’MALLEY: Well, we have invested nowhere near what we should be investing in human intelligence on the ground. And what I’m talking about is not only the covert CIA intelligence, I’m also talking about diplomatic intelligence. I mean, we’ve seen time and time again, especially in this very troubled region of nation-state failures, and then we have no idea who the next generation of leaders are that are coming forward.

So what I would say is not only do we need to be thinking in military terms, but we do our military a disservice when we don’t greatly dial up the investment that we are making in diplomacy and human intelligence and when we fail to dial up properly, the role of sustainable development in all of this. As president, I would make the administrator of USAID an actual cabinet member. We have to act in a much more whole of government approach, as General Dempsey said.

And I do believe, and I would disagree somewhat with one of my colleagues, this is a genocidal threat. They have now created a safe haven in the vacuum that we allowed to be partly and because of our blunders, to be created to be created in the areas of Syria and Iraq. We cannot allow safe havens, and as a leader of moral nations around this Earth, we need to come up with new alliances and new ways to prepare for these new sorts of threats, because Martha, this will not be the last region where nation-states fail.

And you’ve seen a little bit of this emerging in the — in the African Union and the things that they have done to better stabilize Somalia. We need to pay attention here in Central America as well. So this is the new type of threats that we’re facing and we need to lead as a nation in confronting it and putting together new alliances and new coalitions.

CLINTON: Well, I just want to quickly add…

RADDATZ: Thank you.

CLINTON: Martha, that — you know, one of the reasons why I have advocated for a no-fly zone is in order to create those safe refuges within Syria, to try to protect people on the ground both from Assad’s forces, who are continuing to drop barrel bombs, and from ISIS. And of course, it has to be de-conflicted with the Russians, who are also flying in that space.

I’m hoping that because of the very recent announcement of the agreement at the Security Council, which embodies actually an agreement that I negotiated back in Geneva in June of 2012, we’re going to get a diplomatic effort in Syria to begin to try to make a transition. A no-fly zone would prevent the outflow of refugees and give us a chance to have some safe spaces.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I’d like to go back to that if I could. ISIS doesn’t have aircraft, Al Qaida doesn’t have aircraft. So would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane?

CLINTON: I do not think it would come to that. We are already de-conflicting air space. We know…

RADDATZ: But isn’t that a decision you should make now, whether…

CLINTON: No, I don’t think so. I am advocating…

RADDATZ: … if you’re advocating this?

CLINTON: I am advocating the no-fly zone both because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians; I’m also advocating it because I think it gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia.

Now that Russia has joined us in the Security Council, has adopted an agreement that we hashed out a long day in Geneva three years ago, now I think we can have those conversations. The no-fly zone, I would hope, would be also shared by Russia. If they will begin to turn their military attention away from going after the adversaries of Assad toward ISIS and put the Assad future on the political and diplomatic track, where it belongs.

(CROSSTALK)

MUIR: I want to take this to Senator — I’m going to take this to Senator Sanders next, because I think there…

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: I have a difference of opinion with Secretary Clinton on this. Our differences are fairly deep on this issue. We disagreed on the war in Iraq. We both listened to the information from Bush and Cheney. I voted against the war.

But I think — and I say this with due respect — that I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.

Yes, we could get rid of Saddam Hussein, but that destabilized the entire region. Yes, we could get rid of Gadhafi, a terrible dictator, but that created a vacuum for ISIS. Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS. So I think, yeah, regime change is easy, getting rid of dictators is easy. But before you do that, you’ve got to think about what happens the day after. And in my view, what we need to do is put together broad coalitions to understand that we’re not going to have a political vacuum filled by terrorists, that, in fact, we are going to move steadily — and maybe slowly — toward democratic societies, in terms of Assad, a terrible dictator. But I think in Syria the primary focus now must be on destroying ISIS and working over the years to get rid of Assad. That’s the secondary issue.

CLINTON: That is exactly…

MUIR: Senator, thank you.

CLINTON: That is exactly what I just said and what I just described.

MUIR: Yeah, but, Secretary Clinton — Secretary Clinton…

CLINTON: And that is important, because now we have a U.N. Security Council that will enable us to do that. And, you know, with all due respect, Senator, you voted for regime change with respect to Libya. You joined the Senate in voting to get rid of Gadhafi, and you asked that there be a Security Council validation of that with a resolution.

All of these are very difficult issues. I know that; I’ve been dealing with them for a long time. And, of course, we have to continue to do what is necessary when someone like Gadhafi, a despot with American blood on his hands, is overturned. But I’ll tell you what would have happened, if we had not joined with our European partners and our Arab partners to assist the people in Libya, you would be looking at Syria. Now the Libyans are turning their attention to try to dislodge ISIS from its foothold and begin to try to move together to have a unified nation.

SANDERS: I was not the secretary of state…

MUIR: Senator Sanders, Senator Sanders, hold on. One moment, please. I’m going to ask the secretary here, because there does appear to be some daylight here between the policies, at least in respect to when you take out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Right now or do you wait? Do you tackle ISIS first?

You have said, Secretary Clinton, that you come to the conclusion that we have to proceed on both fronts at once. We heard from the senator just this week that we must put aside the issue of how quickly we get rid of Assad and come together with countries, including Russia and Iran, to destroy ISIS first. Is he wrong?

CLINTON: I think we’re missing the point here. We are doing both at the same time.

MUIR: But that’s what he’s saying, we should put that aside for now and go after ISIS. CLINTON: Well, I don’t agree with that, because we will not get the support on the ground in Syria to dislodge ISIS if the fighters there who are not associated with ISIS, but whose principal goal is getting rid of Assad, don’t believe there is a political, diplomatic channel that is ongoing. We now have that. We have the U.N. Security Council adopting a resolution that lays out a transition path. It’s very important we operate on both at the same time.

And let me just say a word about coalition-building, because I’ve heard Senator Sanders say this. I know how hard it is to build coalitions. I think it would be a grave mistake to ask for any more Iranian troops inside Syria. That is like asking the arsonist to come and pour more gas on the fire.

The Iranians getting more of a presence in Syria, linking with Hezbollah, their proxy in Lebanon, would threaten Israel and would make it more difficult for us to move on a path to have a transition that at some point would deal with Assad’s future.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: I happen to think…

O’MALLEY: I’d like to offer a…

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: She says we have to proceed on both fronts at once.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton is right. This is a complicated issue. I don’t think anyone has a magical solution.

But this is what I do believe. Yes, of course Assad is a terrible dictator. But I think we have got to get our foreign policies and priorities right. The immediate — it is not Assad who is attacking the United States. It is ISIS. And ISIS is attacking France and attacking Russian airliners.

The major priority, right now, in terms of our foreign and military policy should be the destruction of ISIS.

(APPLAUSE)

And I think — and I think we bring together that broad coalition, including Russia, to help us destroy ISIS. And work on a timetable to get rid of Assad, hopefully through Democratic elections. First priority, destroy ISIS.

MUIR: Senator sanders, thank you.

O’MALLEY: May I offer a different generation’s perspective on this?

MUIR: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: During the Cold War — during the Cold War, we got into a bad habit of always looking to see who was wearing the jersey of the communists, and who was wearing the U.S. jersey. We got into a bad habit of creating big bureaucracies, old methodologies, to undermine regimes that were not friendly to the United States. Look what we did in Iran with Mosaddegh. And look at the results that we’re still dealing with because of that. I would suggest to you that we need to leave the Cold War behind us, and we need to put together new alliances and new approaches to dealing with this, and we need to restrain ourselves.

I mean, I know Secretary Clinton was gleeful when Gadhafi was torn apart. And the world, no doubt is a better place without him. But look, we didn’t know what was happening next. And we fell into the same trap with Assad, saying — as if it’s our job to say, Assad must go.

We have a role to play in this world. But we need to leave the Cold War and that sort of antiquated thinking behind.

MUIR: But — you criticized — you criticized Secretary Clinton for what came next. What’s your proposal for what comes after Assad?

O’MALLEY: I believe that we need to focus on destroying ISIL. That is the clear and present danger. And I believe that we can springboard off of this new U.N. resolution, and we should create, as Secretary Clinton indicated, and I agree with that, that there should be a political process.

But we shouldn’t be the ones declaring that Assad must go. Where did it ever say in the Constitution, where is it written that it’s the job of the United States of America or its secretary of State to determine when dictators have to go?

We have a role to play in this world. But it is not the world — the role of traveling the world looking for new monsters to destroy.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: David…

CLINTON: Since he has been making all kinds of comments.

(LAUGHTER)

I think it’s fair to say, Assad has killed, by last count, about 250,000 Syrians. The reason we are in the mess we’re in, that ISIS has the territory it has, is because of Assad.

I advocated arming the moderate opposition back in the day when I was still secretary of State, because I worried we would end up exactly where we are now.

And so, when we look at these complex problems, I wish it could be either/or. I wish we could say yes, let’s go destroy ISIS and let’s let Assad continue to destroy Syria, which creates more terrorists, more extremists by the minute.

No. We now finally are where we need to be. We have a strategy and a commitment to go after ISIS, which is a danger to us as well as the region… SANDERS (?): Secretary…

CLINTON: And we finally have a U.N. Security Council Resolution bringing the world together to go after a political transition in Syria.

SANDERS: Could I just say — just say this…

CLINTON: If the United States does not lead, there is not another leader. There is a vacuum.

SANDERS: Can I just say this…

CLINTON: And we have to lead, if we’re going to be successful.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator Sanders, please. Go ahead.

Senator Sanders, a last word on this.

SANDERS: Of course the United States must lead. But the United States is not the policeman of the world. The United States must not be involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East. The United States, at the same time, cannot successfully fight Assad and ISIS.

ISIS, now, is the major priority. Let’s get rid of Assad later. Let’s have a Democratic Syria. But the first task is to bring countries together to destroy ISIS.

MUIR: Senator Sanders, thank you. When we come back here tonight, the other major issues of this election: jobs, the economy, health care.

Which candidates will make the best case for the middle class, as our coverage of the Democratic debate, here in New Hampshire, continues right after this on ABC.

ANNOUNCER: ABC News coverage of the New Hampshire Democratic debate will continue in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MUIR: Welcome back tonight. As you can see, we have a packed audience here in New Hampshire and we’re going to continue. We’ve already had a spirited conversation here at the top of the broadcast about ISIS, about the concerns of terror here on the homefront and as we await Secretary Clinton backstage, we’re going to begin on the economy.

We want to turn to the American jobs, wages and raises in this country. And we believe Secretary Clinton will be coming around the corner any minute. But in the mean time we want to start with this eye-opening number. And Senator Sanders, this question goes to you first, anyway.

In 1995, the median American household income was $52,600 in today’s money. This year, it’s $53,600. That’s 20 more years on the job with just a 2 percent raise. In a similar time-frame, raises for CEOs went up more than 200 percent.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Sorry.

MUIR: We’re going to continue here, and Secretary, you’ll get a chance on this too.

But as I pointed out the CEO pay, 200 percent of their time — for that family of just 2 percent. You’ve all said, “you would raise the minimum wage.” But Senator Sanders what else – speak to that household tonight. 20 years, just a 2 percent raise, how as president would you get them a raise right away?

SANDERS: First of all, we recognize that we have a rigged economy, as you’ve indicated. Middle class in this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing; are we better of today then we were when Bush left office? Absolutely. But as you’ve indicated for millions of American workers, people in New Hampshire — all over America, they’re working longer hours for lower wages deeply worried about their kids. So what do we do?

First statement is, we tell the billionaire class, “they cannot have it all.” For a start, they’re going to start to pay their fair share of taxes. Second of all what we do, is you raise the minimum wage to living wage, 15 bucks an hour over the next several years. Next thing we do, pay equity for women workers. Women should not be making 79 cents on the dollar compared to that.

Next thing that we do, real unemployment — official unemployment, 5 percent, real employment 10 percent, youth unemployment, off the charts. We rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, our roads our bridges, our rail systems, we create 13 million jobs with a trillion-dollar investment.

Furthermore, in a competitive global economy, it is imperative that we have the best educated workforce in the world. That is why I’m going to have a tax on Wall Street speculation to make certain that public colleges and universities in America are tuition free.

MUIR: Senator Sanders, thank you.

Governor O’Malley, what would propose that would be different, how would you get the middle class a raise and without waiting another 20 years for another 2 percent.

O’MALLEY: Look these are the things that we did in own state through the recession. We actually passed a living wage. We raised the minimum wage. We actually raised it to the highest goals of any state in the nation also in minority and women participant goals because we understood that the way you reinvigorate and make fair market American capitalism work, is to make the choices and the investments that include more people more full in the economic success of your state.

All through the recession, we defended the highest median income in America and the second highest median income for African American families. How? By actually doing more for education. We increased education funding by 37 percent.

We were the only state in American that went four years in a row without a penny increase in college tuition. We invested more in our infrastructure and we squared our shoulders to the great business opportunity of this era and that is moving our economy to a 100 percent clean electric energy future. We created 2,000 new jobs in the solar industry and we fought every single day to adopt more inclusive economic practices.

O’MALLEY: So David, the conclusion of all of those things is this; they weren’t hopes, they weren’t dreams, they weren’t amorphous goals out there. We actually took action to do these things and as president, I have put forward 15 strategic goals that will make wages go up again for all American families. Universal national service is an option for every kid in America to cut youth employment.

And I’m the only candidate on this stage to put forward a new agenda for America’s cities so we can employ more people in the heart of great American cities and get them back to work.

MUIR: Governor, thank you. Secretary Clinton…

(APPLAUSE)

As you were walking in, I was talking about the median American household getting a two percent raise over the last 20 years, that CEO pay in that same time frame has gone up 200 percent. So for those families watching tonight, how do you get them a raise if you’re president?

CLINTON: Well, I’ve been talking to a lot of these families, and this is such an outrage, both because it’s bad for our economy, we’re a 70 percent consumption economy, people need to feel optimistic and confident, they need to believe their hard work is going to be rewarded, and it’s bad for our democracy. It’s absolutely the case that if people feel that the game is rigged, that has consequences.

I think it’s great standing up here with the senator and the governor talking about these issues, because you’re not going to hear anything like this from any of the Republicans who are running for president.

(APPLAUSE)

They don’t want to raise the minimum wage, they don’t want to do anything to increase incomes. At the center of my economic policy is raising incomes, because people haven’t been able to get ahead, and the cost of everything, from college tuition to prescription drugs, has gone up.

Of course we have to raise the minimum wage. Of course we have to do more to incentivize profit sharing, like we see with Market Basket right here in New Hampshire and New England, where all of the employees get a chance to share in the profits.

(APPLAUSE)

And we’ve got to do more on equal pay for equal work. That means pass the Paycheck Fairness Act so we have transparency about how much people are making. That’s the way to get women’s wages up, and that’s good for them and good for their families and good for our communities.

(APPLAUSE)

And there is a lot we can do in college affordability. I have debt-free tuition plans, free community college plans, getting student debt down. I also am very committed to getting the price of drugs down. And there’s a lot. You can go to my website…

MUIR: Secretary…

CLINTON: … hillaryclinton.com, and read about it. But I guess the final thing that — that I would say is this is the kind of debate we need to take to the Republicans in the fall.

MUIR: Secretary, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: This is the election…

MUIR: We’re going to — we’re going to…

CLINTON: … issues they have to respond to.

MUIR: And we’re going to talk about college education in a moment. But Secretary Clinton, I did want to ask you, the last time you ran for president, Fortune Magazine put you on its cover with the headline Business Loves Hillary, pointing out your support for many CEOs in corporate America. I’m curious, eight years later, should corporate America love Hillary Clinton?

CLINTON: Everybody should.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

Look, I have said I want to be the president for the struggling, the striving and the successful. I want to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share, which they have not been doing. I want the Buffett Rule to be in effect, where millionaires have to pay 30 percent tax rates instead of 10 percent to nothing in some cases. I want to make sure we rein in the excessive use of political power to feather the nest and support the super wealthy.

But I also want to create jobs and I want to be a partner with the private sector. I’m particularly keen on creating jobs in small business. My dad was a small businessman, a really small business. I want to do more to help incentivize and create more small businesses. So if — if people who are in the private sector know what I stand for, it’s what I fought for as a senator, it’s what I will do as president, and they want to be part of once again building our economy so it works for everybody, more power to them, because they are the kind of business leaders who understand that if we don’t get the American economy moving and growing, we’re not going to recognize our country and we’re not going to give our kids the same opportunities that we had.

MUIR: Secretary, thank you. Senator Sanders…

(APPLAUSE)

I want to stay on this and ask you how big a role does corporate America play in a healthy economy and will corporate America love a President Sanders?

SANDERS: No, I think they won’t.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

So Hillary and I have a difference. The CEOs of large multinationals may like Hillary. They ain’t going to like me and Wall Street is going to like me even less.

(APPLAUSE)

And the reason for that is we’ve got to deal with the elephant in the room, which is the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. When you have six financial institutions in this country that issue two-thirds of the credit cards and one-third of the mortgages, when three out of four of them are larger today than when we bailed them out because they are too big to fail, we’ve got to re- establish Glass-Steagall, we have got to break the large financial institutions up.

SANDERS: So I don’t think…

(APPLAUSE)

… having said that, I don’t think I’m going to get a whole lot of campaign contributions from Wall Street. I don’t have a super PAC. I don’t want campaign contributions from corporate America.

And let me be clear: While there are some great corporations creating jobs and trying to do the right thing, in my view — and I say this very seriously — the greed of the billionaire class, the greed of Wall Street is destroying this economy and is destroying the lives of millions of Americans. We need an economy that works for the middle class, not just a handful of billionaires, and I will fight and lead to make that happen.

MUIR: Senator, thank you. I want to…

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

MUIR: Governor, let me just ask you, though, because it is an important question, how important a role do you think corporate America plays in a healthy economy here in the U.S.?

O’MALLEY: Look, I look at our economy as an ecosystem. And the fact of the matter is that the more fully people participate, the more our workers earn, the more they will spend, the more our economy will grow. And most heads of businesses — large, medium and small — understand that.

But there is a better way forward than either of those offered by my two opponents here on this stage. We’re not going to fix what ails our economy, we’re not going to make wages go up for everyone by either trying to replace American capitalism with socialism — which, by the way, the rest of the world is moving away from — nor will we fix it by submitting to sort of Wall Street-directed crony capitalism.

And for my part, I have demonstrated the ability to have the backbone to take on Wall Street in ways that Secretary Clinton never, ever has. In fact, in the last debate, very shamefully, she tried to hide her cozy relationship with Wall Street big banks by invoking the attacks of 9/11.

I believe that the way forward for our country is to actually reinvigorate our antitrust department with the directive to promote fair competition. There’s mergers that are happening in every aspect of our country that is bad for competition and it’s bad for — for upward mobility of wages.

And the worst type of concentration, Secretary Clinton, is the concentration of the big banks, the big six banks that you went to and spoke to and told them, oh, you weren’t responsible for the crash, not by a long shot.

And that’s why today you still cannot support, as I do, breaking up the big banks and making sure that we pass a modern-day Glass- Steagall, like we had in late 1999, before it was repealed and led to the crash, where so many millions of families lost their jobs and their homes. And I was on the front lines of that, looking into the eyes of my neighbors…

CLINTON: OK…

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

MUIR: I do want to ask you, Secretary Clinton. Let me just ask you…

CLINTON: Let me respond…

MUIR: We did — we did — Secretary Clinton, let me just ask you…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: Under the rules, I have been — I have been invoked, David, so let me respond very quickly. Number one…

MUIR: And in particular…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: Number one, there are currently two hedge fund billionaires running ads against me here in New Hampshire. They started in Iowa. Now, you’d have to ask yourself, why are they running ads against me? And the answer is: Because they know I will go right after them, that I will not let their agenda be America’s agenda.

Secondly, I think it’s important to point out that about 3 percent of my donations come from people in the finance and investment world. You can go to opensecrets.org and check that. I have more donations from students and teachers than I do from people associated with Wall Street.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, number three — and let me say this — when Governor O’Malley was heading the Democratic Governors Association, he had no trouble at all going to Wall Street to raise money to run campaigns for Democratic governors. And he also had no trouble appointing an investment banker to be in charge of his consumer protection bureau when he was governor.

So, you know, again, the difference between us and the Republicans is night and day. And there is only one person on this stage who voted to take away authority from the SEC and the Commodities Future Trading Commission that they could no longer regulate what are called swaps and derivatives, which actually contributed to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and that was Senator Sanders.

So if we’re going to be talking like this, we can — and maybe we can score some political points — but the fact is: Every one of us stands for the kind of economy that will work better for every American. And if that means taking on Wall Street, I have a plan that is tough and comprehensive and praised by a lot of folks who say it goes further than what both Senator Sanders and Governor O’Malley are proposing.

SANDERS: Let me just — let me just…

MUIR: Secretary Clinton, thank you.

SANDERS: Let me just jump in. My name was invoked.

MUIR: Senator?

SANDERS: So with that invocation, let me say a few words.

(LAUGHTER)

Secretary Clinton, I don’t have a super PAC. I don’t get any money from Wall Street. You have gotten a whole lot of money over the years from Wall Street. But most importantly, when you look at what happened in the 1990s, go to berniesanders.com. I’ll advertise my Web site as well.

(LAUGHTER)

And what you’ll find is that I led — helped lead the effort as a member of the House financial committee against Alan Greenspan, against a guy named Bill Clinton, maybe you know him, maybe you don’t.

(LAUGHTER)

Against the Republican leadership, who all thought it would be a great idea to merge investor banks and commercial banks and large insurance companies. What a brilliant idea that would be.

Go to YouTube. Find out what I said to Greenspan. At the end of the day, if Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, and the governor makes a good point about trade, anti-trade, anti-monopoly activities.

Wall Street today has too much political power. It has too much economic power. To get deregulated — listen to this, they spent $5 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions over a 10-year period.

MUIR: Senator Sanders…

SANDERS: Wall Street is a threat to the economy. They’ve got to be broken up.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Thank you, Senator. RADDATZ: And we’re going to move on to health care.

Secretary Clinton, the Department of Health and Human Services says more than 17 million Americans who are not insured now have health coverage because of Obamacare. But for Americans who already had health insurance the cost has gone up 27 percent in the last five years while deductibles are up 67 percent, health care costs are rising faster than many Americans can manage.

What’s broken in Obamacare that needs to be fixed right now? And what would you do to fix it?

CLINTON: Well, I would certainly build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and work to fix some of the glitches that you just referenced.

Number one, we do have more people who have access to health care. We have ended the terrible situation that people with pre- existing conditions were faced with where they couldn’t find at any affordable price health care.

Women are not charged more than men any longer for our health insurance. And we keep young people on our policies until they turn 26.

(APPLAUSE)

Those are all really positive developments. But out-of-pocket costs have gone up too much and prescription drug costs have gone through the roof. And so what I have proposed, number one, is a $5,000 tax credit to help people who have very large out-of-pocket costs be able to afford those.

Number two, I want Medicare to be able to negotiate for lower drug prices just like they negotiate with other countries’ health systems.

(APPLAUSE)

We end up paying the highest prices in the world. And I want us to be absolutely clear about making sure the insurance companies in the private employer policy arena as well as in the Affordable Care exchanges are properly regulated so that we are not being gamed.

And I think that’s an important point to make because I’m going through and analyzing the points you were making, Martha. We don’t have enough competition and we don’t have enough oversight of what the insurance companies are charging everybody right now.

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: But you did say those were glitches.

CLINTON: Yes.

RADDATZ: Just glitches?

CLINTON: Well, they’re glitches because…

RADDATZ: Twenty-seven percent in the last five years, deductibles up 67 percent?

CLINTON: It is. Because part of this is the startup challenges that this system is facing. We have fought, as Democrats, for decades to get a health care plan. I know. I’ve got the scars to show from the effort back in the early ’90s.

We want to build on it and fix it. And I’m confident we can do that. And it will have effects in the private market. And one of the reasons in some states why the percentage cost has gone up so much is because governors there would not extend Medicaid.

And so people are still going to get health care, thankfully, in emergency rooms, in hospitals. Those costs are then added to the overall cost, which does increase the insurance premiums for people in the private system.

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Senator Sanders, I want you to respond to what she was saying, but you’re instead calling for single-payer health care.

SANDERS: Yes, exactly, exactly.

RADDATZ: You note people won’t have to pay deductibles or premiums but they will have to pay new taxes. Can you tell us specifically how much people will be expected to pay?

SANDERS: Yes, well, roughly. Let me say this. As a member of the Health Education Committee that helped write the Affordable Care Act, much of what Secretary Clinton said about what we have done, among other things, ending the obscenity of this pre-existing situation is a step forward.

Seventeen more million more people have health care. It is a step forward. A step forward.

But this is what we also have to say. Not only are deductibles rising, 29 million Americans still have no health insurance and millions of people can’t afford to go to the doctor. Major crisis and primary health care. Here is the bottom line. Why is it that the United States of America today is the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right?

Why is it…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Why is it that we are — why is it that we spend almost three times per capita as to what they spend in the U.K., 50 percent more than what they pay in France, countries that guarantee health care to all of their people and in many cases, have better health care outcomes. Bottom line.

This ties into campaign finance reform. The insurance companies, the drug companies are bribing the United States Congress. We need to pass a Medicare for all single payer system. It will lower the cost of health care for a middle-class family by thousands of dollars a year.

RADDATZ: Senator Sanders, you didn’t really tell us specifically how much people will be expected to pay…

SANDERS: But they will not be paying, Martha, any private insurance. So it’s unfair to say in total…

RADDATZ: But you can’t tell us this specifically, even if you were…

SANDERS: I can tell you that adding up the fact you’re not paying any private insurance, businesses are not paying any private insurance. The average middle-class family will be saving thousands of dollars a year. RADDATZ: OK. Let’s go to talk about the high cost of college education and for that we turn to the executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, right here at Saint Anselm college, Neil Levesque.

Neil?

LEVESQUE: Here to New Hampshire again. As you know, this auditorium is filled with many Saint Anselm college students. They know the outstanding student debt right now in America is $1.3 trillion. That private education costs have gone up in the last decade 26 percent, and 40 percent for public education.

So knowing that, we know you want to make public education more affordable but how do you really lower the cost? Senator Sanders, you mentioned a few minutes ago that you want free tuition for public colleges.

SANDERS: And universities.

LEVESQUE: How does that really lower the cost other than just shifting the cost to taxpayers?

SANDERS: Well, Neil, I think we’ve got to work on a two-pronged approach. And your point is absolutely well taken. The cost of college education is escalating a lot faster than the cost of inflation. There are a lot of factors involved in that.

And that is that we have some colleges and universities that are spending a huge amount of money on fancy dormitories and on giant football stadiums. Maybe we should focus on quality education with well-paid faculty members. But…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And I understand in many universities a heck of a lot of vice presidents who earn a big salary. But, bottom line is this is the year 2015. If we are going to be competitive in the global economy we need the best educated workforce.

It is insane to my mind, hundreds of thousands of young people today, bright qualified people, cannot go to college because they cannot afford — their families cannot afford to send them. Millions coming out of school as you indicated, deeply in debt. What do we do?

My proposal is to put a speculation tax on wall street, raise very substantial sums of money, not only make public colleges and universities tuition-free, but also substantially lower interest rates on student debt. You have families out there paying 6 percent, 8 percent, 10 percent on student debt, refinance their homes at 3 percent.

What sense is that? So I think we need radical changes in the funding of higher education. We should look at college today the way high school was looked at 60 years ago. All young people who have the ability should be able to get a college education. (APPLAUSE)

LEVESQUE: Governor O’Malley, how do you propose — Governor O’Malley, how do you propose lowering some of these costs associated with higher education?

O’MALLEY: Yes, this one falls under the category of, I have actually done this. As a governor we actually made the greater investments so that we could go four years in a row without a penny’s increase to college tuition.

My plan actually goes further than Senator Sanders because a big chunk of the cost is actually room and board and books and fees. So as a nation we need to increase what we invest in Pell grants. Yes, we need to make it easier for parents to refinance.

O’MALLEY: But states need to do more as well. And I propose a block grant program that will keep the states in the game as well. I believe that all of our kids should go into an income-based repayment plan.

I’m joined tonight by two daughters, Tara and Grace. My oldest daughter’s a teacher. Man (ph), their mother’s here as well. We were proud of them on graduation day, weren’t we, Katie? And we’re going to be proud every month for the rest of our lives.

I mean, we had to borrow so much money to send them to college and were not the only ones. There’re families all across America who aren’t able to contribute to our economy because of this crushing student loan. I also propose that we can pay for this with a tax on high volume trades and we need to because my dad came to college after World War II on a G.I. Bill.

But today, we’re the only nation on the planet that’s saddling our kids with a lifetime of bills. That’s a drag on the economy. It’s one of the key investments we need to make. I was flattered that Secretary Clinton two months later borrowed so many of my proposals to incorporate into hers. And in our party, unlike the Republican party, we actually believe that the more our people learn, the more they will earn and higher education should be a right for every kid.

MUIR: Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Right.

MCELVEEN: Secretary Clinton, how does your plan differentiate from your opponents?

CLINTON: Well, I have what I call the new college compact. Because I think everybody has to have some skin in this game, you know.

Number one, States have been dis-investing in higher education. In fact, I think New Hampshire, in state tuition for public colleges and universities, is among the highest if not the highest in the country. So states over a period of decades have put their money elsewhere; into prisons, into highways, into things other than higher education. So under my compact, the federal government will match money that the states begin to put back in to the higher education system.

Secondly, I don’t believe in free tuition for everybody. I believe we should focus on middle-class families, working families, and poor kids who have the ambition and the talent to go to college and get ahead. So I have proposed debt free tuition, which I think is affordable and I would move a lot of the Pell Grant and other aid into the arena where it could be used for living expense. So I put all of this together, again, on my website and I’ve gotten such a good response.

But I want to quickly say, one of the areas that Senator Sanders touched on in talking about education and certainly talking about health care is his commitment to really changing the systems. Free college, a single payer system for health, and it’s been estimated were looking at 18 to $20 trillion, about a 40 percent in the federal budget.

And I have looked at his proposed plans for health care for example, and it really does transfer every bit of our health care system including private health care, to the states to have the states run. And I think we’ve got to be really thoughtful about how we’re going to afford what we proposed, which is why everything that I have proposed I will tell you exactly how I’m going to pay for it; including college.

MCELVEEN: Thank you Secretary Clinton, thank you.

SANDERS: May I respond to the critique on the …

MCELVEEN: Back to you David.

MUIR: We’re going to get right into this Senator but I want to ask about taxes next. This is included.

SANDERS: I would just…

MUIR: She was asking about that…

SANDERS: But Secretary Clinton is wrong.

As you know, because I know you know a lot about health care. You know that the United States per capita pays far and away more than other country. And it is unfair simply to say how much more the program will cost without making sure that people know that, we are doing away with cost of private insurance and that the middle class will be paying substantially less for health care on the single payer than on the Secretary’s Clinton proposal.

CLINTON: Well, the only thing – the only thing I can go on Senator Sanders…

MUIR: Are we back on health care – Secretary Clinton hold one moment. Senator Sanders…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: Your proposal is to go and send the health care system to the state.

MUIR: Secretary Clinton, please.

CLINTON: And my analysis is, that you are going to get more taxes out of middle class families. I’m the only person…

MUIR: So let’s ask about it.

Secretary Clinton, let’s turn to the taxes.

CLINTON: … saying, no middle class tax raises. That’s off the table…

MUIR: This is where we are going next, we are going next to taxes here…

SANDERS: Now, this is getting to be fun.

MUIR: This is fun.

(APPLAUSE)

This is democracy at work.

Secretary Clinton, let me ask you about your tax plan because from the crushing cost of college education, the next question most families have; is will my taxes go up under the next president? You have said it’s your goal not to raise taxes on families making under $200,000 a year a goal. But can you say that’s a promise as you stand here tonight?

CLINTON: That is a pledge that I’m making. I made it when I ran in 2008.

MUIR: A promise?

CLINTON: Yes, and it was the same one that President Obama made. Because I don’t think we should be imposing new big programs that are going to raise middle class families’ taxes.

We just heard that most families haven’t had a wage increase since 2001. Since, you know, the end of the last Clinton administration when incomes did go up for everybody. And we’ve got to get back to where people can save money again, where they can invest in their families, and I don’t think a middle-class tax should be part of anybody’s plan right now.

SANDERS: Let me respond to…

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Secretary Clinton…

SANDERS: Let me respond to…

MUIR: Please.

SANDERS: Number one, most important economic reality of today is that over the last 30 years, there has been a transfer of trillions of dollars from the middle class to the top one-tenth of one percent who are seeing a doubling of the percentage of wealth that they own.

Now, when Secretary Clinton says, “I’m not going raise taxes on the middle class,” let me tell you what she is saying. She is disagreeing with FDR on Social Security, LBJ on Medicare and with the vast majority of progressive Democrats in the House and the Senate, who today are fighting to end the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth that doesn’t provide paid family and medical leave.

What the legislation is is $1.61 a week. Now, you can say that’s a tax on the middle class. It will provide three months paid family and medical leave for the working families of this country. I think, Secretary Clinton, $1.61 a week is a pretty good invest.

MUIR: Senator, thank you. Let me bring in Governor O’Malley…

CLINTON: Senator, I have been — I have been fighting for paid…

MUIR: You’ve heard…

CLINTON: … family leave for a very long time…

MUIR: Secretary Clinton.

SANDERS: David, thank you.

CLINTON: I have a way to pay for it that actually makes the wealthiest pay for it…

SANDERS: Then (inaudible)…

CLINTON: … not everybody else.

SANDERS: Every (inaudible) Democrat and senator in support of this proposal introduced by your good friend and my good friend, Kirsten Gillibrand, Rosa DeLauro, got ears (ph) to legislation out there that will finally provide family and medical leave.

MUIR: Thank you. I want to bring in Governor O’Malley on this. We heard the promise from Secretary Clinton because people want to know about their taxes, will they go up. She has now promised here tonight not to raise them on families making $250,000 or less. Can you make that same promise if you’re elected?

O’MALLEY: No, I’ve never made a promise like that. But unlike either of these two fine people, I’ve actually balanced a budget every single year. I was one — I was the only — one of only seven states that had a AAA bond rating. By the time I left, the average tax burden on Maryland families was the same as when I started.

But I did pass a more progressive income tax and asked the highest-earning people to pay another 14 percent. David, look, this is the big — I agree, by the way, that we should have paid family leave. And I agree with Senator Sanders on that. And just like Social Security and unlike the Republicans, I think we should actually expand Social Security and increase average monthly benefits.

But look, there’s one big entitlement we can no longer afford as a country, and that is the entitlement that the super wealthy among us, those earning more than a million dollars, feel that they’re entitled to pay lower income tax rates and a far lower preferred income tax rate when it comes to capital gains.

If we were to raise the marginal rate to 45 percent for people earning more than a million dollars and if we tax capital gains essentially the same we do earnings from hard work and sweat and toil, you could generate $800 billion over the next ten years and that would do so much good for affordable college, debt-free college, cutting youth unemployment in half, investing in our cities again.

So the things I have done in office are the things that actually invest in growing our economy and making wages go up. That’s the issue that we need to tackle as Americans, and we can do it and we know how.

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, thank you. A spirited debate on taxes. And there will be more with the Democratic debate in New Hampshire, when we come back right here on ABC. More in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MUIR: Welcome back tonight to New Hampshire. The Democratic debate continues here on ABC.

And Secretary Clinton, we want to turn to race, now, in America. There is a real concern in this country from Black Lives Matter and from other community groups that we’re just now seeing, with smartphones and cell phones, what many have been dealing with for years when they come in contact with police.

But you also have many in law enforcement who now say there has been a so-called Ferguson effect, police holding back because they’re afraid of backlash.

MUIR: In fact, the FBI director is calling it a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement. So, if elected president, how would you bridge the divide between the two?

CLINTON: Well, David, I think this is one of the most important challenges facing not just our next president but our country. We have systemic racism and injustice and inequities in our country and in particular, in our justice system that must be addressed and must be ended.

I feel very strongly that we have to reform our criminal justice system and we have to find ways to try to bring law enforcement together again with the communities that they are sworn to protect. Trust has been totally lost in a lot of places.

At the same time, we know that in many parts of our country police officers are bridging those divides and they’re acting heroically. The young officer who was killed responding to the Planned Parenthood murders. The officer who told the victims of the San Bernardino killings that he would take a bullet before them.

So I think that we need to build on the work of the policing commissioner that President Obama impaneled. We need to get a bipartisan commitment to work together on this.

And we need to hear the voices of those men and women and boys and girls who feel like strangers in their own country and do whatever is necessary to not only deal with the immediate problems within the criminal justice system, but more opportunities, more jobs, better education so that we can begin to rebuild that very valuable asset known as trust.

MUIR: Secretary, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, how would you bridge the divide?

O’MALLEY: There is no issue in American public policy that I have worked on more day in and day out than this painful issue of policing, of law enforcement, criminal justice and race in America.

When I ran in 1999, David, for mayor of Baltimore, our city by that year had become the most addicted, violent, and abandoned in America. But we came together. I brought people together over some very deep racial divides. And we were able to put our city on the path for the biggest reduction in crime of any major city in America over the next ten years.

As governor, we continued to work together. We reduced violent crime to 30-year lows. But get this. We also reduced incarceration rates to 20-year lows. So it is possible actually, to find the things that actually work, that we did, increasing drug treatment, using big data to better protect the lives of young people, cut juvenile crime in half, and it’s also possible to improve how we police our police.

But there wasn’t a single day as mayor of Baltimore that I wasn’t asked whether I was delivering on the promise I made to police the police. We reported excessive force, discourtesy, use of lethal force. In fact, drove down to three of the four lowest years on record police use of lethal force.

As a nation, we have to embrace this moment and make our departments more open, more transparent, and more accountable. Just as we require every major department, every county to report its major crimes, we should require police departments to report their discourtesy, brutality, excessive force.

There’s so much work that can be done, so much we’ve learned to do better. We need to do it now as a nation. This is our time and our opportunity to do that.

MUIR: Governor, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: And Senator Sanders, when you hear the FBI director calling it a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement, does that concern you as well when you —

SANDERS: Well, this whole issue concerns me. And I agree with much of what the secretary and the governor have said. But let’s be clear. Today in America we have more people in jail than any other country on earth, 2.2 million people. Predominantly African-American and Hispanic.

We are spending $80 billion a year locking up our fellow Americans. I think, and this is not easy, but I think we need to make wage a major effort, to come together as a country and end institutional racism. We need major, major reforms of a very broken criminal justice system. Now, what does that mean?

Well, for a start it means that police officers should not be shooting unarmed people, predominantly African-Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: It means that we have to rethink the so-called war on drugs which has destroyed the lives of millions of people, which is why I have taken marijuana out of the Controlled Substance Act. So that it will not be a federal crime.

SANDERS: That is why we need to make…

(APPLAUSE)

That is why we need to make police — and I speak as a former mayor. I was a mayor for eight years, worked very closely with a great police department. And what we did is try to move that department toward community policing, so that the police officers become part of the community and not, as we see, in some cities an oppressive force.

We need to make police departments look like the communities they serve in terms of diversity. We need to end minimal sentencing. We need, basically, to pledge that we’re going to invest in this country, in jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Senator, thank you. We want to turn now to an issue.

This next issue has destroyed so many families across the country, and in particular right here in New Hampshire, heroin. And there’s a stunning new figure out. A recent poll — 48 percent here, in this state alone, say they know someone who has abused heroin.

We’re going to turn tonight to Dan Tuohy of the New Hampshire Union Leader who has this question.

QUESTION: New Hampshire has been hard hit by the heroin epidemic, and we’re on track to have twice as many overdose deaths this year as in 2013.

What specifically would you do to address this crisis?

MUIR: Senator Sanders, I’m going to take this to you first because you’ve seen what’s happened with heroin right on the border in your own state.

SANDERS: Yes. Look, this is a tragedy for New Hampshire. It is a tragedy for my state of Vermont. It is a tragedy all over this country. The number of heroin deaths are growing very, very significantly.

What do we do? Well, for a start, this may seem like a radical idea, but I think we have got to tell the medical profession and doctors who are prescribing opiates and the pharmaceutical industry that they have got to start getting their act together, we cannot have this huge number of opiates out there throughout this country, where young people are taking them, getting hooked, and then going to heroin.

Second of all, and the reason I believe in a health care for all program, we need to understand that addiction is a disease, not a criminal activity.

(APPLAUSE)

And that means — and that means radically changing the way we deal with mental health and addiction issues. When somebody is addicted and seeking help, they should not have to wait three, four months in order to get that help. They should be able to walk in the door tomorrow and get a variety of treatments that work for them.

So those are some of the areas that I think we’ve got to move on.

MUIR: Senator, thank you. Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: You know, on my very first visit to New Hampshire in this campaign, I was in Keene, and I was asked what are you going to do about the heroin epidemic? And all over New Hampshire, I met grandmothers who are raising children because they lost the father or the mother to an overdose. I met young people who are desperately trying to get clean and have nowhere to go, because there are not enough facilities.

So this is a major epidemic, and it has hit New Hampshire and Vermont particularly hard. I’ve had had two town halls, one in Keene, one in Laconia, dedicated exclusively to talking about what we can do. And I’ve heard some great ideas about how law enforcement is changing its behavior, how the recovery community is reaching out.

And I was proud to get the endorsement of Mayor Walsh of Boston, who has made his struggle with alcoholism a real clarion call for action in this arena.

So, I’ve laid out a five-point plan about what we can do together. I would like the federal government to offer $10 billion over ten years to work with states, and I really applaud Governor Hassan for taking up this challenge and working with the legislature here to come up with a plan.

We need to do more on the prescribing end of it. There are too many opioids being prescribed, and that leads directly now to heroin addiction. And we need to change the way we do law enforcement, and of course, we need more programs and facilities, so when somebody is ready to get help, there’s a place for them to go.

And every law enforcement should carry the antidote to overdose, Naloxone, so that they can save lives that are on the brink of expiring.

MUIR: Secretary, thank you. O’MALLEY: And you know, I actually know a great deal about this issue. And I have a dear friend, played music with him for years, remember when his — when he came home with his baby girl, and now she’s no longer with us, because of addiction and overdose.

The last time in New Hampshire, I had to take a break shortly after landing and call home and comfort a friend whose mother had died of an overdose.

O’MALLEY: Drugs have taken far too many of our citizens. It’s a huge public health challenge. In our own city, I mentioned before, we had become the most addicted city in America.

But together, every single year, I expanded drug treatment funding within our city and then I expanded it in our state, and we were saving lives every single year doing the things that work, intervening earlier, understanding the continuum of care that’s required until we got hit like every other state in the state — in the United States, especially in New Hampshire and in the northeast with this opioid addiction, the over-prescribing.

I agree, we need better — we need to rein in the over- prescribing, but I have put forward on my — in my plan a $12 billion federal investment. We have to invest in the local partnerships, and the best place to intervene, the best indicator of when a person is actually on the verge of killing themselves because of an addiction, is at the hospital. That very first time they show up with a near miss, we should be intervening there. That’s what I said to my own public health people. What would we do if this were ebola? How would we act?

So many more Americans have been killed by the combination of heroin and these highly addictive pain pills, and yet, we refuse to act. There are thing that can be done. Go on to my website. My plan is there. It’s one of 15 strategic goals I’ve set out to make our country a better place by cutting these sort of deaths in half in the next five years.

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, thank you.

Martha?

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I want to circle back to something that your opponents here have brought up. Libya is falling apart. The country is a haven for ISIS and jihadists with an estimated 2,000 ISIS fighters there today. You advocated for that 2011 intervention and called it smart power at its best. And yet, even President Obama said the U.S. should have done more to fill the leadership vacuum left behind. How much responsibility do you bear for the chaos that followed elections?

CLINTON: Well, first, let’s remember why we became part of a coalition to stop Gadhafi from committing massacres against his people. The United States was asked to support the Europeans and the Arab partners that we had and we did a lot of due diligence about whether we should or not, and eventually, yes, I recommended and the president decided that we would support the action to protect civilians on the ground and that led to the overthrow of Gadhafi.

I think that what Libya then did by having a full free election, which elected moderates, was an indication of their crying need and desire to get on the right path. Now, the whole region has been rendered unstable, in part because of the aftermath of the Arab Spring, in part because of the very effective outreach and propagandizing that ISIS and other terrorist groups do.

But what we’re seeing happening in Libya right now is that there has been a fragile agreement to put aside the differences that exist among Libyans themselves to try to dislodge ISIS from Sirte, the home town of Gadhafi, and to begin to try to create a national government.

You know, this is not easy work. We did a lot to help. We did as much as we could because the Libyans themselves had very strong feelings about what they wished to accept. But we’re always looking for ways about what more we can do to try to give people a chance to be successful.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I want to go back. That — government lacked institutions and experience. It had been a family business for 40 years. On the security side, we offered only a modest training effort and a very limited arms buy-back program. Let me ask you the question again. How much responsibility do you bear for the chaos that followed those elections?

CLINTON: Martha, we offered a lot more than they were willing to take. We offered a lot more. We also got rid of their chemical weapons, which was a big help, and we also went after a lot of the shoulder-fired missiles to round them up. You know, we can’t — if we’re not going to send American troops, which there was never any idea of doing that, then to try to send trainers, to try to send experts, is something we offered, Europeans offered, the U.N. offered, and there wasn’t a lot of responsiveness at first.

I think a lot of the Libyans who had been forced out of their country by Gadhafi who came back to try to be part of a new government, believed they knew what to do and it turned out that they were no match for some of the militaristic forces inside that country. But I’m not giving up on Libya and I don’t think anybody should. We’ve been at this a couple of years.

RADDATZ: But were mistakes made?

CLINTON: Well, there’s always a retrospective to say what mistakes were made. But I know that we offered a lot of help and I know it was difficult for the Libyans to accept help. What we could have done if they had said yes would have been a lot more than what we were able to have done.

SANDERS: But what…

RADDATZ: Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Look, the secretary is right. This is a terribly complicated issue. There are no simple solutions. But where we have a disagreement is that I think if you look at the history of regime changes, you go back to Mossaddegh (ph) in Iran, you go back to Salvador Allende who we overthrew in Chile, you go back to overthrowing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, you go back to where we are today in Syria with a dictator named Assad.

The truth is it is relatively easy for a powerful nation like America to overthrow a dictator but it is very hard to predict the unintended consequences and the turmoil and the instability that follows after you overthrow that dictator.

So I think secretary Clinton and I have a fundamental disagreement. I’m not quite the fan of regime change that I believe she is.

O’MALLEY: Martha — I would just repeat that —

CLINTON: Well, I would just repeat that.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Wait a minute. I think it’s only fair to put on the record, Senator Sanders voted in the Senate for a resolution calling for ending the Gadhafi regime and asking that the U.N. be brought in, either a congressional vote or a U.N. Security Council vote. We got a U.N. Security council vote.

Now, I understand that this is very difficult. And I’m not standing here today and saying that Libya is as far along as Tunisia. We saw what happened in Egypt. I cautioned about a quick overthrow of Mubarak, and we now are back with basically an army dictatorship.

This is a part of the world where the United States has tried to play two different approaches. One, work with the tough men, the dictators, for our own benefit and promote democracy. That’s a hard road to walk. But I think it’s the right road for us to try to travel.

O’MALLEY: And Martha…

RADDATZ: Quick Governor O’Malley.

O’MALLEY: … and in this case, we probably let our lust for regime toppling get ahead of the practical considerations for stability in that region. And I believe that one of the big failings in that region is a lack of human intelligence. We have not made the investments that we need to make to understand and to have relationships with future leaders that are coming up.

That’s what Chris Stevens was trying to do. But without the tools, without the support that was needed to that. And now what we have is a whole stretch now, of the coast of Libya, 100 miles, 150 miles, that has now become potentially the next safe haven for ISIL. They go back and forth between Syria and this region. We have to stop contributing to the creation of vacuums that allow safe havens to develop.

RADDATZ: Thank you very much. Thank you. We’re going to move on here. Governor O’Malley, thank you very much for that. And we’re going to make a very sharp turn as we wrap things up here.

Secretary Clinton, first ladies, as you well know, have used their position to work on important causes like literacy and drug abuse. But they also supervise the menus, the flowers, the holiday ornaments and White House decor. I know you think you know where I’m going here.

You have said that Bill Clinton is a great host and loves giving tours but may opt out of picking flower arrangements if you’re elected. Bill Clinton aside, is it time to change the role of a president’s spouse?

CLINTON: Well, the role has been defined by each person who’s held it. And I am very grateful for all my predecessors and my successors because each of them not only did what she could to support her husband and our country but often chose to work on important issues that were of particular concern.

Obviously, Mrs. Obama has been a terrific leader when it comes to young people’s health, particularly nutrition and exercise. And I think has had a big impact. So whoever is part of the family of a president has an extraordinary privilege of not only having a front row seat on history but making her or maybe his contribution.

And with respect to my own husband, I am probably still going to pick the flowers and the china for state dinners and stuff like that. But I will certainly turn to him as prior presidents have for special missions, for advice, and in particular, how we’re going to get the economy working again for everybody, which he knows a little bit about.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: I do want to follow up here for each of you. And a similar line of questioning. Senator Sanders, your wife Jane shares an office at your campaign headquarters in Burlington. We’ve seen the pictures, the desks right next to each other. Would she have a desk close by in the west wing?

SANDERS: Given the fact that she’s a lot smarter than me, yes, she would.

(LAUGHTER)

And let me, by the way, take this moment to congratulate Hillary Clinton, who I thought not only did an outstanding job as our first lady, but redefined what that role could be.

So, I thank you very much for that.

(LAUGHTER)

My wife, Jane, has been — way back when before I knew her, a foster parent. Many, many kids came into her home and received the kind of love that they desperately needed. And she turned around many lives.

She is the best parent and grandmother that I know. She has devoted her life, when I was mayor of the city of Burlington, actually when I first met her, we started a youth office, which started a after-school programs for kids, started a child care center, started a youth newspaper. We got the kids involved in a whole lot of issues.

She led that effort. So I think, at a time when so many of our kids are desperately looking for constructive activity, where too many of our kids are hanging around on street corners, potentially getting into trouble, I think we need a forceful advocate for the children, for teenagers, for the little children, to deal with the dysfunctional child care system, and I think my wife would do a great job in helping me accomplish those goals.

MUIR: Senator, thank you.

Governor O’Malley — Governor O’Malley, you have talked about your wife, Katie, here tonight. She’s a district court judge. And the question for you is, would she have to give that up as first lady, or will she share an office in the west wing as well? O’MALLEY: Well, that would be totally up to her. I mean, Katie has never been a person who let her husband’s professional choices get in the way of following her dreams.

And I think she got that from her mother, actually.

(APPLAUSE)

The — and I readily admit that she is a far more accomplished lawyer than I was ever able to become, before I took my detour. She is a district court judge in Maryland. She puts in a full day there. We’ve raised four terrific kids. And yet, when she was first lady of the state, not only would she go to work every day and sit there through a lot of sad and gut-wrenching cases, but then she’d put in additional time being an advocate against domestic violence.

Maryland made great strides on that because of her advocacy, and her understanding of how the court process works. She was an advocate against bullying and implementing anti-bullying things. So Katie O’Malley will do whatever Katie O’Malley wants to do, regardless of her husband’s success in getting elected president.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Governor O’Malley, thank you, (inaudible).

O’MALLEY: Thank you.

MUIR: Governor, thank you. We’ll be back with much more from New Hampshire. The Democratic debate continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MUIR: Welcome back tonight. It’s been an evening of lively discussion among the candidates and it’s time for closing statements. We began in alphabetical order, so we’ll reverse the order at the end and begin with you, Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Well, thank you very much for hosting this debate, and let me applaud my colleagues up here. Because I think frankly, maybe I’m wrong, but on our worst day, I think we have a lot more to offer the American people than the right wing’s extremists.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: My father came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket, which sparked my interest in the need for immigration reform because I know what it’s like to be the son of an immigrant.

We grew up in a three-and-a-half-room, rent controlled apartment in Brooklyn, New York. My mother’s dream — and she died very young, but my mother’s dream for her whole life was to be able to get out of that rent-controlled apartment and own a home of her own. She never lived to see that.

SANDERS: But what my parents did accomplish is they were able to send both of their sons to college. We were the first in the family. So I know something about economic anxiety and living in a family does not have sufficient income.

And that is why I am pledged, if elected president of the United States, to bring about a political revolution where millions of people begin to stand up and finally say enough is enough, this great country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

RADDATZ: Governor O’Malley?

Martha, thank you. I want to thank all of the people who have tuned in tonight. I want to thank the great people of New Hampshire, where despite all of the cynicism about big money and big banks taking over our politics, here in New Hampshire, the individual matters.

You know, my wife Katie and I have four terrific kids, and like you, there’s probably nothing we wouldn’t do to give them a future that’s safer, that’s healthier, where they have more opportunity than our parents and grandparents gave to us. Tonight, what you listened to was a healthy exchange of ideas about how we’d do that, that which we have always proven, the capacity to do better than any nation in the world, to take actions that include more of our people more fully in the economic, social and political life of our country.

When you listened to the Republican debate the other night, you heard a lot of anger and you had a lot of fear. Well, they can have their anger and they can have their fear, but anger and fear never built America. We build our country by adopting wage and labor policies, including comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway of citizenship for all. We do it by investing in our country, by investing in infrastructure, by investing in the skills and the talents of our people with debt-free college, and we can do it again.

And we also create a better future for our kids when we square our shoulders to the great challenges of our times, whether it’s terror trying to undermine our values or Republican presidential candidates trying to get us to surrender our freedoms and our values in the face of this threat.

The other big challenge we have is climate change. The greatest business opportunity to come to the United States of America in 100 years. We need to embrace this. I have put forward a plan that does this, that moves us to 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050. Join this campaign for the future. New leadership is what our country needs to move us out of these divided and polarized times. Thank you.

MUIR: Governor, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: On January 20th, 2017, the next president of the United States will walk into the White House. If, heaven forbid, that next president is a Republican, I think it’s pretty clear we know what will happen. A lot of the rights that have been won over years, from women’s rights to voter rights to gay rights to worker rights, will be at risk.

Social Security, which Republicans call a Ponzi scheme, may face privatization. Our vets may see the V.A. hospital that needs to be improved and made better for them turned over to privatization. Planned Parenthood will be defunded. The list goes on because the differences are so stark.

You know, everybody says every election’s important, and there’s truth to that. This is a watershed election. I know how important it is that we have a Democrat succeed President Obama in the White House. And I will do all that I can in this campaign to reach out and explain what I stand for and what I will do as president.

You know, I became a grandmother 15 months ago, and so I spent a lot of time thinking about my granddaughter’s future. But as president, I will spend even more time thinking about the futures of all the kids and the grandchildren in this country because I want to make sure every single child has a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. If you will join me in this campaign, we will make that a mission. Thank you, good night and may the force be with you.

(APPLAUSE)

MUIR: Thank you to the candidates tonight. Thank you to the audience here in New Hampshire here at St. Anselm. And thank you to the audience at home. We wish all of you at home a happy and safe holiday week ahead and we wish all the candidates a happy and safe holiday with your families.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 December 15, 2015: Fifth Republican Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Transcript: Fifth CNN Republican Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada

Source: Time, 12-15-15

Nine candidates for the Republican nomination faced off in Las Vegas Tuesday night for a primetime debate on CNN, moderated by Wolf Blitzer, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, and Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

Here’s a complete transcript of the event, courtesy of CNN.

BLITZER: Welcome to the CNN-Facebook Republican presidential debate here at the Venetian Las Vegas.

We have a very enthusiastic audience. Everyone is here. They’re looking forward to a serious and spirited discussion about the security of this nation.

I’m Wolf Blitzer, your moderator tonight. This debate is airing on CNN networks here in the United States and around the world, and on the Salem Radio Network. The nine leading candidates, they are here. Let’s welcome them right now.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

(APPLAUSE)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

Businessman and real estate developer Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE)

Retired neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

(APPLAUSE)

And Ohio Governor John Kasich.

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

(APPLAUSE)

This is the final Republican debate before the election year begins, and we’re taking a moment for the photographs of the candidates together on the stage. Now, everyone, please rise for the national anthem sung by Ayla Brown.

(NATIONAL ANTHEM)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: I know everyone is eager to get started. So, candidates, please take your places while I explain the ground rules for tonight.

As moderator, I’ll guide the discussion, and I’ll be joined in the questioning by Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt and CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash. We also asked Republicans and independents nationwide to share their questions for the candidates. We teamed up with Facebook to send a campaign camper across the country over the past several weeks.

Thousands of people stepped inside and recorded their questions on video. Millions more have weighed in on Facebook. Candidates, I’ll try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions. You’ll have a minute and 15 seconds to answer and 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. I’ll give you time to respond if you’re singled out for criticism.

Our viewers should know that we have timing lights that are visible to the candidates to warn them when their time is up. And as the candidates requested, a bell will sound like this. We know you are all eager to jump in and debate these important issues, so, please, wait until you’re called on.

These nine Republicans are positioned on stage based on their ranking in the recent polls, so let’s begin right now. I’d like to invite each candidate to introduce himself or herself to our audience. You’ll have one minute.

First to you, Senator Paul.

PAUL: The question is, how do we keep America safe from terrorism? Trump says we ought to close that Internet thing. The question really is, what does he mean by that? Like they do in North Korea? Like they do in China?

Rubio says we should collect all Americans’ records all of the time. The Constitution says otherwise. I think they’re both wrong. I think we defeat terrorism by showing them that we do not fear them. I think if we ban certain religions, if we censor the Internet, I think that at that point the terrorists will have won. Regime change hasn’t won. Toppling secular dictators in the Middle East has only led to chaos and the rise of radical Islam. I think if we want to defeat terrorism, I think if we truly are sincere about defeating terrorism, we need to quit arming the allies of ISIS. If we want to defeat terrorism, the boots on the ground — the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots on the ground.

As commander-in-chief, I will do whatever it takes to defend America. But in defending America, we cannot lose what America stands for. Today is the Bill of Rights’ anniversary. I hope we will remember that and cherish that in the fight on terrorism.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Kasich?

KASICH: Thank you, Wolf. Just last weekend, just last week, a friend asked one of my daughters, “Do you like politics?” And my daughter said, “No, I don’t. And the reason I don’t like it is because there’s too much fighting, too much yelling. It’s so loud, I don’t like it.” You know, I turned to my friend and I said, “You know, she’s really on to something.”

And when we think about our country and the big issues that we face in this country; creating jobs, making sure people can keep their jobs, the need for rising wages, whether our children when they graduate from college can find a job, protecting the homeland, destroying ISIS, rebuilding defense. These are all the things that we need to focus on but we’ll never get there if we’re divided. We’ll never get there if republicans and democrats just fight with one another.

Frankly, we are republicans and they’re democrats but before all of that, we’re Americans. And I believe we need to unify in so many ways to rebuild our country, to strengthen our country, to rebuild our defense, and for America to secure it’s place it world; for us, for our children, and for the next generation.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Christie?

CHRISTIE: Thank you Wolf.

America has been betrayed. We’ve been betrayed by the leadership that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton have provided to this country over the last number of years. Think about just what’s happened today. The second largest school district in America in Los Angeles closed based on a threat. Think about the effect that, that’s going to have on those children when they go back to school tomorrow wondering filled with anxiety to whether they’re really going to be safe.

Think about the mothers who will take those children tomorrow morning to the bus stop wondering whether their children will arrive back on that bus safe and sound. Think about the fathers of Los Angeles, who tomorrow will head off to work and wonder about the safety of their wives and their children.

What is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton done to this country? That the most basic responsibility of an administration is to protect the safety and security of the American people. I will tell you this, I’m a former federal prosecutor, I’ve fought terrorists and won and when we get back in the White House we will fight terrorists and win again and America will be safe.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina?

FIORINA: Like all of you I’m angry. I’m angry at what’s happening to our nation. Citizens, it’s time to take our country back.

Bombastic insults wont take it back. Political rhetoric that promises a lot and delivers little, won’t take it back. All of our problems can be solved. All of our wounds can be healed by a tested leader who is willing to fight for the character of our nation.

I have been tested. I have beaten breast cancer. I have buried a child. I started as a secretary. I fought my way to the top of corporate America while being called every B word in the book. I fought my way into this election and on to this debate stage while all the political insiders and the pundits told, “it couldn’t be done.”

I’ve been told, “no,: all my life. And all my life, I’ve refused to accept no as an answer. Citizens, it is time to take our country back from the political class, from the media, from the liberal elite. It can be done, it must be done, join me and we will get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Bush?

BUSH: Our freedom is under attack. Our economy is under water. The leading democrat is under investigation. And America is under the gun to lead the free world to protect our civilized way of life.

Serious times require strong leadership, that’s what at stake right now. Regarding national security, we need to restore the defense cuts of Barack Obama to rebuild our military, to destroy ISIS before it destroys us. Regarding economic security, we need to take power and money away from Washington D.C. and empower American families so that they can rise up again.

Look, America still is an exceptional country. We love to lead and we love to win. And we do it, when we take on any challenge and when we take – we support our friends.

As president, I will keep you and our country safe, secure, and free.

Thank you.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: Thank you Wolf.

It’s really amazing to be back in Las Vegas. I spent six years as a child growing not far from where we stand tonight. I use to sit on the porch of our home and listen to my grandfather tell stories as he smoked one of three daily cigars.

One of the things my grandfather instilled in me, was that I was really blessed because I was a citizen of the greatest country in the history of our mankind. But there have always been people in American politics that wanted America to be more like the rest of the world. And In 2008, one of them was elected president of this country and the result has been a disaster.

Today you have millions of Americans that feel left out and out of place in their own country, struggling to live paycheck to paycheck, called bigots because they hold on to traditional values.

And around the world, America’s influence has declined while this president has destroyed our military, our allies no longer trust us, and our adversaries no longer respect us. And that is why this election is so important.

That is why I’m running for president. And that’s why I’m going to ask you for your vote tonight. If you elect me president, we will have a president that believes America is the greatest country in the world and we will have a president that acts like it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Cruz.

CRUZ: Thank you, Wolf.

America is at war. Our enemy is not violent extremism. It is not some unnamed malevolent force. It is radical Islamic terrorist. We have a president who is unwilling to utter its name. The men and women on this stage, every one of us, is better prepared to keep this nation safe than is Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

We need a president who understands the first obligation of the commander-in-chief is to keep America safe. If I am elected president, we will hunt down and kill the terrorists. We will utterly destroy ISIS.

We will stop the terrorist attacks before they occur because we will not be prisoners to political correctness. Rather, we will speak the truth. Border security is national security and we will not be admitting jihadists as refugees.

We will keep America safe.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Dr. Carson.

CARSON: Thank you, Wolf.

Please join me for a moment of silence and remembrance of the San Bernardino victims. Thank you. You know, our country since its inception has been at war, every 15 or 20 years. But the war that we are fighting now against radical Islamist jihadists is one that we must win. Our very existence is dependent upon that.

You know, as a pediatric neurosurgeon, I frequently faced life and death situations, and had to come up with the right diagnosis, the right plan, and execute that plan frequently with other colleagues.

Right now, the United States of America is the patient. And the patient is in critical condition and will not be cured by political correctness and will not be cured by timidity.

And I am asking the Congress, which represents the people, to declare a war on ISIS so that we can begin the process of excising that cancer and begin the healing process, and bring peace, prosperity, and safety back to America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Thank you.

I began this journey six months ago. My total focus was on building up our military, building up our strength, building up our borders, making sure that China, Japan, Mexico, both at the border and in trade, no longer takes advantage of our country.

Certainly would never have made that horrible, disgusting, absolutely incompetent deal with Iran where they get $150 billion. They’re a terrorist nation. But I began it talking about other things.

And those things are things that I’m very good at and maybe that’s why I’m center stage. People saw it. People liked it. People respected it.

A month ago things changed. Radical Islamic terrorism came into effect even more so than it has been in the past. People like what I say. People respect what I say. And we’ve opened up a very big discussion that needed to be opened up.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Since you last debated, Americans have witnessed terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The FBI director says the country now faces the greatest terror threat since 9/11. You all have different approaches to keeping the country safe. And that will be the focus of tonight’s debate.

BLITZER: Mr. Trump, as you mentioned in your opening statement, part of your strategy is to focus in on America’s borders. To keep the country safe, you say you want to temporarily ban non-American Muslims from coming to the United States; ban refugees fleeing ISIS from coming here; deport 11 million people; and wall off America’s southern border. Is the best way to make America great again to isolate it from much of the rest of the world?

TRUMP: We are not talking about isolation. We’re talking about security. We’re not talking about religion. We’re talking about security. Our country is out of control. People are pouring across the southern border. I will build a wall. It will be a great wall. People will not come in unless they come in legally. Drugs will not pour through that wall.

As far as other people like in the migration, where they’re going, tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them? I don’t think so, Wolf. They’re not coming to this country. And if I’m president and if Obama has brought some to this country, they are leaving. They’re going. They’re gone.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Bush, you called Mr. Trump “unhinged” when he proposed banning non-American Muslims from the United States. Why is that unhinged?

BUSH: Well, first of all, we need to destroy ISIS in the caliphate. That’s — that should be our objective. The refugee issue will be solved if we destroy ISIS there, which means we need to have a no-fly zone, safe zones there for refugees and to build a military force.

We need to embed our forces — our troops inside the Iraqi military. We need to arm directly the Kurds. And all of that has to be done in concert with the Arab nations. And if we’re going to ban all Muslims, how are we going to get them to be part of a coalition to destroy ISIS?

The Kurds are the greatest fighting force and our strongest allies. They’re Muslim. Look, this is not a serious proposal. In fact, it will push the Muslim world, the Arab world away from us at a time when we need to reengage with them to be able to create a strategy to destroy ISIS.

So Donald, you know, is great at — at the one-liners, but he’s a chaos candidate. And he’d be a chaos president. He would not be the commander in chief we need to keep our country safe.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Jeb doesn’t really believe I’m unhinged. He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign. It’s been a total disaster. Nobody cares. And frankly, I’m the most solid person up here. I built a tremendous company and all I want to do is make America great again.

I don’t want our country to be taken away from us, and that’s what’s happening. The policies that we’ve suffered under other presidents have been a disaster for our country. We want to make America great again. And Jeb, in all fairness, he doesn’t believe that.

BUSH: Look, he mentioned me. I can bring — I can talk. This is — this is the problem. Banning all Muslims will make it harder for us to do exactly what we need to do, which is to destroy ISIS. We need a strategy. We need to get the lawyers off the back of the warfighters. Right now under President Obama, we’ve created this — this standard that is so high that it’s impossible to be successful in fighting ISIS.

We need to engage with the Arab world to make this happen. It is not a serious proposal to say that — to the people that you’re asking for their support that they can’t even come to the country to even engage in a dialogue with us. That’s not a serious proposal. We need a serious leader to deal with this. And I believe I’m that guy.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Rubio — I’m going to go to Senator Rubio and get his thoughts.

You have said banning Muslims is unconstitutional. But according to a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll, a majority of Republicans support Mr. Trump’s idea. Why are they wrong?

RUBIO: Well, I understand why they feel that way, because this president hasn’t kept us safe. The problem is we had an attack in San Bernardino. And we were paying attention to the most important issue we have faced in a decade since 9/11, and then all the talk was about this proposal, which isn’t going to happen.

But this is what’s important to do is we must deal frontally with this threat of radical Islamists, especially from ISIS. This is the most sophisticated terror group that has ever threatened the world or the United States of America. They are actively recruiting Americans. The attacker in San Bernardino was an American citizen, born and raised in this country. He was a health inspector; had a newborn child and left all that behind to kill 14 people.

We also understand that this is a group that’s growing in its governance of territory. It’s not just Iraq and Syria. They are now a predominant group in Libya. They are beginning to pop up in Afghanistan. They are increasingly involved now in attacks in Yemen. They have Jordan in their sights.

This group needs to be confronted with serious proposals. And this is a very significant threat we face. And the president has left us unsafe. He spoke the other night to the American people to reassure us. I wish he hadn’t spoken at all. He made things worse. Because what he basically said was we are going to keep doing what we’re doing now, and what we are doing now is not working.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Hugh Hewitt, you have a question.

HEWITT: Senator Cruz, you’ve said you disagree with Mr. Trump’s policy. I don’t want a cage match; you’ve tweeted you don’t want a cage match. But Republican primary voters deserve to know, with the kind of specificity and responsiveness you delivered in your nine Supreme Court arguments, how you disagree with Mr. Trump. Would you spell that out with us?

CRUZ: Well, listen, Hugh, everyone understands why Donald has suggested what he has. We’re looking at a president who’s engaged in this double-speak where he doesn’t call radical Islamic terrorism by its name. Indeed, he gives a speech after the San Bernardino attack where his approach is to try to go after the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens rather than to keep us safe.

And even worse, President Obama and Hillary Clinton are proposing bringing tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to this country when the head of the FBI has told Congress they cannot vet those refugees.

I understand why Donald made that proposal. I introduced legislation in the Senate that I believe is more narrowly focused at the actual threat, which is radical Islamic terrorism, and what my legislation would do is suspend all refugees for three years from countries where ISIS or Al Qaida control substantial territory.

HEWITT: So you’re saying you disagree because he’s too broad and you have a narrower focus? Why do you disagree with him?

CRUZ: Well, you know, I’m reminded of what FDR’s grandfather said. He said, “All horse-thieves are Democrats, but not all Democrats are horse-thieves.”

(LAUGHTER)

In this instance, there are millions of peaceful Muslims across the world, in countries like India, where there is not the problems we are seeing in nations that are controlled — have territory controlled by Al Qaida or ISIS, and we should direct at the problem, focus on the problem, and defeat radical Islamic terrorism. It’s not a war on a faith; it’s a war on a political and theocratic ideology that seeks to murder us.

HEWITT: Carly Fiorina… (APPLAUSE)

… this is the Christmas dinner debate. This will be the debate that Americans talk about at Christmas. And thus far, in the first 10 minutes, we haven’t heard a lot about Ronald Reagan’s city on a hill. We’ve heard a lot about keeping Americans out or keeping Americans safe and everyone else out. Is this what you want the party to stand for?

FIORINA: What I think we need to stand for are solutions. I offer myself as a leader to the people of this country because I think they’re looking for solutions, not lawyers arguing over laws or entertainers throwing out sound bites that draw media attention. We need to solve the problem.

To solve the problem, we need to do something here at home and something over there in their caliphate. We need to deny them territory.

But here at home, we need to do two fundamental things. Number one, we need to recognize that technology has moved on. The Patriot Act was signed in 2001, roughly. The iPhone was invented in 2007. The iPad was invented in 2011. Snapchat and Twitter, all the rest of it, have been around just for several years. Technology has moved on, and the terrorists have moved on with it.

Let me tell you a story. Soon after 9/11, I got a phone call from the NSA. They needed help. I gave them help. I stopped a truckload of equipment. I had it turned around. It was escorted by the NSA into headquarters. We need the private sector’s help, because government is not innovating. Technology is running ahead by leaps and bound. The private sector will help, just as I helped after 9/11. But they must be engaged, and they must be asked. I will ask them. I know them.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Christie, Americans are clearly more afraid today than at any time since 9/11. As you mentioned in your opening statement, today in Los Angeles, 650 schoolchildren didn’t go to — 650,000 schoolchildren didn’t go to school because of an e-mail threat, this two weeks after an attack killed 14 people in San Bernardino. Is this the new normal? And if so, what steps would you take as president of the United States to ensure that fear does not paralyze America?

CHRISTIE: Wolf, unfortunately, it’s the new normal under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The fact is that if you listen to Hillary Clinton the other day, what she said to the American people was, as regards to ISIS, my strategy would be just about the same as the president’s.

Just about the same as the president’s? We have people across this country who are scared to death. Because I could tell you this, as a former federal prosecutor, if a center for the developmentally disabled in San Bernardino, California, is now a target for terrorists, that means everywhere in America is a target for these terrorists.

Now, I spent seven years of my life in the immediate aftermath of September 11th doing this work, working with the Patriot Act, working with our law enforcement, working with the surveillance community to make sure that we keep America safe.

What we need to do, Wolf, is restore those tools that have been taken away by the president and others, restore those tools to the NSA and to our entire surveillance and law enforcement community.

We need a president who is going to understand what actionable intelligence looks like and act on it. And we need a president and a cabinet who understands that the first and most important priority of the president of the United States is to protect the safety and security of Americans.

As someone who has done it, I will make sure it gets done again.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Governor Kasich, one of the killers in San Bernardino was an American who was not on anyone’s watch list. How are you going to find that radicalized person and stop another such attack?

KASICH: Well, first of all, Wolf, I said last February that we needed to have people on the ground, troops on the ground in a coalition similar to what we had in the first Gulf War.

I remember when the Egyptian ambassador to the United States stood in the Rose Garden and pledged Arab commitment to removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Before we came out here tonight, I am told that the Saudis have organized 34 countries who want to join in the battle against terrorism.

First and foremost, we need to go and destroy ISIS. And we need to do this with our Arab friends and our friends in Europe.

And when I see they have a climate conference over in Paris, they should have been talking about destroying ISIS because they are involved in virtually every country, you know, across this world.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, you destroy ISIS in a coalition. You get joint intelligence with our European friends. And then here at home, there are things called the Joint Terrorism Task Force, headed by the FBI, and made up of local law enforcement, including state police.

They need the tools. And the tools involve encryption where we cannot hear what they’re even planning. And when we see red flags, a father, a mother, a neighbor who says we have got a problem here, then we have to give law enforcement the ability to listen so they can disrupt these terrorist attacks before they occur.

We can do this, but we’ve got to get moving. Pay me now or pay me a lot more later. This is the direction we need to go.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Dana Bash, you have the next question.

BASH: A crucial question is how to balance surveillance with privacy and keeping Americans safe.

Senator Cruz, you voted for a bill that President Obama signed into law just this past June that made it harder for the government to access Americans’ phone records. In light of the San Bernardino attack, was your vote a mistake?

CRUZ: Well, Dana, the premise of your question is not accurate. I’m very proud to have joined with conservatives in both the Senate and the House to reform how we target bad guys.

And what the USA Freedom Act did is it did two things. Number one, it ended the federal government’s bulk collection of phone metadata of millions of law-abiding citizens.

But number two in the second half of it that is critical. It strengthened the tools of national security and law enforcement to go after terrorists. It gave us greater tools and we are seeing those tools work right now in San Bernardino.

And in particular, what it did is the prior program only covered a relatively narrow slice of phone calls. When you had a terrorist, you could only search a relatively narrow slice of numbers, primarily land lines.

The USA Freedom Act expands that so now we have cell phones, now we have Internet phones, now we have the phones that terrorists are likely to use and the focus of law enforcement is on targeting the bad guys.

You know what the Obama administration keeps getting wrong is whenever anything bad happens they focus on law-abiding citizens instead of focusing on the bad guys.

We need to focus on radical Islamic terrorists and we need to stop them before they carry out acts of terror.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Thank you.

Senator Rubio, Senator Cruz is right there was bipartisan support for that. But you voted against it. So, is Senator Cruz wrong?

RUBIO: He is and so are those that voted for it. There were some that voted for it because they wanted to keep it alive and they were afraid the whole program would expire.

Here’s the world we live in. This is a radical jihadist group that is increasingly sophisticated in its ability, for example, to radicalize American citizens, in its inability to exploit loopholes in our legal immigration system, in its ability to capture and hold territory in the Middle East, as I outlined earlier, in multiple countries.

This is not just the most capable, it is the most sophisticated terror threat we have ever faced. We are now at a time when we need more tools, not less tools. And that took we lost, the metadata program, was a valuable tool that we no longer have at our disposal.

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, you know, I would note that Marco knows what he’s saying isn’t true. You know, Mark Levin wrote a column last week that says that the attack ads his Super PAC is running that are saying the same thing, that they are knowingly false and they are, in fact, Alinsky-like attacks like Barack Obama.

And the reason is simple. What he knows is that the old program covered 20 percent to 30 percent of phone numbers to search for terrorists. The new program covers nearly 100 percent. That gives us greater ability to stop acts of terrorism, and he knows that that’s the case.

RUBIO: Dana, may I interject here?

BASH: Senator — Senator — Senator Rubio, please respond.

RUBIO: Let me be very careful when answering this, because I don’t think national television in front of 15 million people is the place to discuss classified information. So let me just be very clear. There is nothing that we are allowed to do under this bill that we could not do before.

This bill did, however, take away a valuable tool that allowed the National Security Agency and other law — and other intelligence agencies to quickly and rapidly access phone records and match them up with other phone records to see who terrorists have been calling. Because I promise you, the next time there is attack on — an attack on this country, the first thing people are going to want to know is, why didn’t we know about it and why didn’t we stop it? And the answer better not be because we didn’t have access to records or information that would have allowed us to identify these killers before they attacked.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Paul, Senator Paul, I know this is — this has been a very big issue for you. You hear many of your colleagues are calling for increased surveillance by law enforcement. You call that hogwash. Why is that hogwash?

PAUL: You know, I think Marco gets it completely wrong. We are not any safer through the bulk collection of all Americans’ records. In fact, I think we’re less safe. We get so distracted by all of the information, we’re not spending enough time getting specific immigration — specific information on terrorists.

The other thing is, is the one thing that might have stopped San Bernardino, that might have stopped 9/11 would have been stricter controls on those who came here. And Marco has opposed at every point increased security — border security for those who come to our country.

On his Gang of Eight bill, he would have liberalized immigration, but he did not — and he steadfastly opposed any new border security requirements for refugees or students.

Last week, I introduced another bill saying we need more security, we need more scrutiny. Once again, Marco opposed this. So Marco can’t have it both ways. He thinks he wants to be this, “Oh, I’m great and strong on national defense.” But he’s the weakest of all the candidates on immigration. He is the one for an open border that is leaving us defenseless. If we want to defend the country, we have to defend against who’s coming in, and Marco is — has more of an allegiance to Chuck Schumer and to the liberals than he does to conservative policy.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: I want to thank Rand for another 30 seconds, because, number one, what he’s pointing to is a bill last week that — amendment that he voted for that only 10 people voted for. You know why? Because it’s not focused on terrorists. It would have banned anyone from coming here. Someone from Taiwan would not have been able to come here as a tourist.

Number two, this program, this metadata program is actually more strict than what a regular law enforcement agency has now. If a regular law enforcement agency wants your phone records, all they have to do is issue a subpoena. But now the intelligence agency is not able to quickly gather records and look at them to see who these terrorists are calling. And the terrorists that attacked us in San Bernardino was an American citizen, born and raised in this country. And I bet you we wish we would have had access to five years of his records so we could see who he was working with…

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Governor Christie, Governor Christie…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Governor Christie, I’ll come to you in a minute. Go ahead, Senator Paul.

PAUL: If I was mentioned in the question, can I respond? BASH: Go ahead, please.

PAUL: Marco still misunderstands the immigration issue. What I put forward was an amendment that would have temporarily halted immigration from high-risk terrorist countries, but would have started it up, but I wanted them to go through Global Entry, which is a program where we do background checks.

The thing is, is that every terrorist attack we’ve had since 9/11 has been legal immigration. Marco wants to expand that. I want more rules, more scrutiny, and to defend the country, you have to defend the border.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator, we’re going to talk about immigration in a while. But, Governor Christie, just listening to this…

RUBIO: Do I get another 30 seconds? He mentioned me.

BASH: Listening to this, you talked — you heard Senator Paul, Senator Cruz talk about how important it is to protect Americans’ privacy, even in a time of grave danger. Why — what’s wrong with that?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I want to talk to the audience at home for a second. If your eyes are glazing over like mine, this is what it’s like to be on the floor of the United States Senate. I mean, endless debates about how many angels on the head of a pin from people who’ve never had to make a consequential decision in an executive position.

The fact is, for seven years, I had to make these decisions after 9/11, make a decision about how to proceed forward with an investigation or how to pull back, whether you use certain actionable intelligence or whether not to. And yet they continue to debate about this bill and in the subcommittee and what — nobody in America cares about that.

CHRISTIE: What they care about is, are we going to have a president who actually knows what they’re doing to make these decisions? And for the seven years afterwards, New Jersey was threatened like no other region in this country and what we did was we took action within the constitution to make sure that law enforcement had all the information they needed.

We prosecuted two of the biggest terrorism cases in the world and stopped Fort Dix from being attacked by six American radicalized Muslims from a Mosque in New Jersey because we worked with the Muslim American community to get intelligence and we used the Patriot Act to get other intelligence to make sure we did those cases. This is the difference between actually been a federal prosecutor, actually doing something, and not just spending your life as one of hundred debating it.

Let’s talk about how we do this, not about which bill, which one these guys like more. The American people don’t care about that.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Dr. Carson, you’re in favor of monitoring mosques and schools where there is anti-America sentiment, what do you consider anti- America?

CARSON: First of all, let me just complain a little bit. This is the first time I’ve spoken and several people have had multiple questions so please try to pay attention to that. Now, as far as monitoring is concerned, what my point is, we need to make sure that any place – I don’t care whether it’s a mosque, a school, a supermarket, a theater, you know it doesn’t matter. If there are a lot of people getting there and engaging in radicalizing activities then we need to be suspicious of it.

We have to get rid of all this PC stuff. And people are worried about if somebody’s going to say that I’m Islamophobic or what have you. This is craziness because we are at war. That’s why I asked congress, go ahead and declare the war .

We need to be on a war footing. We need to understand that our nation is in grave danger. You know, what the Muslim Brotherhood said in the explanatory memorandum that was discovered during the Holy Land Foundation Trial was that, “they will take advantage of our PC attitude to get us. :”

We have to be better than this. We have to be smarter than they are.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, who was right in that little debate that we just heard between Senator Rubio and Senator Paul?

CARSON: I think you have to ask them about that. I don’t want to get in between them. Let them fight.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on a sec, we have a lot more to come and everybody’s going to have their full opportunity.

Governor Bush, six days after 9/11 your brother visited a mosque and said quote, “Islam is peace.” The conversation tonight is about banning Muslims and surveillance of mosques, are President Bush’s words still relevant in today’s Republican party?

BUSH: They are reverent if we want to destroy ISIS. If we want to destroy radical Islamic terrors, we can’t disassociate ourselves from peace loving Muslims. If we expect to do this on our own, we will fail but if we do it in unison with people who are also are at risk and threatened by Islamic Radical terrorism, we’ll be far more successful.

Look, the FBI has the tools necessary un-American activities in our country. It goes on, we shouldn’t even be talking about it, to be honest with you out in the public. Of course they have those capabilities and we should make sure that we give the FBI, the NSA, our intelligence communities, all the resources they need to keep us safe.

But the main thing we should be focused on is the strategy to destroy ISIS. And I laid out a plan that the Reagan Library before the tragedy of Paris, and before San Bernardino to do just that. It requires leadership, it’s not filing an amendment and call it a success.

It is developing a strategy, leading the world, funding it to make sure that we have a military that’s second to none, and doing the job and making sure that we destroy ISIS there. That’s how you keep America safe.

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina, as you pointed out you were a CEO in Silicon Valley on 9/11. Companies there, they say they won’t help the FBI now crack encrypted communication from ISIS, should they be forced to.

FIORINA: You know, listening to this conversation, let me just say, we have a lot of argument about laws but none of it solves the problem. Let’s examine what happened, why did we miss the Tsarnaev brothers, why did we miss the San Bernardino couple? It wasn’t because we had stopped collected metadata it was because, I think, as someone who comes from the technology world, we were using the wrong algorithms.

This is a place where the private sector could be helpful because the government is woefully behind the technology curve. But secondly, the bureaucratic processes that have been in place since 9/11 are woefully inadequate as well. What do we now know? That DHS vets people by going into databases of known or suspected terrorists.

FIORINA: And yet, we also know that ISIS is recruiting who are not in those databases. So of course, we’re going to miss them. And then we now learn that DHS says, “No, we can’t check their social media.”

For heaven’s sakes, every parent in America is checking social media and every employer is as well, but our government can’t do it. The bureaucratic procedures are so far behind. Our government has become incompetent, unresponsive, corrupt. And that incompetence, ineptitude, lack of accountability is now dangerous.

It is why we need a different kind of leadership in the White House that understands how to get bureaucracies competent again.

BLITZER: But my question was: Should these Silicon Valley companies be forced to cooperate with the FBI?

FIORINA: They do not need to be forced. They need to be asked to bring the best and brightest, the most recent technology to the table. I was asked as a CEO. I complied happily. And they will as well. But they have not been asked. That’s why it cost billions of dollars to build an Obama website that failed because the private sector wasn’t asked.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump, you recently suggested closing that Internet up, those were your words, as a way to stop ISIS from recruiting online. Are you referring to closing down actual portions of the Internet? Some say that would put the U.S. in line with China and North Korea.

TRUMP: Well, look, this is so easy to answer. ISIS is recruiting through the Internet. ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet, and it was our idea. What I wanted to do is I wanted to get our brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS cannot do what they’re doing.

You talk freedom of speech. You talk freedom of anything you want. I don’t want them using our Internet to take our young, impressionable youth and watching the media talking about how they’re masterminds — these are masterminds. They shouldn’t be using the word “mastermind.” These are thugs. These are terrible people in ISIS, not masterminds. And we have to change it from every standpoint. But we should be using our brilliant people, our most brilliant minds to figure a way that ISIS cannot use the Internet. And then on second, we should be able to penetrate the Internet and find out exactly where ISIS is and everything about ISIS. And we can do that if we use our good people.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let me follow up, Mr. Trump.

So, are you open to closing parts of the Internet?

TRUMP: I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet. Yes, sir, I am.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Governor Kasich, is shutting down any part of the Internet a good idea?

KASICH: No, I don’t think it is. And I want to go back to two other issues. One is the metadata. We know we have to hold this data for a longer period of time. And, you know, in a lot of ways, Chris is right. Look, what a president has to do is take a position. We don’t want to err on the side of having less. We want to err on the side of having more. That’s good for our families.

In addition to that, Wolf, there is a big problem. It’s called encryption. And the people in San Bernardino were communicating with people who the FBI had been watching. But because their phone was encrypted, because the intelligence officials could not see who they were talking to, it was lost.

We have to solve the encryption problem. It is not easy. A president of the United States, again, has to bring people together, have a position. We need to be able to penetrate these people when they are involved in these plots and these plans. And we have to give the local authorities the ability to penetrate to disrupt. That’s what we need to do. Encryption is a major problem, and Congress has got to deal with this and so does the president to keep us safe.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

The fight against radical Islamic terrorists and ISIS has been called the war of our time. So let’s talk about how each of you, as commander in chief, would fight this war and win it.

Senator Cruz, you have said you would, quote, “carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion,” testing whether, quote, “sand can glow in the dark.” Does that mean leveling the ISIS capital of Raqqa in Syria where there are hundreds of thousands of civilians?

CRUZ: What it means is using overwhelming air power to utterly and completely destroy ISIS. To put things in perspective, in the first Persian Gulf War, we launched roughly 1,100 air attacks a day. We carpet bombed them for 36 days, saturation bombing, after which our troops went in and in a day and a half mopped up what was left of the Iraqi army.

Right now, Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day. It is photo op foreign policy. We need to use overwhelming air power. We need to be arming the Kurds. We need to be fighting and killing ISIS where they are.

And let me go back to the earlier discussion a minute ago. It’s not a lack of competence that is preventing the Obama administration from stopping these attacks. It is political correctness. We didn’t monitor the Facebook posting of the female San Bernardino terrorist because the Obama DHS thought it would be inappropriate. She made a public call to jihad, and they didn’t target it.

The Tsarnaev brothers, the elder brother made a public call to jihad and the Obama administration didn’t target it. Nidal Hasan communicated with Anwar al-Awlaki, a known radical cleric, asked about waging jihad against his fellow soldiers. The problem is because of political correctness, the Obama administration, like a lot of folks here, want to search everyone’s cell phones and e-mails and not focus on the bad guys. And political correctness is killing people.

BLITZER: Thank you. To be clear, Senator Cruz, would you carpet bomb Raqqa, the ISIS capital, where there are a lot of civilians, yes or no?

CRUZ: You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed — and you have embedded special forces to direction the air power. But the object isn’t to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.

To make it — listen, ISIS is gaining strength because the perception is that they’re winning. And President Obama fuels that perception. That will change when militants across the globe see that when you join ISIS that you are giving up your life, you are signing your death warrant, and we need a president who is focused on defeating every single ISIS terrorist and protecting the homeland, which should be the first priority.

BLITZER: Thank you. Thank you, Senator.

Senator Rubio, you’ve been critical of Senator Cruz’s strategy. You say his voting record doesn’t match his rhetoric. Why?

RUBIO: Well, let me begin by saying that we have to understand who ISIS is. ISIS is a radical Sunni group. They cannot just be defeated through air strikes. Air strikes are a key component of defeating them, but they must be defeated on the ground by a ground force. And that ground force must be primarily made up of Sunni Arabs themselves, Sunni Arabs that reject them ideologically and confront them militarily.

We will have to embed additional American special operators alongside them to help them with training, to help them conduct special missions, and to help improve the air strikes. The air strikes are important, but we need to have an air force capable of it. And because of the budget cuts we are facing in this country, we are going to be left with the oldest and the smallest Air Force we have ever had. We have to reverse those cuts, in addition to the cuts to our Navy and in addition to the cuts to our Army, as well.

And beyond that, I would say we must win the information war against ISIS. Every war we have ever been involved in has had a propaganda informational aspect to it. ISIS is winning the propaganda war. They are recruiting people, including Americans, to join them, with the promise that they are joining this great apocalyptic movement that is going to defeat the West. We have to show what life is really like in ISIS territory, and we have to show them why ISIS is not invincible, by going out and conducting these attacks and publicizing them to those who they recruit.

BLITZER: Because I asked the question, Senator, because you said this. You said he, referring to Senator Cruz, voted against the Defense Authorization Act every year that it came up, and I assume that if he voted against it, he would veto it as president. That’s the bill that funds our troops.

RUBIO: That is accurate. Three times he voted against the Defense Authorization Act, which is a bill that funds the troops. It also, by the way, funds the Iron Dome and other important programs. And I have to assume that if you vote against it in the Senate, you would also veto it as president.

He has also supported, by the way, a budget that is called the containment budget. And it is a budget that would radically reduce the amount of money we spend on our military. You can’t carpet bomb ISIS if you don’t have planes and bombs to attack them with. And if we continue those cuts that we’re doing now, not to mention additional cuts, we are going to be left with the oldest and the smallest Air Force this country has ever had, and that leaves us less safe.

BLITZER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, you know, Marco has continued these attacks, and he knows they’re not true. Yes, it is true that I voted against the National Defense Authorization Act, because when I campaigned in Texas I told voters in Texas that I would oppose the federal government having the authority to detain U.S. citizens permanently with no due process. I have repeatedly supported an effort to take that out of that bill, and I honored that campaign commitment.

CRUZ: But more broadly, you know, the notion Marco is suggesting, that somehow — he also has tossed more than a few insults this direction — let’s be absolutely clear. ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism will face no more determined foe than I will be.

We will utterly destroy them by targeting the bad guys. And one of the problems with Marco’s foreign policy is he has far too often supported Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama undermining governments in the Middle East that have helped radical Islamic terrorists.

We need to focus on killing the bad guys, not getting stuck in Middle Eastern civil wars that don’t keep America safe.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio.

RUBIO: Yes, let me — three points of distinction. The first is, if you’re an American citizen and you decide to join up with ISIS, we’re not going to read you your Miranda rights. You’re going to be treated as an enemy combatant, a member of an army attacking this country.

(APPLAUSE)

Number two, we do need our defense capabilities. It is a fact that the cuts we are facing today and the cuts that Senator Cruz would have supported would leave us with an even smaller Air Force and a smaller Navy than the one we are going to be left with.

And the final point that I would make is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s strategy is to lead from behind. It sounds like what he is outlining is not to lead at all. We cannot continue to outsource foreign policy. We must lead. We are the most powerful nation in the world. We need to begin to act like it, again.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We are going to have much more on this…

PAUL: Wolf…

BLITZER: We’re going to have much more on this. But I want to move now back to Mr. Trump.

PAUL: Wolf, this legislation…

BLITZER: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. PAUL: This legislation on indefinite detention…

BLITZER: We have a lot…

PAUL: … I think deserves a little more attention.

BLITZER: We have a lot to discuss. I want to move to Mr. Trump right now. We have a question on this war against ISIS and how you would fight and win this war. Here’s the question from Facebook. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH JACOB, COLLEGE STUDENT: I’m Josh Jacob from Georgia Tech. Recently Donald Trump mentioned we must kill the families of ISIS members. However, this violates the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants in international law.

So my question is, how would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: We have to be much tougher. We have to be much stronger than we’ve been. We have people that know what is going on. You take a look at just the attack in California the other day. There were numerous people, including the mother, that knew what was going on.

They saw a pipe bomb sitting all over the floor. They saw ammunition all over the place. They knew exactly what was going on.

When you had the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia.

They knew what was going on. They went home and they wanted to watch their boyfriends on television. I would be very, very firm with families. Frankly, that will make people think because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Donald, this has got…

BLITZER: Governor Bush. Governor Bush.

BUSH: This is another example of the lack of seriousness. Look, this is — this is troubling because we’re at war. They’ve declared war on us and we need to have a serious strategy to destroy ISIS.

But the idea that that is a solution to this is just — is just crazy. It makes no sense to suggest this. Look, two months ago Donald Trump said that ISIS was not our fight. Just two months ago he said that Hillary Clinton would be a great negotiator with Iran. And he gets his foreign policy experience from the shows.

That is not a serious kind of candidate. We need someone that thinks this through. That can lead our country to safety and security.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Look, the problem is we need toughness. Honestly, I think Jeb is a very nice person. He’s a very nice person. But we need tough people. We need toughness. We need intelligence and we need tough.

Jeb said when they come across the southern border they come as an act of love.

BUSH: You said on September 30th that ISIS was not a factor.

TRUMP: Am I talking or are you talking, Jeb?

BUSH: I’m talking right now. I’m talking.

TRUMP: You can go back. You’re not talking. You interrupted me.

BUSH: September 30th you said…

TRUMP: Are you going to apologize, Jeb? No. Am I allowed to finish?

BLITZER: Just one at a time, go ahead…

TRUMP: Excuse me, am I allowed to finish?

BLITZER: Go ahead, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: So…

BUSH: A little of your own medicine there, Donald.

TRUMP: … again…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Governor Bush, please.

TRUMP: I know you’re trying to build up your energy, Jeb, but it’s not working very well.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: One at a time.

TRUMP: Look, look, look. We need a toughness. We need strength. We’re not respected, you know, as a nation anymore. We don’t have that level of respect that we need. And if we don’t get it back fast, we’re just going to go weaker, weaker and just disintegrate.

We can’t allow that to happen. We need strength. We don’t have it. When Jeb comes out and he talks about the border, and I saw it and I was witness to it, and so was everyone else, and I was standing there, “they come across as an act of love,” he’s saying the same thing right now with radical Islam.

And we can’t have that in our country. It just won’t work. We need strength.

BLITZER: Governor Bush.

BUSH: Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. That’s not going to happen.

(APPLAUSE)

And I do have the strength. Leadership, leadership is not about attacking people and disparaging people. Leadership is about creating a serious strategy to deal with the threat of our time.

BUSH: And I laid out that strategy before the attacks in Paris and before the attacks in San Bernardino. And it is the way forward. We need to increase our military spending. We need to deal with a no- fly zone in Syria, a safe zone. We need to focus on building a military that is second-to-none…

BLITZER: Thank you.

BUSH: … so that we can destroy Islamic terrorism.

TRUMP: With Jeb’s attitude, we will never be great again, that I can tell you. We will never be great again.

BLITZER: All right. Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash, Hugh, go ahead with the next question.

HEWITT: Dr. Carson…

(APPLAUSE)

… you mentioned in your opening remarks that you’re a pediatric neurologist surgeon…

CARSON: Neurosurgeon.

HEWITT: Neurosurgeon. And people admire and respect and are inspired by your life story, your kindness, your evangelical core support. We’re talking about ruthless things tonight — carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?

CARSON: Well, interestingly enough, you should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them we’re going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor. They’re not happy about it, believe me. And they don’t like me very much at that point. But later on, they love me.

Sometimes you — I sound like him.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, later on, you know, they really realize what’s going on. And by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.

HEWITT: So you are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilian? It’s like…

CARSON: You got it. You got it.

HEWITT: That is what war — can you be as ruthless as Churchill was in prosecuting the war against the Nazis?

CARSON: Ruthless is not necessarily the word I would use, but tough, resolute, understanding what the problems are, and understanding that the job of the president of the United States is to protect the people of this country and to do what is necessary in order to get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Paul, you said ISIS grew stronger because of the hawks in your party. Do you really think that Republicans have fueled the rise of ISIS?

PAUL: I think that by arming the allies of ISIS, the Islamic rebels against Assad, that we created a safe space or made that space bigger for ISIS to grow. I think those who have wanted regime change have made a mistake. When we toppled Gadhafi in Libya, I think that was a mistake. I think ISIS grew stronger, we had a failed state, and we were more at risk.

I’d like to also go back to, though, another question, which is, is Donald Trump a serious candidate? The reason I ask this is, if you’re going to close the Internet, realize, America, what that entails. That entails getting rid of the First amendment, OK? It’s no small feat.

If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize that there’s something called the Geneva Convention we’re going to have to pull out of. It would defy every norm that is America. So when you ask yourself, whoever you are, that think you’re going to support Donald Trump, think, do you believe in the Constitution? Are you going to change the Constitution?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: So, they can kill us, but we can’t kill them? That’s what you’re saying. And as far as the Internet is concerned, we’re not talking about closing the Internet. I’m talking about parts of Syria, parts of Iraq, where ISIS is, spotting it.

Now, you could close it. What I like even better than that is getting our smartest and getting our best to infiltrate their Internet, so that we know exactly where they’re going, exactly where they’re going to be. I like that better.

(APPLAUSE)

But we have to — who would be — I just can’t imagine somebody booing. These are people that want to kill us, folks, and you’re — you’re objecting to us infiltrating their conversations? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Paul, Senator Paul, I want to go back to my initial question, which is you saying that ISIS grew stronger because of hawks in your party. And do you think your own party, the people who you’re describing, are responsible for the rise of ISIS?

PAUL: I think that if you believe in regime change, you’re mistaken. In 2013, we put 600 tons of weapons — us, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar — into the war against Assad. By pushing Assad back, we did create a safe space.

We had people coming to our Foreign Relations Committee and saying, “Oh, we need to arm the allies of Al Qaida.” They are still saying this. It is a crazy notion. This is the biggest debate we should be having tonight is is regime change a good idea; has it been a good idea.

There are still people — the majority on the stage, they want to topple Assad. And then there will be chaos, and I think ISIS will then be in charge of Syria.

BASH: Senator, we’re going to talk about regime change in a bit.

But Governor Kasich, would you like to respond to Senator Paul?

KASICH: Yeah, let me — let me just suggest to everybody, and I hear — last February, I said we needed to have people on the ground in a coalition with Europe and our allies. This is not going to get done just by working with the Sunnis. And it is not going to get done if we just embed a few people.

We have to go massively, like we did in the first Gulf War where we destroyed Saddam’s ability to take Kuwait. We need to have a coalition that will stand for nothing less than the total destruction of ISIS and we have to be the leader. We can’t wait for anybody else. I served on the Armed Services Committee for 18 years and we must lead, or the job won’t get done, unfortunately, for our country.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Rubio? Let’s continue this conversation. This is a critically important issue.

FIORINA: I hope at some point you’re going to ask me my strategy.

BLITZER: We will get to — we have a lot of time, Ms. Fiorina.

I want to get to Senator Rubio right now. Let’s talk about, one of the aspects of your strategy, you say the only way to defeat ISIS is with ground forces made up primarily of Sunni-Arab forces. Those Arab nations, though, as you well know, they’ve conducted less than five percent of the airstrikes and actually none since August. What makes you think they are willing to fight on the ground if they’re not even willing to fight from the air?

RUBIO: Well, they most certainly will have to be worked on to provide more than what they are doing now. There’s no doubt about it. And there’s one — one major reason why they have not been willing to be a broader part of the coalition, and that is they have lost complete trust and confidence in this president. This president cut a deal with their moral enemy, the Shia, in Iran. And this is the reason why they no longer trust this president and are willing to work alongside them.

But they have as much invested in this as we do. In fact, more so, for it is the king of Saudi Arabia they want to behead first. It’s the king of Jordan that they want to dethrone. It’s the — they want to go into Egypt the way they’ve already gone into Libya.

And on another point that we need to talk about, Assad is one of the main reasons why ISIS even exists to begin with. Assad is a puppet of Iran. And he has been so brutal toward the Sunni within Syria that he created the space that led to the people of Syria themselves to stand up and try to overthrow him. That led to the chaos which allowed ISIS to come in and take advantage of that situation and grow more powerful.

And the fact that this president led from behind meant there were no alternative groups on the ground to be empowered, leaving ISIS with the prime operating space they needed to become the force they have now become.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Stand by.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina, the former defense secretary, Bob Gates, says the chances of getting Sunni-Arab forces on the ground to get the job done, his words, “chances very remote.” What’s your strategy?

FIORINA: Well, first I’ll just point out that talking tough is not the same as being strong. And to wage war, we need a commander in chief who has made tough calls in tough times and stood up to be held accountable over and over, not first-term senators who’ve never made an executive decision in their life.

One of the things I would immediately do, in addition to defeating them here at home, is bring back the warrior class — Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, Keane, Flynn. Every single one of these generals I know. Every one was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear.

We must have Sunni-Arabs involved in this coalition. We must commit leadership, strength, support and resolve. I’ll just add that Margaret Thatcher once said, “If you want something talked about, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Governor Christie, what’s your strategy?

CHRISTIE: Wolf, you sit up here and you listen to this stuff, and you think that so many of these people have had so much to do in this national debate, they talk like they were bystanders. You know, we talk about our military being degraded over time, and yet we’ve had folks on this stage who’ve been a part of Congress who have participated in sequester; who participated in the degrading of this military over time.

And that’s why I think people get so frustrated with Washington, D.C. now. That’s why they’re so angry with the — the electorate is so angry with everybody who is involved in government in Washington, D.C. Because if you listen to the folks up here, you think that they weren’t even there; they had nothing to do with this.

CHRISTIE: This is a difference between being a governor and being in a legislature. See, because when something doesn’t work in New Jersey, they look at me, say: “Why didn’t it get done? Why didn’t you do it?” You have to be responsible and accountable.

And so on ISIS, let’s be clear, the president needs to be a force that is trusted in the world. On this I agree with Marco. You know, this president is not trusted.

If you’re the King of Jordan, if you’re a part of the royal family in Saudi Arabia and he’s made this deal with Iran which gives them $150 billion to wage a war and try to extend their empire across the Middle East, why would you want to do it now?

But I will tell you this, when I stand across from King Hussein of Jordan and I say to him, “You have a friend again sir, who will stand with you to fight this fight,” he’ll change his mind.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, what is your strategy?

CARSON: First of all, I’ve been talking about this for over a year. We have to destroy their caliphate because that gives them legitimacy to go ahead with the global Jihad. We have to take their energy because they are — ISIS is the richest terrorist organization there is. We have to take their oil, shut down all of the mechanisms whereby they can disperse money because they go after disaffected individuals from all over the place, and they’re able to pay them. That makes a difference.

As far as the command centers are concerned in Raqqa and to a lesser degree Mosul, cut those off. Do the same kind of thing that we did with Sinjar a few weeks ago, working with our embedded special forces with the Kurds, shut off the supply route, soften them up, then we go in with specials ops followed by our air force to take them over. Those are things that work.

But also, you know, this whole concept of boots on the ground, you know, we’ve got a phobia about boots on the ground. If our military experts say, we need boots on the ground, we should put boots on the ground and recognize that there will be boots on the ground and they’ll be over here, and they’ll be their boots if we don’t get out of there now.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Everyone stand by. We’re only just beginning. Coming up, which candidates on this stage tonight want to move foreign policy in a dramatically new direction?

We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN-Facebook Republican Presidential Debate here at the Venetian, Las Vegas.

The war against ISIS will pose many new challenges for the next commander-in-chief. The last two presidents pursued a Middle East policy that supported toppling dictators to try to promote democracy.

Senator Cruz, you have said the world would be safer today if Saddam Hussein were still in power in Iraq, Moammar Gadhafi ruled Libya, and Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt. So would it be your policy to preserve dictatorships, rather than promoting democracy in the Middle East?

CRUZ: Wolf, I believe in a America first foreign policy, that far too often President Obama and Hillary Clinton — and, unfortunately, more than a few Republicans — have gotten distracted from the central focus of keeping this country safe.

So let’s go back to the beginning of the Obama administration, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led NATO in toppling the government in Libya. They did it because they wanted to promote democracy. A number of Republicans supported them. The result of that — and we were told then that there were these moderate rebels that would take over. Well, the result is, Libya is now a terrorist war zone run by jihadists.

Move over to Egypt. Once again, the Obama administration, encouraged by Republicans, toppled Mubarak who had been a reliable ally of the United States, of Israel, and in its place, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood came in, a terrorist organization.

And we need to learn from history. These same leaders — Obama, Clinton, and far too many Republicans — want to topple Assad. Assad is a bad man. Gadhafi was a bad man. Mubarak had a terrible human rights record. But they were assisting us — at least Gadhafi and Mubarak — in fighting radical Islamic terrorists.

And if we topple Assad, the result will be ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen U.S. national security interests. And the approach, instead of being a Woodrow Wilson democracy promoter…

BLITZER: Thank you.

CRUZ: … we ought to hunt down our enemies and kill ISIS rather than creating opportunities for ISIS to take control of new countries.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Rubio, you supported the removal of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. Now that country is in turmoil, as ISIS is clearly growing there. Senator Cruz says you haven’t learned your lesson. Do you have any regrets for supporting President Obama’s intervention in Libya?

RUBIO: To begin with, Moammar Gadhafi and the revolt against Gadhafi was not started by the United States. It was started by the Libyan people. And the reason why I argued we needed to get involved is because he was going to go one way or the other. And my argument then was proven true, and that is, the longer that civil war took, the more militias would be formed and the more unstable the country would be after the fact.

As far as Moammar Gadhafi is concerned, by the way, Moammar Gadhafi is the man that killed those Americans over Lockerbie, Scotland. Moammar Gadhafi is also the man that bombed that cafe in Berlin and killed those Marines. And you want to know why Moammar Gadhafi started cooperating on his nuclear program? Because we got rid of Saddam Hussein. And so he got scared that he would be next, and that’s why he started cooperating.

Look, we will have to work around the world with less than ideal governments. The government in Saudi Arabia is not a democracy, but we will have to work with them. The government in Jordan is not perfect, but we will have to work with them. But anti-American dictators like Assad, who help Hezbollah, who helped get those IEDs into Iraq, if they go, I will not shed a tear.

BLITZER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, it’s more than not shedding a tear. It’s actively getting involved to topple a government. And we keep hearing from President Obama and Hillary Clinton and Washington Republicans that they’re searching for these mythical moderate rebels. It’s like a purple unicorn. They never exist. These moderate rebels end up being jihadists.

And I’ll tell you whose view on Assad is the same as mine. It’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said Israel doesn’t have a dog in that fight because Assad is a puppet of Iran, a Shia radical Islamic terrorist, but at the same time, Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn’t want to see Syria governed by ISIS. And we need to focus on American interests, not on global aspirations…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Standby. Everybody standby for a moment. Governor Kasich, go ahead.

KASICH: I don’t understand this thing about Assad. He has to go. Assad is aligned with Iran and Russia. The one thing we want to prevent is we want to prevent Iran being able to extend a Shia crescent all across the Middle East. Assad has got to go.

KASICH: And there are moderates there. There are moderates in Syria who we should be supporting. I do not support a civil war. I don’t want to be policeman of the world. But we can’t back off of this. And let me tell you, at the end, the Saudis have agreed to put together a coalition inside of Syria to stabilize that country.

BLITZER: Thank you.

KASICH: He must go. It will be a blow to Iran and Russia.

BLITZER: We’re going to talk about Assad in a moment.

Mr. Trump, are Americans safer with dictators running the world in the Middle East?

TRUMP: In my opinion, we’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.

We have done a tremendous disservice, not only to Middle East, we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have wiped away, and for what? It’s not like we had victory.

It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized. A total and complete mess. I wish we had the $4 trillion or $5 trillion. I wish it were spent right here in the United States, on our schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: That is exactly what President Obama said. I’m amazed to hear that from a republican presidential candidate. But let’s just start with, who got it wrong? Who really got it wrong?

Hillary Clinton has gotten every foreign policy challenge wrong. Hitting the reset button with Vladimir Putin – recall that she called Bashar Al-Assad a positive reformer and then she opened an embassy and then later she said, over, and over, and over again, “Bashar Al-Assad must go.” Although she wasn’t prepared to do anything about it. Recall that Hillary Clinton was all for toppling Gadhafi then didn’t listen to her own people on the ground. And then of course, when she lied about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, she invited more terrorist attacks.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Well, there’s nothing to respond to. Well, people feel differently. I mean, the fact is Benghazi was a disaster because of Libya, everything just fell into place. It could not have been worse.

What do we have now? We have nothing. We’ve spent $3 trillion and probably much more – I have no idea what we’ve spent. Thousands and thousands of lives, we have nothing. Wounded warriors all over the place who I love, we have nothing for it.

And by the way – and Ben said incorrectly – and I’m not saying this as a knock – he’s one of finest men. You’re not going to find a finer men.

But I’ve been talking about oil for three years. I’ve been saying,, “take the oil, take the oil.” I didn’t say, “just bomb it,” I said,” take it and use it and distribute it so that the wounded warriors -” People, I’ve been saying this now for many years.

BLITZER: All right.

TRUMP: Now, all of a sudden everybody’s saying, “take the oil.” It wasn’t so fashionable to take the oil six months ago. I’ve been saying it for years.

BLITZER: Thank you.

FIORINA: We’ve mismanaged going into Iraq.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, is the Middle East…

FIORINA: We’ve mismanaged going out of Iraq.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, is the Middle East better off with dictators?

CARSON: No one is ever better off with dictators but there comes a time you know, when you’re on an airplane, they always say, “in case of an emergency oxygen masks will drop down. Put yours on first and then administer help to your neighbor.” We need oxygen right now.

And we need to start thinking about the needs of the American people before we go and solve everybody else’s problems. The fact of the matter is, is that the Middle East has been in turmoil for thousands of years. For us to think that we’re going to in there and fix that with a couple of little bombs and a few little decorations is relatively foolish.

FIORINA: We actually…

BLITZER: Governor Bush.

BUSH: I think we’re focusing a whole…

BLITZER: Hold on Governor Bush., here’s the question. You said, “getting rid of Saddam Hussein in your words was a pretty good deal.” In light of what has happened in Iraq, do you still feel that way?

BUSH: I do. I think the lesson’s learned are that we have to have to have a strategy to get and a strategy to get out. Which means, that you create a stable situation.

This president and this is what the focus ought to be, it’s not the differences between us, it’s Barack Obama does not believe America’s leadership in the world is a force for good. He does not believe that our strength is a place where security can take place. He leads from behind. He creates an environment that now we’re creating the most unstable situation we’ve had since the World War II era.

The focus ought to be on the single fact that Hillary Clinton wants to double down on a failed foreign policy and we need to be united to defeat that because we’re going to be in a place that is far less secure than it is today. Don’t you all agree?

BLITZER: Senator Paul, was getting rid of Saddam Hussein a pretty good deal?

PAUL: These are the fundamental questions of our time, these foreign policy questions, whether or not regime change is a good idea or a bad idea. I don’t think because I think the regime change was a bad idea it means that Hussein was necessarily a good idea.

There is often variations of evil on both sides of the war. What we have to decide is whether or not regime change is a good idea. It’s what the neoconservatives have wanted. It’s what the vast majority of those on the stage want.

They still want regime change. They want it in Syria. They wanted it in Iraq. They want it in Libya. It has not worked.

Out of regime change you get chaos. From the chaos you have seen repeatedly the rise of radical Islam. So we get this profession of, oh, my goodness, they want to do something about terrorism and yet they’re the problem because they allow terrorism to arise out of that chaos.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hugh Hewitt, go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hugh.

CRUZ: The question of whether we should toppling dictatorships is asking the wrong question. We should be defeating our enemies. So the problem with defeating…

BLITZER: Senator, Senator, we’re going to get to you. Wait your turn. We have two hours of debate. We’ll have plenty of time. Let Hugh ask his question.

CRUZ: Well, but let me explain, the focus should be…

BLITZER: Senator, please.

CRUZ: … on defeating our enemies. So, for example…

BLITZER: Senator… CRUZ: … a regime we should change is Iran…

BLITZER: You’ll have plenty of opportunity.

Hugh, go ahead.

CRUZ: … because Iran has declared war on us. But we shouldn’t be toppling regimes…

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: … that are fighting radical Islamic terrorists that are helping…

BLITZER: These are the rules all of you agreed to.

Hugh, go ahead with your question.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump, we are talking about the most important thing, that’s why it’s heated. And it’s, you are OK with Mr. Assad staying in power, but you are also in favor of winning.

If he stays in power, Iran is winning, Hezbollah is winning. Iran is winning in Yemen. They are winning everywhere. If they are winning how can we be winning?

TRUMP: I think Assad is a bad guy, a very bad guy, all right? Lots of people killed. I think we are backing people we have no idea who they are. The rebels, we call them the rebels, the patriotic rebels. We have no idea. A lot of people think, Hugh, that they are ISIS.

We have to do one thing at a time. We can’t be fighting ISIS and fighting Assad. Assad is fighting ISIS. He is fighting ISIS. Russia is fighting now ISIS. And Iran is fighting ISIS.

We have to do one thing at a time. We can’t go — and I watched Lindsey Graham, he said, I have been here for 10 years fighting. Well, he will be there with that thinking for another 50 years. He won’t be able to solve the problem.

We have to get rid of ISIS first. After we get rid of ISIS, we’ll start thinking about it. But we can’t be fighting Assad. And when you’re fighting Assad, you are fighting Russia, you’re fighting — you’re fighting a lot of different groups.

But we can’t be fighting everybody at one time.

HEWITT: Governor Christie, is he right? Because if we step back, Iran goes nuclear. Is Donald Trump right?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think we have to focus, Hugh, on exactly what the priorities are. And to me, what I’ve always said is that the president has set up an awful situation through his deal with Iran, because what his deal with Iran has done is empower them and enrich them. And that’s the way ISIS has been created and formed here. ISIS is created and formed because of the abuse that Assad and his Iranian sponsors have rained down on the Sunnis in Syria.

And so when we empower Iran, this is why this president — and when Hillary Clinton says her theory against ISIS will be just about the same as the president, then get ready for more unrest and more murder and more violence in the Middle East.

We need to focus our attention on Iran, because if you miss Iran, you are not going to get ISIS. The two are inextricably connected because one causes the other.

HEWITT: Senator Paul, let me ask you, you heard Governor Kasich say Assad must go. Do you agree?

PAUL: No, I think it’s a huge mistake. I think regime change in Syria, and this is what — I’ve been saying this for several years now. In 2013 when we first went in, I said, you are going to give arms to the allies of al Qaida, to radical jihadists? That’s crazy.

But the other thing I said is the great irony is you will be back fighting against your own weapons. Had Assad been bombed when he used chemical weapons two years ago, ISIS would be in charge of all of Syria now.

We have to have a more realistic foreign policy and not a utopian one where we say, oh, we’re going to spread freedom and democracy, and everybody in the Middle East is going to love us. They are not going to love us.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: The foreign policy, you have to know how to pick and choose. There’s no way, if Saddam had not had weapons of mass destruction, I would have gone, because I don’t believe that the U.S. should be involved directly in civil wars.

I opposed the U.S. involvement in Lebanon. We ended up having to withdraw our marines after our barracks were blown up.

There is a difference between Iraq, where you have Sunni, Shia, and Kurds put together after the First World War by the Western powers. It doesn’t work. It needs to break up into three parts.

KASICH: And for the Russians, frankly, it’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose. They’ve gotten away with too much in this world and we need to stand up against them, not just there, but also in Eastern Europe where they threaten some of our most precious allies.

BLITZER: Let’s continue with Russia right now. We have another question from Facebook. Listen and watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: My name is Ashley Tofil. Ms. Fiorina, in November, you said that you would not talk to Vladimir Putin after you were elected because you would be communicating from a position of weakness. Do you believe that it is feasible to not communicate with another world leader? And do you think that that also is a sign of weakness?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina, as you know, U.S. and Russian warplanes are flying all over Syria right now. With so many lives on the line, is this a good time for the United States not to talk to Putin?

FIORINA: I didn’t say I would cut off all communication with Putin. What I said was as president of the United States, now is not the time to talk with him. Reagan walked away at Reykjavik. There is a time and a place for everything. There is a time and a place for talk. And there is a time and a place for action.

I know Vladimir Putin. He respects strength. He lied to our president’s face; didn’t both to tell him about warplanes and troops going into Syria. We need to speak to him from a position of strength. So as commander in chief, I will not speak to him until we’ve set up that no-fly zone; until we’ve gathered our Sunni-Arab allies and begun to deny ISIS territory; until I’ve called the supreme leader of Iran and told him new deal — new deal. We the United States of America are going to cut off the money flow, which we can do; which we don’t need anyone’s permission or collaboration to do.

And I will not speak to him personally until we’ve rebuilt the 6th Fleet a little bit right under his nose; rebuilt the missile defense program in Poland right under his nose; and conducted a few military exercises in the Baltic states.

And let us remember one other thing. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are responsible for the growth of ISIS because they precipitously withdrew from Iraq in 2011 against the advice of every single general and for political expediency. It’s not these people up here. It’s Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

Governor Christie, if the U.S. imposed a no-fly zone over Syria and a Russian plane encroached, invaded that no-fly zone, would you be prepared to shoot down that Russian plane and risk war with Russia?

CHRISTIE: Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it. A no-fly zone means a no-fly zone, Wolf. That’s what it means.

(APPLAUSE)

See, maybe — maybe because I’m from New Jersey, I just have this kind of plain language hangup. But I would make very clear — I would not talk to Vladimir Putin. In fact, I would talk to Vladimir Putin a lot. But I’d say to him, “Listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone in Syria; you fly in, it applies to you.” And yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Paul — Senator Paul, I want you to respond to what we just heard from Governor Christie. If there was a no-fly zone, you say that potentially could lead to World War III. Why?

PAUL: Well, I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate. You know, here’s…

(APPLAUSE)

… the thing. My goodness, what we want in a leader is someone with judgment, not someone who is so reckless as to stand on the stage and say, “Yes, I’m jumping up and down; I’m going to shoot down Russian planes.” Russia already flies in that airspace. It may not be something we’re in love with the fact that they’re there, but they were invited by Iraq and by Syria to fly in that airspace.

And so if we announce we’re going to have a no-fly zone, and others have said this. Hillary Clinton is also for it. It is a recipe for disaster. It’s a recipe for World War III. We need to confront Russia from a position of strength, but we don’t need to confront Russia from a point of recklessness that would lead to war.

This is something — this type of judgment, you know, it’s having that kind of judgment; who you would appoint and how you’re going to conduct affairs, that is incredibly important.

I mean, I think when we think about the judgment of someone who might want World War III, we might think about someone who might shut down a bridge because they don’t like their friends; they don’t want to — you know, they want to (inaudible) a Democrat.

So I think we need to be very careful.

BLITZER: Governor Christie?

CHRISTIE: Well, Wolf, I’ll tell you what reckless is. What reckless is is calling Assad a reformer. What reckless is allowing Russia to come into Crimea and Ukraine. What reckless is is inviting Russia into Syria to team with Iran. That is reckless. And the reckless people are the folks in the White House right now. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the reckless people.

CHRISTIE: And if you think that a no-fly zone is a reckless policy, you’re welcome to your opinion. But how is it working so far? As we have 250,000 Syrians murdered, slaughtered; millions running around the world, running for their lives. It’s not working. We need to try something else. And that is not reckless.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right, let’s go back — Hugh and Dana?

HEWITT: Governor Bush, a commander-in-chief question. You’ve said that Mr. Trump is not qualified to be president because he’s not qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin. Why are you better qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin than Mr. Trump?

BUSH: Because I — first of all, I know what I don’t know. I know what I don’t know. I would seek out, as I have, the best advice that exists. I won’t get my information from the shows. I don’t know if that’s Saturday morning or Sunday morning. I don’t know which one.

(LAUGHTER)

I will seek out the best advice, and I will create a strategy and I will persuade the American people what the role of America should be. I’ve laid out a policy of rebuilding our military.

All of the talk that we’re seeing here — most of which I agree on, frankly — requires a much stronger military. We now have a lack of readiness that is quite scary. We have planes that were — that Harry Truman inaugurated, the B-52. We have — the Navy has been gutted and decimated. The readiness of the Marines is way down.

If we’re serious about America’s leadership in the world, then we need to make sure that we have the back of the armed forces. The Armed Forces Radio is here listening to this today. I hope they know that if I’m president, I’ll be a commander-in-chief, not an agitator- in-chief or a divider-in-chief, that I will lead this country in a way that will create greater security and greater safety.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: I think it’s very sad that CNN leads Jeb Bush, Governor Bush, down a road by starting off virtually all the questions, “Mr. Trump this, Mister” — I think it’s very sad. And, frankly, I watched — I think it’s very sad. And, frankly, I watched the first debate, and the first long number of questions were, “Mr. Trump said this, Mr. Trump said that. Mr. Trump” — these poor guys — although, I must tell you, Santorum, good guy. Governor Huckabee, good guy. They were very nice, and I respect them greatly. But I thought it was very unfair that virtually the entire early portion of the debate was Trump this, Trump that, in order to get ratings, I guess. In order to get ratings, I guess.

HEWITT: But, Mr. Trump, it’s not CNN — I was on CNN last night…

TRUMP: I just think it’s very — excuse me.

HEWITT: … watching…

TRUMP: Excuse me. I think it’s very unprofessional.

HEWITT: But it wasn’t — it wasn’t CNN. It was me. I watched you last night for 16 minutes. It’s not CNN.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Well, I think it’s very unprofessional.

HEWITT: It’s not CNN. It’s America’s watching you.

TRUMP: OK, fine.

HEWITT: It’s America’s watching.

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: So I was — I was — I was mentioned, so I can bring up something, I think, right? Look, the simple fact is, if you think this is tough you’re not being treated fairly…

TRUMP: This isn’t tough and easy. I wish it…

BUSH: … imagine what it’s going to be like dealing with Putin or dealing with President Xi.

TRUMP: I wish it was always this easy as you, Jeb.

BUSH: Or dealing with the Islamic terrorism that exists.

TRUMP: Oh, yeah.

BUSH: This is a tough business to run for president.

TRUMP: Oh, I know. You’re a tough guy, Jeb. I know.

BUSH: And it’s — and we need…

(LAUGHTER)

… to have a leader that is…

(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: You’re tough.

BUSH: You’re never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency.

TRUMP: Well, let’s see. I’m at 42, and you’re at 3. So, so far, I’m doing better.

BUSH: Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter.

TRUMP: So far, I’m doing better. You know, you started off over here, Jeb. You’re moving over further and further. Pretty soon you’re going to be off the end…

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: This doesn’t do a thing to solve the problems.

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: It doesn’t do a thing to solve the problems.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: One at a time. Hugh, go ahead.

KASICH: It sounds more and more what my daughter said that I said in the beginning, all the fighting and arguing is not advancing us.

FIORINA: It will not solve the problem.

KASICH: It is not the way we’re going to strengthen our country. We will strengthen our country when we come together.

(APPLAUSE)

And, look, you’ve got Rand Paul, you’ve got Ted Cruz, you’ve got Marco, you’ve got a lot of people on this stage that have studied these issues. You know what a leader does? A leader has a sound program, has a good policy, and then brings people together to solve problems.

(APPLAUSE)

Guess what? Both in Congress in balancing the budget and in Ohio fixing the economy — and, by the way, we talk about the fence. The first thing we better get going is strengthening our economy, because if we don’t have a strong economy, we can’t pay for all of this. And the world wants us to be able to function from strength, believe it or not. Get our economy going, get these people together in a room. We can fix this, ladies and gentlemen.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: We don’t have to fight all the time. It can be done, and we will be great…

HEWITT: Governor — thank you, Governor.

KASICH: … when we join together. Thank you, Hugh.

HEWITT: Dr. Carson, commander-in-chief question again. You’ve been the head of neurosurgery for a big hospital. You’re on a lot of boards of a lot of companies. You’ve traveled the world. You’re going traveling again next week. But does that prepare you to command troops from Djibouti to Japan, troops from Afghanistan to Iraq to be in charge of the men and women watching on Armed Services Network tonight?

CARSON: Well, you know, there’s a false narrative that only the political class has the wisdom and the ability to be commander-in- chief. But if you go back and you study the design of our country, it was really designed for the citizen statesman.

And we need to be talking about where does your experience come from? You know, and I’ve had a lot of experience building things, organizing things, you know, a national scholarship program.

One of the things that you’ll notice if you look through my life is that I don’t do a lot of talking. I do a lot of doing. And really, it says more about a person than how much they talk. And then some people say you’re weak because, you know, you’re not loud and you’re not boisterous and you’re not rude. But the fact of the matter is, look and see what I’ve done. And that speaks volumes about strength.

BASH: Thank you, Dr. Carson. We’ve been talking tonight about programs and policy proposals that you all have to keep Americans safe and it’s a big discussion on the campaign trail. Also about border security and immigration. So let’s talk about immigration.

Senator Rubio. You co-authored a bill with Democrats two years ago that allowed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Do you still support that path to citizenship, which means giving those immigrants rights, like the right to vote?

RUBIO: Yeah. Immigration is not an issue that I read about in the newspaper or watch a documentary on PBS or CNN. It’s an issues I’ve lived around my whole life. My family are immigrants. My wife’s family are immigrants. All of my neighbors are immigrants.

I see every aspect of this problem. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And here’s what we learned in 2013. The American people don’t trust the Federal Government to enforce our immigration laws, and we will not be able to do anything on immigration until we first prove to the American people that illegal immigration is under control. And we can do that. We know what it takes to do that.

It takes at least 20,000 more additional border agents. It takes completing those 700 miles of fencing. It takes a mandatory e-verify system and a mandatory entry/exit tracking system to prevent overstays. After we have done that, the second thing we have to do is reform and modernize the legal immigration system. And after we have done those two things, I think the American people are gonna be reasonable with what do you do with someone who has been in this country for 10 or 12 years who hasn’t otherwise violated our laws — because if they’re a criminal they can’t stay. They’ll have to undergo a background check, pay a fine, start paying taxes. And ultimately, they’ll given a work permit and that’s all they’re gonna be allowed to have for at least 10 years. But you can’t get to that third step until you have done the other two things, and that was the lesson we learned in 2013. There is no trust that the Federal Government will enforce the law. They will not support you until you see it done first.

BASH: Senator, you haven’t answered the question. You described a very long path but does that path end at citizenship?

RUBIO: But I’ve answered that question repeatedly. I am personally open — after all that has happened and after ten years in that probationary status where all they have is a permit, I personally am open to allowing people to apply for a green card.

That may not be a majority position in my party, but that’s down the road. You can’t even begin that process until you prove to people — not just pass a law that says you’re gonna bring illegal immigration under control. You’re gonna have to do it and prove to people that it’s working.

And that was the lesson of 2013. And it’s more true today, than it was then. After a migratory crisis on the border with minors coming over that you’re seeing start up again now, after all these executive orders the President has issued. More than ever we need to…

BASH: Thank you, senator.

RUBIO: … prove to people that illegal immigration is under control.

BASH: Thank you, senator. Senator Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Cruz, on the campaign trail, Senator Rubio has said that his immigration plan is not that different from yours. Is that true?

CRUZ: Well, he — he has attempted to muddy the waters, but I think that anyone who watched the battle that we had. You know, there was a time for choosing as Reagan put it. Where there was a battle over amnesty and some chose, like Senator Rubio to stand with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer and support a massive amnesty plan.

Others chose to stand with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and the American people and secure the border.

And let me mention, this issue is actually directly connected to what we’ve been talking about. Because the front line with ISIS isn’t just in Iraq and Syria, it’s in Kennedy Airport and the Rio Grande. Border security is national security. And, you know, one of the most troubling aspects of the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight Bill was that it gave President Obama blanket authority to admit refugees, including Syrian refugees without mandating any background checks whatsoever. Now we’ve seen what happened in San Bernardino. When you are letting people in, when the FBI can’t vet them, it puts American citizens at risk. And I tell you, if I’m elected president, we will secure the border. We will triple the border patrol. We will build a wall that works and I’ll get Donald Trump to pay for it.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Rubio, please.

RUBIO: Yeah, a couple points. In 2013 we had never faced a crisis like the Syrian refugee crisis now. Up until that point, a refugee meant someone fleeing oppression, fleeing Communism like it is in my community.

As far as Ted’s record, I’m always puzzled by his attack on this issue. Ted, you support legalizing people who are in this country illegally. Ted Cruz supported a 500-percent increase in the number of H-1 visas, the guest workers that are allowed into this country, and Ted supports doubling the number of green cards.

So I think what’s important for us to understand and there is a way forward on this issue that we an bring our country together on. And while I’m president I will do it. And it will begin by bringing illegal immigration under control and proving to the American people.

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Look, I understand Marco wants to raise confusion, it is not accurate what he just said that I supported legalization. Indeed, I led the fight against his legalization and amnesty. And you know, there was one commentator that put it this way that, for Marco to suggest our record’s the same is like suggesting “the fireman and the arsonist because they are both at the scene of the fire.”

He was fighting to grant amnesty and not to secure the border, I was fighting to secure the border. And this also goes to trust, listening on to campaign trails. Candidates all the time make promises. You know, Marco said,” he learned that the American people didn’t trust the federal government.”

BASH: Senator Cruz?

RUBIO: No, no, give him time.

CRUZ: In Florida promising to…

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: Ted, do you…

CRUZ: go in the fight against amnesty…

RUBIO: Did Ted Cruz fight to support legalizing people that are in this country illegally?

CRUZ: He campaigned promising to lead the fight against amnesty.

FIORINA: Ladies and gentleman, this is why the American people are standing up.

BASH: Senator Cruz, can you answer that question please?

RUBIO: Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country now?

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ; I have never supported a legalization…

RUBIO: Would you rule it out?

CRUZ : I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization. Let me tell you how you do this, what you do is you enforce the law…

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: This is why the nation is fed up…

BASH: One at a time please.

CRUZ: Watt you do is enforcement the law…

FIORINA: We have been talking about this…

BASH: Ms. Fiorina, please wait your turn, we’re going to get to you.

FIORINA: Sorry, but you haven’t gotten to me. This is why…

CRUZ: What you do…

BASH: Senator Cruz go ahead.

FIORINA: the people are fed up with the political class.

CRUZ: What you do is you enforce the law. I’ve laid out a very, very detailed immigration plan on my website, tedcruz.org. It’s 11 pages of existing federal law and in particular the question of what to do with people who are here now? You enforce the law.

That means you stop the Obama administration’s policy of releasing criminal illegal aliens. Do you know how many aliens Bill Clinton deported? 12 million. Do you know how many illegal aliens, George W. Bush deported? 10 million.

We can enforce the laws and if we secure the border, that solves the problem. And as president I will solve this problem and secure the border.

BASH: Mr. Trump, you like to say that you restarted this conversation in the campaign. TRUMP: I believe I did.

BASH: So who do you side with? Who do you side with in this, Senator Rubio or Senator Cruz?

TRUMP: I have a very hardline position, we have a country or we don’t have a country. People that have come into our country illegally, they have to go. They have to come back into through a legal process.

I want a strong border. I do want a wall. Walls do work, you just have to speak to the folks in Israel. Walls work if they’re properly constructed. I know how to build, believe me, I know how to build.

I feel a very, very strong bind, and really I’m bound to this country, we either have a border or we don’t. People can come into the country, we welcome people to come but they have to come in legally.

BASH: Thank you.

Governor Bush?

BUSH: Yes.

BASH: Listening to this, do you think this is the tone — this immigration debate that republicans need to take to win back Hispanics into our party especially states like where we are in Nevada that has a pretty Hispanic community?

BUSH: No it isn’t but it is an important subject to talk about for sure. And I think people have good ideas on this. Clearly, we need to secure the border. Coming here legally needs to be a lot easier than coming here illegally.

If you don’t have that, you don’t have the rule of law. We now have a national security consideration, public health issues, we have an epidemic of heroine overdoses in all places in this country because of the ease of bringing heroine in. We have to secure the border.

It is a serious undertaking and yes, we do need more fencing and we do need to use technology, and we do need more border control. And we need to have better cooperation by the way with local law enforcement. There are 800,000 cops on the beat, they ought to be trained to be the eyes and ears for law enforcement for the threat against terror as well as for immigration.

This is a serious challenge and if we can get it right, yes, we’ll start winning votes again. The real problem isn’t anybody on this stage, the real problem is Barack Obama has had six years to advocate a position to fix this and he’s done nothing. The congress has funded these programs of building more fencing and doing all this and he hasn’t done it.

He wants to maintain it as a wedge issue and so does Hillary Clinton. Republicans need to fix it and when we do, we’ll be better off.

BLITZER: Governor, thank you very much.

BLITZER: So, Dr. Carson, you recently visited a refugee camp in Jordan and you deemed it your words, “really quite nice.” Saying the people there didn’t want to come to the United States. Do you think these camps are a long-term solution of the problem of Syrian refugees?

CARSON: Well, it was very interesting having an opportunity to talk to the Syrians themselves. And I asked them: What do you want? What is your supreme desire? Their supreme desire was to be settled back in their own country. I said, “What can Americans and other countries do?” They said, “Support the efforts of those who are trying to provide safety for us, including the Jordanians.”

Of course, they had a brand new hospital, for instance, that was unstaffed because there wasn’t enough money to do it. But here’s what’s really neat. If you go into Hasakah province in northeast Syria, that’s an area that’s as big as Lebanon. It’s controlled by the Kurds, the Christians and the moderate Sunnis. And there are airstrips and hotels. You could settle a lot of people there.

All we would have to do is be willing to provide them with some weaponry, some defensive weaponry. And we seem to be afraid to give the Kurds weaponry. We like to send it for some strange reason through Baghdad, and then they only get a tenth of it.

And if we would support them, we’d have a perfect ideal there. We don’t need to set this up as we either take a bunch of refugees who will be infiltrated with terrorists, I guarantee you. For them not to be would be terrorist malpractice. And we need to — to choose the right choice, not these false choices.

BLITZER: Senator Paul, you oppose letting in Syrian refugees at this time into the United States. The U.S. has already accepted 2,000 Syrian refugees, including 13 living here in Las Vegas right now. Would you send them back? What would you do with these people?

PAUL: You know, I think we need to set the record straight on this, because I think Marco misspoke about the bill. On the Gang of Eight bill, there was no provisions really for extra scrutiny or safety for refugees. At the time the bill came up, two Iraqi refugees came to my home town, Bowling Green, Kentucky. Their fingerprints were on a bomb from Iraq. They were in the database, but we didn’t pick them up.

We relocated them here, put them in government housing, got them on food stamps. And we began providing for them, but we didn’t have adequate security. On the Gang of Eight bill, on Marco’s bill, we had an opportunity. There was a conservative consensus for an amendment I put forward called Trust, But Verify that would have strengthened border security on both refugees, students and those coming here. And Marco sided and I guess was more sympathetic to Chuck Schumer and to the president than he was to conservative principles.

But this goes directly to national defense. And if he wants to run as a national — national defense conservative, he’s got to explain why he hasn’t stepped up to support border security.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio?

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: Well, he’s just admitted — as he’s just admitted, the reason why those refugees were allowed in was because they messed up in how they used the actual database. They should have know. They didn’t because they didn’t run the actual law as it exists now. It didn’t work well.

As far as the refugees are concerned, it’s not that America doesn’t want to accept refugees, Wolf. It’s that we may not be able to, because this is an issue we have to be 100 percent right on. If we allow 9,999 Syrian refugees into the United States, and all of them are good people, but we allow one person in who’s an ISIS killer — we just get one person wrong, we’ve got a serious problem.

And there is not a single person in the national defense apparatus of this country that can guarantee you are going to be 100 percent right. And that’s why as president, I’ll take this very seriously.

BLITZER: Senator Paul, you didn’t answer the question about the 2,000 Syrian refugees who are already here in the United States. Will you send them back or let them stay?

PAUL: What my bill would do would be only for refugees going forward. So I haven’t taken a position on sending anyone home. But I have taken the position that we have a lot of problems here in our country. And that one of the things that we do — charity is about giving your own money. Charity isn’t giving someone else’s money. To put everyone in government housing and food stamps and bring them in from around the world I think is a mistake. To give of your own money, I’ve given to my church. My church has helped people that came from Bosnia. That’s a good thing.

But we shouldn’t have a program where we just say that we’re going to take care of the world’s refugees. Nobody in the Middle East is doing anything. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait — all the Gulf nations are doing nothing. They need to step up and take…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We have another — we have another question. We have another question from Facebook. Let’s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: My name is Carla Hernandez. I’m from the University of Texas at Austin. And my question is directed to all the candidates.

If the Bible clearly states that we need to embrace those in need and not fear, how can we justify not accepting refugees?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Governor Christie, you say there should be a pause in allowing new refugees to come into the United States, including orphans under the age of five. What do you say to Carla?

CHRISTIE: What I say to Carla is that the first job of the president of the United States is to protect your safety and your security and the security and safety of your family. And this debate stops with me in the discussions with the FBI director.

CHRISTIE: Now, listen, I’m a former federal prosecutor, I know Jim Comey. We’ve worked together. He was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan when I was a U.S. attorney in New Jersey.

And when Jim Comey gets up before Congress and says, we cannot effectively vet these people, for me as president, that’s the end of the conversation. We have to put America’s security first.

(APPLAUSE)

The American people — we on this stage need to open our ears. We need to open our ears. The American people are not whispering to us. They are screaming to us. And they’re screaming to us that it’s our job to actually make this government work.

It’s so dysfunctional under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It’s so ineffective. It’s so ineffectual that the American people say, we don’t trust them to do anything anymore. So I’m not going to let Syrian refugees, any Syrian refugees in this country.

And it was widows and orphans, by the way, and we now know from watching the San Bernardino attack that women can commit heinous, heinous acts against humanity just the same as men can do it.

And so I don’t back away from that position for a minute. When the FBI director tells me that he can vet those people, then we’ll consider it and not a moment before because your safety and security is what’s most important to me.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Kasich.

KASICH: You know, obviously, as president of the United States, we’ve got to keep the people safe. That’s first and foremost.

But as governor of Ohio, I have an obligation to keep the 11.5 million people in Ohio safe. And we have been very effective with our Joint Terrorism Task Force, being able to make busts.

In fact, we just made one three-four weeks ago against a person who was favorable to ISIS living in Akron.

But let me tell you what is interesting about the administration. We had Central American miners that were placed in Ohio, and we never knew a thing about it. We didn’t know where they were. And, in fact, we know now that some of them, there is a case going on where some of them may have been human-trafficked.

So when the administration tells me we have a great vetting process, the proof is in the pudding. They sent these miners to us. Our schools were disrupted. We didn’t know where they were. And bad things happened to them. And now they tell me that we ought to be able to admit these Syrian refugees.

So, Wolf, look, people have accused me at times of having too big of a heart. You know, that’s OK. But I have to also to say I must keep the people of my state safe. So we take a pause.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

There is much more coming up. We are only just beginning. Coming up, what other global hot spots await the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN-Facebook Republican Presidential Debate. We’re here at the Venetian Las Vegas. Tonight we have been focusing on the Middle East, but let’s turn to some other world threats that you will potentially face as Commander in Chief.

Ms. Fiorina, candidates here have called the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un a maniac who is mentally unstable. Last week he said he now has a hydrogen bomb. If you were elected president, what would you do about Kim Jong-Un?

FIORINA: Well, first, Kim Jong-Un is a dangerous leader, without a doubt. And both Republican and Democrat administrations have been completely ineffective in dealing with him. So we must continue to isolate him. We will need China as part of that strategy.

China is a rising adversary. So one of the things we have to do if we want China’s support is to push back on China. They, too, recognize one thing — strength and their own economic interest.

I have done business in China for 25 years, so I know that in order to get China to cooperate with us, we must first actually retaliate against their cyber-attacks so they know we’re serious. We have to push back on their desire to control the trade route through the South China Sea through which flows $5 trillion worth of goods and services every year.

We cannot let them control the disputed islands, and we must work with the Australians, the South Koreans, the Japanese and the Filipinos to contain China. And then we must ask for their support and their help with North Korea. Because believe it or not, China is as concerned about Kim Jong-Un as we are.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, what would you do about Kim Jong-Un?

CARSON: Well, I definitely believe that he is unstable, and I do, in fact, believe that China has a lot more influence with him than we do. But we also recognize that North Korea is in severe financial straits, and they have decided to use their resources to build their military, rather than to feed their people and to take care of the various humanitarian responsibilities that they have.

We can capitalize upon that. You know, we should use our economic power in lots of different ways. I think we can use that in order to keep Putin contained, because he is a one-horse show. Energy. And we have an abundance of energy, but we have archaic energy exportation rules. We need to get rid of those, allow ourselves to really make Europe dependent on us and other parts of the world dependent on us for energy. Put him back in his little box where he belongs.

And, you know, we need to be doing lots of other things with the resources that we have. So economic power works just as well as military power, perhaps even better. And speaking of that, our Military needs to be upgraded. You know, you look at things like our Ohio Class submarines, they’re 25 years old. Our minuteman 3 missiles — they are 34 years old. Our B-52 bombers — 50 years old. You know, if we don’t get the military right nothing else matters.

BLITZER: Thank you, Dr. Carson. Dana and Hugh you have questions as well.

BASH: Governor Christie, you’ve said if China launches a cyber- attack against the U.S. on your watch, “they’re going to see cyber- warfare like they have never seen before.” What exactly would that response look like?

CHRISTIE: Well, what it would like is, we have one of the great advantages of America being the open society that we are. It is, we are not hiding things from the American people, but China everyday is conducting business in a way that hides things from their people.

CHRISTIE: So if they want to come in and attack all the personnel records in the federal government, which they’ve done, and which — they now have my Social Security number and my fingerprints, as well as maybe some other folks’ who are on this stage.

The fact is, they need to be fought back on. And what we need to do is go at the things that they are most sensitive and most embarrassing to them; that they’re hiding; get that information and put it out in public. Let the Chinese people start to digest how corrupt the Chinese government is; how they steal from the Chinese people; and how they’re enriching oligarchs all throughout China.

They need to understand that. And we need to take those type of steps. This president has seen personnel records of people who have sacrificed for the American people and for the federal government stolen by the Chinese and he’s done nothing in return. This is why — this is what I said at the beginning that this administration, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton through their foreign policy, have betrayed the American people, because the weakness they’ve displayed has led to Putin’s incursions in the Middle East and in eastern Europe, and has led — has led to significant problems in the Middle East as well, and the death and murder of lots of folks.

BASH: Governor Bush, what you just heard from Governor Christie, are you concerned that that could really escalate with China, that they would retaliate? And, for example, as the NSA has said, attack the U.S. and maybe it’s power grid, which the Chinese have the capability to do?

BUSH: I completely agree with Chris. And this administration has been so lax. Think about it. Hillary Clinton is using a private server for — where classified information go by. This is a — this is a serious administration?

The president receives an inspector general’s report that the Office of Personnel Management could be hacked into; they had antiquated firewalls; 23 million files have been — are in the hands of the Chinese allegedly, including, by the way, members of the press, it turns out, last week. Maybe that’s the only part that’s good news, so that you guys can get a feel for what it’s like now to see this type of attack.

This is something — we have to have the best defensive capabilities. We need to coordinate all of our efforts with the private sector. We need to give them liability relief so that we can do that. And offensively, we need to have capabilities second to none. We need to create a situation where they know that there will be adverse impacts if they continue to do what they’re doing.

They’ll respect that. They’ll respect a United States that is serious about protecting our — our infrastructure. If we don’t do it, we’ll continue to see what’s — exactly what’s happening, not just from the Chinese, by the way. The Russians and rogue actors, including ISIS — this is a serious part of the 21st century security challenge that we face.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump…

(APPLAUSE)

… Dr. Carson just referenced the single most important job of the president, the command, the control and the care of our nuclear forces. And he mentioned the triad. The B-52s are older than I am. The missiles are old. The submarines are aging out. It’s an executive order. It’s a commander-in-chief decision.

What’s your priority among our nuclear triad?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible; who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important. And one of the things that I’m frankly most proud of is that in 2003, 2004, I was totally against going into Iraq because you’re going to destabilize the Middle East. I called it. I called it very strongly. And it was very important.

But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game. Frankly, I would have said get out of Syria; get out — if we didn’t have the power of weaponry today. The power is so massive that we can’t just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn’t care. It was hand-to-hand combat.

The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable, this is what he’s saying. The biggest problem we have is nuclear — nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. That’s in my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces right now.

HEWITT: Of the three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority? I want to go to Senator Rubio after that and ask him.

TRUMP: I think — I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.

HEWITT: Senator Rubio, do you have a response?

RUBIO: I do. First, let’s explain to people at home who the triad — what the triad is. Maybe a lot of people haven’t heard that terminology before. The triad is our ability of the United States to conduct nuclear attacks using airplanes, using missiles launched from silos or from the ground, and also from our nuclear subs’ ability to attack. And it’s important — all three of them are critical. It gives us the ability at deterrence.

Now, some have become more critical than others; for example, the submarines. And that’s the Ohio Class submarine that needs to be modernized. The air component also needs to be modernized. The B-52, as someone earlier pointed out, is an outdated model that was flown by the grandparents of people that are flying it now. And we need a serious modernization program as well on our silo-launched missiles. All three are critical for the defense of the country.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator Rubio.

Some of you on this stage have questioned whether your opponents have temperament, the right temperament, to be in control of the nuclear codes.

Dana, you have a question on this?

BASH: Mr. Trump, just this weekend you said Senator Cruz is not qualified to be president because he doesn’t have the right temperament and acted like a maniac when he arrived in the Senate. But last month you said you were open to naming Senator Cruz as your running mate.

TRUMP: I did.

BASH: So why would you be willing to put somebody who’s a maniac one heartbeat away from the presidency?

TRUMP: Let me just say that I have gotten to know him over the last three or four days. He has a wonderful temperament.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: He’s just fine. Don’t worry about it.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Okay.

Senator Cruz. Senator Cruz, you have not been willing to attack Mr. Trump in public.

TRUMP: You better not attack…

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: But you did question his judgment in having control of American’s nuclear arsenal during a private meeting with supporters. Why are you willing to say things about him in private and not in public?

CRUZ: Dana, what I said in private is exactly what I’ll say here, which is that the judgment that every voter is making of every one of us up here is who has the experience, who has the vision, who has the judgment to be commander in chief. That is the most important decision for the voters to make. That’s a standard I’m held to. And it’s a standard everyone else is held to.

And I will note, you know, in the whole course of this discussion about our foreign policy threats, it actually illustrates the need for clarity of focus.

You know, my daughters, Caroline and Catherine, came tonight. They’re 7 and 5. And you think about the Los Angeles schools canceling their schools today.

And every parent is wondering, how do we keep our kids safe? We need a commander in chief who does what Ronald Reagan did with communism, which is he set out a global strategy to defeat Soviet communism. And he directed all of his…

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: I’m answering the question, Dana.

He directed all of his forces to defeating communism.

One of the things we’ve seen here is how easy it is for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to get distracted from dealing with radical Islamic terrorism. They won’t even call it by its name.

We need a president who stands up, number one, and says, we will defeat ISIS. And number two, says the greatest national security threat facing America is a nuclear Iran.

BASH: Senator, senator, I just…

CRUZ: And we need to be focused on defeating…

BASH: Senator, a lot of people have seen…

CRUZ: … defeating radical Islamic terrorists.

BASH: … a lot of people have seen these comments you made in private. I just want to clarify what you’re saying right now is you do believe Mr. Trump has the judgment to be commander in chief?

CRUZ: What I’m saying, Dana, is that is a judgment for every voter to make. What I can tell you is all nine of the people here would make an infinitely better commander in chief than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, senator. Thank you.

CRUZ: And there is a real danger, Dana, when people get distracted.

I’m answering the question, Wolf.

CRUZ: There’s a real danger when people get distracted by peripheral issues. They get distracted by democracy building. They get distracted about military conflicts. We need to focus on defeating jihadism. ISIS and Iran have declared war on America, and we need a commander in chief who will do everything necessary to keep our children safe.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: And I will do everything necessary to keep our children safe.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

We’re a month and a half away now from the first real test who will be the Republican presidential nominee.

Hugh, you have a question?

HEWITT: My listeners tell me again and again they are worried that Hillary Clinton will win the White House because you’ll run as an independent. Are you ready to assure Republicans tonight that you will run as a Republican and abide by the decision of the Republicans?

TRUMP: I really am. I’ll be honest, I really am.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I mean, the people have been putting me…

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I really am.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Dr. Carson, last week…

TRUMP: Let me just. Can I just finish my…

HEWITT: Please.

TRUMP: I’ve gained great respect for the Republican leadership. I’ve gained great respect for many — and I’m going to even say — I mean, in different forms for the people on the dais, in different forms.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: In different forms.

But I have great respect for the people I have met through this process. I’ve never done this process before. I’ve never been a politician. I mean, for the last six months I’ve been a politician.

But I will tell you, I am totally committed to the Republican Party. I feel very honored to be the front runner.

(APPLAUSE) TRUMP: And I think I’ll do very well if I’m chosen. If I’m so fortunate to be chosen, I think I’ll do very well.

Polls have come out recently saying I would beat Hillary. I will do everything in my power to beat Hillary Clinton, I promise you.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Dr. Carson, Mr. Trump just committed to stay the distance regardless of the result. How about you?

CARSON: Well, you know, the statement that I made last week, that I would leave the party was contingent upon whether in fact the party acts like they have in the past with a lot of subterfuge and dishonesty, or like they’re going act now because I spike to Reince Priebus, and he assured me that the Washington Post writer had it all wrong, and that they’re not be engaging in anything to thwart the will of the people.

That’s why I got into this race, as a member of we the people, to try bring some honesty and integrity back to the process.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Candidates, we have more coming up. When we come back, everyone will have an opportunity to explain why this particular candidate, each of you on the stage, believes he or she should be the Republican presidential nominee.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Now it’s time for the closing statements from the candidates. Each one has 30 seconds.

Senator Paul.

PAUL: The greatest threat to our national security is our debt. We borrow a million dollars a minute. And whose fault is it? Well, frankly, it’s both parties’ fault. You have those on the right who clamor and say, oh, we will spend anything on the military, and those on the left who say the same for domestic welfare.

But what most Americans don’t realize is there is an unholy alliance. They come together. There’s a secret handshake. We spend more money on everything. And we are not stronger nation if we go further into debt. We are not projecting power from bankruptcy court.

To me, there is no greater threat than our debt. I’m the only fiscal conservative on the stage because I’m willing to hold the line on all spending. I hope you will consider me in the election. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Kasich. KASICH: No Republican has ever been elected president of the United States without winning Ohio. Let me give you a little tip on how you win Ohio, it’s reform, it’s hope, it’s growth, it’s opportunity, and it’s security.

The people of Ohio are the people of America. The people of America are reflected in Ohio. Our message has to be big, and bold, and positive, and connect, not just with people’s heads but also connect with their hearts.

If we do it, we will beat Hillary Clinton, and we will run the White House, and we will strengthen and fix America, I promise you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Christie.

CHRISTIE: On September 10th, 2001, I was named chief federal prosecutor in New Jersey and on September 11th, 2001, my wife and my brother who are in the audience tonight went through the World Trade Center and to their offices just blocks away from the Trade Center.

I lost touch with them for six hours that day and prayed that they were alive. Luckily, they were sent home. But many of our friends and others in our neighborhood lost their lives that day.

Terrorism — radical jihadist terrorism is not theoretical to me. It’s real. And for seven years, I spent my life protecting our country against another one of those attacks. You won’t have to worry when I’m President of the Untied States whether that can be done because I’ve already done it. I want the chance to do it again to protect you, your children and your families.

If you give me the chance and give me your vote I will protect America from the wars that are being brought to our door step.

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina.

FIORINA: I too remember September 11th. I remember immediately putting into place security procedures all throughout our company that did business in 170 countries where we thought corporate interests would be attacked next. To take our country back, to keep our nation safe, we have to begin by beating Hillary Clinton.

We need to unify our party. We need to better than our government, which 75 percent of the American people now think is corrupt and incompetent. They’re right. We need to better than our politics. 80 percent think we have a professional/political class of both parties that cares more about its power, position and privilege than actually on getting anything done.

We need to unify our party, we need a real Conservative in the White House, and we need to beat Hillary Clinton to take our country back and keep our nation safe.

I can. I am. And together, if you join me, we will take our country back.

BLITZER: Governor Bush. BUSH: Ask yourself, which candidate will keep you and our country safer, stronger and freer?

Hillary Clinton has aligned herself with Barack Obama on ISIS, Iran and the economy. It’s an alliance doomed to fail. My proven record suggests that — my detailed plans will fortify our national and economic security. And my proven record as governor makes — will give you a sense that I don’t make false promises. I deliver real results.

For America to be safe and sound, I ask for you support. Thank you all very much.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio.

RUBIO: Thank you. As we near the end of this year, we enter one of the most important elections in a generation. For what’s at stake in this election is not simply what party’s going to be in charge. But our very identity as a people and as a nation. For over 200 years this has been a special country. A unique place where anyone from anywhere can achieve anything. But now millions of Americans feel like they’re being left behind. Insecure in their future and unsafe in the face of terrorism. This election is about electing a president that will restore our economic vibrancy so that the American dream can expand to reach more people and change more lives than ever before. And rebuild our Military and our intelligence programs so that we can remain the strongest nation on earth. Tonight I ask you for your vote.

If you do this, we will rebuild this country, and together we will usher in a new American century — the greatest era in the history of this great land.

BLITZER: Senator Cruz.

CRUZ: Judgment, strength, clarity and trust. Barack Obama has said he doesn’t believe in American leadership or America winning — he is wrong. America can win again and we will win again. Ronald Reagan reignited the American economy, rebuilt the Military, bankrupted the Soviet Union and defeated Soviet Communism. I will do the same thing.

Cutting taxes, cutting regulation, unleashing small businesses and rebuilding the Military to defeat radical Islamic terrorism — our strategy is simple. We win, they lose. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson.

CARSON: I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to 58 different countries and I thank God everyday that I was born in this country. The most exceptional country that the world has ever known. And I want to make sure that we preserve that exceptionalism for the next generation. My mother told me if I work hard and I really believed in American principles and I believed in God, anything is possible. I believe that is true, and that’s why I’m not anxious to give away American values and principles for the sake of political correctness.

TRUMP: Our country doesn’t win anymore. We don’t win on trade. We don’t win on the military. We can’t defeat ISIS. We’re not taking care of our great people, the veterans. We’re not taking care of them.

We have to change our whole way, our health care system is a disaster. It’s going to implode in 2017, just like you’re sitting there. It doesn’t work. Nothing works in our country. If I’m elected president, we will win again. We will win a lot. And we’re going to have a great, great country, greater than ever before.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thanks to all the Republican presidential candidates. That does it for this Republican presidential debate.

On behalf of everyone at CNN, we want to thank the candidates, Facebook, the Republican National Committee, and the Venetian Las Vegas. My thanks also to Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash.

We especially want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas, happy holidays, especially to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines protecting us around the world.

Anderson Cooper picks up our coverage of tonight’s debate right now — Anderson.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 December 15, 2015: CNN Fifth Undercard Republican Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Transcript: CNN undercard GOP debate

Source: WaPo, 12-15-15

Participants

  • Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee
  • Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.)
  • Former New York governor George Pataki
  • Former U.S. senator Rick Santorum (Pa.).

We have posted the complete transcript below.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer introduced the candidates, and the debate was underway.

BLITZER: We know you’re all eager to jump in and debate these important issues, but please wait until you’re called on. Now that everyone is this place, it’s time for the candidates to introduce themselves to our audience. You’ll each have one minute.

Senator Graham, you’re first.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much.

I just returned from Iraq two weeks ago. It was my 36th trip to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade. Toward the end, I met a very impressive Special Forces sergeant. It was his job to train Iraqi Kurdish commandos.

He was so proud of what he was doing and so proud of the people he was training. He was the replacement for Master Sergeant Wheeler, a Delta Force member who was killed two months ago in a raid against an ISIL prison to free prisoners.

As I departed, I told this young man, stay safe. He replied, sir, I will do my best to stay safe, but I came here to win. As commander-in-chief, I will do everything in my power to make sure that he can win. As president, we will win.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: Governor Pataki.

GEORGE PATAKI (R), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Wolf.

I want to speak to you this evening not as a Republican or a presidential candidate, but as an American. As we saw today in L.A., we are at a crisis in our country. Radical Islam poses a threat to our safety not just overseas, but literally in every community in America.

And yet at a time when we should be united, we have a president who has divided us, who refuses to call radical Islam what it is, let alone have a coherent strategy to defeat it.

The leading Democrat, Hillary Clinton, won’t call ISIS by its name, failed as secretary of state, and has continually lied to the American people.

On the other hand, the leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump, continually demonizes and demeans millions of Americans, and when confronted about it, laughs it off. Neither is fit to be president of the United States.

Our party, as Republicans, needs to nominate a strong leader who will unite us as Republicans, but more importantly, unite us as Americans, committed to destroying and defeating radical Islam, restoring our confidence in our safety right here, and our belief in freedom, and that the best of America is ahead of us.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Santorum.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Wolf.

It’s great to be here in Las Vegas. And I just want to thank everybody for the opportunity to be here.

This is an important time in our country’s history. We have entered World War III. World War III has begun and we have a leader who refuses to identify it and be truthful to the American people to the stakes that are involved, in part, because his policies have led us here.

SANTORUM: His policy toward Iran lit the fuse of a nuclear Iran. Just a few weeks ago the International Atomic Agency reported that Iran has had a nuclear program, but they don’t know if it’s continuing because they refuse to share any information about the current status. And this President marches on, forgiving them hundreds of billions of dollars to allow them to not just reconstitute their robust nuclear program, pursue their missile program, but also to foment terror around the world. And then his policies in the Middle East with Iraq create ISIS. Ladies and gentlemen, we need a President who will be honest with you and identify these problems and defeat them. I hope you will give me the chance to do that. Thank you.

BLITZER: Governor Huckabee.

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) ARKANSAS: Wolf, I want to say thanks to you and CNN for giving us the opportunity especially to focus on national security issues at a time when Americans are not only angry — angry at their government that they feel like has failed them, been indifferent to them, cost them their livelihoods — but they’re in addition to angry, they’re just plain scared. They’re scared when they thing that they go to a Christmas party and get shot at by somebody who sat and had lunch with them an hour earlier. They’re scared when they realize that our government, who promises that it can vet people and is begging us to approve bringing 10,000 Syrian refugees into this country, can’t even catch somebody after a third background check, who had posted things on social media clearly indicating she wanted to kill Americans. And we couldn’t catch that. We’ve lost confidence in our government. And when Americans lose confidence in their government, we’re in a dangerous place. We’re in danger because we have an enemy that is out to kill us, and we have a government that we don’t trust any more. This election is about going back to having a government we can trust with leaders who have the courage and conviction to actually lead and not follow.

BLITZER: Let’s begin. The United States just suffered the worst terrorist attack since 9-11, the murder of 14 people by two terrorists, one of whom was an American citizen. In response, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump proposed a temporary ban on all Muslims coming into the United States until the government can figure out what is going on. Senator Graham, the polls show most Republicans do support Mr. Trump. What do you say to them?

GOV. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: You may think this makes us safe, but it doesn’t. The good news for everybody in this room is, after 36 trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, most people over there, Wolf, are not buying what ISIL’s selling. This is a religious war between radical Islam and the rest of the world. And there’s only one way you’re going to win this war. Help people in Islam who reject radical Islam to fight over there and destroy this ideology. Donald Trump has done the one single thing you cannot do. Declare war on Islam itself. ISIL would be dancing in the streets, they just believe in dancing. This is a coup for them, and to all of our Muslim friends throughout the world, like the King of Jordan and the President of Egypt, I am sorry. He does not represent us. If I am President, we will work together. People in the faith to all over the world destroy this radical ideology. Declaring war on the religion only helps ISIL.

BLITZER: Senator Graham, you say you’d rather lose the election without Trump than try to win with him. Does that mean you’ll be voting for the Democratic nominee if Donald Trump wins the presidential nomination?

GRAHAM: I will support the Republican nominee, whoever he or she may be. Like Bob Dole, I may sleep late that day if it’s Trump. But the bottom line, if it’s Trump, so be it. That’s who I’ll support. Please understand we’re in a war that we can’t afford to lose, and what he said about banning Muslims coming here to America has made us all less safe, and it’s the worst possible thing he could do in this war. He clearly doesn’t understand this war and how to win it. For God’s sakes, pick somebody who is worthy of the sacrifice of those who are fighting this war and who actually knows how to win, and I don’t believe that’s Mr. Trump, and I know it’s not Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Governor Pataki, you mentioned Donald Trump in your opening statement. You’ve also suggested Mr. Trump’s plan is un- American and absurd. Why?

GEORGE PATAKI, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Absolutely. It’s one of many absurd things this President has said.

PATAKI: To target a religion and say that, regardless of whether you’re an American soldier who’s fought on our side or allies we have overseas, simply because of your religion we’re going to ban you is un-American, it is unconstitutional and it is wrong. And by the way, Wolf, now there was a group that tried to do that 150 to 160 years ago, they were called the Know-Nothing Party. They wanted to ban Catholics. They thought they were going to destroy America.

Well, Donald trump is the Know-Nothing candidate of the 21st century and cannot be our nominee.

By the way, though. I fault Hillary and Obama as well because by not distinguishing between Muslims and radicalized Jihadists, by refusing to acknowledge that it’s radical Muslim, radical Islamists who are carrying out these attacks against America — they let Americans who are confused and angry lump everyone together. We have to embrace the Muslims who embrace our freedom and living and safety. We have to destroy those who embrace Jihad and want to engage in violence against us here or abroad.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, you object to Mr. Trump’s proposals on the grounds that it’s unworkable. You’ve made religious liberty a hallmark of your career. Do you believe in religious liberty for Muslims as well as Christians?

SANTORUM: Of course I do. But what Donald Trump was saying was nothing against Muslims. His comment was against this administration who doesn’t have a policy to properly vet people coming into this country. Let’s just be honest about what’s — what’s being talked about here. And I know people will pile on because it makes sense to pile on, maybe from the polls. But he brings up a legitimate issue. The fact of the matter is not all Muslims are Jihadists and no one, including I suspect, Donald Trump would say that. But the reality is, all Jihadists are Muslims.

That’s a reality. And we have — we have to stop worrying about offending some people and start defending all Americans. Because we’re not right now.

BLITZER: Senator Graham.

Rick, please understand the only way we’re gonna win the war against radical Islam is for the world to unite. Very few fathers and mothers want to turn hair daughters and sons over to ISIL. If you spend any time in the region, you’d know that. Muslims have died by the thousands fighting this hateful ideology. You can say what you like, but when you utter the word I will ban all Americans, all Muslims from coming to America, how do you think the king of Jordan must feel to hear that? He is our friend, he is our ally. This is not the way to make America safe. This is the way to help our enemies. Stop this before it’s too late.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: I would agree — I would agree that Donald Trump’s proposal was not the right proposal. But he brings up a very important issue that I think we’ve been ignoring for far too long in this country. The reality is that, yes, we need to get reformist Muslims to join us. We need to get those who are being persecuted and killed within the Middle East to join us. But we also have to protect this country from those who want to harm us and we have to defeat those who are radicalized in the Middle East and wherever we find them around the world.

BLITZER: Governor Huckabee, you called Mr. Trump’s plan to ban Muslims impossible and unconstitutional. But what is your specific plan to prevent would-be Jihadists from carrying out attacks against Americans?

HUCKABEE: Well, let me begin by saying I’m not that afraid of Donald Trump. And, in the sense that I’d rather him be President than I had Hillary be president any day. And so if he becomes president, I think he will do a whole lot more to protect us than Hillary will. And a whole lot more than Barack Obama has done in his eight years.

So I want to make it very clear that when I was making that comment, I was simply speaking that I’m not sure that you can have a religious test per se. And it’s very impractical because if somebody comes to our borders and says I’d like to come in. They say are you a Muslim? Well, they’re — if they’re going to come in here to kill us, they’re not gonna say yeah, and I’m coming to kill you. They’re going to lie about it. Anybody that will kill you, for God’s sake, will lie to you.

So that’s why I say it’s impractical. But what he has done, and I don’t think a lot of people understand, he has touched a nerve because people are angry and afraid that we are facing an enemy that this administration refuses to acknowledge, refuses to want to go fight. And our only answer is to go after ISIS and to go after every form of radical Islam where they are, take them down, so they never get here and do what they did in San Bernardino again ever.

BLITZER: The terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have sparked a debate here in the United States about the balance between privacy and security. I want to bring in CNN’s Dana Bash and Hugh Hewitt for more on this.

BASH: Senator Santorum, you want to give the intelligence community more power to collect American’s phone data. But the government had this ability until just days before the San Bernardino attack.

BASH: If it couldn’t prevent San Bernardino, why will it protect America?

SANTORUM: Just because it couldn’t have prevented San Bernardino doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have all tools available to us that doesn’t impinge upon people’s privacy. This sort of data collection is not collecting people’s phones calls, their voices; they’re not collecting information that’s personal. There’s no names attached to these numbers. They’re simply numbers and times and relationships that throughout algorithms that computer technology can be able to sort through relationship about what numbers are calling what numbers and be able to track those down to see if there’s any leakage’s between someone who’s potentially a terrorist.

That is to me just fundamental that we have to have this type of data to be able to not impinge upon people’s privacy. In fact, I would make the argument that the more data we can collect that’s anonymous that we can through, through using algorithms, the less we need to involve people in and imposing themselves in people’s privacy.

BASH: Senator Graham, when this program was exposed, you said, ” you have nothing to worry about if you’re not talking to terrorist.” Do you understand why though some Americans are concerned that the government is keeping tabs on them in any way?

GRAHAM: Well, here’s what I’m here to tell you, when I first started this process of running for president., I said, ” if you didn’t realize we need more America boots on the ground in Iraq and eventually in Syria as a part of the regional army – not ready to be commander in chief.” Like nobody said a word, now everybody’s on board except Senator Paul.

Senator Paul and Senator Cruz, are isolationists. They both want to restrict the ability of the NSA to do the following; find out if somebody overseas is calling into America and if somebody is on the other end of the phone, don’t you want to know who their talking to? IF a terrorist is calling into America and we can match up phone numbers we get a get a court order to find out what the content is.

We’re at war folks, they’re not trying to steal your car, they’re trying to kills us all. So yes, I would re-institute this program. There’s four things you need to understand about this war, it’s a religious war, them against the world, if you don’t fight them over there, they’re coming here. If you don’t hit them first, they’re going to hit us. If you’re not determined to fight it as a ware, you’re going to lose it. So if you’re worried about somebody having your phone in the government, don’t be. The only thing you need to worry about is if you’re talking to terrorist and a judge gives an order to listen to what you’re saying. That’s all you need to worry about.

BASH: Thank you.

Governor Huckabee, you said, “not one terrorist plot has been foiled by the NSA’s collection of American’s phone records. The director of the CIA says,. “not having these programs makes it ability to find terrorists, quote, “much more challenging.”” Are you taking a potential tool to fight terrorists?

HUCKABEE: No. I’m not taking it away, I just want to make sure that everything we use is going to be effective. We’re spending billions of dollars, let’s make sure it’s effective. Let’s use every tool, but let’s also check out the Facebook posts, let’s look at Twitter accounts.

My gosh, we were told we couldn’t do it because it might invade somebody’s privacy. This lady who came over here and shot up San Bernardino was posting things on Facebook, yet, we were restricted from looking. Every college kid who goes to a frat party gets drunk and puts his picture on Facebook is going to have a potential employer looking at that photo before he gets hired.

Why should we have more attention? I mean, for heaven’s sake, towards some college kid who wants to one day ten years from to get a job, then we’re going after who wants to come in with a semi automatic weapon or a pipe bomb and blow up a bunch of Americans. This is what I think a lot of Americans are frustrated with, it’s the duplicity of our policy that is illogical and irrational.

Our goal ought to be, “protect Americans and put Americans first not last,” which is what I think this administration has done.

BASH: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Look, I agree with Governor Huckabee, that we should in fact be looking at people’s social media posts. That’s just common sense.

But we’ve defunded and tied the hands behind the backs of our intelligence agencies because of political correctness. We’re not allowed to ask any questions or really pursue, whether there’s any mosque that they’re attending that could be spreading Jihadism, and we know that in this country there are Imams that are doing that. But we’re not allowed to ask those questions, we’re not allowed to pursue to those things because we have a president who denies the reality of the enemy we confront.

HEWITT: Wait, let’s pursue that in fact Governor Pataki?

PATAKI: Yes.

HEWITT: You called for following and finding those Imams who are preaching violence in mosques. How exactly would you do that and what Mosques would you shut down? How extensive of a surveillance program are you proposing?

PATAKI: You know, I think it’s very important that we do everything in our power to prevent radicalization of Americans right here. And it is happening, not just overseas, but it’s happening here from Mosques on social media.

PATAKI: And truth — interaction and community meetings.

New York police department had a very active group, aggressively monitoring and using intelligence to — in certain Muslim communities, consistent with our constitution, consistent of our civil rights, so they could have the intelligence as to where these sermons are being given, and who is being radicalized. And, they stopped and prevented dozens, and dozens of attacks in New York.

You know, I’m a great believer in the First Amendment, of Freedom of Speech. I wish we had more of it on our college campuses, but you can’t shout fire in a crowded theater. Calling on Americans to engage in violence against their fellow Americans in the name of jihad is crying fire in a crowded theater. It is not constitutionally protected speech, it should be shut down.

And, by the way, the two murders who went to Garland, Texas to massacre many Americans before the Texas police officer courageously killed them, had been radicalized here.

Getting to that metadata question, one of those terrorists, the day before the attacks, had sent…

[BELL RINGING]

…109 message to a known terrorist overseas. We could not read those messages, we can not read those today…

HEWITT: …Thank you, Governor…

PATAKI: …We have got to do far better.

HEWITT: Governor Huckabee…

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: …As Governor Pataki noted earlier, we have a history of religious intoleration in this country. About the American Muslims who would be subject to this kind of surveillance, does it violate their First Amendment rights?

HUCKABEE: No, it does not violate their First Amendment rights to have someone go and listen to the sermons. You can go to any church in America, it’s a public place, you can listen, and — you know, if you go to my church, you’ll probably get a real blessing. Heck, it’ll be a wonderful experience. You go to some people’s church, you may go to sleep, I don’t know what happens in every church, but, the point is that these are public places, and folks are invited to come.

So, if it’s a public place, and people are invited to come, how does it violate anybody’s First Amendment rights that somebody shows up because they might want to just listen in and see is there something that is a little nefarious? And, if there is, then you take the second step of getting a search warrant, you do whatever you have to do. That’s all protected under the constitution.

So, Huge, I hear people act like there’s something that is terrible about going and sitting in and listening to the sermons of a mosque. If Islam is as wonderful, and peaceful as its adherents say, shouldn’t they be begging us to all come in and listen to these peaceful sermons? Shouldn’t they be begging us all to come, and listen, and bring the FBI so we’d all want to convert to Islam?

HEWITT: Senator Santorum…

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: …I want to start then, not on the First Amendment, but on the Second Amendment. There is a terror watchlist. You can legally purchase a gun in the United States if you’re on that watchlist. Your old colleague, Peter King in the House, wants to change that law. Do you agree with him?

SANTORUM: I don’t. I don’t think we should be able to deny someone’s constitutional rights based on a list kept by the government that nobody knows how they get on it, or how they get off of it.

If you’re going to make that list public, if you’re going to put criteria out there as to how you’re going to get on it, if you’re going to deny someone’s constitutional right, than I think there has to be more transparency. Let’s just be honest, when someone applies for a gun, you do a background check. And, if you’re on the terrorist watch list, guess what very well may happen? You may get denied that.

That’s a discretion of the people — of the ATF in making that kind of decision. I want to leave that discretion — as long as this list is not well known, as long as it’s not transparent, we have to leave that discretion.

I want to make a comment about what Mike said, and George said, about mus — Islam.

The fact of the matter is, Islam is different. I know this is going to come as a shock to a lot of people, and I mean the sincerely. Islam is not just a religion. It is also a political governing structure. The fact of the matter is, Islam is a religion, but it is also Sharia law, it is also a civil government, it is also a form of government. And, so, the idea that that is protected under the First Amendment is wrong.

And, in fact, that political structure is what is the big problem. The imposition of Sharia law adherence to fundamental Islam as it was practiced in the Seventh Century…

HEWITT: Governor…

SANTORUM: …There has to be a line drawn.

HEWITT: Governor, back to you. Your response?

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: I don’t disagree. I don’t disagree with anything that the Senator just said because that’s exactly right. But, I just want to go back to the point that when people say we can’t go into the mosque, we can’t listen. That’s utter nonsense. Of course we can. And, if we can’t, if there’s something so secretive going on in there that somebody isn’t allowed to go and hear it, maybe we do need for sure to send somebody in there and gather the intelligence. And, that’s all to the world I’m saying, I think it stands to be true.

GRAHAM: Can I say something?

HEWITT: Senator Graham, are you trying to get in?

GRAHAM: Yeah. There are at least 3,500 American muslims serving in the armed forces. Thank you for your service.

(APPLAUSE)

You are not the enemy.

GRAHAM: Your religion is not the enemy. Let me make this real to you.

I was at the second presidential election in Afghanistan. The guy guarding me was an American Muslim sergeant in the Army who grew up in Kabul, left when he was — graduated high school, joined the U.S. Army, went back to his high school where they were doing polling, people voting, he took me there and cried like a baby. I cried like a baby.

He is the solution to this problem, folks. He is not the problem. Leave the faith alone. Go after the radicals that kill us all.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Pataki.

PATAKI: Yes, Wolf.

BLITZER: There are a lot of people who have been frustrated, especially Senator Graham, that law enforcement can’t tap into information on terrorist cell phones. Senator Graham has called on companies in Silicon Valley to change their business models.

As president of the United States, would you force these companies to change their models so the government can better monitor the traffic on these cell phones?

PATAKI: I would pass a law requiring them to do that. Let me just give you one example. I mentioned in Garland, Texas, where that murderer, that terrorist, the day before sent 109 messages overseas to a known terrorist.

But they were encrypted. So to this date we don’t know what that said. Companies are entitled to encrypt and protect their knowledge and their intelligence. But what we need is a back door for law enforcement to be able, when they can establish that that communication poses a risk to our safety and engages in terrorism, to get a court order and go in and access those communications.

Allow the companies to continue encryption, provide an entry way for law enforcement when they can prove to a court that there is a sufficient risk of an attack upon us that they have the right to look at those messages.

BLITZER: Senator Graham?

PATAKI: And just one more thing, Wolf. When that murderer came from Pakistan to San Bernardino and committed those atrocious crimes just a few weeks ago, she applied for a visa.

She had posted on social media jihadist messages. Because this administration is so politically correct, they have a rule that they cannot look at social media postings of people applying to come to the United States.

That is utterly absurd. One of the things we must do, the next president must do is get rid of that law and make sure we do everything in our power to find out if someone poses a threat to our existence here.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Graham.

GRAHAM: Thank you. This is why I own a flip phone. You don’t have to worry about all of this stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: The bottom line is, we’re at war. They’re trying to come here to kill us all and it’s up to the government to protect you within constitutional means. Any system that would allow a terrorist to communicate with somebody in our country and we can’t find out what they’re saying is stupid.

If I’m president of the United States, and you join ISIL, you are going to get killed or captured. And the last thing you are going to hear if I’m president is, you’ve got a right to remain silent.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Here is a question we have on the fight against ISIS from Facebook. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANNAH DEBELLA, COLLEGE STUDENT: I’m Hannah DeBella. And I go to the University of Florida. People say that we’re fighting an ideological war with ISIS. If you’re president, how would you defeat them both militarily and ideologically, as well?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Governor Huckabee, how would you defeat ISIS ideologically?

HUCKABEE: The way we defeat them ideologically is that we remind people that what their intent is is to kill us, and that it is our intent to use every means possible to get to them before they get to us. We are pretending that this is a war that is not that significant. We have a president who called it the JV team, said we had contained it. Nine hours after he said we contained it, there was a massacre in Paris.

We’ve got to make it so untenable for somebody to join ISIS. Rather than making it so that teenagers from around the world want to go and be to be a part of this, we need to go after it with significant ground troops, air campaign.

The president boasted we had 9,000 flown sorties, air missions over 18 months. What he failed to tell the American people, we were flying 3,000 air missions per day during Desert Storm.

And the rules of engagement have got to be loosened, because we have to make sure that we are not just going over and setting off some fireworks. We have to kill some terrorists and kill every one of them we can to make it very clear that to take action or threaten action against the United States, and you’ve just signed your death warrant.

We’re coming to get you. And you won’t be coming to our shores. You’re going to be going to your funeral. That’s what we need to do to begin to defeat it ideologically.

BLITZER: Senator Graham, you have an aggressive military plan to try to defeat ISIS. The U.S. citizen who killed 14 people in San Bernardino was radicalized right here in the United States. As President, how would you defeat ISIS online?

GRAHAM: Well, what you want to do is you want to knock them off line. How about this idea? If you pledge allegiance to al-Baghdadi, you can’t get married in America? The bottom line is you have to go after them everywhere. The key to winning this war is to provide the capacity to those in the faith who reject the ideology. The key to fighting this war is to fight it in their backyard, not ours. Two years ago I came up with a plan that requires more American boots on the ground in Iraq. The first thing out of my mouth running for President was, if you don’t understand we need 10,000 troops in Iraq, rather than 3,500, you’re not ready. What would I do in Syria? I’d form a regional army of Arabs and Turkey. Ninety percent them, 10 percent us. Up to 10,000 U.S. forces to go in on the ground and destroy the caliphate and its roots. Take Raqqah away from ISIL, kill every one of these bastards we could find. Then I would stay. I would hold the hands of those who are willing to live in peace with us. I would build small school houses in remote regions of the world to give a young woman a voice about her children, something that will end radical Islam more than the bomb. I’m all in. Whatever it takes, as long as it takes. To the isolationists in our party, you’re no better than Obama. If you want to win this war, follow me. I am seeking victory, folks, not containment.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, following up on what we just heard from Senator Graham, at least one U.S. intelligence report from the White House has concluded that, in order to defeat ISIS and to stop its spread worldwide, you have to defeat it on the battlefield. You’ve called for more U.S. troops in Iraq, but you say that sending U.S. troops into Syria would be a mistake. How do you defeat ISIS with no U.S. ground troops in the country where ISIS is headquartered.

SANTORUM: Well, there’s all sorts of theological reasons why we may not want to go into Syria right now to take ISIS. But let me set that aside for a moment and say this. ISIS is a caliphate. They’ve established a caliphate, the first Sunni caliphate since 1924, when Ataturk disbanded the Ottoman Empire. They’ve established a caliphate and, under Islamic law, good Muslims who see them as a legitimate caliphate are required to follow them. That’s why we have people in this country who see them as a legitimate caliphate, which is the leader of the Sunni Muslim world, they are required under their law to follow them. How do we defeat their caliphate? Well, it’s very clear in Islamic law how you do so. You take their land. You have to take land back from the caliphate and in the Islamic world that delegitimizes, that delegitimizes the caliphate. It makes the caliphate unsuccessful. Therefore not blessed by Allah. Therefore, you should not follow it. We need to take back the land in Iraq and we need to use Sunni, not Shiites, not Iranian troops, not Shiite Iraqis, but Sunni Muslims in Iraq and the Kurds, the Peshmerga, and take back Iraqi land. I believe if we did that, you would see ISIS begin to collapse. And then we can look at other ways in which we’re going to deal with it. I have great hesitancy, based on ISIS’ desire to draw us into Syria, and a particular town in Syria, for their own, again, apocalyptic version, to go in with ground troops in Syria at this point.

BLITZER: Senator Graham, you’re shaking your head.

GRAHAM: Yeh, it’s just you’re not going to win that way, Rick. There’s nobody left in Syria to train. Between the Russians and Assad, they have killed all the people we trained, and our President sat on the sidelines and watched people get killed that we enticed into the fight. There is nobody left to train. I would get the Arabs who are threatened by ISIL just as much as we are, along with Turkey. We would use their armies. They have modern armies. Ninety percent them. But some of us have to go, folks. You’re not going to keep the war from here if some of us don’t go over there. Ninety percent them, 10 percent us, and we go in and destroy the caliphate. There must be American boots on the ground in Syria to win. If you don’t understand that, you’re not ready to be Commander in Chief.

SANTORUM: I would have no problem with Sy — with boots on the ground in Syria in a training capacity. I do not want American troops on the front line in Syria because I don’t believe that that would serve to the interest. Again, understanding what ISIS is preaching. You have to learn what they’re telling their people. They want to draw the United States, they want to draw the great Satan into Syria, into a particular town in Syria, because it, it’s consistent with their theology. And you say, well, this sounds like gobbledy gook. It’s what they believe. And if we don’t take seriously what they believe and how they’re able to attract people, then we’re going to make mistakes like invading Syria with a ground force and bringing them into the battle that they so deeply deserve and desire.

BLITZER: I’m going to bring Governor Pataki in a minute, but go ahead and respond, Senator Graham.

GRAHAM: Well, number one, dead men don’t preach anything.

GRAHAM: If you don’t understand we need a ground force to go into Syria, then you’re not ready to destroy ISIL. Rick, there’s nobody left to train inside of Syria. Let the Arabs fight this fight, pay for this war, but they need our help.

The difference between me and you and others is that I see you’ve got two choices. Fight them over there or they’re coming here. They’re planning another 9/11 as I speak. Paris was well planned. They wake up every day in Syria trying to find a way to hit us here. If I’m president, we’re going in with the Arabs in Turkey and we’re gonna destroy them before they hit us here. We’re running out of time, folks.

BLITZER: Governor Pataki, should the U.S. send ground troops into Syria?

PATAKI: Wolf, I think the answer is we have to send troops with allies and supporters. Wherever it is necessary to destroy the training centers, recruitment centers, planning hubs of ISIS.

Two points though. First of all today, Saudi Arabia announced a coalition of 34 states, mostly Arab, but other Muslim states to engage actively in a war against radical Islam. We have to work with them. Not just step back. Let them take the lead but work with them to destroy ISIS.

And the second point, Wolf, I want to make, is this is on the armed forces network. And thank you for doing that. Because I’m sure watching this debate this evening are some of our soldiers deployed all over the world. As the proud father of a son who was a Marine officer in Iraq and another son that was a 10th Mountain Division officer in Afghanistan, I know we produce no finer people than the men and women who put on their uniform to defend our freedom. They are watching overseas now.

God bless you. This isn’t about us. This is about you. Thank you for your service.

BLITZER: Governor Huckabee, you have not put a number of how many U.S. ground troops would be needed to combat ISIS. Is Senator Graham’s proposal sufficient?

HUCKABEE: Wolf, it may be sufficient, but rather than put a number — and I’m comfortable that we say 10,000, 20,000 — look, I think we make a mistake when we start telling the enemy what our limitations are. I think we make a huge mistake when we say we’re gonna do up to this. I think what we say is, we’re gonna do whatever it takes. If it’s 10,000, if it’s 100,000, if it’s 3,000 sorties a day, if it’s 5,000 sorties a day.

We never tell our enemy what our limitations are, what we are willing and what we’re unwilling to do. And that’s one of the mistakes I believe that we’re making militarily. But the biggest mistake we’ve made militarily is letting Barack Obama cut our defense forces by 25 percent and leaving us at the least prepared position we’ve been in since before World War II.

We have to get our Military rebuilt from the ground up. And all over America I hear young people say, would you tell me what you’re going to do? Would you give me free college? Will you make sure that I can have medical marijuana?

You know what we ought to tell young people? We aren’t going to give you anything. We’re give you the opportunity to get off your butt and go serve your country and secure your freedom. Because if you don’t, nobody else is.

BLITZER: Senator Graham, and I just want to remind our viewers, you want 10,000 U.S. ground troops in Iraq, and 10,000 in Syria?

GRAHAM: Yeah. I just don’t make this up, Wolf. I talk to people who are combat trained who have won in Iraq who I trust.

Here’s what I want to tell the Arab world and Turkey. We’re not going to send 100,000 troops. You’re going to do the fighting this time and we’re gonna help you. We paid for the last two wars, you’re gonna pay for this one.

And (inaudible), by the way, they get it because ISIL wants to cut their heads off, too. The point I’m trying to make is, there needs to be a ground component. We need to be smart, and we need to fight the war over there. And to the people in my party who believe you can withdraw from the battlefield like Senator Cruz and Paul and we be safe, you really don’t understand this war.

BLITZER: Governor Huckabee, you have said as president you would tell ISIS, and I’m quoting you now, “we will take you down and we’ll try to get it done in ten days.” Do you really think the U.S. can defeat ISIS in ten days?

HUCKABEE: I’d sure want them to think we would. And I’d want to make sure that we did everything we could. But we can’t do it with our current Military strength. We’ve got to build up and have the most robust, well trained, well equipped, well prepared and ample Military force in the history of the world because we’re not fighting just a known enemy in one place. We’re fighting people all over the world who can go anywhere.

And the reason I say that is because if we tried to win this war on the cheap or we try to do it with the, “light footprint,” we’re making a huge mistake.

When all of us were in grade school, one thing we all knew, the bully never picked on the kid except for the weak one.

HUCKABEE: He never picked on the kid he knew, he’d whip(ph) him. We need to make to sure that we have the kind of military that ISIS recognizes in every radical Islamist in the world recognizes, they may start but we by god will finish the fight. And it will be their rear ends on the ground, not ours when it’s all over whether it takes ten days, ten months, or ten eternities’ we’re going to win this fight and have to make sure they understand that.

BLITZER: Senator Samtorum?

SANTORUM: No look, I’m committed to whatever is necessary understanding the nature of the enemy. The enemy is a theocracy and their allure is their theocracy. It’s their doctrine and so we have to understand that doctrine. That’s why, I love the fact that people are angry and outraged in Washington and want someone new and fresh. But we need someone who understands and has knowledge and experience in these areas.

And I can see that you know, Senator Graham has that experience and we have a little difference of opinion. But frankly, it’s not that big of difference in our opinion, we both want to defeat ISIS. We have elements in our party that don’t and I will use whatever means necessary within the confines of not crossing a tripwire theologically that could turn on us.

BLITZER: Governor Pataki, you support ground troops – deploying grounds troops.

PATAKI: Yes.

BLITZER: The U.S. Army’s Former Cheif of Staff, General Raymond Odierno said that, and I’m quoting, “now ISIS is a ten to twenty year problem. How long would you be willing to commit U.S. forces to fight ISIS?”

PATAKI: You know, I don’t think it’s a function of years of going after ISIS. They are out in the open and in cities like, Mosul, where we know they have their centers. They have centers that we could bomb. And what we have to do though, is have a commitment from our government, not just for troops on the ground but to do whatever we can to help our allies on the grounds right now,.

The Kurds, the Peshmurga are fighting. If we don’t give them the equipment, the training, and the support they need because our government insists that it all go through Baghdad. Baghdad doesn’t want a strong independent Kurdish army. There are right now Sunni, Sheikh, and Tribes in the Anbar province, taking on ISIS. In fact, they’re in the process of reclaiming Ramadi, the provincial capital this week. They are on our side and they are Sunni, but we are not arming, supporting, training, and helping them as much as we can because all support goes through Baghdad and they don’t want a strong autonomous Sunni area.

We have to put our interests first. Not the interests of Baghdad or of Iran, we have to support those on the ground fighting on our side. Give them every bit of help that they want and to the extent that it’s necessary, for us to send in Special Ops to destroy those training centers, recruitment hubs, planning hubs, social media centers.

Do that. Destroy them. Protect our freedom and get out.

BLITZER: But how long would you be willing to commit U.S. troops to fight ISIS.

PATAKI: You know, I don’t want to see us occupy a country. I’ve been to Iraq a couple of times and Afghanistan. The first time I went, I had an uneasy feeling that when we went there we were liberators. But as we stayed ,we became occupiers.

I saw American troops move into some of Saddam’s old hideous marble palaces. And I thought that was exactly the wrong message. We do not have to occupy. We do not have to nation build and try to create a democracy where one hasn’t existed. WE have to destroy ISIS, protect our safety and our freedom here, and then get out.

BLITZER: Senator Graham, you called for U.S. ground troops as we know in Iraq and Syria.

GRAHAM: Two years ago.

BLITZER: As you know, there’s a growing ISIS presence right now in Libya.

GRAHAM: Yes.

BLITZER: Are you ready to deploy U.S. troops to Libya to try to defeat ISIS there?

GRAHAM: I think we need to have a military strategy regarding Libya. They’ve just take over Gaddafi’s hometown called Sur(Ph). There’s about 2000 of them.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my 36 visits, you can’t deter these guys, they’re ready to die, bring on the virgins. Dying is first place in their world. What we have to do is work with others over time to destroy to ideology. We have to offer a hopeful life to compete with the glory of this.

Most young people folks want the same thing you do. They don’t want to live in the 11th century. So yes, you have to destroy the caliphate. I want to work with Arabs and Turkey to do it, but here’s the key is to not leave. If we left Germany and Japan only god knows what would’ve happened. If we have 10000 troops left in Iraq, there would be no ISIL and I hate what Obama did. He gave away everything we fought for and I hate what he did.

I begged him not to and I’ve been right more than I’ve been wrong.

BLITZER: Senator? Senator, are you ready to commit U.S. ground troops to Libya?

GRAHAM: I want to talk to General Keane first. I want to find out, what do we need militarily to keep them contained and eventually destroy them in Libya. They’re in nine countries.

GRAHAM: You want to deal with Libya, go to Iraq and Syria. You want to prevent another 9/11, take the caliphate headquarters away from ISIL. There is no other way to do it without a ground force going into Syria. We have to be part of that ground force, or another 9/11 is coming just as sure as I’m standing here. They’re planning it tonight.

The ISIL leadership wants to hurt you, and your family, and if I’m president, they will not get here ’cause we’re going to kill ’em over them.

BLITZER: Alright, gentleman, standby. The fight against ISIS clearly is sparking new tensions with another super power. How these candidates will handle Vladimir Putin, that’s next.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We’re live here at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Welcome back.

(APPLAUSE)

As the U.S. fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria continues, the question remains whether to take out the Syrian dictator, Bashar al Assad. That has become a major policy difference among the Republican candidates.

Governor Huckabee, you said the Middle East was more stable when Bashar al Assad was fully in control of Syria. The Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to keep him in power. As President of the United States, would you join with Putin to do the same thing?

HUCKABEE: Well, I want to be real clear, I don’t trust Putin, I don’t trust Assad. I’m not saying that I would endorse him for his reelection bid. The man is a tyrant, he’s killed lots of people, but he wasn’t killing Americans. And, the thing that I’m concerned about is that we have seen a complete destabilization, not only of Syria, but we’ve seen it in Yemen, that the President pronouncing great shape just before it collapsed.

HUCKABEE: Destabilization of Libya, destabilization of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It seems like wherever we try to pick a side under this administration, we always pick the wrong one. We picked the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

So all I’m saying is, let’s be careful to understand who it is that is our direct immediate threat. Do I think that we can hug Putin and have a wonderful relationship with the Russians and go off into the sunset like the end of “Casablanca”? No, I don’t.

But let me tell you what I think we ought to be doing. We ought to be challenging not only Russia but the Iranians and the Saudis on the point of energy. We ought to be drilling every bit of oil, getting all the coal out.

We need to be going after our natural gas and biofuels and become the energy exporter to the world, and take the weaponry out of the hands of the Russians, the Iranians, and the Saudis by taking their money away, and let America become the number one energy exporter to the entire world.

That enriches Americans and it destabilizes our enemies overseas.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Graham.

GRAHAM: It is absolutely imperative that Bashar Assad go. The biggest mistake Obama made was drawing a red line. Assad crossed it. He is still standing.

If I’m president, Assad will not stand. He has murdered 240,000 of his own people. They’re not going to accept him as their leader. The war never ends if he stays in power. You’re giving Damascus to the Iranians.

He’s a puppet of the ayatollah, a proxy of Iran. He is the biggest benefactor of Hezbollah. Weapons flowing from Damascus to Lebanon will continue to flow if Assad stays. For our interests and the stability of the region, he must go.

And if I’m president, he will go. And the Syrians will pick their leader, not the ayatollah.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Huckabee.

HUCKABEE: Well, the only thing I disagree with is that I still believe if you take away their ability to fund their weaponry and fund their terrorism, they don’t have terrorism.

I still say we need to take an offensive approach by using our energy, the one weapon we have, we have hundreds of years of energy under our feet. The president thinks that climate change is the number one enemy.

I think people bombing us is a bigger enemy than the temperature change over several hundred years. So let’s get our energy. Let’s use that as an offensive weapon to change the dynamics of the entire globe, and especially change the dynamics of the Middle East.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: I’m going to get to the others in a moment. But you’re once again shaking your head, Senator Graham.

GRAHAM: Well, I agree with that. I would like to become — you know, I’d like to stop sending $350 billion overseas to buy oil from people who hate our guts, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you like to export natural gas to cut Putin’s legs out from under him?

I’m not afraid of a guy riding around on a horse without his shirt.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: The guy has got a pair twos and we’ve got a full house, and he’s walking all over Obama.

Mike, the surge worked. It worked. George W. Bush made mistakes, but he did adjust. I blame Obama for ISIL, not Bush. I’m tired of beating on Bush. I miss George W. Bush. I wish he were president right now. We wouldn’t be in this mess.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GRAHAM: I’m tired of dictators walking all over us. I’m tired of siding with the Iranians and the Russians.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Governor Pataki.

PATAKI: Lindsey is looking back and defending President Bush, but I want to look forward.

This is about the next president of the United States. And you mentioned Libya and you mentioned Russia. And what they have in common, the disaster they have in common is Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state. Do you remember… GRAHAM: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

PATAKI Do you remember in Libya where it was Hillary Clinton who went and tried to convince and ultimately did convince Obama that the United States had to go in for humanitarian reasons to protect people from the dictator at the time, Gadhafi?

What has happened? We led from behind. We have chaos. We have ISIS controlling a major city. We’ve had hundreds of thousands of refugees. That’s Hillary’s policy in Libya.

And then Putin, the reset button, you remember who that was? That was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressing the reset button. We can be friends with Russia. Russia is not our friend. They’re friends with the Iranians.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

PATAKI: They are friends with Assad. They are friends with Hezbollah. We have got to stand up with them. And we have got to hold Hillary accountable for her failed time as secretary of state.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, you’ve suggested that there’s no good options for the United States in Syria. As commander-in-chief, would you be willing to let Russia take the lead in the fight against ISIS there?

SANTORUM: I don’t want Russia taking the lead anywhere, particularly working with Assad, because what that shows, and I think Lindsey is correct in this, is that, you know, we’ve abandoned that region, which we don’t want to do, number one.

Number two, the relationship between Iran and Damascus is one of the reasons that ISIS has the power they have.

SANTORUM: And the fact that we have a nuclear treaty with the Shiites in Iran, that we have now partnered with the Russians and appearing to allow Assad to stay, which is a satellite Alawites, very interrelated to the Shiites, this looks to ISIS — and what they’re selling is that we are now lining up with the Shiite world against the Sunni world.

Well the Shiite world is 15 percent of the Muslim world. The Sunni world is 85 percent. We’re — we’re picking the wrong horse here. Not only is the Iranian deal the greatest betrayal of this — of this country in the history of our country by signing that deal, but secondly, we have now lined up to empower ISIS by partnering with the Shiites. So the answer is this. The answer is we have to take them on in Iraq, defeat them in Iraq. Delegitimize their caliphate. Join with legitimate rebel forces which exist in Syria and begin to arm them and train them. But it’s a one-two step. The first step has to be Iraq.

BLITZER: We have a video question from Facebook. Let’s watch.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Adithya Sivakumar. I’m from Vanderbilt University. And I was wondering with U.S. designated state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and other traditional U.S. enemies fighting ISIL, do you think the United States should ally with these groups or continue with their own separate coalition?

BLITZER: Governor Pataki.

PATAKI: I’m not sure — ally with which groups? I didn’t quite catch that.

BLITZER: He says he was wondering with U.S. designated state sponsors of terrorism like Iran and other traditional U.S. enemies fighting ISIL, do you think the United States should ally with these specific groups?

PATAKI: Not at all. Iran is our enemy. They are the number one sponsor of state terror. The Iranian Deal is a disaster. And by the way, I don’t think the next president has to aggregate it. It was never ratified by the Iranians. They have tested long-range ballistic missiles in violation of U.N. resolutions. They have broken the agreement. It is void. They can never have a nuclear weapon and should not get relief.

With respect to the other groups, like Hezbollah, of course we should not work with them. I’ll tell you who we should work with in Syria. There are two groups. One are the PYD, the — the Kurds in Syria who led the defense of Kobani, and are in northern and eastern Syria and anti-ISIS and anti-Assad.

The second thing I’d do is three years ago, Turkey called for a no-fly zone along the Turkish border. Obama said no. We need to work with the Turks, create that no-fly zone so that Syrian refugees don’t have to flock to Europe or try to get to the United States. They will have a safe haven. Anti-Assad Syrians can group there, train, organize there and let them fight the fight to protect our allies.

BLITZER: Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash have questions.

Hugh go ahead.

HEWITT: Thank you, Wolf.

Governor Huckabee, ten minutes ago you blasted President Obama for destabilizing Iraq. You hit former Secretary of State Clinton for supporting the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt. But you have said recently you would sanction countries that don’t join the fight aggressively against ISIS. Having had an administration that has effectively undermined our friends and emboldened our foes, why would you start sanctioning those who are not yet on our side against ISIS?

HUCKABEE: Well what we have done, and we created an impossible atmosphere. This administration has put more pressure on Israel to stop building bedrooms in Judea and Samaria than they’ve put on Iranians to stop building a nuclear bomb. And I’m just simply pointing out the obvious, that we need to recognize who our friends are, who our enemies are…

HEWITT: Which country?

HUCKABEE: … but I’m convinced…

HEWITT: Which countries are those, governor, that you would sanction?

HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, it would be the Iranians. I would have never entered into this deal. I don’t know why on God’s earth that the senators gave it so that it was easier for Obama to have the agreement than it would be to make it a treaty.

HEWITT: That’s an easy, give. Are you going to sanction any of our allies who say, no this isn’t our fight we’re gonna let you do this. Are you going to leave our allies alone? For example, Indonesia and Malaysia — other Muslim countries — will you leave them alone?

HUCKABEE: I would make sure that there was economic pressure put on them. Why not? Why should we fund every single battle against radical Islam? Why should we stand back and watch Israel get targeted, the United States get targeted and we watch with people with their hands in their pocket, and their hands in our pocket because we’re getting them a lot of money. And let’s say your hands can be in your pocket, you can stand still, but your hands aren’t going to be in our pockets anymore. We’re not going to give you another dime unless you engage the battle with us. We are not sending our sons and daughters, and grandsons and granddaughters to war to fight for your interest. You either get in with us or be on your own. But we’re not gonna fight the battle for you.

HEWITT: Senator Graham, I just named two Islamic countries…

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Senator Graham, I just named two Islamic countries that are allies that he suggested we sanction. Is that the appropriate approach to this war?

GRAHAM: No. What I would do is I would try to make friends throughout the world to destroy a common threat to the world. These people are religious Nazis. Most people in Islam don’t buy what they’re selling.

GRAHAM: I’ve told you a thousand times that I would partner with the Arabs in Turkey.

But, the reason they don’t partner with Obama is they just don’t trust him. Do you think they would trust me? I know them all. I’ve been working for a decade to figure out how to win this war.

To my good friend Ted Cruz, please ask him the following question, you say you would keep Assad in power, I will tell you that is the worst possible thing that could come out of an American leaders mouth. It would be disastrous. His favorite movie is, apparently, Princess Bride. Ted, getting in bed with Iran and Russia to save Assad is inconceivable.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Senator Santorum, let me ask you…

GRAHAM: Princess Buttercup would not like this.

(LAUGHTER)

HEWITT: Senator Santorum, let me ask you, the opposite of getting into bed is shooting down the prince’s plane. Senator Santorum has — Senator Graham has said he would shoot down Russian planes bombing Syrian fighters on our side. Would you shoot down a Russian plane bombing American allied fighters in Syria (ph)?

SANTORUM: Well, I would establish a no-fly zone. And, I think we just…

HEWITT: What — if they fly into it, would you shoot it down?

SANTORUM: Well — the first thing you have to do is establish a no-fly zone, and you don’t do that by just sort of declaring it. You work through the process of making sure you work with people who, hopefully, have the same objective that you do. And, if they don’t, then you establish the no-fly zone, and you take the consequences of whatever — who violates that law.

HEWITT: The consequences would be war with Russia. Would you risk…

SANTORUM: …I don’t think it’s a war with Russia anymore than Turkey went to war with Russia when Turkey shot down a plane…

HEWITT: Senator Graham, do you agree?

SANTORUM: These are — these are incidents not something that we’re threatening the motherland. This is a tactical decision within an area that we have an obligation for the refugees, for providing stability to the rebels, and an opportunity for the rebels to reconstitute. And, making sure that we stop the flow of refugees into Europe, and into the United States to establish a no-fly zone.

And, Russia either is going to comply with it or not, and if they don’t, I think it can be contained to that region.

HEWITT: OK, we know you agree, Senator Graham. How about you, Governor Pataki, would you shoot down Russian planes?

PATAKI: I could create…

GRAHAM: …I didn’t get to say yes. Yes.

PATAKI: I would create the no-fly zone, and let me tell you, something very simply. Putin is a bully, and the most important and effective thing you can do to a bully is punch him in the face. Create a no-fly zone.

If Russian planes violate that space, either us, or the Turks, should shoot them down to keep our word. And, I guarantee you that Putin would back off. Bullies, when you stand up to them, back down.

We have had, under Obama, and under Hillary as Secretary of State, nothing but weakness in the face of Russia, whether it was in the Crimea, whether it was in Ukraine, or now in the Middle East. I would give the Ukrainians lethal weapons so they could defend themselves. I would create the no-fly zone, and if Russian planes flew into it in violation of what we have declared, yes.

BASH: Senator — Senator Graham…

GRAHAM: Yeah, this is an important discussion. The American president is the strongest voice in the world — until Obama came along. Now, we’re just one of many. When you ask people to help you, when you entice Syrians to join your cause, to take down the dictator they hate to destroy ISIL which will attack our homeland, and you sit on the sidelines and watch the Russian president kill them, it makes it harder for us to get partners in the future.

The point I’m trying to make is we got to mean what we say…

(BELL RINGING)

…And, I am begging people to wake up to Syria. The next 9/11 is coming from Syria, it’s coming soon…

BASH: Senator Graham…

GRAHAM: …we’d better do something about it, and I have a plan.

BASH: Senator Graham, we’ve heard here tonight a lot about the fact that you want to send U.S. troops, ground troops, into Iraq, and Syria to defeat ISIS. Would you consider reinstating the draft in order to complete that mission?

GRAHAM: I don’t think it’s necessary. If you don’t want to be there, I don’t want you to be there. I just retired after 33 years in the Air Force, 140 days on the ground as an Air Force Reservist. To those who are watching, thank you for your service.

I’ve had a small walk in your shoes. We have the best military in the world. Obama has put it in a box. Let’s take it out of the box and use it before we get attacked here. We don’t need a draft, we need a commander in chief who knows what the hell they’re doing.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Governor Huckabee…

(APPLAUSE)

GRAHAM: And, I am that guy.

BASH: Governor Huckabee, would you reinstate the draft?

HUCKABEE: I wouldn’t reinstate a draft, but, I think it’s noteworthy that we are fighting all the battles we have with less than one percent of the American population.

HUCKABEE: We have the lowest level of percentage of population participating in the military than ever. And they’re over-deployed, they’re over used, especially among our reserves and Guard troops. Any governor will tell you.

BASH: So what would you do about it?

HUCKABEE: Well, I would say that, if you want a college education, let’s go back and reinstate the full-blown G.I. bill. You give something to your country; your country gives something back to you. We need to ask young people to step up and buy their own freedom because there’s not going to be enough people left at less than one percent. And as my good friend Ken Allard, former Dean of the War College, has often said, we’re fighting all the wars with other people’s kids. And that’s one of the things that’s making us much less safe, is because we don’t have enough Americans truly invested in the process of defeating our enemies. Therefore, I do think without a draft we do need to ask people to recognize we are at war.

GRAHAM: Can, can I…

BASH: Senator…

GRAHAM: This is important. We’re not fighting all the wars with our kids. If you’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan and you made any friends, you’ve lots of bunch. Thousands have died in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting.

BASH: Thank you, Senator Graham.

GRAHAM: Don’t belittle their sacrifice.

HUCKABEE: I’m not belittling their sacrifice, Lindsey, but I’m just making note that on the part of Americans we have sent National Guard troops over for an 18-month em — 18-month deployment. They come back for five, they go back for another 18. We’re wearing these guys out. They agreed to be citizen soldiers. We turned them into full time soldiers because we’ve not kept up the pace by recruiting enough people in the military to fully fill these forces, and that’s what we need to be doing.

BASH: Senator Graham.

GRAHAM: No.

BASH: Senator Graham, quick response. GRAHAM: To, to those the (well) times in the Army were a bigger problem than they are today. If you want to fix this, you get the Army to 500,000, not 420,000. You want to win this war, grow the Navy to 350 ships, not 275. Sequestration is Latin for doing really dumb things. We’re going to have the smallest Navy since 1915, the smallest Army since 1940. I was yelling and screaming don’t do sequestration. I was right. If I am President of the United States, Commander in Chief, we’re going to rebuild our military without a draft…

BASH: Thank you, Senator Graham.

GRAHAM: …and we’re going to go on the offense and they’re ready to go.

BASH: Thank you, Senator Graham.

GRAHAM: They are ready to go. They just need to be led.

BASH: Senator Santorum, earlier this month the Pentagon opened all U.S. military combat positions to women. You previously opposed allowing women in combat roles. As President, would you change the Pentagon’s new policy?

SANTORUM: I would use the studies that were done that were ignored by this military that there were certain positions that frankly were not suitable. And they pushed a political agenda above what is in the best interest of the safety, security, and effective of our, of our fighting units. So I would go back to using what we should be doing. Which is putting forth people on those front line positions who are best prepared to do the job, survive the job, and come back home safely.

BASH: So, just to be clear, you’re saying, yes, you would change the policy back?

SANTORUM: I would change the policy to reflect what is the best interest of the people that we’re asking. I’ve got a son who’s going, who’s going into the Air Force right now, and I, as a father, I want to make sure that, if he’s out there on the front line — and he may be a pilot flying an airplane — I want to make sure that the person who’s responsible for, for his wing has the ability to do the job they’re doing. And if they don’t have that ability to do the job, if we’re doing a social promotion as opposed to what’s best for the efficacy of our fighting force and for the survivability of our men and women, I’ll change that policy.

BASH: Governor Pataki, as you mentioned earlier, you have two sons who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Would you maintain this new policy as President, or do you agree with Senator Santorum.

PATAKI: No, I completely disagree with Rick. This is America. And we’ve made enormous progress. And I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman. I care if you’re good and capable of doing the job. If you can do the job — don’t lower standards, don’t lower the criteria — but if a woman is capable of doing these jobs, there is no reason why we should deny a patriot who wants to serve and help defend our country that right.

BASH: Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: So what you just said is you agree with me. Because that’s exactly what I said.

PATAKI: It’s not.

SANTORUM: I said if you can’t do the job, you shouldn’t be able to…you shouldn’t have the position.

PATAKI: No, you said you would reverse the policy which excluded women from those jobs whether or not they were able to do that. That is wrong.

SANTORUM: No, I did not say that, George. I mean, you may, you may have heard that, but I didn’t say that. What I said was, if they can in fact do the job that any, any other person can do, I will allow them to do so.

PATAKI: Ah.

SANTORUM: But if they cannot, I would reverse the policy. And what happened here is there were many studies done, particularly in the Marine Corps, which begged this President not to move forward with this because people are going to get killed as a result of it. The President went forward anyway.

SANTORUM: That is not looking out after the best interest of anybody, including women in that front-line position.

BASH: Now Governor Pataki, do you a final response?

PATAKI: Yes, I think what Rick said is very different from what he said initially which was that, “he would reverse the policy that gave woman not the right but the opportunity to serve in combat.” They can only do it if they’re fit and capable and meet the same standards as men. And so, to reverse that policy and deny a woman who is prepared to risk her life to defend our freedom and is capable of doing everything a man could do is not the right thing for America in the 21st century.

By the way, you see in Iraq, the Peshmerga, the Kurds ,many of their top fighters are women. This is the 21st century. We’re not radical Islam. We want to give women the opportunity to do whatever they are capable of achieving in this country.

BLITZER: Governor Pataki, let me stick with you.

Governor Pataki, a U.S. Army Sargent Bowe Bergdahl now facing a court marshall after leaving his base in Afghanistan, getting captured by the Taliban – Donald Trump, has called for his execution. The former house speak John Boehner says “he’s innocent until proven guilty.” Where do you stand?

PATAKI: Of course he’s innocent until proven guilty. I happen to believe he’s guilty. The military did a very clear and long study as to whether or not he deserted in the face of enemy and they are not court marshalling him. I don’t think he should executed. I do think he will have a fair military trial, not a civilian trial, at which time, assuming he’s found guilty as I think he would, he will be sentenced appropriately.

But there’s a bigger issue here, this administration has failed to protect us because they have treated radical Islamists as Americans who should be tried in civil court. That is ridiculous. They are enemy aliens engaged in terror against Americans. And by the way, the fact that this president is now threatening to close Guantanamo Bay when we know that time after time, terrorists he released are involved in a high level capacity helping ISIS and Al Queda, this is a disgrace.

Ask Hilary Clinton, would she keep Guantanamo Bay open so that Americans can be safe and terrorists kept from going back to the battlefield?

BLITZER: Senator Graham, where do you stand?

GRAHAM: Well I stand unique, having been a military lawyer for 33 years. I’ve been a defense attorney, a prosecutor, and a military judge. Mr. Trump, you don’t have to speak about everything, that’s not required.

(LAUGHTER)

I would make sure that everybody had a fair trial. Does that make sense to you?

(APPLAUSE)

We’re at war folks and this stuff has to stop. It’s bad for morale to hear somebody wanting to be Commander in Chief that would deny due process to somebody who’s been charged in the military. For God’s sakes Mr. Trump, you’re asking to be the Commander in Chief , the leader of the free world, up your game. As to women, if you want to kill terrorists, I’m your guy.

BLIZTER: Governor Huckabee? Governor Huckbee, ISIS demanded ransom before killing American hostages, James Foley and Kayla Mueller. Their families wanted to pay even though at the time the U.S. government discouraged them. Since then, U.S. policy has changed.

As president, would you support families of the approximately 30 Americans being held worldwide if they chose to pay ransom?

HUCKABEE: The horrors that those families have to go through, if that were my son, my daughter, I’d give my last drop of blood to get them back. You bet I would. Is it a good policy? No.

It’s a terrible policy because once we do it, we’re only going to invite more and more hostages, more and more ransoms, and the diasters gets even worse. But I don’t blame any of these families. You know who I blame? I blame a policy in our government that has made it so that families are so desperate that they’re willing to pay ransom to terrorists organizations because they don’t believe our government will fight the fight for them and they think they’re out there on their own.

My goodness people, this is America. When did we have to start telling people that you’ve got to bake your own bread in order to fight the battles? That’s what we have a government for, it’s what we pay taxes for. And I believe, those families ought to have a better expectation of what this government will do.

We should never has sat at the table with the Iranians as long Sayed Abadnini is sitting in an Iranian prison. As long as the Washington Post report is over there. Until the four hostages of America were on an airplane safely out of Tehran. We should’ve told them, ” we won’t even walk into the room with you much less sit down and negotiate with you.”

HUCKABEE: That’s what we ought to be doing.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

Governor Pataki, speaking of those four Americans being held in Iran right now. Iran has suggested they might be willing to have a prisoner swap, release Iranian prisoners held in the United States, in exchange for those four Americans.

Would you support that?

PATAKI: You know, again, it comes down to something that, as Mike said, breaks your heart. We clearly want to get them back. But the idea that by taking a journalist, for example, and holding him hostage in Iran, they’re going to be able to get some of their terrorist leaders back, is simply bad policy.

Israel has shown the way on this in rejecting hostage exchanges such as this and then not paying ransom.

But, by the way, Mike is absolutely right. We have to do more to protect our people overseas, but then we also have to do more to help our veterans when they come back here today.

We haven’t talked about that. But more talking about defeating terrorism, one of the things we have to do is give our veterans the support and help that they require. What has happened at the VA is a disgrace.

Give our veterans a medical card that they can use to get the best quality care anywhere, including outside of the VA system.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We have to take a quick break, but, Governor, Israel has exchanged a lot of the prisoners it was holding for Israeli soldiers who were being held by Hamas, for example.

PATAKI: And that — but that was involved in combat, where they were actually involved in a war against each other and exchanged prisoners. We have not been in a war with Iran. They have taken civilians as hostages. It’s a totally different situation. And we cannot encourage them to do any more of that. BLITZER: Thank you. Let’s take another quick break. The scramble, the scramble to protect Americans after ISIS attacks from the inside, does the country need to tighten its borders to prevent another San Bernardino slaughter?

Where the candidates stand, that’s next.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the Republican Presidential Debate here at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Gentlemen, in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, the Obama Administration policy of allowing Syrian refugees to come into the United States has come under fire.

Senator Santorum, you say accepting Syrian refugees is dangerous. You say it just takes one Jihadist to destroy the world.

Do you think there is any way to properly vet refugees coming into the United States?

SANTORUM: Of course there is a proper way to vet refugees coming into the United States. But not from the ISIS-controlled area or Syria. How can you do a background check? Where are you gonna go? Who are you going to call? Call Assad and say, hey, you know, tell me about this guy from Aleppo.

There’s no possibility in these — in these types of war-torn countries to adequately vet someone to allow them to come into this country. It’s impossible.

So you have a physical impossibility here. Secondly, we shouldn’t be taking people out of that region and move them here to the United States. And the reason we shouldn’t is very clear. If you talk to the clerical leaders and particularly those who are religious minorities, they don’t want their people to be relocated so they’re never gonna come back. And let me assure you, if they come to America, they’re not going to come back. They’re not gonna go back to those areas. So who stays? Those who cooperated with ISIS and maybe a few of the refugees who’s come back.

We need to have refugee camps in the region. We need to provide no-fly zones to make sure that don’t even need refugee camps so people can stay in the area. But the last thing we need to do is to relocate moderate Muslims, relocate minorities and Christians out of the region so they’re not going to return and reestablish a — a — a state that can be won, that can be cooperative for us and safe going forward.

BLITZER: Governor Pataki, you have said you wouldn’t accept a single Syrian refugee. What should become of them? PATAKI: You know, I think what I said earlier is that I would create a no-fly zone in Syria. Turkey just agreed to take 3 million more Syrian refugees. The EU just came up with a funding program to provide camps for Syrian refugees, but I would also create that no-fly zone where refugees can be there.

I have to say I agree with Rick, because this President is talking about taking 10,000 people from Syria, who we cannot vet. This administration, allegedly, vetted the woman who carried out the attacks in San Bernardino and never found out that she had a false address and was on social media talking about radical Jihad.

Coming from Syria, it’s impossible to do that check. And we know, by the way, that ISIS is using this refugee program to send terrorists to the West to engage in attacks. They have said that. That this is an opportunity for them to do that.

So, the answer is no. No Syrian refugees. Whether it’s the 10,000 Obama wants or the 60,000 that Hillary Clinton wants. Think about it, I was governor on September 11th. Those attacks were carried out by only 18 people. We take 60,000 Syrian refugees that we can’t vet. If one in 1,000, 1 in 1,000 is a terrorist, we would have 60 terrorists living amongst us looking to carry out attacks. We cannot let that happen.

BLITZER: Let’s go back to Dana Bash and Hugh Hewitt for more questions. Dana?

BASH: Governor Huckabee, the U.S. has a program that allows visitors from America’s closest allies to travel to the U.S. without obtaining a visa. But new legislation in Congress says that privilege should not apply to those who have visited is hot spots like Iraq and Syria in the last five years. You say that legislation doesn’t go far enough. Why?

HUCKABEE: We just need to take a real pause and all the people that coming here and we don’t know who they are or what their affiliations are. What George just said is right. We can’t take the risk. And why should we take the risk?

And if it’s such a doggone good idea to bring people here that we really don’t know who they are and Obama thinks that we’re being un- Christian to not do it, I’ve got a suggestion. Let’s send the first wave of them to Chappaqua, Martha’s Vineyard and the upper east side of Manhattan and to the south lawn of the White House where we’ll set up a camp.

Let’s see how that works out. And if they behave wonderfully, that’s fine. I want to say, I don’t want someone lecturing me about what it means to be a Christian that I should invite a potential terrorist into my backyard. On one hand, the left says separation of church and state. Let’s not have any discussion of religion, and then the left wants to tell me what it means to be a Christian.

HUCKABEE: They need to figure out if they know more about being a Christian than I do, then tell me. They are no longer going to say separation of church and state, but, we have the most fundamental right above everything else — is not to protect the reputation of Islam. It is to protect Americans first and foremost. That is our job.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Senator Graham, in 2013 you were part of the leadership that pushed through immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate of the United States. It died in the House. Many accused you of amnesty, and may have undermined your ability to get your message out on the war.

Would you sign that bill again today? Would you — sponsor that bill again today?

GRAHAM: Well, the first thing I would do is make adjustments to reality. I want to look and see if this was a terrorist arranged marriage between the couple in California. The fact that they met online accidentally is almost zero. So, no, I would have a time-out on Syrian refugees because you’d be crazy if you didn’t after Paris.

But, I’ve been to the refugee camps in Turkey, and Jordan. Trust me with your Christian — and I’m a lousy Christian saved by grace, but — this is important. We’ve got to stop this war. Do you realize that there are more Syrian refugees in Lebanon going to school than Lebanese children? Do you realize if this war goes for another year the King of Jordan could fall?

Let’s have a no-fly zone.

HEWITT: But, Senator, I misunderstand, did you…

GRAHAM: I would — make changes to that bill in light of what I know today.

HEWITT: Senator Santorum, is that sufficient for you?

SANTORUM: Lindsay says this is a real war, until it comes to immigration. And, then, all of a sudden it’s not such a real war. The reality is that we’ve seen since the events of 9/11, the president talks about how he’s worried about discrimination and acts against Muslims. There’s four times as many acts of violence against Jews than there are against Muslims. I never hear the president talk about that.

(APPLAUSE)

The reality is that under this president, since 9/11, this anti- Muslim United States of America has doubled the rate of Muslim immigration. Since 9/11.

(BELL RINGING)

That’s what we’ve done. So, the idea that we have an immigration system that is working…

HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.

SANTORUM: Is not — and, I’m out of time.

HEWITT: Yep. Governor Huckabee, you have said that children of immigrants who came here illegally should not be punished by their parents actions. As president, would you continue President Obama’s policy, vis-a-vis, the Dreamers?

HUCKABEE: No, because he did it unconstitutionally. Twenty-three times he’s said he couldn’t do it, and then one day he woke up and he found he had a pen in one hand, and a phone in another, and wow. That Constitution didn’t mean much anymore.

Look, President’s can’t just do what they want to do. That’s the purpose of getting elected and working with other people who got elected, is that our system was designed to function with the power of persuasion, it’s really what you elect a president to do.

HEWITT: Senator…

HUCKABEE: …Let me finish, Hugh. You elect him to lead which means that if you think it’s a good idea to not punish the children for something their parents did, then you go to the members of Congress and you persuade them. And, you persuade the American people.

You don’t just jump up and shove it up the nostrils of Congress, and the American people because you think you have a superior intellect, and a superior will, and a superior theology than everybody else. Our system is not a system of tyranny. We don’t elect kings, we elect servants.

If I’m elected president, I don’t consider myself to be elected to be the king of the country, but the servant of the country to work with other people who are elected to get things done that need to be done.

HEWITT: Senator Santorum, you…

(APPLAUSE)

…Your position on that policy, assuming that it was passed constitutionally, would you allow this, would you support such an act?

SANTORUM: Here’s the problem. I was with, in fact, one my guests here today is the Sheriff in Cochise County, down on the border in Arizona. And, he talked with me last night when I was with him about all of the children coming across. All of the children, why?

Because we’ve created a magnet. These children are not coming over, and in great shape, not coming over — and not in harms way, and — going through difficult times. We’re attracting people.

He’s also the Sheriff that caught Syrian’s at the border. We have through the policies supported by almost everybody in this field…

(BELL RINGING)

…A policy that says amnesty. The world hears this, and knows that if they can come across this border, by and large, they’re going to be able to stay. That has to change.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Gentlemen, standby, we are going to take another very quick break. Coming up, with America on edge, who has what it takes to be the next Commander in Chief? These candidates, they will make their case.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We’re live here at the Venetian Las Vegas.

Gentlemen, it’s time for your closing statements. Each candidate will have 30 seconds.

Senator graham, you’re first.

GRAHAM: The next president is going to be a war-time president, whether they like it or not. I’m ready for that job. Two years ago isolationism led by Senator Paul and Cruz was white hot in our party. Now it is in retreat because events have proven me more right than wrong and has proven them to be wrong.

In the first debate I called for American troops on the ground to protect our homeland. Nobody came forward. Now, most have. We’ve spent a lot of carnage to get them to where I have always been.

Make me president, I will keep you and your family safe.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

Governor Pataki.

PATAKI: Thank you. This debate has been about terrorism and appropriately so. I’m proud to have been governor of New York on September 11th and have led our state through and during the aftermath of that horrible attack.

I vowed then that if I ever had the chance to lead this country, I would do everything in my power to make sure that Americans were safe. But I also saw a positive from that. New Yorkers and the American people came together and vowed that we weren’t just going to defend ourselves.

We were not going to live in fear. We were going to rise to new heights and celebrate our freedom.

Come to Lower Manhattan today. You will see a magnificent tribute to those who died, the memorial and the museum. You will also see a new tower soaring 1,776 feet tall, the Freedom Tower, a symbol of our freedom, a symbol of our belief that as a free people we can soar to new heights.

Give us the chance to unite Americans, not just Republicans. And this country’s future is unlimited.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: Barack Obama has not kept this country safe. Hillary Clinton will not keep this country safe. We need to nominate someone who America knows will keep this country safe.

Ten years ago I put the sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program. Before that, I gave speech after speech, including to President Bush, to identify the enemy and call these radical Islamists who they are.

Ladies and gentlemen, this week ISIS put out a fatwa on disabled children and killed dozens of them because of their disability. Now, I am the father of a disabled child. I know and have known the face of evil. And I, if you give me the opportunity, will defeat it. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

Governor Huckabee.

HUCKABEE: The terrorists don’t win just because they kill us. The terrorists win when they make us change everything we do in our daily lives and alter our routines. And they’re doing that, from getting on a plane to going in a building.

And it is high time that we recognize that we have to take them out, not a little bit, but totally, because I want my grandkids to grow up not in fear, but in faith and in freedom.

And if you give me the opportunity to be president of the United States, I will fight for your grandkids as much as I will for mine.

Thank you and God bless you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you. Thanks to all of the candidates for a very important discussion on critically important issues.

This debate night is just getting started here at the Venetian Las Vegas. The top nine candidates, they are standing by for their turn on this stage in just a little while. I’ll be back as the moderator.

Right now, let’s go to my colleague, Anderson Cooper.

(APPLAUSE)

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 October 13, 2015: CNN Democratic Presidential Debate Transcript Hillary Clinton Wins

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Transcript: Read the Full Text of the Primetime Democratic Debate

Source: Time, 10-13-15 

The Democratic presidential candidates met in Las Vegas for a primetime debate on CNN.

At the debate were former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

The moderators were CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon, political correspondent Dana Bash and CNN en Espanol anchor Juan Carlos Lopez.

Here is a full transcript of what they said, courtesy of CNN.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening everyone. We are live at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas for the CNN/Facebook Democratic Presidential Debate. Welcome.

(APPLAUSE)

The five major candidates are about to face off for the first time in a primary race that is a lot more competitive than many people had expected.

Welcome. I’m Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us. We’re just seconds away from introducing the candidates to viewers in the United States and watching right now around the world.

This debate is airing on CNN, CNN en Espanol, and CNN International. It’s also being broadcast on the Westwood One Radio Network. I’ll be the moderator tonight. I’ll also be joined in the questioning by my CNN colleagues, our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; CNN en Espanol anchor Juan Carlos Lopez, and CNN anchor Don Lemon who will share questions from Democrats nationwide.

We’ve teamed up with Facebook to send a campaign camper around the country for the past three weeks. Thousands of people stepped inside to record their questions for the candidates on video. Millions more have weighed in on Facebook. Now it’s time to meet the candidates.

Joining us on stage, please welcome former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

(APPLAUSE)

And former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Democratic candidates for president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, everybody, please rise for our national anthem, performed by nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Sheryl Crow.

(SINGING)

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: I want to thank Sheryl Crow. The candidates are here. The crowd is certainly ready. The first Democratic debate will begin right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There is certainly a lot of excitement in this room tonight, and no doubt around the country. We are back in the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas in the presidential battleground state of Nevada for the first Democratic debate of the 2016 campaign.

I’m Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us. We’ve already welcomed the candidates on stage. They are in place at their podiums. Before we dive into the issues, I want to quickly explain some of the groundrules tonight.

As the moderator, I’ll ask questions, followups and guide the discussion. I’ll be joined in the questioning by CNN’s Juan Carlos Lopez and Dana Bash, a well as Don Lemon who will share questions from Democrats around the country. Each candidate will get one minute to answer questions, and 30 seconds for followups and rebuttals. I’ll give candidates time to respond if they have been singled out for criticism.

Our viewers should know that we have lights that are visible to the candidates to warn them when their time is up.

I want the candidates to be able to introduce themselves to our audience. Each candidate will have two minutes to introduce themselves.

Let’s begin with Governor Chafee.

Governor?

FORMER GOV. LINCOLN CHAFEE, D-R.I.: Thank you, Anderson.

Thank you, CNN, and thank you Facebook for organizing this debate.

Not only will Americans be electing a new president next year, we also will be electing a world leader. Voters should assess the candidate’s experience, character and vision for the future as they make this important decision.

I’m the only one running for president that has been a mayor, a United States senator, and a governor. As mayor, I brought labor peace to my city and kept taxes down. I was reelected three times. As a senator, I earned a reputation for courageous votes against the Bush-Cheney tax cuts the favored the wealthy, against the tragedy of the Iraq war, for environmental stewardship, for protection of our civil liberties. I served on the Foreign Relations Committee and I chaired the Middle East Subcommittee for four years.

As governor, I came in at the depths of the recession and we turned my state around. Rhode Island had the biggest drop of the unemployment rate over my four budgets of all but one state. It happens to be Nevada, where we’re having this debate. I’m very proud that over my almost 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals. I’ve always been honest. I have the courage to take the long-term view, and I’ve shown good judgment. I have high ethical standards.

As we look to the future, I want to address the income inequality, close the gap between the haves and the have-nots. I want to address climate change, a real threat to our planet. And I believe in prosperity through peace. I want to end these wars.

I look forward to the discussion ahead.

Thank you (APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Thank you very much, Governor.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Webb, you have two minutes.

FORMER SEN. JIM WEBB, D-VA.: Thank you.

You know, people are disgusted with the way that money has corrupted our political process, intimidating incumbents and empowering Wall Street every day, the turnstile government that we see, and also the power of the financial sector in both parties.

WEBB: They’re looking for a leader who understands how the system works, who has not been coopted by it, and also has a proven record of accomplishing different things. I have a record of working across the political aisle. I’ve also spent more than half of my professional life away from politics in the independent world of being an author, a journalist, and a sole proprietor.

In government service, I’ve fought and bled for our country in Vietnam as a Marine. I spent years as Assistant Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Navy — in the Reagan administration.

In the senate, I spoke about economic fairness and social justice from day one. I also wrote and passed the best piece of veterans education legislation in history, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. I brought criminal justice reform out of the political shadows and into the national discussion. I led what later became called the Strategic Pivot to Asia two years before President Obama was elected.

I know where my loyalties are.

My mother grew up in the poverty of east Arkansas chopping cotton, picking strawberries. Three of her seven siblings died in childhood. My wife, Hong, came to this country as a refugee from war torn Vietnam — learned English, a language that was not spoken at home, and earned her way into Cornell Law School. I have five daughters. Amy works with disabled veterans, Sarah is an emergency room nurse, Julia is a massage therapist, Emily and Georgia are still in school. My son Jim fought as an infantry Marine on the bloody streets of Ramadi.

You may be sure that in a Webb administration, the highest priority will be the working people who every day go out and make this country stronger at home, and who give us the right reputation and security overseas under a common sense foreign policy.

(CHEERING) (APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, you have two minutes.

FORMER GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY, D-MD.: My name is Martin O’Malley, former Mayor of Baltimore, former governor of Maryland, a life long democrat, and most importantly, a husband, and a father.

My wife Katie and I have four great kids, Grace, and Tara, and William and Jack. And, like you, there is nothing we wouldn’t do to give them healthier and better lives. There are some things that I have learned to do better in life than others. And, after 15 years of executive experience, I have learned how to be an effective leader.

Whether it was raising the minimum wage, making our public schools the best in America, passing marriage equality, the DREAM Act, and comprehensive gun safety legislation, I have learned how to get things done because I am very clear about my principals.

Thanks to President Obama, our country has come a long way since the Wall Street crash of 2008. Our country’s doing better, we are creating jobs again. But we elected a president, not a magician, and there is urgent work that needs to be done right now. For there is a — deep injustice, an economic injustice that threatens to tear our country apart, and it will not solve itself. Injustice does not solve itself.

What I’m talking about is this, our middle class is shrinking. Our poor families are becoming poorer, and 70 percent of us are earning the same, or less than we were 12 years ago. We need new leadership, and we need action. The sort of action that will actually make wages go up again for all American families.

Our economy isn’t money, it’s people. It’s all of our people, and so we must invest in our country, and the potential of our kids to make college a debt free option for all of our families, instead of settling our kids with a lifetime of crushing debt.

And, we must square our shoulders to the great challenge of climate change and make this threat our opportunity. The future is what we make of it. We are all in this together. And, the question in this election is whether you and I still have the ability to give our kids a better future. I believe we do, that is why I am running for president, and I need your help.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, thank you very much. Senator Sanders.

SEN. BERNARD SANDERS, I-VT.: Anderson, thank you very much. I think most Americans understand that our country today faces a series of unprecedented crises. The middle class of this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing. Millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, and yet almost all of the new income and wealth being created is going to the top one percent.

As a result of this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, our campaign finance system is corrupt and is undermining American democracy. Millionaires and billionaires are pouring unbelievable sums of money into the political process in order to fund super PACs and to elect candidates who represent their interests, not the interests of working people.

Today, the scientific community is virtually unanimous: climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and we have a moral responsibility to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and leave this planet a habitable planet for our children and our grandchildren.

Today in America, we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth. African-American youth unemployment is 51 percent. Hispanic youth unemployment is 36 percent. It seems to me that instead of building more jails and providing more incarceration, maybe — just maybe — we should be putting money into education and jobs for our kids.

(APPLAUSE)

What this campaign is about is whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires and create the vibrant democracy we know we can and should have. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton?

FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, thank you, and thanks to everyone for hosting this first of the Democratic debates.

I’m Hillary Clinton. I have been proud and privileged to serve as first lady, as a senator from New York, and as secretary of state. I’m the granddaughter of a factory worker and the grandmother of a wonderful one-year-old child. And every day, I think about what we need to do to make sure that opportunity is available not just for her, but for all of our children. I have spent a very long time — my entire adult life — looking for ways to even the odds to help people have a chance to get ahead, and, in particular, to find the ways for each child to live up to his or her God-given potential.

I’ve traveled across our country over the last months listening and learning, and I’ve put forward specific plans about how we’re going to create more good-paying jobs: by investing in infrastructure and clean energy, by making it possible once again to invest in science and research, and taking the opportunity posed by climate change to grow our economy.

At the center of my campaign is how we’re going to raise wages. Yes, of course, raise the minimum wage, but we have to do so much more, including finding ways so that companies share profits with the workers who helped to make them.

And then we have to figure out how we’re going to make the tax system a fairer one. Right now, the wealthy pay too little and the middle class pays too much. So I have specific recommendations about how we’re going to close those loopholes, make it clear that the wealthy will have to pay their fair share, and have a series of tax cuts for middle-class families.

And I want to do more to help us balance family and work. I believe in equal pay for equal work for women, but I also believe it’s about time we had paid family leave for American families and join the rest of the world.

(APPLAUSE)

During the course of the evening tonight, I’ll have a chance to lay out all of my plans and the work that I’ve done behind them. But for me, this is about bringing our country together again. And I will do everything I can to heal the divides — the divides economically, because there’s too much inequality; the racial divides; the continuing discrimination against the LGBT community — so that we work together and, yes, finally, fathers will be able to say to their daughters, you, too, can grow up to be president.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Thank you, all. It is time to start the debate.

Are you all ready?

(APPLAUSE)

All right. Let’s begin. We’re going to be discussing a lot of the issues, many of the issues, important issues that you have brought up. But I want to begin with concerns that voters have about each of the candidates here on this stage that they have about each of you.

Secretary Clinton, I want to start with you. Plenty of politicians evolve on issues, but even some Democrats believe you change your positions based on political expediency.

You were against same-sex marriage. Now you’re for it. You defended President Obama’s immigration policies. Now you say they’re too harsh. You supported his trade deal dozen of times. You even called it the “gold standard”. Now, suddenly, last week, you’re against it.

Will you say anything to get elected?

CLINTON: Well, actually, I have been very consistent. Over the course of my entire life, I have always fought for the same values and principles, but, like most human beings — including those of us who run for office — I do absorb new information. I do look at what’s happening in the world.

You know, taker the trade deal. I did say, when I was secretary of state, three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn’t meet my standards. My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans.

And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, “this will help raise your wages.” And I concluded I could not.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, though, with all due respect, the question is really about political expediency. Just in July, New Hampshire, you told the crowd you’d, quote, “take a back seat to no one when it comes to progressive values.”

Last month in Ohio, you said you plead guilty to, quote, “being kind of moderate and center.” Do you change your political identity based on who you’re talking to? CLINTON: No. I think that, like most people that I know, I have a range of views, but they are rooted in my values and my experience. And I don’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to progressive experience and progressive commitment.

You know, when I left law school, my first job was with the Children’s Defense Fund, and for all the years since, I have been focused on how we’re going to un-stack the deck, and how we’re going to make it possible for more people to have the experience I had.

You know, to be able to come from a grandfather who was a factory worker, a father who was a small business person, and now asking the people of America to elect me president.

COOPER: Just for the record, are you a progressive, or are you a moderate?

CLINTON: I’m a progressive. But I’m a progressive who likes to get things done. And I know…

(APPLAUSE)

…how to find common ground, and I know how to stand my ground, and I have proved that in every position that I’ve had, even dealing with Republicans who never had a good word to say about me, honestly. But we found ways to work together on everything from…

COOPER: Secretary…

CLINTON: …reforming foster care and adoption to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which insures…

COOPER: …thank you…

CLINTON: …8 million kids. So I have a long history of getting things done, rooted in the same values…

COOPER: …Senator…

CLINTON: …I’ve always had.

COOPER: Senator Sanders. A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?

SANDERS: Well, we’re going to win because first, we’re going to explain what democratic socialism is.

And what democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent — almost — own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent.

That when you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States. You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we’re not going to separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have — we are going to have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth.

Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Denmark is a country that has a population — Denmark is a country that has a population of 5.6 million people. The question is really about electability here, and that’s what I’m trying to get at.

You — the — the Republican attack ad against you in a general election — it writes itself. You supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. You honeymooned in the Soviet Union. And just this weekend, you said you’re not a capitalist.

Doesn’t — doesn’t that ad write itself?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, let’s look at the facts. The facts that are very simple. Republicans win when there is a low voter turnout, and that is what happened last November.

Sixty-three percent of the American people didn’t vote, Anderson. Eighty percent of young people didn’t vote. We are bringing out huge turnouts, and creating excitement all over this country.

Democrats at the White House on down will win, when there is excitement and a large voter turnout, and that is what this campaign is doing.

COOPER: You don’t consider yourself a capitalist, though?

SANDERS: Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don’t.

I believe in a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Just let me just be clear. Is there anybody else on the stage who is not a capitalist?

CLINTON: Well, let me just follow-up on that, Anderson, because when I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.

And I don’t think we should confuse what we have to do every so often in America, which is save capitalism from itself. And I think what Senator Sanders is saying certainly makes sense in the terms of the inequality that we have.

But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America. And it’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn’t run amok and doesn’t cause the kind of inequities we’re seeing in our economic system.

But we would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history…

COOPER: Senator Sanders?

CLINTON: … of the world.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I think everybody is in agreement that we are a great entrepreneurial nation. We have got to encourage that. Of course, we have to support small and medium-sized businesses.

But you can have all of the growth that you want and it doesn’t mean anything if all of the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. So what we need to do is support small and medium-sized businesses, the backbone of our economy, but we have to make sure that every family in this country gets a fair shake…

COOPER: We’re going to get…

SANDERS: … not just for billionaires.

COOPER: We’re going to have a lot more on these issues. But I do want to just quickly get everybody in on the question of electability.

Governor Chafee, you’ve been everything but a socialist. When you were senator from Rhode Island, you were a Republican. When you were elected governor, you were an independent. You’ve only been a Democrat for little more than two years. Why should Democratic voters trust you won’t change again?

CHAFEE: Anderson, you’re looking at a block of granite when it comes to the issues. Whether it’s…

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It seems like pretty soft granite. I mean, you’ve been a Republican, you’ve been an independent.

CHAFEE: Did you hear what I said? On the issues. I have not changed on the issues. I was a liberal Republican, then I was an independent, and now I’m a proud Democrat. But I have not changed on the issues.

And I open my record to scrutiny. Whether it’s on the environment, a woman’s right to choose, gay marriage, fiscal responsibility, aversion to foreign entanglements, using the tools of government to help the less fortunate.

Time and time again, I have never changed. You’re looking at a block of granite when it comes to the issues. So I have not changed.

COOPER: Then why change labels?

CHAFEE: The party left me. There’s no doubt about that. There was no room for a liberal moderate Republican in that party. I even had a primary for my reelection in 2006. I won it. But the money poured in to defeat me in Rhode Island as a Republican. That’s what we were up against.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, the concern of voters about you is that you tout our record as Baltimore’s mayor. As we all know, we all saw it. That city exploded in riots and violence in April.

The current top prosecutor in Baltimore, also a Democrat, blames your zero tolerance policies for sowing the seeds of unrest. Why should Americans trust you with the country when they see what’s going on in the city that you ran for more than seven years?

O’MALLEY: Yes, actually, I believe what she said was that there’s a lot of policies that have led to this unrest.

But, Anderson, when I ran for mayor of Baltimore in 1999…

COOPER: She actually — just for the record, when she was asked which policies, to name two, she said zero tolerance. I mean, there’s a number of old policies that we’re seeing the results of. That distress of communities, where communities don’t want to step forward and say who killed a 3-year-old, it’s a direct result of these failed policies.

O’MALLEY: Well, let’s talk about this a little bit. One of the things that was not reported during that heartbreaking night of unrest in Baltimore was that arrests had actually fallen to a 38-year low in the year prior to the Freddie Gray’s tragic death.

Anderson, when I ran for mayor of Baltimore back in 1999, it was not because our city was doing well. It was because we allowed ourselves to become the most violent, addicted, and abandoned city in America.

And I ran and promised people that together we could turn that around. And we put our city on a path to reduce violent crime, or part one (ph) crime by more than any other major city in America over the next 10 years.

I did not make our city immune to setbacks. But I attended a lot of funerals, including one for a family of seven who were firebombed in their sleep for picking up the phone in a poor African-American neighborhood and calling the police because of drug dealers on their corner.

We’ve saved over a thousand lives in Baltimore in the last 15 years of people working together. And the vast majority of them were young and poor and black. It wasn’t easy on any day. But we saved lives and we gave our city a better future, improving police and community relations every single day that I was in office.

COOPER: In one year alone, though, 100,000 arrests were made in your city, a city of 640,000 people. The ACLU, the NAACP sued you, sued the city, and the city actually settled, saying a lot of those arrests were without probable cause.

O’MALLEY: Well, I think the key word in your followup there was the word “settle.” That’s true. It was settled. Arrests peaked in 2003, Anderson, but they declined every year after that as we restored peace in our poorer neighborhoods so that people could actually walk and not have to worry about their kids or their loved ones of being victims of violent crime.

Look, none of this is easy. None of us has all the answers. But together as a city, we saved a lot of lives. It was about leadership. It was about principle. And it was about bringing people together.

COOPER: Thank you, Governor.

O’MALLEY: Thank you. COOPER: Senator Webb, in 2006, you called affirmative action “state-sponsored racism.” In 2010, you wrote an op/ed saying it discriminates against whites. Given that nearly half the Democratic Party is non-white, aren’t you out of step with where the Democratic Party is now?

WEBB: No, actually I believe that I am where the Democratic Party traditionally has been. The Democratic Party, and the reason I’ve decided to run as a Democrat, has been the party that gives people who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power a voice. And that is not determined by race.

And as a clarification, I have always supported affirmative action for African Americans. That’s the way the program was originally designed because of their unique history in this country, with slavery and the Jim Crow laws that followed. What I have discussed a number of times is the idea that when we create diversity programs that include everyone, quote, “of color,” other than whites, struggling whites like the families in the Appalachian mountains, we’re not being true to the Democratic Party principle of elevating the level of consciousness among our people about the hardships that a lot of people who happen to be have — by culture, by the way.

COOPER: Senator Webb, thank you very much.

Let’s move on to some of the most pressing issues facing our country right now, some of the biggest issues right now in the headlines today. We’re going to start with guns. The shooting in Oregon earlier this month, once again it brought the issue of guns into the national conversation. Over the last week, guns have been the most discussed political topic on Facebook by two to one.

Senator Sanders, you voted against the Brady bill that mandated background checks and a waiting period. You also supported allowing riders to bring guns in checked bags on Amtrak trains. For a decade, you said that holding gun manufacturers legally responsible for mass shootings is a bad idea. Now, you say you’re reconsidering that. Which is it: shield the gun companies from lawsuits or not?

SANDERS: Let’s begin, Anderson, by understanding that Bernie Sanders has a D-minus voting rating (ph) from the NRA. Let’s also understand that back in 1988 when I first ran for the United States Congress, way back then, I told the gun owners of the state of Vermont and I told the people of the state of Vermont, a state which has virtually no gun control, that I supported a ban on assault weapons. And over the years, I have strongly avoided instant background checks, doing away with this terrible gun show loophole. And I think we’ve got to move aggressively at the federal level in dealing with the straw man purchasers.

Also I believe, and I’ve fought for, to understand that there are thousands of people in this country today who are suicidal, who are homicidal, but can’t get the healthcare that they need, the mental healthcare, because they don’t have insurance or they’re too poor. I believe that everybody in this country who has a mental crisis has got to get mental health counseling immediately. COOPER: Do you want to shield gun companies from lawsuits?

SANDERS: Of course not. This was a large and complicated bill. There were provisions in it that I think made sense. For example, do I think that a gun shop in the state of Vermont that sells legally a gun to somebody, and that somebody goes out and does something crazy, that that gun shop owner should be held responsible? I don’t.

On the other hand, where you have manufacturers and where you have gun shops knowingly giving guns to criminals or aiding and abetting that, of course we should take action.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, is Bernie Sanders tough enough on guns?

CLINTON: No, not at all. I think that we have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day from gun violence. This has gone on too long and it’s time the entire country stood up against the NRA. The majority of our country…

(APPLAUSE)

… supports background checks, and even the majority of gun owners do.

Senator Sanders did vote five times against the Brady bill. Since it was passed, more than 2 million prohibited purchases have been prevented. He also did vote, as he said, for this immunity provision. I voted against it. I was in the Senate at the same time. It wasn’t that complicated to me. It was pretty straightforward to me that he was going to give immunity to the only industry in America. Everybody else has to be accountable, but not the gun manufacturers. And we need to stand up and say: Enough of that. We’re not going to let it continue.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: We’re going to bring you all in on this. But, Senator Sanders, you have to give a response.

SANDERS: As a senator from a rural state, what I can tell Secretary Clinton, that all the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence that we are seeing.

I believe that there is a consensus in this country. A consensus has said we need to strengthen and expand instant background checks, do away with this gun show loophole, that we have to address the issue of mental health, that we have to deal with the strawman purchasing issue, and that when we develop that consensus, we can finally, finally do something to address this issue.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, you passed gun legislation as governor of Maryland, but you had a Democratic-controlled legislature. President Obama couldn’t convince Congress to pass gun legislation after the massacres in Aurora, in Newtown, and Charleston. How can you?

O’MALLEY: And, Anderson, I also had to overcome a lot of opposition in the leadership of my own party to get this done. Look, it’s fine to talk about all of these things — and I’m glad we’re talking about these things — but I’ve actually done them.

We passed comprehensive gun safety legislation, not by looking at the pollings or looking at what the polls said. We actually did it. And, Anderson, here tonight in our audience are two people that make this issue very, very real. Sandy and Lonnie Phillips are here from Colorado. And their daughter, Jessie, was one of those who lost their lives in that awful mass shooting in Aurora.

Now, to try to transform their grief, they went to court, where sometimes progress does happen when you file in court, but in this case, you want to talk about a — a rigged game, Senator? The game was rigged. A man had sold 4,000 rounds of military ammunition to this — this person that killed their daughter, riddled her body with five bullets, and he didn’t even ask where it was going.

And not only did their case get thrown out of court, they were slapped with $200,000 in court fees because of the way that the NRA gets its way in our Congress and we take a backseat. It’s time to stand up and pass comprehensive gun safety legislation as a nation.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want you to be able to respond, 30 seconds.

SANDERS: I think the governor gave a very good example about the weaknesses in that law and I think we have to take another look at it. But here is the point, Governor. We can raise our voices, but I come from a rural state, and the views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states, whether we like it or not.

Our job is to bring people together around strong, commonsense gun legislation. I think there is a vast majority in this country who want to do the right thing, and I intend to lead the country in bringing our people together.

O’MALLEY: Senator — Senator, excuse me.

(CROSSTALK)

O’MALLEY: Senator, it is not about rural — Senator, it was not about rural and urban.

SANDERS: It’s exactly about rural.

O’MALLEY: Have you ever been to the Eastern Shore? Have you ever been to Western Maryland? We were able to pass this and still respect the hunting traditions of people who live in our rural areas.

SANDERS: Governor…

O’MALLEY: And we did it by leading with principle, not by pandering to the NRA and backing down to the NRA.

SANDERS: Well, as somebody who has a D-minus voting record…

(CROSSTALK)

O’MALLEY: And I have an F from the NRA, Senator.

SANDERS: I don’t think I am pandering. But you have not been in the United States Congress.

O’MALLEY: Well, maybe that’s a healthy thing.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: And when you want to, check it out. And if you think — if you think that we can simply go forward and pass something tomorrow without bringing people together, you are sorely mistaken.

COOPER: Let me bring in somebody who has a different viewpoint. Senator Webb, your rating from the NRA, you once had an A rating from the NRA. You’ve said gun violence goes down when more people are allowed to carry guns. Would encouraging more people to be armed be part of your response to a mass shooting?

WEBB: Look, there are two fundamental issues that are involved in this discussion. We need to pay respect to both of them. The first is the issue of who should be kept from having guns and using firearms. And we have done not a good job on that.

A lot of them are criminals. And a lot of the people are getting killed are members of gangs inside our urban areas. And a lot of them are mentally incapacitated. And the shooting in Virginia Tech in ’07, this individual had received medical care for mental illness from three different professionals who were not allowed to share the information.

So we do need background checks. We need to keep the people who should not have guns away from them. But we have to respect the tradition in this country of people who want to defend themselves and their family from violence.

COOPER: Senator…

WEBB: May I? People are going back and forth here for 10 minutes here. There are people at high levels in this government who have bodyguards 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The average American does not have that, and deserves the right to be able to protect their family.

COOPER: Senator — Governor Chafee, you have an F rating from the NRA, what do you think about what Senator Webb just said?

CHAFEE: Yes, I have a good record of voting for gun commonsense safety legislation, but the reality is, despite these tragedies that happen time and time again, when legislators step up to pass commonsense gun safety legislation, the gun lobby moves in and tells the people they’re coming to take away your guns.

And, they’re successful at it, in Colorado and others states, the legislators that vote for commonsense gun safety measures then get defeated. I even saw in Rhode Island. So, I would bring the gun lobby in and say we’ve got to change this. Where can we find common ground? Wayne Lapierre from the NRA, whoever it is, the leaders. Come one, we’ve go to change this. We’re not coming to take away your guns, we believe in the Second Amendment, but let’s find common ground here.

COOPER: I want to…

O’MALLEY: …Anderson, when the NRA wrote to everyone in our state — when the NRA wrote to members in our state and told people with hunting traditions lies about what our comprehensive gun safety legislation is, I wrote right back to them and laid out what it actually did. And that’s why, not only did we pass it, but the NRA didn’t…

SANDERS: …Excuse me…

O’MALLEY: …dare to petition a referendum…

SANDERS: …I want to make…

O’MALLEY: …Because we built a public consensus… COOPER: …I want to move on to another issue, which is in the headlines right now, another crisis making headlines.

Secretary Clinton, Russia, they’re challenging the U.S. in Syria. According to U.S. intelligence, they’ve lied about who they’re bombing. You spearheaded the reset with Russia. Did you underestimate the Russians, and as president, what would your response to Vladimir Putin be right now in Syria?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, we got a lot of business done with the Russians when Medvedev was the president, and not Putin. We got a nuclear arms deal, we got the Iranian sanctions, we got an ability to bring important material and equipment to our soldiers in Afghanistan.

There’s no doubt that when Putin came back in and said he was going to be President, that did change the relationship. We have to stand up to his bullying, and specifically in Syria, it is important — and I applaud the administration because they are engaged in talks right now with the Russians to make it clear that they’ve got to be part of the solution to try to end that bloody conflict.

And, to — provide safe zones so that people are not going to have to be flooding out of Syria at the rate they are. And, I think it’s important too that the United States make it very clear to Putin that it’s not acceptable for him to be in Syria creating more chaos, bombing people on behalf of Assad, and we can’t do that if we don’t take more of a leadership position, which is what I’m advocating.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, what would you do differently.

SANDERS: Well, let’s understand that when we talk about Syria, you’re talking about a quagmire in a quagmire. You’re talking about groups of people trying to overthrow Assad, other groups of people fighting ISIS. You’re talking about people who are fighting ISIS using their guns to overthrow Assad, and vice versa.

I’m the former chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, and in that capacity I learned a very powerful lesson about the cost of war, and I will do everything that I can to make sure that the United States does not get involved in another quagmire like we did in Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country. We should be putting together a coalition of Arab countries who should be leading the effort. We should be supportive, but I do not support American ground troops in Syria.

COOPER: On this issue of foreign policy, I want to go to…

CLINTON: …Well, nobody does. Nobody does, Senator Sanders.

COOPER: I want to go to Dana Bash. Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Governor Chafee, you were the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war. You say Secretary Clinton should be disqualified from the presidency because she voted in favor of using force in Iraq. She has since said that her vote was a mistake. Why isn’t that good enough? CHAFEE: Well, we just heard Senator Sanders say that it’s the worst decision in American history. That’s very significant, the worst decision in American history, I just heard from Senator Sanders.

So, as we look ahead, if you’re going to make those poor judgment calls, a critical time in our history, we just finished with the Vietnam era, getting back into another quagmire — if you’re looking ahead, and you’re looking at someone who made that poor decision in 2002 to go into Iraq when there was no real evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — I know because I did my homework, and, so, that’s an indication of how someone will perform in the future. And that’s what’s important.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Secretary Clinton, he’s questioning your judgment.

CLINTON: Well, I recall very well being on a debate stage, I think, about 25 times with then Senator Obama, debating this very issue. After the election, he asked me to become Secretary of State.

He valued my judgment, and I spent a lot of time with him…

(APPLAUSE)

…in the Situation Room, going over some very difficult issues.

You know, I — I agree completely. We don’t want American troops on the ground in Syria. I never said that. What I said was we had to put together a coalition — in fact, something that I worked on before I left the State Department — to do, and yes, that it should include Arabs, people in the region.

Because what I worry about is what will happen with ISIS gaining more territory, having more reach, and, frankly, posing a threat to our friends and neighbors in the region and far beyond.

So I think while you’re talking about the tough decision that President Obama had to make about Osama bin Laden, where I was one of his few advisers, or putting together that coalition to impose sanctions on Iran — I think I have a lot of evidence…

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Senator Sanders — Senator Sanders, I want to bring you in here. My question for you is, as a congressman, you voted against the Iraq War. You voted against the Gulf War. You’re just talking about Syria, but under what circumstances would a President Sanders actually use force?

SANDERS: Let me just respond to something the secretary said. First of all, she is talking about, as I understand it, a no-fly zone in Syria, which I think is a very dangerous situation. Could lead to real problems.

Second of all, I heard the same evidence from President Bush and Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld about why we should overthrow Saddam Hussein and get involved in the — I would urge people to go to berniesanders.com, hear what I said in 2002. And I say, without any joy in my heart, that much of what I thought would happen about the destabilization, in fact, did happen.

So I think… BASH: All right.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I think the president is trying very hard to thread a tough needle here, and that is to support those people who are against Assad, against ISIS, without getting us on the ground there, and that’s the direction I believe we should have (inaudible).

COOPER: But, Senator Sanders, you didn’t answer the question. Under what — under what circumstances would you actually use force?

SANDERS: Well, obviously, I voted, when President Clinton said, “let’s stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo,” I voted for that. I voted to make sure that Osama bin Laden was held accountable in Afghanistan.

When our country is threatened, or when our allies are threatened, I believe that we need coalitions to come together to address the major crises of this country. I do not support the United States getting involved in unilateral action.

(UNKNOWN): You’re at work with our allies.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I’m gonna bring you all in on this. Governor — Governor O’Malley, Secretary Clinton…

SANDERS: I don’t believe that any…

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton voted to authorize military force in Iraq, supported more troops in Afghanistan. As Secretary of State, she wanted to arm Syrian rebels and push for the bombing of Libya. Is she too quick to use military force?

O’MALLEY: Anderson, no president — no commander in chief — should take the military option off the table, even if most of us would agree that it should be the last option.

What disturbed people so much about — and I would agree with Senator Sanders on this — leading us into Iraq under false pretenses and telling us, as a people, that there were weapons of mass destruction there was — was one of the worst blunders in modern American history.

But the reason why people remain angry about it is because people feel like a lot of our legislators got railroaded in a war fever and by polls. And I remember being at a dinner shortly before that invasion. People were talking at — and saying, “it’ll take us just a couple years to rebuild democracy,” and I thought, “has this world gone mad?”

Whenever we go — and contrary to John Quincy Adams’ advice — “searching the world for monsters to destroy,” and when we use political might to take a — at the expense of democratic principle, we hurt ourselves, and we hurt our (inaudible).

COOPER: Does she — does she want to use military force too rapidly?

O’MALLEY: I believe that, as president, I would not be so quick to pull for a military tool. I believe that a no-fly zone in Syria, at this time, actually, Secretary, would be a mistake.

You have to enforce no-fly zones, and I believe, especially with the Russian air force in the air, it could lead to an escalation because of an accident that we would deeply regret.

I support President Obama. I think we have to play a long game, and I think, ultimately — you want to talk about blunders? I think Assad’s invasion of Syria will be seen as a blunder.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, just for the record, on the campaign trail, you’ve been saying that Secretary Clinton is always quick for the — for the military intervention. Senator — Secretary Clinton, you can respond.

CLINTON: Well, first of all, I…

WEBB: Anderson, can I come into this discussion at some point?

COOPER: Well — yes, you’ll be coming in next, but she was directly quoted, Senator.

WEBB: Thank you. I’ve been standing over here for about ten minutes, trying.

COOPER: OK.

WEBB: It’s just — it’s gone back and forth over there.

COOPER: Secretary?

CLINTON: Well, I am in the middle, here, and…

(LAUGHTER)

Lots of things coming from all directions.

WEBB: You got the lucky (inaudible).

CLINTON: You know, I have to say, I was very pleased when Governor O’Malley endorsed me for president in 2008, and I enjoyed his strong support in that campaign. And I consider him, obviously, a friend.

Let me say — because there’s a lot of loose talk going on here — we are already flying in Syria just as we are flying in Iraq. The president has made a very tough decision. What I believe and why I have advocated that the no-fly zone — which of course would be in a coalition — be put on the table is because I’m trying to figure out what leverage we have to get Russia to the table. You know, diplomacy is not about getting to the perfect solution. It’s about how you balance the risks.

COOPER: Thank you.

CLINTON: And I think we have an opportunity here — and I know that inside the administration this is being hotly debated — to get that leverage to try to get the Russians to have to deal with everybody in the region and begin to move toward a political, diplomatic solution in Syria.

COOPER: Thank you, Secretary.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Senator Webb, you said as president you would never have used military force in Libya and that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was, in your words, “inevitable.” Should Secretary Clinton have seen that attack coming?

WEBB: Look, let’s start — I’ve been trying to get in this conversation for about 10 minutes — let’s start with why Russia is in Syria right now. There are three strategic failings that have allowed this to occur. The first was the invasion of Iraq, which destabilized ethnic elements in Iraq and empowered Iran. The second was the Arab Spring, which created huge vacuums in Libya and in Syria that allowed terrorist movements to move in there. And the third was the recent deal allowing Iran to move forward and eventually acquire a nuclear weapon, which sent bad signals, bad body language into the region about whether we are acquiescing in Iran becoming a stronger piece of the formula in that part of the world.

Now, I say this as someone who spent five years in the Pentagon and who opposed the war in Iraq, whose son fought in Iraq, I’ve fought in Vietnam. But if you want a place where we need to be in terms of our national strategy, a focus, the greatest strategic threat that we have right now is resolving our relationship with China. And we need to do this because of their aggression in the region. We need to do it because of the way they treat their own people.

COOPER: Senator…

WEBB: And I would say this. I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes. I will say this.

COOPER: You’re over your time as of now.

WEBB: I will — well, you’ve let a lot of people go over their time. I would say this…

COOPER: You agreed to these debate rules.

WEBB: … to the unelected, authoritarian government of China: You do not own the South China Sea. You do not have the right to conduct cyber warfare against tens of millions of American citizens. And in a Webb administration, we will do something about that.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want you to be able to respond. SANDERS: Pardon me?

COOPER: I’d like you to be able to respond and get in on this.

SANDERS: Well, I think Mr. Putin is going to regret what he is doing. I think that when he gets into that…

COOPER: He doesn’t seem to be the type of guy to regret a lot.

SANDERS: Well, I think he’s already regretting what he did in Crimea and what he is doing in the Ukraine. I think he is really regretting the decline of his economy. And I think what he is trying to do now is save some face. But I think when Russians get killed in Syria and when he gets bogged down, I think the Russian people are going to give him a message that maybe they should come home, maybe they should start working with the United States to rectify the situation now.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, on the campaign trail, Governor Webb has said that he would never have used military force in Libya and that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was inevitable. Should you have seen that attack coming?

CLINTON: Well, let’s remember what was going on. We had a murderous dictator, Gadhafi, who had American blood on his hands, as I’m sure you remember, threatening to massacre large numbers of the Libyan people. We had our closest allies in Europe burning up the phone lines begging us to help them try to prevent what they saw as a mass genocide, in their words. And we had the Arabs standing by our side saying, “We want you to help us deal with Gadhafi.”

Our response, which I think was smart power at its best, is that the United States will not lead this. We will provide essential, unique capabilities that we have, but the Europeans and the Arabs had to be first over the line. We did not put one single American soldier on the ground in Libya. And I’ll say this for the Libyan people.

COOPER: But American citizens did lose their lives in Benghazi.

CLINTON: But let — I’ll get to that. But I think it’s important, since I understand Senator Webb’s very strong feelings about this, to explain where we were then and to point out that I think President Obama made the right decision at the time.

And the Libyan people had a free election the first time since 1951. And you know what, they voted for moderates, they voted with the hope of democracy. Because of the Arab Spring, because of a lot of other things, there was turmoil to be followed.

But unless you believe the United States should not send diplomats to any place that is dangerous, which I do not, then when we send them forth, there is always the potential for danger and risk.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley?

WEBB: Can I…

(CROSSTALK)

O’MALLEY: Anderson, I think we are learning…

(CROSSTALK)

O’MALLEY: Anderson, I think there’s lessons to be learned from Benghazi. And those lessons are that we need to do a much better job as a nation of having human intelligence on the ground so that we know who the emerging next generation leaders are that are coming up to replace a dictator when his time on this planet ends.

And I believe that’s what Chris Stevens was trying to do. But he did not have the tools. We have failed as a country to invest in the human intelligence that would allow us to make not only better decisions in Libya, but better decisions in Syria today.

And it’s a huge national security failing.

COOPER: Senator Webb, I want you to be able to respond.

WEBB: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Senator Webb? WEBB: This is not about Benghazi per se. To me it is the inevitability of something like Benghazi occurring in the way that we intervened in Libya. We had no treaties at risk. We had no Americans at risk. There was no threat of attack or imminent attack.

There is plenty of time for a president to come to the Congress and request authority to use military force in that situation. I called for it on the Senate floor again and again. I called for it in Senate hearings.

It is not a wise thing to do. And if people think it was a wise thing to do, try to get to the Tripoli airport today. You can’t do it.

COOPER: Secretary (sic) Webb, you served in Vietnam. You’re a marine. Once a marine, always a marine. You served as a marine in Vietnam. You’re a decorated war hero. You eventually became secretary of the navy.

During the Vietnam War, the man standing next to you, Senator Sanders, applied for status as a conscientious objector. Given his history, can he serve as a credible commander-in-chief?

WEBB: Everybody makes their decisions when the time there is conscription. And as long as they go through the legal process that our country requires, I respect that. And it would be for the voters to decide whether Senator Sanders or anyone else should be president.

I will say this, coming from the position that I’ve come from, from a military family, with my brother a marine, my son was a marine in Iraq, I served as a marine, spending five years in the Pentagon, I am comfortable that I am the most qualified person standing up here today to be your commander-in-chief.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, tell an American soldier who is watching right now tonight in Afghanistan why you can be commander-in- chief given that you applied for conscientious objector status.

SANDERS: Well, first of all, let me applaud my good friend Jim Webb for his service to this country in so many ways.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Jim and I, under Jim’s leadership, as he indicated, passed the most significant veterans education bill in recent history. We followed suit with a few years later passing, under my leadership, the most significant veterans’ health care legislation in the modern history of this country.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: When I was a young man — I’m not a young man today. When I was a young man, I strongly opposed the war in Vietnam. Not the brave men like Jim who fought in that war, but the policy which got us involved in that war. That was my view then.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I am not a pacifist, Anderson. I supported the war in Afghanistan. I supported President Clinton’s effort to deal with ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. I support air strikes in Syria and what the president is trying to do.

Yes, I happen to believe from the bottom of my heart that war should be the last resort that we have got to exercise diplomacy. But yes, I am prepared to take this country into war if that is necessary.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Very quickly, 30 seconds for each of you. Governor Chafee, who or what is the greatest national security threat to the United States? I want to go down the line.

CHAFEE: OK. I just have to answer one thing that Senator Webb said about the Iran deal, because I’m a strong proponent of what President Obama — and he said that because of that the Iran deal that enabled Russia to come in.

No, that’s not true, Senator Webb. I respect your foreign policy chops. But Russia is aligned with Iran and with Assad and the Alawite Shias in Syria. So that Iran deal did not allow Russia to come in.

COOPER: OK. Senator, I can give you 30 seconds to respond.

WEBB: I believe that the signal that we sent to the region when the Iran nuclear deal was concluded was that we are accepting Iran’s greater position on this very important balance of power, among our greatest ally Israel, and the Sunnis represented by the Saudi regime, and Iran. It was a position of weakness and I think it encouraged the acts that we’ve seen in the past several weeks.

COOPER: Thirty seconds for each of you. Governor Chafee, what is the greatest national security threat to the United States?

CHAFEE: It’s certainly the chaos in the Middle East. There’s no doubt about it.

COOPER: OK.

CHAFEE: And it all started with the Iraq invasion.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: I believe that nuclear Iran remains the biggest threat, along with the threat of ISIL; climate change, of course, makes cascading threats even more (inaudible).

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, the greatest national security threat?

CLINTON: I — I think it has to be continued threat from the spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear material that can fall into the wrong hands. I know the terrorists are constantly seeking it, and that’s why we have to stay vigilant, but also united around the world to prevent that.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, greatest national security threat?

SANDERS: The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis.

COOPER: Senator Webb?

WEBB: Our greatest long-term strategic challenge is our relation with China. Our greatest day-to-day threat is cyber warfare against this country. Our greatest military-operational threat is resolving the situations in the Middle East.

COOPER: All right. We’re going to take a short break. Do these candidates see eye to eye on an issue that is driving a big wedge between Republicans? That is next.

We’ll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back. We are live in Nevada, in Las Vegas, at the Wynn Resort for the first Democratic presidential debate. The questions continue.

We begin with Secretary Clinton. Secretary Clinton, you are going to be testifying before Congress next week about your e-mails. For the last eight months, you haven’t been able to put this issue behind you. You dismissed it; you joked about it; you called it a mistake. What does that say about your ability to handle far more challenging crises as president?

CLINTON: Well, I’ve taken responsibility for it. I did say it was a mistake. What I did was allowed by the State Department, but it wasn’t the best choice.

And I have been as transparent as I know to be, turning over 55,000 pages of my e-mails, asking that they be made public. And you’re right. I am going to be testifying. I’ve been asking to testify for some time and to do it in public, which was not originally agreed to.

But let’s just take a minute here and point out that this committee is basically an arm of the Republican National Committee.

(APPLAUSE)

It is a partisan vehicle, as admitted by the House Republican majority leader, Mr. McCarthy, to drive down my poll numbers. Big surprise. And that’s what they have attempted to do.

I am still standing. I am happy to be part of this debate.

(APPLAUSE)

And I intend to keep talking about the issues that matter to the American people. You know, I believe strongly that we need to be talking about what people talk to me about, like how are we going to make college affordable? How are we going to pay down student debt?

COOPER: Secretary…

CLINTON: How are we going to get health care for everybody…

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, with all due respect, it’s a little hard — I mean, isn’t it a little bit hard to call this just a partisan issue? There’s an FBI investigation, and President Obama himself just two days ago said this is a legitimate issue.

CLINTON: Well, I never said it wasn’t legitimate. I said that I have answered all the questions and I will certainly be doing so again before this committee.

But I think it would be really unfair not to look at the entire picture. This committee has spent $4.5 million of taxpayer money, and they said that they were trying to figure out what we could do better to protect our diplomats so that something like Benghazi wouldn’t happen again. There were already seven committee reports about what to do. So I think it’s pretty clear what their obvious goal is.

COOPER: Thank you.

CLINTON: But I’ll be there. I’ll answer their questions. But tonight, I want to talk not about my e-mails, but about what the American people want from the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: Let me say this.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me say — let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Thank you. Me, too. Me, too.

SANDERS: You know? The middle class — Anderson, and let me say something about the media, as well. I go around the country, talk to a whole lot of people. Middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens Union. Enough of the e-mails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Thank you, Bernie. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: It’s obviously very popular in this crowd, and it’s — hold on.

(APPLAUSE)

I know that plays well in this room. But I got to be honest, Governor Chafee, for the record, on the campaign trail, you’ve said a different thing. You said this is a huge issue. Standing here in front of Secretary Clinton, are you willing to say that to her face?

CHAFEE: Absolutely. We have to repair American credibility after we told the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which he didn’t. So there’s an issue of American credibility out there. So any time someone is running to be our leader, and a world leader, which the American president is, credibility is an issue out there with the world. And we have repair work to be done. I think we need someone that has the best in ethical standards as our next president. That’s how I feel.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?

CLINTON: No.

COOPER: Governor — Governor…

(APPLAUSE)

Governor O’Malley…

(APPLAUSE)

Governor, it’s popular in the room, but a lot of people do want to know these answers.

Governor O’Malley, you expressed concern on the campaign trail that the Democratic Party is, and I quote, “being defined by Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.”

You heard her answer, do you still feel that way tonight?

O’MALLEY: I believe that now that we’re finally having debates, Anderson, that we don’t have to be defined by the email scandal, and how long — what the FBI’s asking about. Instead, we can talk about affordable college, making college debt free, and all the issues. Which is why — and I see the chair of the DNC here, look how glad we are actually to be talking about the issues that matter the most to people around the kitchen table.

We need to get wages to go up, college more affordable…

COOPER: …Thank you, governor.

O’MALLEY: …we need to make American 100 percent clean electric by 2050.

COOPER: I want to talk about issues of race in America, for that I want to start of with Don Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Alright, Anderson, thank you very much. I’m not sure how to follow that, but this question is about something that has tripped some of the candidates up out on the campaign trail. Can you hear me?

Can’t hear me in the room. OK, here we go again, as I said…

WILKINS: …law school. My question for the candidates is, do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?

COOPER: The question from Arthur…

LEMON: …There we go…

COOPER: …Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter? Let’s put that question to Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Black lives matter.

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: And the reason — the reason those words matter is the African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she’s going to end up dead in jail, or their kids…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: …are going to get shot. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: …In which we have more people in jail than China. And, I intended to tackle that issue. To make sure that our people have education and jobs rather than jail cells.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, the question from Arthur was do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?

O’MALLEY: Anderson, the point that the Black Lives Matter movement is making is a very, very legitimate and serious point, and that is that as a nation we have undervalued the lives of black lives, people of color.

When I ran for Mayor of Baltimore — and we we burying over 350 young men ever single year, mostly young, and poor, and black, and I said to our legislature, at the time when I appeared in front of them as a mayor, that if we were burying white, young, poor men in these number we would be marching in the streets and there would be a different reaction.

Black lives matter, and we have a lot of work to do to reform our criminal justice system, and to address race relations in our country.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, what would you do for African Americans in this country that President Obama couldn’t?

CLINTON: Well, I think that President Obama has been a great moral leader on these issues, and has laid out an agenda that has been obstructed by the Republicans at every turn, so…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: …So, what we need to be doing is not only reforming criminal justice — I have talked about that at some length, including things like body cameras, but we also need to be following the recommendations of the commissioner that President Obama empanelled on policing. There is an agenda there that we need to be following up on.

Similarly, we need to tackle mass incarceration, and this may be the only bi-partisan issue in the congress this year. We actually have people on both sides of the aisle who have reached the same conclusion, that we can not keep imprisoning more people than anybody else in the world.

But, I believe that the debate, and the discussion has to go further, Anderson, because we’ve got to do more about the lives of these children. That’s why I started off by saying we need to be committed to making it possible for every child to live up to his or her god given potential. That is…

COOPER: …Thank you, Senator…

CLINTON: …really hard to do if you don’t have early childhood education…

COOPER: Senator…

CLINTON: …if you don’t have schools that are able to meet the needs of the people, or good housing, there’s a long list…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: …We need a new New Deal for communities of color…

COOPER: Senator Webb?

WEBB: I hope I can get that kind of time here. As a President of the United States, every life in this country matters. At the same time, I believe I can say to you, I have had a long history of working with the situation of African Americans.

We’re talking about criminal justice reform, I risked my political life raising the issue of criminal justice reform when I ran for the Senate in Virginia in 2006. I had democratic party political consultants telling me I was committing political suicide.

We led that issue in the congress. We started a national debate on it. And it wasn’t until then that the Republican Party started joining in.

I also represented a so-called war criminal, an African American Marine who was wounded — who was convicted of murder in Vietnam, for six years. He took his life three years into this. I cleared his name after — after three years.

COOPER: Thanks, sir.

WEBB: And I put the African American soldier on the Mall. I made that recommendation and fought for it. So, if you want someone who is — can stand up in front of you right now and say I have done the hard job, I have taken the risks, I am your person.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, let’s talk about income inequality. Wages and incomes are flat. You’ve argued that the gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time since the 1920s. We’ve had a Democratic president for seven years. What are you going to be able to do that President Obama didn’t?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, let’s remember where we were when Bush left office. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. And I know my Republican friends seem to have some amnesia on this issue, but the world’s financial crisis was on — the world’s financial markets system was on the verge of collapse. That’s where we were.

Are we better off today than we were then? Absolutely. But the truth is that for the 40 years, the great middle class of this country has been disappearing. And in my view what we need to do is create millions of jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; pay equity for women workers; and our disastrous trade policies, which have cost us millions of jobs; and make every public college and university in this country tuition free.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton…

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I’ll let you jump in a moment. Everybody will get in on this in a moment.

Secretary Clinton, how would you address this issue? In all candor, you and your husband are part of the one percent. How can you credibly represent the views of the middle class?

CLINTON: Well, you know, both Bill and I have been very blessed. Neither of us came from wealthy families and we’ve worked really hard our entire lives. And I want to make sure every single person in this country has the same opportunities that he and I have had, to make the most of their God-given potential and to have the chances that they should have in America for a good education, good job training, and then good jobs.

I have a five point economic plan, because this inequality challenge we face, we have faced it at other points. It’s absolutely right. It hasn’t been this bad since the 1920s. But if you look at the Republicans versus the Democrats when it comes to economic policy, there is no comparison. The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House and that’s why we need to have a Democrat in the White House in January 2017.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, (inaudible). O’MALLEY: Yes. Anderson, I want to associate myself with many of the items that the senator from Vermont mentioned, and I actually did them in our state. We raised the minimum wage, passed the living wage, invested more in infrastructure, went four years in a row without a penny’s increase in college tuition.

But there’s another piece that Senator Sanders left out tonight, but he’s been excellent about underscoring that. And that is that we need to separate the casino, speculative, mega-bank gambling that we have to insure with our money, from the commercial banking — namely, reinstating Glass-Steagall.

Secretary Clinton mentioned my support eight years ago. And Secretary, I was proud to support you eight years ago, but something happened in between, and that is, Anderson, a Wall Street crash that wiped out millions of jobs and millions of savings for families. And we are still just as vulnerable Paul Volcker says today.

We need to reinstate Glass-Steagall and that’s a huge difference on this stage among us as candidates.

COOPER: Just for viewers at home who may not be reading up on this, Glass-Steagall is the Depression-era banking law repealed in 1999 that prevented commercial banks from engaging in investment banking and insurance activities.

Secretary Clinton, he raises a fundamental difference on this stage. Senator Sanders wants to break up the big Wall Street banks. You don’t. You say charge the banks more, continue to monitor them. Why is your plan better?

CLINTON: Well, my plan is more comprehensive. And frankly, it’s tougher because of course we have to deal with the problem that the banks are still too big to fail. We can never let the American taxpayer and middle class families ever have to bail out the kind of speculative behavior that we saw.

But we also have to worry about some of the other players — AIG, a big insurance company; Lehman Brothers, an investment bank. There’s this whole area called “shadow banking.” That’s where the experts tell me the next potential problem could come from.

CLINTON: So I’m with both Senator Sanders and Governor O’Malley in putting a lot of attention onto the banks. And the plan that I have put forward would actually empower regulators to break up big banks if we thought they posed a risk. But I want to make sure we’re going to cover everybody, not what caused the problem last time, but what could cause it next time.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Senator Sanders, Secretary Clinton just said that her policy is tougher than yours.

SANDERS: Well, that’s not true.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Why?

SANDERS: Let us be clear that the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street, where fraud is a business model, helped to destroy this economy and the lives of millions of people.

(APPLAUSE)

Check the record. In the 1990s — and all due respect — in the 1990s, when I had the Republican leadership and Wall Street spending billions of dollars in lobbying, when the Clinton administration, when Alan Greenspan said, “what a great idea it would be to allow these huge banks to merge,” Bernie Sanders fought them, and helped lead the opposition to deregulation.

(APPLAUSE)

Today, it is my view that when you have the three…

COOPER: Senator…

SANDERS: …largest banks in America — are much bigger than they were when we bailed them out for being too big to fail, we have got to break them up.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, you have to be able to respond. He brought you up.

CLINTON: Yeah.

You know, I — I respect the passion an intensity. I represented Wall Street, as a senator from New York, and I went to Wall Street in December of 2007 — before the big crash that we had — and I basically said, “cut it out! Quit foreclosing on homes! Quit engaging in these kinds of speculative behaviors.”

I took on the Bush administration for the same thing. So I have thought deeply and long about what we’re going to do to do exactly what I think both the senator and the governor want, which is to rein in and stop this risk.

And my plan would have the potential of actually sending the executives to jail. Nobody went to jail after $100 billion in fines were paid…

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: (inaudible)

CLINTON: …and would give regulators the authority to go after the big banks.

COOPER: Thank you. Thank you. Senator Sanders…

CLINTON: But I’m telling you — I will say it tonight. If only you look at the big banks, you may be missing the forest for the trees.

(CROSSTALK)

WEBB: Bernie, say my name so I can get into this.

SANDERS: I will, just a second.

WEBB: OK. Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: I’ll tell him.

In my view, Secretary Clinton, you do not — Congress does not regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress.

(APPLAUSE)

And we have gotta break off these banks. Going to them…

CLINTON: So…

SANDERS: …and saying, “please, do the right thing”…

CLINTON: …no, that’s not what…

SANDERS: …is kind of naive.

CLINTON: …that — I think Dodd-Frank was a very…

WEBB: Anderson, I need to jump in (inaudible).

CLINTON: …good start, and I think that we have to implement it. We have to prevent the Republicans from ripping it apart. We have to save the Consumer Financial Protection board, which is finally beginning to act to protect consumers.

(APPLAUSE)

We have work to do. You’ve got no argument from me. But I know, if we don’t come in with a very tough and comprehensive approach, like the plan I’m recommending, we’re going to be behind instead of ahead…

COOPER: Governor O’Malley? Where do you stand?

CLINTON: …on what the next crisis could be.

O’MALLEY: Anderson, look, this is — the big banks — I mean, once we repealed Glass-Steagall back in the late 1999s (ph), the big banks, the six of them, went from controlling, what, the equivalent of 15 percent of our GDP to now 65 percent of our GDP.

And — (inaudible) right before this debate, Secretary Clinton’s campaign put out a lot of reversals on positions on Keystone and many other things. But one of them that we still have a great difference on, Madam Secretary, is that you are not for Glass-Steagall.

You are not for putting a firewall between this speculative, risky shadow banking behavior. I am, and the people of our country need a president who’s on their side, willing to protect the Main Street economy from recklessness on Wall Street.

We have to fulfill…

COOPER: Secretary Clinton…

O’MALLEY: …our promise.

COOPER: I have to let you respond.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, you know, everybody on this stage has changed a position or two. We’ve been around a cumulative quite some period of time.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, we know that if you are learning, you’re going to change your position. I never took a position on Keystone until I took a position on Keystone.

But I have been on the forefront of dealing with climate change, starting in 2009, when President Obama and I crashed (ph) a meeting with the Chinese and got them to sign up to the first international agreement to combat climate change that they’d ever joined.

So I’m…

COOPER: Thank you.

CLINTON: …not taking a back seat to anybody on my values…

COOPER: Thank…

CLINTON: …my principles and the results that I get.

COOPER: Senator Sanders…

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Sanders, in 2008, congressional leaders were told, without the 2008 bailout, the U.S. was possibly days away from a complete meltdown. Despite that, you still voted against it.

As president, would you stand by your principles if it risked the country’s financial stability?

SANDERS: Well, I remember that meeting very well. I remember it like it was yesterday. Hank Paulson, Bernanke came in, and they say, “guys, the economy is going to collapse because Wall Street is going under. It’s going to take the economy with them.”

And you know what I said to Hank Paulson? I said, “Hank, your guys — you come from Goldman Sachs. Your millionaire and billionaire friends caused this problem. How about your millionaire and billionaire friends paying for the bailout, not working families in this country?”

So to answer your question, no, I would not have let the economy collapse. But it was wrong to ask the middle class to bail out Wall Street. And by the way, I want Wall Street now to help kids in this country go to college, public colleges and universities, free with a Wall Street speculation tax.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: We’re going to talk about that in a minute.

But, Senator Webb, I want to get you in. You have said neither party has the guts to take on Wall Street. Is the system rigged?

WEBB: There is a reality that I think we all need to recognize with respect to the power of the financial sector.

And let me just go back a minute and say that on this TARP program, I introduced a piece of legislation calling for a windfall profits tax on the executives of any of these companies that got more than $5 billion, that it was time for them, once they got their compensation and their bonus, to split the rest of the money they made with the nurses and the truck drivers and the soldiers who bailed them out. With respect to the financial sector, I mean, I know that my time has run out but in speaking of changing positions and the position on how this debate has occurred is kind of frustrating because unless somebody mentions my name I can’t get into the discussion.

COOPER: You agreed to these rules and you’re wasting time. So if you would finish your answer, we’ll move on.

WEBB: All right. Well, I’m trying to set a mark here so maybe we can get into a little more later on. This hasn’t been equal time.

But if you want to look at what has happened, if we look at the facts in terms of how we’re going to deal with this, since that crash, in the last 10 years, the amount of the world’s capital economy that Wall Street manages has gone from 44 percent to 55 percent.

That means the Wall Street money managers are not risking themselves as the same way the American people are when they’re going to get their compensation. They’re managing money from all over the world.

We have to take that into consideration when we’re looking at ways to regulate it.

COOPER: Governor Chafee, you have attacked Secretary Clinton for being too close to Wall Street banks. In 1999 you voted for the very bill that made banks bigger.

CHAFEE: The Glass-Steagall was my very first vote, I’d just arrived, my dad had died in office, I was appointed to the office, it was my very first vote.

COOPER: Are you saying you didn’t know what you were voting for?

CHAFEE: I’d just arrived at the Senate. I think we’d get some takeovers, and that was one. It was my very first vote, and it was 92-5. It was the…

COOPER: Well, with all due respect, Governor…

CHAFEE: But let me just say…

COOPER: … what does that say about you that you’re casting a vote for something you weren’t really sure about?

CHAFEE: I think you’re being a little rough. I’d just arrived at the United States Senate. I’d been mayor of my city. My dad had died. I’d been appointed by the governor. It was the first vote and it was 90-5, because it was a conference report.

But let me just say about income inequality. We’ve had a lot of talk over the last few minutes, hours, or tens of minutes, but no one is saying how we’re going to fix it. And it all started with the Bush tax cuts that favored the wealthy.

So let’s go back to the tax code. And 0.6 percent of Americans are at the top echelon, over 464,000, 0.6 Americans. That’s less than 1 percent. But they generate 30 percent of the revenue. And they’re doing fine.

COOPER: Thank you, Governor.

CHAFEE: So there’s still a lot more money to be had from this top echelon. I’m saying let’s have another tier and put that back into the tax bracket. And that will generate $42 billion.

COOPER: I want to bring in Dana Bash.

CHAFEE: And then we can help the middle class and hard-earning Americans — hard-working Americans.

COOPER: Dana?

BASH: Thank you.

CNN visited college campuses, along with Facebook. And not surprisingly college affordability was among the most pressing issue.

Senator Sanders, you’ve mentioned a couple of times you do have a plan to make public colleges free for everyone. Secretary Clinton has criticized that in saying she’s not in favor of making a college free for Donald Trump’s kids.

Do you think taxpayers should pick up the tab for wealthy children?

SANDERS: Well, let me tell you, Donald Trump and his billionaire friends under my policies are going to pay a hell of a lot more in taxes today — taxes in the future than they’re paying today.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: But in terms of education, this is what I think. This is the year 2015. A college degree today, Dana, is the equivalent of what a high school degree was 50 years ago.

And what we said 50 years ago and a hundred years ago is that every kid in this country should be able to get a high school education regardless of the income of their family. I think we have to say that is true for everybody going to college.

I think we don’t need a complicated system, which the secretary is talking about, the income goes down, the income goes down, if you’re poor you have to work, and so forth and so on.

I pay for my program, by the way, through a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will not only make public colleges and universities tuition-free, it will substantially lower interest rates on college debt, a major crisis in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: And, Secretary Clinton, it’s not just college tuition that Senator Sanders is talking about, expanding Social Security and giving all Americans Medicare. What’s wrong with that?

CLINTON: Well, let me address college affordability, because I have a plan that I think will really zero in on what the problems are. First, all the 40 million Americans who currently have student debt will be able to refinance their debt to a low interest rate. That will save thousands of dollars for people who are now struggling under this cumbersome, burdensome college debt.

As a young student in Nevada said to me, the hardest thing about going to college should not be paying for it. So then we have to make it more affordable. How do we make it more affordable? My plan would enable anyone to go to a public college or university tuition free. You would not have to borrow money for tuition.

But I do believe — and maybe it’s because I worked when I went through college; I worked when I went through law school — I think it’s important for everybody to have some part of getting this accomplished. That’s why I call it a compact.

BASH: Secretary Clinton…

CLINTON: But, yes, I would like students to work 10 hours a week…

BASH: Can you answer the…

SANDERS: … in order to make it possible for them to afford their education. And I want colleges to get their costs down. They are outrageously high in what they’re charging.

BASH: Secretary Clinton, the question was not just about tuition, though. It was about Senator Sanders’ plan to expand Social Security, to make Medicare available to all Americans. Is that something that you would support? And if not, why not?

CLINTON: Well, I fully support Social Security. And the most important fight we’re going to have is defending it against continuing Republican efforts to privatize it.

BASH: Do you want to expand it?

CLINTON: I want to enhance the benefits for the poorest recipients of Social Security. We have a lot of women on Social Security, particularly widowed and single women who didn’t make a lot of money during their careers, and they are impoverished, and they need more help from the Social Security system.

And I will focus — I will focus on helping those people who need it the most. And of course I’m going to defend Social Security. I’m going to look for ways to try to make sure it’s solvent into the future. And we also need to talk about health care at some time, because we agree on the goals, we just disagree on the means.

SANDERS: When the Republicans — when the Republicans in the Congress and some Democrats were talking about cutting Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans, for the so-called chained CPI, I founded a caucus called the Defending Social Security Caucus.

My view is that when you have millions of seniors in this country trying to get by — and I don’t know how they do on $11,000, $12,000, $13,000 a year — you don’t cut Social Security, you expand it. And the way you expand it is by lifting the cap on taxable incomes so that you do away with the absurdity of a millionaire paying the same amount into the system as somebody making $118,000. You do that, Social Security is solvent until 2061 and you can expand benefits.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want to bring it over to Juan Carlos Lopez from CNN en Espanol. We’re obviously in Nevada. It’s had the highest percentage of undocumented immigrants of any state in the country as of last year. Juan Carlos?

JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN EN ESPANOL ANCHOR: Gracias, Anderson. Senator Sanders, in 2013, you voted for immigration reform. But in 2007, when Democrats controlled Congress and the Bush White House was onboard, you voted against it. Why should Latino voters trust you now when you left them at the altar at the moment when reform was very close?

SANDERS: I didn’t leave anybody at the altar. I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they’re working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they’re thrown out of the country. I was not the only progressive to vote against that legislation for that reason. Tom Harkin, a very good friend of Hillary Clinton’s and mine, one of the leading labor advocates, also voted against that.

LOPEZ: Tom Harkin isn’t running for president. You are.

SANDERS: I know that. But point being is that progressives did vote against that for that reason. My view right now — and always has been — is that when you have 11 million undocumented people in this country, we need comprehensive immigration reform, we need a path toward citizenship, we need to take people out of the shadows.

O’MALLEY: And Juan Carlos — Juan Carlos…

LOPEZ: Secretary Clinton — Secretary Clinton, Governor O’Malley wants to open up Obamacare to millions of undocumented immigrants and their children, including almost 90,000 people right here in Nevada. Do you?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, I want to make sure every child gets health care. That’s why I helped to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and I want to support states that are expanding health care and including undocumented children and others.

I want to open up the opportunity for immigrants to be able to buy in to the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. I think to go beyond that, as I understand what Governor O’Malley has recommended, so that they would get the same subsidies.

I think that is — it raises so many issues. It would be very difficult to administer, it needs to be part of a comprehensive immigration reform, when we finally do get to it.

LOPEZ: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: Juan Carlos, I think what you’ve heard up here is some of the old thinking on immigration reform, and that’s why it’s gridlocked. We need to understand that our country is stronger in every generation by the arrival of new American immigrants. That is why I have put out a policy for comprehensive immigration reform, that is why I would go further than President Obama has on DACA, and DAPA.

I mean, we are a nation of immigrants, we are made stronger by immigrants. Do you think for a second that simply because somebody’s standing in a broken que on naturalization they’re not going to go to the hospital, and that care isn’t going to fall on to our insurance rates? I am for a generous, compassionate America that says we’re all in this together. We need comprehensive

COOPER: Senator Webb…

O’MALLEY: …immigration reform. It’ll make wages go up in America $250 for every year…

LOPEZ: Senator Webb, do you support the undocumented immigrants getting Obamacare?

WEBB: I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Let me start by saying my wife is an immigrant. She was a refugee, her family escaped from Vietnam on a boat– her entire extended family, after the communists took over, when hundreds of thousands of people were out there and thousands of them were dying. Went to two refugee camps, she never spoke English in her home, and she ended, as I said, graduating from Cornell Law School. That’s not only American dream, that’s a value that we have with a good immigration system in place. No country has — is a country without defining its borders. We need to resolve this issue. I actually introduced an amendment in the 2007 immigration bill…

LOPEZ: …Thank you, Senator.

WEBB: …Giving a pathway to citizenship to those people who had come here, and put down their roots, and met as a series of standards…

COOPER: …Thank you, Senator.

WEBB: …lost (ph) — I introduced that in 2007 — We need a comprehensive reform, and we need to be able to define our borders.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: I want to follow up because I think underneath Juan Carlos’ important questions, there is such a difference between everything you’re hearing here on this stage, and what we hear from the Republicans.

(APPLAUSE)

O’MALLEY: Here. Here.

(CHEERING) (APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Demonize hard-working immigrants who have insulted them. You know, I came to Las Vegas in, I think, May. Early may. Met with a group of DREAMers, I wish everybody in America could meet with this young people, to hear their stories, to know their incredible talent, their determination, and that’s why I would go further…

COOPER: …Secretary…

CLINTON: …than even the executive orders that President Obama has signed when I’m president.

(CROSS TALK)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, let me ask you. Two of your rivals from your left, Governor O’Malley, and Senator Sanders, want to provide instate college tuition to undocumented immigrants. Where do you stand on that?

CLINTON: My plan would support any state that takes that position, and would work with those states and encourage more states to do the same thing.

COOPER: So, on the record, you believe that undocumented immigrants should get instate college tuition.

CLINTON: If their states agree, then we want more states to do the same thing.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: Anderson, we actually did this in my state of Maryland. We passed…

(APPLAUSE)

O’MALLEY: We passed a state version of the DREAM Act…

(CHEERING)

O’MALLEY: …And a lot of the xenophobes, the immigrant haters like some that we’ve heard like, Donald Trump, that carnival barker in the Republican party…

(CHEERING) (APPLAUSE)

O’MALLEY: Tried to mischaracterize it as free tuition for illegal immigrants. But, we took our case to the people when it was petitioned to referendum, and we won with 58 percent of the vote. The more our children learn, the more they will earn, and that’s true of children who have yet to be naturalized…

COOPER: …Senator…

O’MALLEY: …but will become American citizens…

COOPER: Senator Sanders, you talked about your record on the Veteran affairs committee. You served on that committee for the last eight years, including two years as its chairman while veterans died waiting for health care. You and Senator McCain ultimately addressed the issue with bi-partisan legislation. Why did it take 18 Inspector General reports, and a CNN investigation, and others, before you and your colleagues took action?

SANDERS: Well, I was chairman for two years, and when I was chairman we did take action. What we did is pass a $15 billion dollar piece of legislation which brought in many, many new doctors, and nurses into the V.A. so that veterans in this country could get the health care when they needed it, and not be on long waiting lines.

And, the other part of that legislation said that if a veteran is living more than 40 miles away from a V.A. facility, that veteran could get health care from the community health center, or the private sector. As a result of that legislation, we went further in than any time in recent history in improving health care for the men and women of this country who put their lives on the line to defend them.

COOPER: Governor Chafee, you and Hillary Clinton both voted for the Patriot Act which created the NSA surveillance program. You’ve emphasized civil liberties, privacy during your campaign. Aren’t these two things in conflict?

CHAFEE: No, that was another 99 to one vote for the Patriot Act, and it was seen as at the time modernizing our ability to do what we’ve always done to tap phones which always required a warrant. And I voted for that.

COOPER: Do you regret that vote?

CHAFEE: No, no. As long as you’re getting a warrant, I believe that under the Fourth Amendment, you should be able to do surveillance, but you need a warrant. That’s what the Fourth Amendment says. And in the Patriot Act, section 215 started to get broadened too far. So I would be in favor of addressing and reforming section 215 of the Patriot Act.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, do you regret your vote on the Patriot Act?

CLINTON: No, I don’t. I think that it was necessary to make sure that we were able after 9/11 to put in place the security that we needed. And it is true that it did require that there be a process. What happened, however, is that the Bush administration began to chip away at that process. And I began to speak out about their use of warrantless surveillance and the other behavior that they engaged in.

We always have to keep the balance of civil liberties, privacy and security. It’s not easy in a democracy, but we have to keep it in mind.

COOPER: Senator — Senator Sanders, you’re the only one on this stage who voted against the Patriot Act in 2001…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: It was 99 to one and I was maybe the one. I don’t know.

COOPER: … and the reauthorization votes. Let me ask you, if elected, would you shut down the NSA surveillance program?

SANDERS: I’m sorry?

COOPER: Would you shut down the NSA surveillance program?

SANDERS: Absolutely. Of course.

COOPER: You would, point blank.

SANDERS: Well, I would shut down — make — I’d shut down what exists right now is that virtually every telephone call in this country ends up in a file at the NSA. That is unacceptable to me. But it’s not just government surveillance. I think the government is involved in our e-mails; is involved in our websites. Corporate America is doing it as well.

If we are a free country, we have the right to be free. Yes, we have to defend ourselves against terrorism, but there are ways to do that without impinging on our constitutional rights and our privacy rights.

O’MALLEY (?): Anderson, the NSA…

COOPER: Governor Chafee, Edward Snowden, is he a traitor or a hero?

CHAFEE: No, I would bring him home. The courts have ruled that what he did — what he did was say the American…

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Bring him home, no jail time?

CHAFEE: … the American government was acting illegally. That’s what the federal courts have said; what Snowden did showed that the American government was acting illegally for the Fourth Amendment. So I would bring him home.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, hero or traitor?

CLINTON: He broke the laws of the United States. He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.

COOPER: Should he do jail time?

ClINTON: In addition — in addition, he stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands. So I don’t think he should be brought home without facing the music.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, Snowden?

(APPLAUSE)

O’MALLEY: Anderson, Snowden put a lot of Americans’ lives at risk. Snowden broke the law. Whistleblowers do not run to Russia and try to get protection from Putin. If he really believes that, he should be back here.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, Edward Snowden?

SANDERS: I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined.

COOPER: Is he a hero?

SANDERS: He did — he did break the law, and I think there should be a penalty to that. But I think what he did in educating us should be taken into consideration before he is (inaudible).

COOPER: Senator Webb, Edward Snowden?

WEBB: I — well, I — I would leave his ultimate judgment to the legal system. Here’s what I do believe. We have a serious problem in terms of the collection of personal information in this country. And one of the things that I did during the FISA bill in 2007, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was introduce with Russ Feingold two amendments basically saying, “We understand the realities of how you have to collect this broad information in the Internet age, but after a certain period of time, you need to destroy the personal information that you have if people have not been brought — if criminal justice proceedings have not been brought against them.”

We’ve got a vast data bank of information that is ripe for people with bad intentions to be able to use. And they need to be destroyed.

COOPER: Another — another question for each of you, starting with Governor Chafee.

Name the one thing — the one way that your administration would not be a third term of President Obama.

CHAFEE: Certainly, ending the wars. We’ve got to stop these wars. You have to have a new dynamic, a new paradigm. We just spent a half-billion dollars arming and training soldiers, the rebel soldiers in Syria. They quickly join the other side. We bombed the…

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: President Obama’s generals right now are suggesting keeping troops in Afghanistan after the time he wanted them pulled out. Would you keep them there?

CHAFEE: I’d like to finish my question — my answer.

And also we just bombed a hospital. We’ve had drone strikes that hit civilian weddings. So I would change how we — our approach to the Middle East. We need a new paradigm in the Middle East.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, how would you be different than President Obama’s administration?

O’MALLEY: I would follow through on the promise that the American people thought we made as Democratic Party, to protect the Main Street economy from recklessness on Wall Street. I would push to separate out these too-big-to-jail, too-big-to-fail banks, and put in place Glass-Steagall, a modern Glass-Steagall that creates a firewall so that this wreckage of our economy can never happen again.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, how would you not be a third term of President Obama?

CLINTON: Well, I think that’s pretty obvious. I think being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we’ve had up until this point, including President Obama.

COOPER: Is there a policy difference?

CLINTON: Well, there’s a lot that I would like to do to build on the successes of President Obama, but also, as I’m laying out, to go beyond. And that’s in my economic plans, how I would deal with the prescription drug companies, how I would deal with college, how I would deal with a full range of issues that I’ve been talking about throughout this campaign to go further.

COOPER: Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: I have a lot of respect for president Obama. I have worked with him time and time again on many, many issues. But here’s where I do disagree. I believe that the power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of the drug companies, the power of the corporate media is so great that the only way we really transform America and do the things that the middle class and working class desperately need is through a political revolution when millions of people begin to come together and stand up and say: Our government is going to work for all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Webb, how would you not be a third term for Obama?

WEBB: I got a great deal of admiration and affection for Senator Sanders, but I — Bernie, I don’t think the revolution’s going to come. And I don’t think the Congress is going to pay for a lot of this stuff. And if there would be a major difference between my administration and the Obama administration, it would be in the use of executive authority.

I came up as a committee counsel in the Congress, used to put dozens of bills through the House floor every year as a committee counsel on the Veterans Committee. I have a very strong feeling about how our federal system works and how we need to lead and energize the congressional process instead of allowing these divisions to continue to paralyze what we’re doing. So I would lead — working with both parties in the Congress and working through them in the traditional way that our Constitution sets (ph).

COOPER: Senator Sanders, he cited you. You don’t hear a lot of Democratic presidential candidates talking about revolution. What do you mean?

SANDERS: What I mean is that we need to have one of the larger voter turnouts in the world, not one of the lowest. We need to raise public consciousness. We need the American people to know what’s going on in Washington in a way that today they do not know.

(APPLAUSE)

And when people come together in a way that does not exist now and are prepared to take on the big money interest, then we could bring the kind of change we need.

O’MALLEY: Anderson, I actually have talked about a revolution. What we need is a green energy revolution. We need to move America to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050 and create 5 million jobs along the way.

COOPER: And we want to — and we’re going to talk more about climate change and environmental issues coming up. Some of the candidates have tried marijuana, as have pretty much — probably everybody in this room.

(LAUGHTER)

Others have not. Does that influence — does it influence their views on legalization? Find out that and others ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back to this CNN Democratic presidential debate. It has been quite a night so far. We are in the final block of this debate. All the candidates are back, which I’m very happy to see.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: It’s a long story. Let’s continue, shall we?

Secretary Clinton, welcome back.

CLINTON: Well, thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: You know, it does take me a little longer. That’s all I can say.

COOPER: That’s right. Secretary Clinton, Governor O’Malley says the presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth between two royal families. This year has been the year of the outsider in politics, just ask Bernie Sanders. Why should Democrats embrace an insider like yourself?

CLINTON: Well, I can’t think of anything more of an outsider than electing the first woman president, but I’m not just running because I would be the first woman president.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: I’m running because I have a lifetime of experience in getting results and fighting for people, fighting for kids, for women, for families, fighting to even the odds. And I know what it takes to get things done. I know how to find common ground and I know how to stand my ground. And I think we’re going to need both of those in Washington to get anything that we’re talking about up here accomplished.

So I’m very happy that I have both the commitment of a lifetime and the experience of a lifetime to bring together to offer the American people.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, do you want to tell Secretary Clinton why she shouldn’t get the crown?

O’MALLEY: Well, actually, you know, we had this conversation. And I will share with you that I’ve traveled all around the country, Anderson, and there’s two phrases I keep hearing again and again and again. And they’re the phrases “new leadership” and “getting things done.”

We cannot be this dissatisfied with our gridlocked national politics and an economy where 70 percent of us are earning the same or less than we were 12 years ago, and think that a resort to old names is going to move us forward.

I respect what Secretary Clinton and her husband have done for our country. But our country needs new leadership to move forward.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, you have to be able to respond, if you want.

CLINTON: Well, I would not ask anyone to vote for me based on my last name. I would ask them to listen to what I’m proposing, look at what I’ve accomplished in the Senate, as secretary of of state, and then draw your own conclusion.

I certainly am not campaigning to become president because my last name is Clinton. I’m campaigning because I think I have the right combination of what the country needs, at this point, and I think I can take the fight to the Republicans, because we cannot afford a Republican to succeed Barack Obama as president of the United States.

COOPER: (inaudible).

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Sanders, does she have the right stuff?

SANDERS: I think — I think that there is profound frustration all over this country with establishment politics. I am the only candidate running for president who is not a billionaire, who has raised substantial sums of money, and I do not have a super PAC.

(APPLAUSE)

I am not raising money from millionaires and billionaires, and in fact, tonight, in terms of what a political revolution is about, there are 4,000 house parties — 100,000 people in this country — watching this debate tonight who want real change in this country.

COOPER: we’ve got — we — a lot of questions we’ve got about climate change, and we’re gonna go to Don Lemon. Don?

LEMON: All right. This one is for Martin O’Malley. Anderson, Governor O’Malley, this is from Anna Bettis from Tempe, Arizona. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: As a young person, I’m very concerned about climate change and how it will affect my future. As a presidential candidate, what will you do to address climate change?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Governor O’Malley, please tell Anna how you would protect the environment better than all the other candidates up on that stage.

O’MALLEY: Yeah.

Anna, I have put forward a plan — and I’m the only candidate, I believe, in either party to do this — to move America forward to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050.

We did not land a man on the moon with an all-of-the-above strategy. It was an intentional engineering challenge, and we solved it as a nation. And our nation must solve this one.

So I put forward the plan that would extend the investor tax credits for solar and for wind. If you go across Iowa, you see that 30 percent of their energy now comes from wind. We’re here in Las Vegas, one of the most sustainable cities in America, doing important things in terms of green building, architecture and design.

We can get there as a nation, but it’s going to require presidential leadership. And as president, I intend to sign as my very first order in office the — an order that moves us as a nation and dedicates our resources to solving this problem and moving us to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050.

COOPER: Governor…

O’MALLEY: We can do it.

COOPER: …Governor O’Malley, thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Webb, you have a very different view than just about anybody else on this stage, and unlike a lot of Democrats. You’re pro-coal, you’re pro-offshore drilling, you’re pro-Keystone pipeline. Are — again, are you — the question is, are you out of step with the Democratic party?

WEBB: Well, the — the question really is how are we going to solve energy problems here and in the global environment if you really want to address climate change?

And when I was in the Senate, I was an all-of-the-above energy voter. We introduced legislation to bring in alternate energy as well as nuclear power. I’m a strong proponent of nuclear power. It is safe, it is clean. And really, we are not going to solve climate change simply with the laws here.

We’ve done a good job in this country since 1970. If you look at China and India, they’re the greatest polluters in the world. Fifteen out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in one of those two countries. We need to solve this in a global way. It’s a global problem and I have been very strong on — on doing that. The — the agreements — the so-called agreements that we have had with China are illusory in terms of the immediate requirements of the — of the Chinese government itself.

So let’s solve this problem in an international way, and then we really will have a — a way to address climate change.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, are you tougher on — on climate change than Secretary Clinton?

SANDERS: Well, I will tell you this. I believe — and Pope Francis made this point. This is a moral issue. The scientists are telling us that we need to move extremely boldly.

I am proud that, along with Senator Barbara Boxer, a few years ago, we introduced the first piece of climate change legislation which called for a tax on carbon.

And let me also tell you that nothing is gonna happen unless we are prepared to deal with campaign finance reform, because the fossil fuel industry is funding the Republican Party, which denies the reality of climate change…

(APPLAUSE)

…and certainly is not prepared to go forward aggressively.

This is a moral issue. We have got to be extremely aggressive in working with China, India, Russia.

COOPER: Senator — thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: The planet — the future of the planet is at stake.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, I want you to be able to respond, then I’m gonna go to (ph) (inaudible).

CLINTON: Well, that — that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. When we met in Copenhagen in 2009 and, literally, President Obama and I were hunting for the Chinese, going throughout this huge convention center, because we knew we had to get them to agree to something. Because there will be no effective efforts against climate change unless China and India join with the rest of the world.

They told us they’d left for the airport; we found out they were having a secret meeting. We marched up, we broke in, we said, “We’ve been looking all over for you. Let’s sit down and talk about what we need to do.” And we did come up with the first international agreement that China has signed.

Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, it’s now gone much further.

COOPER: Thank you. CLINTON: And I do think that the bilateral agreement that President Obama made with the Chinese was significant. Now, it needs to go further, and there will be an international meeting at the end of this year, and we must get verifiable commitments to fight climate change from every country gathered there.

COOPER: Dana Bash?

BASH: Secretary Clinton, you now support mandated paid family leave.

CLINTON: Mm-hmm.

BASH: Carly Fiorina, the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company, argues, if the government requires paid leave, it will force small businesses to, quote, “hire fewer people and create fewer jobs.” What do you say not only to Carly Fiorina, but also a small-business owner out there who says, you know, I like this idea, but I just can’t afford it?

CLINTON: Well, I’m surprised she says that, because California has had a paid leave program for a number of years. And it’s…

BASH: It’s on the federal level.

CLINTON: Well, but all — well, on a state level, a state as big as many countries in the world. And it has not had the ill effects that the Republicans are always saying it will have. And I think this is — this is typical Republican scare tactics. We can design a system and pay for it that does not put the burden on small businesses.

I remember as a young mother, you know, having a baby wake up who was sick and I’m supposed to be in court, because I was practicing law. I know what it’s like. And I think we need to recognize the incredible challenges that so many parents face, particularly working moms.

I see my good friend, Senator Gillibrand, in the front row. She’s been a champion of this. We need to get a consensus through this campaign, which is why I’m talking about it everywhere I go, and we need to join the rest of the advanced world in having it.

BASH: But Secretary — Secretary Clinton, even many people who agree with you might say, look, this is very hard to do, especially in today’s day and age. There are so many people who say, “Really? Another government program? Is that what you’re proposing? And at the expense of taxpayer money?”

CLINTON: Well, look, you know, when people say that — it’s always the Republicans or their sympathizers who say, “You can’t have paid leave, you can’t provide health care.” They don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood. They’re fine with big government when it comes to that. I’m sick of it.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, we can do these things.

(APPLAUSE)

We should not be paralyzed — we should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, “big government this, big government that,” that except for what they want to impose on the American people. I know we can afford it, because we’re going to make the wealthy pay for it. That is the way to get it done.

COOPER: Thank you. Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: Yeah, Dana, here’s the point: Every other major country on Earth, every one, including some small countries, say that when a mother has a baby, she should stay home with that baby. We are the only major country. That is an international embarrassment that we do not provide family — paid family and medical leave.

(APPLAUSE)

Second of all, the secretary is right. Republicans tell us we can’t do anything except give tax breaks to billionaires and cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That’s not what the American people want.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: Anderson, in our state, we actually expanded family leave. And I have to agree with Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders. Look, the genius of our nation is that we find ways in every generation to include more of our people more fully in the economic life of our country, and we need to do that for our families, and especially so that women aren’t penalized in having to drop out of the workforce. My wife, Katie, is here with our four kids. And, man, that was a juggle when we had little kids and — and keeping jobs and moving forwards. We would be a stronger nation economically if we had paid family leave.

COOPER: Governor, thank you. The issue now, particularly in this state, is recreational marijuana. I want to go to Juan Carlos Lopez.

LOPEZ: Thank you, Anderson.

Senator Sanders, right here in Nevada, there will be a measure to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2016 ballot. You’ve said you smoked marijuana twice; it didn’t quite work for you. If you were a Nevada resident, how would you vote?

SANDERS: I suspect I would vote yes.

(APPLAUSE)

And I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: …which has done an enormous amount of damage. We need to rethink our criminal justice system, we we’ve got a lot of work to do in that area.

O’MALLEY: Juan Carlos?

(APPLAUSE)

LOPEZ: Secretary Clinton, you told Christiane Amanpour you didn’t smoke pot when you were young, and you’re not going to start now.

(LAUGHTER)

LOPEZ: When asked about legalizing recreational marijuana, you told her let’s wait and see how it plays out in Colorado and Washington. It’s been more than a year since you’ve said that. Are you ready to take a position tonight?

CLINTON: No. I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.

So, I think we’re just at the beginning, but I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don’t have this terrible result that Senator Sanders was talking about where we have a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, thank you. I want to go to Don Lemon with another Facebook question.

LEMON: Alright, Anderson. This is for Senator Sanders, OK? This is from Carrie (ph) Kang (ph) from Manassas, Virginia, would like would like to ask the Senator, “President Obama has had a difficult time getting Republicans to compromise on just about every agenda. How will you approach this going forward, and will it be any different?”

Senator?

SANDERS: The Republican party, since I’ve been in the Senate, and since President Obama has been in office, has played a terrible, terrible role of being total obstructionists. Every effort that he has made, that some of us have made, they have said no, no, no.

Now, in my view, the only way we can take on the right wing republicans who are, by the way, I hope will not continue to control the Senate and the House when one of us elected President…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: …But the only way we can get things done is by having millions of people coming together. If we want free tuition at public colleges and universities, millions of young people are going to have to demand it, and give the Republicans an offer they can’t refuse.

If we want to raise the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour, workers are going to have to come together and look the Republicans in the eye, and say, “We know what’s going on. You vote against us, you are out of your job.”

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: We’re going to hear from all the candidates coming up. We’re going to take a short break. More from the candidates in a moment.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back to the final round of the CNN Democratic presidential debate.

This is a question to each of you. Each of you, by the way, are going to have closing statements to make. Each of you will have 90 seconds. But a final question to each of you. If you can, just try to — 15 seconds if you can.

Governor Chafee, Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” You’ve all made a few people upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of?

(LAUGHTER)

CHAFEE: I guess the coal lobby. I’ve worked hard for climate change and I want to work with the coal lobby. But in my time in the Senate, tried to bring them to the table so that we could address carbon dioxide. I’m proud to be at odds with the coal lobby.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: The National Rifle Association.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians.

(LAUGHTER)

Probably the Republicans. (LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: As someone who has taken on probably every special interest that there is in Washington, I would lump Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry at the top of my life of people who do not like me.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Webb?

WEBB: I’d have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.

COOPER: All right. Time for closing statements. Each of you will have 90 seconds.

Governor Chafee, let’s begin with you.

CHAFEE: Thank you, Anderson. Thank you, CNN. And thank you, Facebook, for sponsoring this debate.

America has many challenges confronting us — ending the perpetual wars, addressing climate change, addressing income inequality, funding education, funding infrastructure, funding healthcare, helping black Americans, helping Native Americans. We have many challenges. Who is best able to confront these challenges?

I’ve served in government at many levels. I know what it’s like to solve problems at the local level because I did it as mayor. I know how to get legislation passed through Congress because I did it as a senator. I know how to turn around a state because I did as governor of Rhode Island.

But what I’m most proud of is that in 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals. I have high ethical standards. And what I’m most proud of is my judgment, particularly in the Iraq war vote. There was a lot of pressure — political pressure, public pressure. But I did my homework and I did not believe that the evidence was there that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And we live now with the consequences.

CHAFEE: So that kind of judgment is what we want in a president going forward. And I’m running for president to end the wars. I want to be the peacemaker. I am a proven peacemaker. Please go to Chafee 2016 to learn more about me. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Governor Chafee, thank you very much. Senator Webb, your final statement for 90 seconds.

WEBB: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure to be with you tonight. You’ve heard a lot of promises up here; you’ve heard a lot of rhetoric. They all seem to happen during campaigns, and then once the election’s over, people start from scratch again and try to get things done.

One of the things I can promise you, if you look at my record, in and out of government, is that I’ve always been willing to take on a complicated, something unpopular issues, and work them through, the complex issues, and work them through in order to have the solution.

We did it with criminal justice reform. We’ve had a lot of discussion here about criminal justice reform. We did it in other ways. We need a national political strategy for our economy, for our social policy, for social justice, and, by the way, for how you run and manage the most complex bureaucracy in the world, which is the federal government.

I know how to lead. I did it in Vietnam, I did it in the Pentagon, I did it in the Senate, and if you will help me overcome this cavalcade of — of financial irregularities and money that is poisoning our political process, I am ready to do that for you in the White House.

COOPER: Senator Webb, thank you very much.

Governor O’Malley, you have 90 seconds.

O’MALLEY: Anderson, thank you.

I am very, very grateful to have been able to be on this stage with this distinguished group of candidates tonight. And what you heard tonight, Anderson, was a very, very — and all of you watching at home — was a very, very different debate than from the sort of debate you heard from the two presidential Republican debates.

(APPLAUSE)

On this stage — on this stage, you didn’t hear anyone denigrate women, you didn’t hear anyone make racist comments about new American immigrants, you didn’t hear anyone speak ill of another American because of their religious belief.

What you heard instead on this stage tonight was an honest search for the answers that will move our country forward, to move us to a 100 percent clean electric energy grid by 2050, to take the actions that we have always taken as Americans so that we can actually attack injustice in our country, employ more of our people, rebuild our cities and towns, educate our children at higher and better levels, and include more of our people in the economic, social, and political life of our country.

I truly believe that we are standing on the threshold of a new era of American progress. Unless you’ve become discouraged about our gridlock in Congress, talk to our young people under 30, because you’ll never find among them people that want to bash immigrants or people that want to deny rights to gay couples.

(APPLAUSE)

That tells me we are moving to a more connected, generous, and compassionate place, and we need to speak to the goodness within our country.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, thank you very much.

Senator Sanders, final, closing thoughts, 90 seconds.

SANDERS: This is a great country, but we have many, many serious problems. We should not be the country that has the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country and more wealth and income inequality than any other country.

We should not be the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee health care to all of our people as a right of citizenship and we should not be the only major country that does not provide medical and — and parental leave — family and parental leave to all of our families.

Now, at the end of our day, here is the truth that very few candidates will say, is that nobody up here, certainly no Republican, can address the major crises facing our country unless millions of people begin to stand up to the billionaire class that has so much power over our economy and our political life.

Jim Webb is right: Money is pouring in to this campaign through super PACs. We are doing it the old-fashioned way: 650,000 individual contributions. And if people want to help us out, BernieSanders.com. We are averaging $30 bucks apiece. We would appreciate your help.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Thank you very much, Anderson. And thanks to all the viewers who tuned in tonight.

I think what you did see is that, in this debate, we tried to deal with some of the very tough issues facing our country. That’s in stark contrast to the Republicans who are currently running for president.

What you have to ask yourself is: Who amongst us has the vision for actually making the changes that are going to improve the lives of the American people? Who has the tenacity and the ability and the proven track record of getting that done?

Now, I revere my late mother, and she gave me a lot of good advice. But one of the best pieces of advice she gave me was, you know, the issue is not whether or not you get knocked down. It’s whether you get back up.

America’s been knocked down. That Great Recession, 9 million people lost their jobs, 5 million lost their homes, $13 trillion in wealth disappeared. And although we’ve made progress, we’re standing but not running the way America needs to.

My mission as president will be to raise incomes for hard-working middle-class families and to make sure that we get back to the basic bargain I was raised with: If you work hard and you do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead.

Please join me in this campaign. Please come and make it clear that America’s best days are still ahead. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Well, that does it for this Democratic presidential debate. On behalf of everyone at CNN, we want to thank the candidates, our debate partners at Facebook, the Wynn Resort, and the Democratic National Committee. Thanks also to Dana Bash, Juan Carlos Lopez, and Don Lemon. We’ll be back in Las Vegas December 15th, when CNN hosts our next Republican presidential debate. That will be moderated by my colleague, Wolf Blitzer.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 September 16, 2015: CNN Republican Early Lower Tier Debate Transcript Lindsey Graham Wins

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

CNN Early Lower Tier Debate Transcript

Source: CNN, 9-16-15

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

GOP Presidential Debate. Aired 6-7:45p ET.

Aired September 16, 2015 – 18:00   ET

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

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It’s debate night for the Republicans. The candidates are here. The pressure is on, and the stakes are higher than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: In the California hills, an epic rematch is about to begin against the backdrop of history, and Ronald Reagan’s legacy. When it’s over, the fight for the nation’s highest office won’t be the same.

TRUMP: How stupid are our leaders? How stupid are they?

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, a debate double header at the Reagan Library. A second chance for voters to compare the candidates side by side.

TRUMP: I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.

ANNOUNCER: The front runner, riding a wave of anger at political insiders, and railing against his rivals.

TRUMP: You notice Jeb never uses his last name? Why? Because he’s ashamed of it.

ANNOUNCER: The early favorite. He’s stumbled as Trump gained momentum. Now, he’s hitting back hard.

BUSH: This guy is now the front runner. He should be held to account, just like me.

ANNOUNCER: Outsiders on the rise. A retired neurosurgeon, and a former CEO. They shined in the first debate, now he’s closing in on the leader.

CARSON: Do I want to respond to Donald Trump’s charges? I’m not going there.

ANNOUNCER: Eleven other candidates are fighting to stand out from the pack.

WALKER(?): How are you? Good to see you.

ANNOUNCER: The Senators. Power players distancing themselves from the culture of the capital. CRUZ: If you see a candidate who Washington is races (ph), run

and hide.

ANNOUNCER: The governors. Chief executives with mixed success in their bids to be commander in chief.

WALKER: You see, talk is cheap. We need action.

ANNOUNCER: The campaign veterans, struggling in an election season when experience does not seem to count.

SANTORUM: Today is the day we are going to begin to fight back.

ANNOUNCER: Now, the stage is set for a crowded clash.

FIORINA: Donald Trump is an entertainer, and, I think, I am a leader.

ANNOUNCER: Of hot button issues.

HUCKABEE: Marriage is what it has always been, and what the Bible says it to be.

ANNOUNCER: And big personalities.

TRUMP: I will build a great, great wall, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall.

ANNOUNCER: If you thought round one was intense, you haven’t seen anything yet.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: We’re live at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California for one of the most highly anticipated primary season debates ever. On this stage 15 candidates in two rounds of questioning with one goal, to show they have what it takes to be the Republican Presidential Nominee.

Welcome to our viewers, I’m Jake Tapper. Tonight’s debate is airing on CNN networks around the world, and, of course, here in the United States. It’s also being broadcast across the country on the Salmen (ph) Radio Network.

We want to thank our host, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, and the Reagan Library for this very impressive setting, the Air Force One pavilion. Behind me, you can see the actual plane…

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: (APPLAUSE)…That Ronald Reagan flew in when he was president.

Now, because the GOP field is so large, we have divided the candidates into two groups based on their rankings in recent national polls. Later this evening we will hear from the top 11 contenders. The other four candidates are taking part in the first round, and they are ready to join us now.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

(APPLAUSE)

Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal.

(APPLAUSE)

The former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

and former New York Governor, George Pataki.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentleman, please welcome these Republican candidates for President of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

And, now, if you would, please rise for our national anthem performed by actress and singer, Natalie Hill.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(APPLAUSE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I’d like to ask the candidates to please take their podiums while I tell you a little more about how tonight debate will work.

I’m Jake Tapper. I’ll be the moderator.

Joining me in the questioning, Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt; he worked in the Reagan administration for six years and CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: I will follow up and guide the discussion; candidates, I’ll try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions. You’ll have one minute to answer questions and 30 seconds for followups and rebuttals. I’ll give you time to respond if you have been singled out for criticism.

We have timing lights that are visible to the candidates. Those lights will warn them when their time is up.

Our goal tonight is to have a true debate, candidates actually addressing each other in areas where they disagree, where they differ on policy, on politics and on leadership.

Now that everyone is in place, it’s time for the candidates to introduce themselves to our audience. Please keep it brief. Governor Pataki, you’re first.

GEORGE PATAKI, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: Thank you, Jake.

Hi, I’m George Pataki, and I am honored to be here this afternoon with all of you at the Reagan Library.

You know, when I think of Ronald Reagan, I think of his tremendous smile, a smile that reflected his optimism and his unending belief and faith in America and in Americans.

And it was that belief in America that led to a great presidency, a presidency that led to decades of safety, security and prosperity for America. That’s exactly the type of leadership we need in Washington today and that’s why I’m running for President of the United States. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER SENATOR: Hi, I’m Rick Santorum. Some of you may know me because I led the fight to end partial birth abortion. Some of you may know me because the I led the fight to end welfare as we know it, put people back to work, reduce poverty and reduce the federal budget.

Some of you may know me because I successfully put sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program in Congress, over opposition of both parties initially.

But hopefully, most of you know me most because I’m the proud father of seven children with particularly a special little disabled girl, who is the heart and core of my heart and married to a wonderful woman named Karen for 25 years, who is the love of my life.

(APPLAUSE)

BOBBY JINDAL (R), GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA: Hi, I’m Bobby Jindal.

Now, look, I don’t have a famous last name. My daddy didn’t run for president. I don’t have a reality TV show. I’ll tell you what I do have, I’ve got the backbone, I’ve got the bandwidth, I’ve got the experience to get us through these tough times, to make sure that we don’t turn the American dream into the European nightmare. Thank you for having me today.

(APPLAUSE)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), S.C.: One, thanks, CNN, for having people at this debate.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: I’m Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, in case you can’t tell. I want to thank Ms. Reagan (ph) for inviting me. It means the world to me. I’m the only candidate tonight who served in the military while Ronald Reagan was our president and our commander in chief. It was one of the highlights of my life.

I’m running for president to destroy radical Islam, to win the war on terror, to protect you and your family.

GRAHAM: And in that quest, I have an uncompromising determination to win this war, just like President Reagan had an uncompromising determination to destroy the evil empire, and win the Cold War.

Above all others on both sides of the isle, I’m most qualified to be commander and chief on day one — 33 years in the Air Force, 35 trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, I understand this war. I have a plan to win it, and I intend to win it.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you candidates. We’re going to talk a lot about policy and your proposals this evening.

But first, Governor Jindal, I want to start with you. You have said that the front runner, Donald Trump, is a, quote, “unstable, narcissistic, ego maniac.” Now, we are in the house of Reagan, who made famous the so-called 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of thy fellow Republican.”

What drove you to violate that unofficial commandment?

JINDAL: Well, Jake, I’m in compliance with the 11th Commandment, and I would tell my fellow Republicans, let’s stop treating Donald Trump like a Republican. If he were really a conservative…

(APPLAUSE)

If he were really a conservative and 30 points ahead, I would endorse him. He’s not a conservative. He’s not a liberal. He’s not a Democrat. He’s not a Republican. He’s not an independent. He believes in Donald Trump.

Here is the reality, the idea of America is slipping away. Eighteen trillion dollars of debt, Planned Parenthood selling baby parts across our country. Our government is creating a new entitlement program, when we can’t afford the government we’ve got today.

We’ve got a president who won’t even say the words radical Islamic terrorism. He has declared war on trans fats and a truce with Iran. Think about that. He’s more worried about Twinkies than he is about the ayatollahs having a nuclear weapon.

(APPLAUSE) That’s what is happening, the idea of America is slipping away. We must not let that happen on our watch. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to rescue the idea of America, the choice for conservatives. Do we depend on proven conservative principles like Ronald Reagan did, or do we turn this over to a narcissist who only believes in himself…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: Thank you, Jake.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Senator Santorum, do you think Governor Jindal is wrong for attacking your party’s front runner?

SANTORUM: I think personal attacks, just please one person, Hillary Clinton.

And all we do when we go after each other — and we’ve seen a bunch of it, from people up on this stage, people who are going to be on the stage afterwards, who go after and make personal attacks on people. There are plenty of policy differences between the candidates up here and the candidates later.

Donald Trump has ever right to run for president as a Republican, as anybody else in this audience, and he may have positions I disagree with, but he has the right to do that and the people should be given the benefit of the doubt for people to see through these things.

I don’t think it helps when Republicans attack Republicans personally. I’ll say some things tonight which will be very big differences. The issue of immigration is one that there are huge differences in this field, and I will be out there talking about how we have to control immigration. How we have to look after the American worker.

The focus of this debate should be on how we’re going to win this election and help improve the quality of life for American workers, and we aren’t doing that, when we’re out there picking at each other and calling each other names.

The name we should call out is, what are we going to do for average Americans losing ground in America today. And that should be our focus.

TAPPER: Thank you.

Governor Jindal, do you want to respond to that?

(APPLAUSE)

JINDAL: Absolutely. Look, the reality is, Hillary Clinton is gift-wrapping this election to us. They are running their weakest candidate. They have got a socialist that is gaining on Hillary Clinton. Folks, you can’t make that up. A socialist is doing well in the Democratic primary.

The best way for us to give this election back would be to nominate a Donald Trump. He’ll implode in the general election, or if, God forbid, if he were in the White House, we have no idea what he would do.

You can’t just attack him on policy. He doesn’t care about policy. It’s not enough to say he was for socialized medicine or higher taxes…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: He’s not serious.

TAPPER: Senator Santorum, just to assure you, we will get to those issues. But just a couple more on this general subject.

Senator Graham, you have called Donald Trump a, quote, “wrecking ball for the Republican party.” Voters in your home state of South Carolina, in a recent poll, prefer Donald Trump 30 percent to your 4 percent.

How do you explain why so many of your constituents would rather have Donald Trump as the Republican nominee than you?

GRAHAM: Well, all I can say, if you looked at polling in 2012 and 2008 at this level, we’d have — at this stage, we would have President Perry and President Giuliani. I have a long way to go.

And here’s what I’m going to try to do tonight — convince you that I’m best qualified to be the commander-in-chief of the one percent who are doing the fighting for the rest of us. And we’ll have a serious discussion tonight.

GRAHAM: All of us are going to say we want to destroy ISIL.

But here’s what I’m going to tell you. What we’re doing is not working. I have a plan to do it. If I’m president of the United States, we’re going to send more ground forces into Iraq because we have to. President Obama made a huge mistake by leaving too soon against sound military advice.

To every candidate tonight, are you willing to commit before the American people that you will destroy ISIL and you understand we need a ground force to do it?

Are you willing — Jake, please ask everybody the following question.

Would you go from 3,500 to 10,000 American boots on the ground in Iraq to destroy ISIL?

Because if you don’t, we’re going to lose.

Are you willing to send American combat forces into Syria as part of a regional army, because if you don’t, we’ll never destroy ISIL in Syria.

If you’re not ready to these things you’re not ready to be commander-in-chief.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Graham.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: We’re going to bring in Hugh Hewitt now, who has a question for Governor Pataki.

HUGH HEWITT, TALK RADIO HOST: Thank you, Jake.

Governor, you signed the pledge to support the Republican nominee and you promptly broke it. By doing so, by Tweeting out that you would not support Donald Trump, have you released Donald Trump to be a free agent again or anyone else in the field?

GEORGE PATAKI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. Hugh, not at all. I have not broken the pledge because Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee, period, flat out, I guarantee you that. I would vote…

HEWITT: Governor…

PATAKI: — for the Republican nominee…

HEWITT: — you said on Twitter that you would not support Donald Trump.

If he’s the nominee…

PATAKI: He’s not going to be the nominee.

HEWITT: — will you support him?

PATAKI: He’s not going to be the nominee, Hugh. And let me just say one word here. This is an important election with an enormous number of challenges facing the American people. And the first four questions are about Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: Would you really vote for Hillary Clinton…

PATAKI: No, I would not vote for Hillary Clinton.

HEWITT: — or vote for Donald Trump if he’s the nominee?

PATAKI: No, I will vote for the Republican nominee. But let me say this flat out, Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States or the Republican Party’s nominee.

Look at what he did in Atlantic City.

He says he’s going to make America great again?

He invested four casinos in Atlantic City and he said, essentially, I’m going to make Atlantic City great again.

Every one of those casinos went bankrupt. Over 5,000 Americans lost their job. And you know people who, in this difficult economic time, have lost their job and the pain that causes.

He didn’t lose anything, 5,000 lost their jobs. He will do for America what he did for Atlantic City and that is not someone we will nominate.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

PATAKI: Thank you.

TAPPER: Senator Graham?

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: One of the — the reasons why Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are doing well is because they are political outsiders. In fact, that’s one of the things — in fact, there are two things that they have in common. They’ve never been elected to office before and they’re doing better than all of you in the polls.

The four of you have a combined seven decades in elected office.

Senator Graham, in this election season, do Republican voters see your service in government as a liability and not an asset?

GRAHAM: Well, what I hope Republican voters, libertarian, vegetarians, Democrats, you name it, will look for somebody to lead us in a new direction, domestically, but particularly on the foreign policy front.

President Obama is making a mess of the world. What I’m trying to tell you here tonight, that Syria is hell on Earth and it’s not going to get fixed by insulting each other. I’ve been there 35 times to Iraq and Afghanistan. I am ready to be commander-in-chief on day one.

I’ve been in the military 33 years, 140 days on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am so ready to get on with winning a war that we can’t afford to lose.

I hope you believe that experience matters. It’s an all- volunteer force of — when you vote for commander-in-chief, they are stuck with your choice. We’ve had one novice being commander-in- chief. Let’s don’t replace one novice with another.

And if I thought…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: — I could win this war without more American ground forces in Iraq and Syria, I would tell you, but we can’t…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: — and if we don’t get on with this, they are coming here.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

Let’s turn to the topic of immigration.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: For that, I want to bring in my colleague, Dana Bash.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Senator Santorum, Governor Jindal has supported a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants once the border is secure.

Why do you disagree with that?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, in fact, just about everybody in this field supports some pathway to citizenship. There are just a few, Governor Jindal, Senator Cruz, Senator Rubio, Jeb Bush, a lot of others, Senator Graham, all support some sort of amnesty at some point in time or another.

And this is really the interesting thing about this whole debate. This debate should not be about what we’re going to do with someone who’s here illegally.

SANTORUM: This debate should not be about what we’re going to do with someone who’s here illegally; This debate should be about what — what every other debate on every other policy issue is in America. What’s in the best interest of hardworking Americans? What’s in the best interest of our country.

We’ve had to focus because the other side has set up for us, here is who we have to be concerned about on the issue of immigration, someone who’s here illegally and their family, and what are we going to do about it? A greater leader will see that the objection of every law in America is to do what’s in the best interest of America.

And what’s in the best interest of America right now is to look at wages, look at employment among wager earners. 70 to 90 percent of people who’ve come into this country, 35 million over the last 20 years, are wage earners that are holding wages down, taking jobs away from America.

BASH: Senator, your time’s up. I want to get the governor to respond to that.

JINDAL: Yeah, I wanted to clarify — I want to make very clear that everybody understands my position is, we need to secure the border, period.

Any talk of doing any more — we don’t need a comprehensive plan, don’t need an 1,000-page bill, like the Gang of Eight. We don’t need amnesty.

Everybody in D.C. talks about it. We need to get it done. As president, I’ll get it done in six months. It won’t be perfect, but we can get it done.

I’m not for amnesty. We do need to secure the border. A smart immigration makes our — our country stronger. Right now, we’ve got a weak one. One of the things I’ve said — I know the left — I know Hillary

didn’t like this — immigration without assimilation is invasion. We need to insist the people who come here come here legally, learn English, adopt our values, roll up their sleeves and get to work. We do need to secure the border.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator — Senator Santorum, do you buy that, that the governor’s not for amnesty?

SANTORUM: Well, just because you don’t call it amnesty doesn’t mean that what — what almost everybody in this field is for is allowing people who are in this country illegally, people who broke the law to come into this country, people who came here legally and overstayed, to stay in — in America.

Again, we have 35 million — we have the highest percentage of — of — of immigrants in this country, as far as numbers ever, as far as percentage, the — the highest in 105 years. Wages are flatlining.

The reason that you’re seeing the angst and the anger out there and the reason this issue has taken off is because workers in America know that their wages are being undermined.

If you look at, from the year 2000 to the year 2014, there’re 5.7 million net new jobs created. What percentage of those jobs are held by people who weren’t born here? The answer is all of them.

The fact is, American workers are — are getting hurt by immigration…

BASH: Senator, your time is up…

SANTORUM: … and that’s why they’re upset.

BASH: Your time is up.

And Governor, I’m sorry. Just — you — you really need to clarify your position, because you say you’re not for amnesty, but you have been for a path to citizenship…

JINDAL: Dana, that’s not right. What I’ve said consistently is secure the border. I’ve said after that is done, the American people will deal with the folks that are here pragmatically and compassionately.

Now, Rick, if he wants to say that Rubio, Senator Rubio, or Jeb or others are for amnesty, that’s his right. I’m not for amnesty. I’ve never been for amnesty, will never be for amnesty.

Secure the border. We don’t need to do that as a comprehensive — I’ve also said we need to put an end to sanctuary cities. It’s not enough to defund them; I think we need to criminalize, accuse and jail those mayors and councilman as accessories…

(UNKNOWN): Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: … for the crimes committed by people who shouldn’t be here in the first place.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

TAPPER: I — I want to change the subject. We’re staying on immigration, and I’m bringing you in, Governor Pataki…

PATAKI: OK. All right. Thank you.

TAPPER: … and Senator Graham, I’m coming to you as well.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

TAPPER: Governor Pataki, Republicans right now are — are debating birthright citizenship, the policy of granting U.S. citizenship to every baby born in this country, even if they born to undocumented immigrants.

Senator Graham wants to end the policy of birthright citizenship. Governor Pataki, you support keeping it. Tell him why he’s wrong.

PATAKI: Yeah, it’s a small part of a very important issue, and let me comment on what my colleagues were saying here.

We all agree you have to secure the border. We have to make sure that people come to America legally. That has got to be step one.

Step two is, we have to stop releasing criminals into the communities. If you are charged with a crime as an illegal alien, you should either be in jail or be deported. You should not released, as the Obama administration has done. Of course, we should outlaw sanctuary cities and hold them responsible.

But we can’t ignore 11 million people who are here. What are we going to do? We’re not going to send them back, despite somebody saying we’re going to drag kids out of classrooms and send them back.

But we have to send a message that we are a nation that depends on the rule of law, and when your first act is to break the law, there has to be a consequence.

So what I would do is require those who want to have legal status, not citizenship, come forward, acknowledge they broke the law, and if they do it again, they can be immediately deported, and then do what we do in communities across America when we want to sanction someone…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

PATAKI: … and that is community service — 200 hours working in a hospital…

TAPPER: Governor…

PATAKI: … working in a school, and then they could have legal…

TAPPER: What I — what I asked about was about birthright citizenship and why you think that we should preserve birthright…

PATAKI: I don’t — I don’t think that we should tell that child born in America that we’re going to send them back. The way to avoid that is to have an intelligent immigration policy where we know who is coming here, why they are coming here, so we don’t have this flood of people coming here for the wrong reasons.

TAPPER: Senator Graham, most countries in the world do not have birthright citizenship.

GRAHAM: Probably for a good reason.

TAPPER: Why do you think Governor Pataki is wrong?

GRAHAM: Well, let’s talk about immigration. Number one, I like Rick. I don’t remember the Santorum plan when I was in the Senate.

The peanut gallery on this is interesting. I have been trying to solve this problem for a decade. There are no democrats here tonight. If you’re here, raise your hand. You went to the wrong — we’ll, welcome. Thank you very much for coming.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Was that a…

GRAHAM: The bottom line, I’m trying to pitch the problem. We’re not going to deport 11 million people here illegally, but we’ll start with felons, and off they go. And, as to the rest, you can stay, but you got to learn our language. I don’t speak it very well, well, look how far I’ve come?

(LAUGHTER) Speaking English is a good thing. You got to pay taxes, you got to pay a fine, you got to get in the back of the line. You’ve got to secure your border or they’ll keep coming. If you don’t control who gets a job that never ends — so (ph) got two borders. One with Canadia — Canada, one with Mexico. I never met an illegal Canadian.

This is an economic problem, so, folks, let’s solve it. Amnesty is doing nothing, and that’s what we’ve been doing.

As to birthright citizenship, once we clean up this mess, in the future, prospectively, I’m going to look at the following. There are people buying tourist visas that go to resorts with maternity wards with the expressed purpose of having a children here in America. There are rich Asians, there are rich people up in the Mid-East…

TAPPER: …Thank you Senator…

GRAHAM: …That to me is bastardizing citizenship…

TAPPER: …Thank you Senator…

GRAHAM: …Yeah, I’d like to stop that in the future…

TAPPER(?): Governor Pataki, I’d just want to…

SANTORUM: …Hold on, hold on, hold on…

TAPPER: …We’ll come back to you Senator Santorum, I promise…

SANTORUM: …He mentioned my name, and that i didn’t have a plan. And, the fact of the matter is…

TAPPER: …alright…

SANTORUM: …that I did have a plan back in 2006. I introduced a plan called, A Comprehensive Border Security Bill, which did, in fact, put the resources to build the fencing, and deploy the troops, and the technology necessary which…

GRAHAM: …What do you do with the 11 million?

SANTORUM: As you know, Lindsay…

GRAHAM: …What are you going to do with the 11 million?

SANTORUM: …As you know, 40 to 60 percent of the 11 million are here on visa overstays. We know exactly who they are, we should know where they are, but we have a government that doesn’t tell them to return home. You can solve half of the problem of the 11 million…

GRAHAM: …Well, what about the other half…

SANTORUM: …by simply telling the 11 million that they have to return to their country of origin, so, that’s half your problem…

GRAHAM: …How many democrats support yourplan…

SANTORUM: …Now, it’s not 11 million…

GRAHAM: …How many democrats did you have on your bill?

SANTORUM: I don’t know how many democrats I had on my bill…

GRAHAM: …I can tell you. None.

SANTORUM: But, the point is — the point is is that I had a bill…

GRAHAM: …That went nowhere.

SANTORUM: Well, you’re right, Lindsay, it went no where because we had a president back then who was for more comprehensive immigration reform…

GRAHAM: …George W. Bush…

SANTORUM: …That’s right…

GRAHAM: …Who won with hispanics.

SANTORUM: You know what we need to do…

GRAHAM: …Compared to what we’re doing…

SANTORUM: Lindsay, is we need to win — we need to win fighting for Americans. We need to win fighting for the workers in this country…

GRAHAM: …Hispanics…

SANTORUM: …who are hurting, including including hispanics…

GRAHAM: …Are Americans…

SANTORUM: …the people who are hurt the most by illegal immigration are hispanics.

GRAHAM: (APPLAUSE)…In my world, hispanics are Americans…

SANTORUM: …The folks — the folks who are — hurt the worst are recent immigrants. By illegal immigrants coming to this country last year alone, 700,000 illegal immigrants came into this country. Who do you think are most impacted? It’s the folks who came into this country, played by the rules, did what they were supposed to do. Came here, and went to work, and now they’re finding themselves out of work because someone illegally is willing to come in and work for less…

GRAHAM: …I have a little different take on where the country is going on this issue. Number one, in 1950, there were 16 workers for every retiree. How many are there today? There’s three. In 20 years, there’s going to be two, and you’re going to have 80 million baby boomers like me retiree in mass wanting a Social Security check, and their Medicare bills paid.

We’re going to need more legal immigration. Let’s just make it logical. Let’s pick people from all over the world on our terms, not just somebody from Mexico. Let’s create a rational, legal immigration system because we have a declining workforce.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator…

GRAHAM: …Strom Thurmond had four kids after he was 67, if you’re not willing to do that, we’ve got to come up with a new legal immigration system.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. Governor Pataki, I want to let you have the final word here. SANTORUM: I just want to say — I just want to say, I have seven

kids, I’ve done my part.

TAPPER: Governor Pataki?

PATAKI: We have to deal with the people who are here illegally. We can’t just ignore them, or send them back. I think my policy would work to give them legal status, make them a part of an economy that will grow, and help America. TAPPER: I want to turn to another pressing immigration issue. Governor Jindal, over the next year, at least 10,000 Syrian refugees will be allowed to enter the United States. Governor Jindal, you’ve said it’s ridiculous for America to let more refugees in from Syria, and you’ve expressed concerns about security.

Senator Graham says that the United States has a moral obligation to these Syrian refugees. Governor Jindal, does the United States have any obligation to them?

JINDAL: Jake, look, America’s the most compassionate country in the entire world. We do more for folks around this world, and that’s the nature of the American people.

Two things. One, let us draw line, a direct line, between this refugee crisis, and this president’s failed foreign policy.

JINDAL: Jake, look, America is the most compassionate country in the entire world. We do more for folks around this world. And that’s the nature of the American people.

Two things: one, let us draw a line, a direct line between this refugee crisis and this president’s failed foreign policy. He drew a red line in Syria and did not enforce it and now we’re seeing millions of refugees potentially, hundreds of thousands going into Europe.

The answer is not to put a Band-aid on this and allow even more people to come into America. We should not short-circuit; we have got a vetting process, we’ve got a normal refugee process. Simply allowing more into our country doesn’t solve this problem.

The way to solve this problem is for us to be clear to our friends and allies that we’re going to replace Assad, we’re going to hunt down and destroy ISIS; our friends don’t trust us, our enemies don’t fear and respect us.

But I want to go back on immigration. Let me be very clear. Immigration, we need to insist on assimilation in immigration. My parents came here legally almost 45 years ago. They came here, they followed the rule of law. They knew English, they adopted the values. They didn’t come here to be hyphenated Americans. They’re not Indian Americans. They’re not Asian Americans. They’re —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: We — it is important we insist on that in immigration going — TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Graham, your response when it comes to Syrian refugees?

GRAHAM: Yes, number one, how does President Obama sleep at night?

Look what you let happen on your watch. Your commanders told you, don’t withdrawal from Iraq because we’ll lose of our gains.

Three years ago your entire national security team, Senator McCain and I begged you to do a no-fly zone and help the Free Syrian Army while it would matter. But you said no.

I’m not blaming Bobby, I’m not blaming Rick, I’m not blaming anybody, I’m blaming Barack Obama for this mess.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: I want to turn now —

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I want to fix it.

TAPPER: We’re going to keep talking about the situation in the Middle East. Let me bring in my colleague, Dana Bash, again.

BASH: Thank you.

Senator Graham, you mentioned this earlier; you are calling for an additional 20,000 U.S. ground forces to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria and you have said — again, just this evening — that anyone who’s not willing to do that should not be commander in chief.

GRAHAM: Right.

BASH: No one on this stage has gone that far.

So are you saying, for Iraq and Syria, are you saying that everybody to your right is not fit for the Oval Office?

GRAHAM: I’m saying this, if they don’t understand that Barack Obama’s policies are not working, that we’re not going to destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria from the air, they are not ready.

What have I learned in 35 trips? I learned what works and what doesn’t.

We were in a good spot in Iraq, President Bush made mistakes but he adjusted. To those who fought in Iraq, you did your job and Barack Obama wasted it all.

Now we’re in a spot where, if we don’t destroy ISIL soon, they are coming here. There are 3,500 American boots on the ground. You would never know it, hearing your president, but we need about 10,000 to turn the tide of battle in Iraq. Then there is nobody left, Dana, to train inside of Syria.

We spent $50 million training 54 people and they are down to four or five. They have been slaughtered. So we’re going to need a regional army, the turks, the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Egyptians get their armies up together and 90 percent of it will be them. They’re going to pay for this war because we paid for the last two.

But 10 percent at least will have to be us and we’re going in on the ground and we’re going to pull the caliphate up by its roots and we’re going to kill every one of these bastards we can find because, if we don’t, they are coming here.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator —

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: — Senator Santorum, I know you’re raising your hand.

You’re committing to this number of troops, both in Iraq and on the ground in Syria?

SANTORUM: I have proposed 10,000 troops, I did so about six or seven months ago, that we needed to deploy additional troops to do exactly what Lindsey said, arm the Kurds, arm —

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: And he’s saying 20,000.

Would you…?

SANTORUM: I’ve said — I’ve said 10,000 and, if more is necessary, look, the answer is this, once ISIS established a caliphate, the game changed because once you establish a caliphate, you have an area of control, you have to take ground from that caliphate, because if you don’t, then, in the Islamic world, it’s seen as a legitimate caliphate.

As long as they have territorial integrity, and even expand it, they have legitimacy and much of the Muslim world to call people to join their jihad here in America as well as in Iraq and in Syria. So we must take their ground.

BASH: Thank you, Senator.

Governor Jindal?

JINDAL: Look, absolutely. We need to do whatever is necessary to hunt down and kill these radical Islamic terrorists but this president has helped — his policies have helped to contribute to this problem.

He went to the Pentagon the same week they announced they were cutting back the number of troops in the Army to say that we’re not going to win this through guns, it’s going to be a change of hearts and minds. This will be a generational conflict, that is nonsense. These are barbarians.

They are burning, crucifying people alive, Christians and other Muslims. We need to hunt them down and —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: — by having a president willing to —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: — Islamic —

TAPPER: Thank you, thank you, Governor.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: — does that include American ground forces in Syria as part of a regional army?

Are all of you willing to commit to American ground forces going into Syria as part of a regional army to destroy the caliphate and its headquarters?

TAPPER: Governor Pataki —

PATAKI: Lindsey, let me comment on this.

Last week was the anniversary of September 11th and I was governor of New York on September 11th and led us through that horrible day.

PATAKI: And I learned that we cannot assume that because radical Islam is a continent away, it doesn’t pose a threat to us here in America. It did then, and today, I think, we are at greater risk of an attack than at any time since.

We have got to destroy ISIS’s ability to attack us here. But it’s not 10,000 troops. It’s not 20,000 troops. In my view, it’s three things. First, we have to directly arm those fighting ISIS on the ground now. The Kurds…

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor. Sorry. We have rules and timing.

Governor Jindal, I do want to bring you in. I want to turn to a story in news in the story today. A 14-year-old Muslim high school student in Texas was arrested on Monday for bringing a homemade clock to school after it was mistaken for a fake bomb. Police released the young man after they determined it was, in fact, a clock. Today, President Obama invited that student to the White House.

Governor Jindal, throughout your campaign, you’ve spoken many times about Muslim extremists in this country. How would you, as president, strike a balance between vigilance and discrimination? JINDAL: Well, Jake, look, I think the American people — we

don’t discriminate anybody based on the color of their skin or their creed. I think the way you strike that balance, you say to Muslim leaders, they have got two responsibilities.

One, it’s not enough to denounce just simply generic acts of violence. They have got to denounce the individuals by name, and say these are not martyrs. These terrorists are not martyrs; rather, they are going straight to hell. They are not going to enjoy a reward in their afterlife.

Secondly, they have to explicitly embrace the same freedoms for everybody else they want for themselves. Look, I know it’s politically incorrect to say this, the president says Fort Hood was an issue of workplace violence.

We are at war with radical Islam. Our president loves to apologize for America, he goes to the National Prayer Breakfast, brings up the Crusades, criticizes Christians. We’re at war today with radical Islamic extremists.

It’s not politically correct to say that, but the way you strike that balance, you say to Muslim leaders, denounce these fools, these radical terrorists by name, say they are not martyrs.

TAPPER: Governor Jindal, I’m afraid you didn’t answer the question. How do you strike the balance between vigilance and discrimination?

Obviously, we know how you feel about the vigilance part of this. Do you ever see the discrimination part of it?

JINDAL: Sure, I don’t think a 14-year-old should ever get arrested for bringing a clock to school. So, if you’re asking me I’m glad he wasn’t — he was released. I’m glad that police are careful. I’m glad they are worried about security and safety issues.

Look, in America we don’t tolerate them. The biggest discrimination is going on against Christian business owners and individuals who believe in traditional forms of marriage. They are throwing this woman in jail in Kentucky.

(APPLAUSE)

Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the Christian florist, the caterer, the musician, who simply want to say, don’t arrest us for having — or don’t discriminate against us, don’t shut down our businesses, don’t fine us thousands of dollars for believing marriage is between a man and a woman. Lets talk about not discriminating against Christians.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor. We will get to that subject later in the debate.

Senator Graham? GRAHAM: Well, you know, Kim Davis, I’m not worried about her

attacking me. I am worried about radical Islamic terrorists who are already here planning another 9/11.

We’re at war, folks. I’m not fighting a crime. I want to have a legal system that understands the difference between fighting a war and fighting a crime, and here’s the reality. Young men from the Mid- East are different than Kim Davis. And we’ve got to understand that.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: Islamic websites need to be monitored.

PATAKI: Jake…

GRAHAM: And if you are on one, I want to know what you’re doing.

TAPPER: Governor Pataki?

PATAKI: Jake, if I can comment on this. Yes, Kim Davis is different from Islamist radicalists from the Middle East.

But on the other hand, we have run rule in America, an elected official can’t say I’m not going to follow that law if it conflicts with my beliefs. I think she should have been fired and if she worked for me, I would have fired her. We have to uphold the rule of law.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

PATAKI: Imagine one minute — Jake, imagine one minute that was a Muslim who said I don’t believe in gay marriage, and refused to perform that wedding. We wouldn’t have had that outrage. There’s a place where religion supersedes the rule of law. It’s called Iran. It shouldn’t be the United States.

TAPPER: We’ll get to that subject in the next block. We’re going to take a very quick break. When we come back, both Jeb Bush and Donald Trump agree on one thing when it comes to taxes. We’ll see if any of the candidates on stage agree as well.

TAPPER: That’s next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Welcome back to the CNN Republican Debate at the beautiful Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

Before we took the break, you were all chomping at the bit to talk about Kim Davis, that Kentucky clerk.

Governor Pataki said he would have fired Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Senator Santorum, do you agree with Governor Pataki?

SANTORUM: 16 years ago, this country was tremendously inspired by a young woman who faced a gunman in Columbine and was challenged about her faith and she refused to deny God. We saw her as a hero.

Today, someone who refuses to defy (sic) a judge’s unconstitutional verdict is ridiculed and criticized, chastised because she’s standing up and denying — not denying her God and her faith.

That is a huge difference in 16 years. People have a fundamental right in the First Amendment. There’s no more important right. It is the right that is the trunk that all other rights come from, and that’s the freedom of conscience.

And when we say in America that we have no room — how many bakers, how many florists, how many pastors, how many clerks are we going to throw in jail because they stand up and say, “I cannot violate what my faith says is against its teachings”? Is there not room in America? I believe there has to be room.

First, I believe we have to pass the First Amendment Defense Act, which provides that room for government officials and others who do not want to be complicit in what they believe is against their faith.

Second, we need as a president who’s going to fight a court that is abusive, that has superseded their authority. Judicial supremacy is not in the Constitution, and we need a president and a Congress to stand up to a court when it exceeds its constitutional authority.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

Governor Pataki, your response?

PATAKI: My response is kind of, “Wow.” You know, we’re going to have a president who defies the Supreme Court because they don’t agree?

SANTORUM: I hope so. If they’re wrong.

PATAKI: Then you don’t have the rule of law…

SANTORUM: No, what you have is judicial supremacy. You don’t have a rule of law when the court has the final say on everything.

PATAKI: The — the elected representatives of the people always have the opportunity to change that law. The Supreme Court makes a determination, but it’s ultimately the elected officials who decide whether or not that would be accepted.

By the way, if I have a chance to lead this country, I will appoint judges who understand their role. They’re not going to be making the law; they’re going to be interpreting law that the elected officials passed.

PATAKI: But there’s a huge difference between an individual standing up and saying I am going to stand for my religious freedom and my religious rights. I applaud that. This is America. You should be able to engage in your religious belief in the way you see fit.

But when you are an elected official and you take an oath of office to uphold the law, all the laws, you cannot pick and choose or you no longer have a society that depends on the rule of law.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Martin Luther King wrote a letter from the Birmingham jail. And he said in that letter that there are just laws and there are unjust laws. And we have no obligation to — to condone and accept unjust laws.

And he — and they — then he followed up and said what’s an unjust law?

An unjust law is a job that — a law that go against the moral code or God’s law or the natural law.

I would argue that what the Supreme Court did is against the natural law, it’s against God’s law and we have every obligation to stand in opposition to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jake…

PATAKI: Yes, I — I didn’t agree with the Supreme Court’s decision, but it is the law of this land. And I am a great admirer of Martin Luther King. And he was prepared to break the law. But it wasn’t in an office of political power. It was civil disobedience, where what he was willing to do is voluntarily go to jail with his followers to send a message to the elected representatives that these laws were wrong and had to be changed.

And because of his courage, we didn’t ignore the courts, we changed the laws and made America a better place. That’s the way to do it.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

JINDAL: Jake — Jake… (CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We’re coming to both of you.

JINDAL: Jake, I’ve got a practical question.

TAPPER: What…

(CROSSTALK) JINDAL: I’ve got a practical question. I’d like the left to

give us a list of jobs that Christians aren’t allowed to have. If we’re not allowed to be clerks, bakers, musicians, caterers, are we allowed to be pastors (INAUDIBLE)?

TAPPER: Governor Jindal…

JINDAL: We’re not allowed to be elected officials. I firmly — this is an important point. The First Amendment rights, the right to religious freedom is in the First Amendment of “The Constitution.” It isn’t breaking the law to exercise our constitutional rights. America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America. It is the reason we’re here today.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I…

TAPPER: Senator Graham, do you want to weigh in?

GRAHAM: I wasn’t the best law student. By the end of this debate, it would be the most time I’ve ever spent in any library.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: But on the first day in law school view (ph), it’s called “Marbury v. Madison.” The group in our constitutional democracy that interprets “The Constitution” as to what it means is the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, they have ruled that same-sex marriage bans at the state level violate the Fourteenth Amendment to “The United States Constitution” equal protection clause.

I don’t agree with it, but that is the law of the land. But as president, what I want make sure of is that everybody in this room, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever religion that you can practice your faith without government interference, you can marry people consistent with the tenets of your faith. That’s the number one obligation of my presidency, is to protect religious people when they exercise their religious rights.

But this decision is the law as it is of right now.

And here’s the one thing I want to tell you, Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: Wait — wait a minute.

Whether you’re the wedding cake baker or the gay couple or the Baptist preacher, radical Islam would kill you all if they could.

TAPPER: Senator…

GRAHAM: Let’s don’t lose sight of the big picture here.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. I want to stay with the subject of Supreme Court judges —

justices.

Governor Jindal, both Senators graham and Santorum voted to confirm chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, who has led with the majority twice to uphold ObamaCare.

Do you think that Graham’s and Santorum’s votes to confirm John Roberts were a mistake?

JINDAL: I think actually putting Roberts, I think putting Kennedy, I think putting — before them, I think putting Souter on the bench was a mistake. But look, I think the — the first responsibility starts in the White House. The reality is conservatives have not been willing to stand up for our beliefs, unlike the liberals — look, you never worry about where the Democratic judges are going to vote, it’s always the conservatives. You’ve never had a Democratic judge wake up and say, surprise, I’ve evolved, I’ve become a conservative.

It’s always the Republicans, because we have presidents that try to find judges with no records, no rulings, no writings. I’ll tell you, I am going to have a litmus test. For judges, I’m going to find judges that are conservative, judges that are going to be pro-life, judges that are going to follow “The Constitution,” judges, by the way, that are going to follow the American law, not international law.

They’re not appointed there to interpret international law, they’re there to apply “The United States Constitution.” Judges understand, their job is not to write law. If they want to write law, they should run for the Senate or the House.

JINDAL: It’s time for a Republican president as the next commander in chief, I will do as the Democrats have done. I will appoint bold judges that are actually consistent with my values that will be conservatives and enforce the Senate —

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Graham, I want to give you an opportunity to respond —

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: — I would note that Anthony Kennedy, was, of course, a Ronald Reagan appointee.

Senator Graham, do you stand by your vote for John Roberts?

GRAHAM: He’s one of the most qualified men to ever come before the United States Senate and I don’t agree with his decision, but 99 times out of 100, I will.

To the Republicans, the biggest prize on the table in 2017 is the presidency. If it is Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, they are going to pick people that we will disagree with all the time. Please understand, we have to win this election. The court’s at

stake. It is the most important reason for us to turn out, to make sure we don’t lose the judiciary for decades to come.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Senator Santorum, do you stand by your vote for John Roberts?

SANTORUM: Well, contrary to what Governor Jindal said, Governor — Justice Roberts had a long record and it was a long, good record. And so he made a bad decision on — a couple of bad decisions on ObamaCare but he’s made a lot of great decisions, too.

And so I don’t — I don’t regret at all standing up for John Roberts but, you know, it’s easy to sit out in Louisiana and talk about how, you know, well, I’d be tougher.

I fought when I was in the United States Senate. We fought, for the first time, to defeat justices and judges that Bill Clinton nominated and I fought with President Bush to defend his nominees, to push even a filibuster, breaking the filibuster. I led that fight against someone who didn’t want to end the filibuster in order for us to get good, conservative justices.

So I have been there on the front line, fighting for judges and conservative justices and I will do so as president like none other.

TAPPER: Governor Jindal, I’m going to give you 30 seconds to respond.

JINDAL: Thank you, Jake. But look, it’s not a minor ruling. Justice Roberts twice rewrote the law to save ObamaCare, the biggest expansion of government, creating a new entitlement when we can’t afford the government we’ve got today, an expansion of socialism in our country.

It’s not that he got a minor ruling wrong. This is twice he rewrote the law. Now, look, I have a lot of respect for these senators that have big bladders. They give great speeches in the Senate. And I respect that.

I’ve actually signed the executive order. I’ve actually signed a law protecting religious liberty in the state of Louisiana.

It’s not 99-1. The one that he got wrong was a big one. Twice he bent over backwards to save ObamaCare. If the Republicans had voted the way that we should — they should have, we would still have our 19th Amendment rights and ObamaCare would not be the law of the land.

TAPPER: Let me bring back Hugh Hewitt.

HEWITT: Governor Jindal, Senator Graham just said it’s all about winning and, in fact, if former Secretary of State Clinton is the successor to President Obama, none of this matters and all this conversation is beside the point.

In the Washington elite, they have a habit of saying nice things about each other until election time. Senator Graham has praised Secretary of State Clinton as a great choice to be the secretary of state, as a national treasure.

Can anyone from inside of Washington win this election cycle, having praised Secretary of State Clinton that way?

JINDAL: No. And it’s not only whether they can win. They shouldn’t win this election cycle.

One of the things I do agree — and I want to thank Donald Trump after I’ve criticized him for everything from being a narcissist to an egomaniac — one of the things he was right about was to say nonsense to the D.C. establishment. It is time to fire all of them. You’ve got a choice between honest Socialists on the Left, like Bernie Sanders, and lying conservatives on the Right.

We have got the majority; what good has it done us? See, they said they were going to stop amnesty. They said they were going to repeal ObamaCare. They didn’t do either. Now they’re not even willing to fight to defund Planned Parenthood. They’ve already — McConnell has already waved the white flag of defeat.

They are not willing to stand up to fight for the issues that count. I think it is time to have term limits. I think it’s time to have part-time citizen legislators. Let’s pay them a per diem instead of a six-figure salary, stop them from being seven-figure lobbyists. Let’s also pay them a per diem for every day they don’t go to D.C. Let’s keep them out of D.C., working in the real —

(CROSSTALK)

JINDAL: — let’s make them live under the same rules and laws they apply to the rest of us. Not only shouldn’t they be elected, they can’t be elected. Let’s fire all of them from their current positions.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Senator Graham, took a shot at there and you’re having a good debate but there is this problem of Washington elites and saying wonderful things about each other.

GRAHAM: I’ve been called a lot of things but never elite before. My dad owned a liquor store, a bar and a poolroom.

So only in America can you go from the back of a liquor store to being an elite.

HEWITT: Is that responsive to calling Hillary Clinton a national treasure, Senator?

GRAHAM: I introduced her at a conference about Africa. I thought Secretary Clinton did a good job when it came to dealing with our problems in Africa, particularly among women. George W. Bush set $40 billion aside and Rick Santorum helped him and President Bush wiped out an entire — wiped out AIDS and malaria for an entire generation of young African children.

Secretary Clinton —

(APPLAUSE)

GRAHAM: — Secretary Clinton did a good — here’s my problem with Secretary Clinton.

Where the hell were you on the night of the Benghazi attack?

How did you let it become a death threat to begin with?

And why did you lie about what happened to these people?

GRAHAM: And if you want a new change in terms of foreign policy, don’t pick her, because she’s his secretary of state.

I’ve got a real good chance of beating her, because I don’t say things bad about her all the time — just when she deserves it. And her definition of flat broke and mine are a little bit different.

HEWITT: But Senator, can you go back and forth that way, and expect to have an argument with the American people to persuade them about that?

GRAHAM: Well, Ronald Reagan did a couple of really big things that we should all remember.

He sat down with Tip O’Neill, the most liberal guy in the entire House. They started drinking together. That’s the first thing I’m going to do as president. We’re going to drink more.

(APPLAUSE)

And what did this — two great Irishmen do? They found a way to save Social Security from bankruptcy by adjusting the age of retirement from 65 to 67.

So, yes, I will say nice things at times about Democrats. Yes, I will work them — work with them.

(LAUGHTER)

I will put the country ahead of party. Absolutely I want to work with them. At the end of the day, Hugh, I’m lucky to be standing here. I’m the first in my family to ever go to college. Neither one of my parents finished high school. Darline’s here with me tonight. We owned a restaurant…

HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: Well, wait a minute. We…

HEWITT: Thank you, senator.

GRAHAM: You asked me a question. This is important. Republicans need to tell the American people we get it as to who you are.

When my mom died, I was 21. When my dad died, when I was 22. We were wiped out financially. If it weren’t for Social Security survivor benefit check coming into Darline, we wouldn’t have made it. I don’t need a lecture from Democrats about Social Security.

HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: I want to save it, just like Ronald Reagan did.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Let’s talk about the economy, if We could.

Governor Pataki.

PATAKI: Yes?

HEWITT: Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are both proposing raising taxes on hedge fund managers who pay at a lower rate. Governor Pataki, you were the governor of New York, home of Wall Street.

Do you agree that hedge fund managers need to be paying a higher rate?

PATAKI: I would throw out the entire corrupt tax code.

(APPLAUSE)

It’s a symbol of the corruption and the power of the lobbyists and the special interests in Washington. It is 74,000 pages of incomprehensible gobbledygook.

What I would do is get rid of the 1.4 million every year in exemptions and loopholes, dramatically lower the rates. The normal American person is paying higher taxes than they should because of loopholes, and one of them is that carried interest loophole.

I would tax that income the same as ordinary income. I’d lower the rate to 24 percent for all Americans, but I would not give a special break to the Wall Street fat caps — fat cats.

HEWITT: So you are with Jeb Bush and Donald Trump on the hedge fund?

PATAKI: It’s hard for me to say I’m with Donald trump on anything, but on this issue, I agree with him. But let me just make one other point.

It’s not just throwing out the tax code to break the back of the special interests that control Washington. It’s other reforms. I would propose a law — right now there are over 400 former members of the House and Senate who are registered lobbyists in Washington. I would propose a law on day one, you serve one day in the House or Senate, there’s a lifetime ban on you ever being a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

You get elected, you go back home. You don’t stay and support the special interests. (APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Governor Jindal — Governor Jindal, that’s three Republicans running for president who support hedge fund managers paying a higher rate. Are you the fourth?

JINDAL: Two things, Jake. One, I’m absolutely for all of these carve-outs and loopholes and special interests for as — they get lobbyists. They get sweetheart deals you and I and the rest of this audience couldn’t get.

So as part of an overall comprehensive tax reform that has a lower, flatter tax code, sure. As a single, I am just to raise taxes, no. I don’t want to give the government more money.

The government has grown over this president where now, it’s going to overwhelm the American economy. We’ve got to cut the size of the government economy.

Nobody else running for president has done that. I’m the only candidate. I’ve cut my state budget 26 percent. Everybody else talks about it, we have done it.

So, there’s a part of overall tax reform that cuts rates, flattens and lowers the tax code, sure. But I’m not for raising taxes on anybody. We already have too much money going to D.C.

HEWITT: Let’s stay on the topic of taxes.

PATAKI: Can I just…

HEWITT: I want to bring in my colleague, Dana Bash.

BASH: Senator Santorum, you just heard Governor Jindal and Governor Pataki talk about tax reform.

Jeb Bush has proposed a tax reform plan, and in it, he limits deductions, including the popular home mortgage deduction. Would you do the same as president?

SANTORUM: Actually, I’m going to be proposing a plan, I call it the 20/20 perfect vision for America as flat tax, a 20 percent flat tax on income, 20 percent flat tax on capital gains and on corporations.

We eliminate all the deductions, special interest provisions and corporations. We deal with the carried interest issue, because everybody pays the same 20 percent. So, there’s no advantage as to how you take your income. That will create growth.

We’re going to allow expensing for corporations. SANTORUM: For manufacturing, again, I print — I pledged, when I

announced that I was going to run for president on the factory floor that I would make America the number one manufacturer in the world. Why? Because we need to put Americans back to work.

Hard working Americans, who are not doing well in this economy, and we start creating jobs here, and manufacturing. These people from all skill levels are going to be able to work. We put a 20 percent rate on corporations, we’re competitive with almost every country in the world. We allow for expensing, we have a three year phase in. We start at zero for manufacturers, phase it up to 20. You’re going to see an enormous investment of capital, and equipment. You’re going to see people — you’re going to have problems finding folks are going to be able to work in manufacturing. That’s how many jobs we’re going to create.

So, the answer is, you know, we’re going to lower, and flatten taxes. We’re going to put government on a — on a budget. A 10 percent across the board cut…

BASH: …times up, Senator.

SANTORUM: …employment. We’ve got a lot of plans.

BASH: …OK, times up, Senator. Governor, just to bring you back into this, you said that you would be OK with what is effectively raising taxes on hedge fund managers as part of a tax reform plan. Would you aslo be for doing away with people’s deductions for their mortgages.

PATAKI: No, I would not. I would keep that deduction. I would lower the rates dramatically, so, yes, that root that has a special carve out would pay more, but everybody else is going to pay less.

I would keep the home mortgage deduction, the charitable deduction, and others. And, by the way, you know, I agree with Rick on manufacturing, but my approach is different. I would pass a rate on manufacturing of 12 percent, the lowest in the developed world so we can make this America again. I know how important those jobs are.

When I work — went through college, Christmas and summer vacations, I worked in a factory. My grandparents worked in a factory. We have the opportunity now with lower energy costs, with the world labor cost getting higher, to make things in America so we don’t have to worry about China.

Lower the tax burden on manufacturing, improve the work skills…

TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor…

PATAKI: …of Americans. Get rid of job killing regulations. If we’re going to…

TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor…

PATAKI: …If we’re going to make this America… TAPPER: …I want to turn — you’re going to be involved in the

next question…

SANTORUM: …Let me just…

TAPPER: …Senator Graham…

SANTORUM: …He talked about manufacturing, and the fact is that we have a zero percent rate that faces the 20, we’d have a seven percent repatriation, so money — about two trillion dollars over seas…

TAPPER: …Thank you, Senator…

SANTORUM: …Would come back, and be invested in equipment here. We will create more jobs with this plan, than any plan out…

TAPPER: …Thank you Senator. Senator Graham, I want to turn to the minimum…

GRAHAM: If you want to see manufacturing, come to South Carolina…

TAPPER: …Well, let’s talk about South Carolina…

GRAHAM: …We’ll show ‘ya.

TAPPER: …Senator, let’s turn to the minimum wage.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Senator Santorum is the only person on the stage who has proposed increasing the federal minimum wage. How would that affect South Carolinians? Do you agree with Senator Santorum that the federal minimum wage should be increased?

GRAHAM: Well, I know this. That when my mom and dad owned a restaurant, the bar, the pool room, that if you increased the minimum wage it’d been hard to hire more people.

Hillary Clinton has a list a mile long to help the middle class. We’re talking all around this. The middle class for the last six and a half years has been squeezed, and squeezed hard.

To the middle class, I understand who you are. You’re one broken down car from not going on vacation. You’re from one sick child away from having to change your whole budget.

Here’s what I want to do as your president. I want to grow this economy. When Boeing came to South Carolina to build a 787, everybody paid more they would have lost their employees to Boeing. If you’re a waitress out there wanting more money, I’m not going to increase the minimum wage, I’m going to try to create an environment where somebody else will open up a restaurant across the street to hire you away at a higher rate, or they’ll have to pay you more to keep you. You got to borrow money to create jobs in this country. Banking

is locked down because of Dodd-Frank. The tax code is a complete mess, but nobody’s talked about the elephant in the room, which is debt. Not one more penny to the federal government until w2e come up with a plan to get out of debt.

TAPPER: Senator Graham, thank you so much. Senator Santorum…

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Senator Graham is suggesting that your proposal would not allot South Carolinians to hire more workers.

SANTORUM: Lindsay, what percentage of American workers make the minimum wage right now?

GRAHAM: It’s probably a small bit, but the ones that get it…

SANTORUM: It’s less than one percent.

GRAHAM: Yeah, but I…

SANTORUM: …So, what you’re saying, what every Republican’s up here saying is we’re against the minimum wage because, if you’re not for increasing it, than whoevers making the minimum wage right now…

GRAHAM: …Have you ever thought why all of us say that…

SANTORUM: …The answer is Republicans don’t believe in a floor wage in America. Fine, you go ahead and make that case to the American public, I’m not going to. Not from a party that supported bailouts. I didn’t, but this party did.

MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

SANTORUM: Not from a party that supports special interest tax provisions for a whole bunch of other businesses, and, but, when it comes to hardworking Americans who are at the bottom of the income scale, we can’t provide some level of income support? What I’ve proposed is not anything but the (ph) presidents (ph) proposed (ph) I believe that would be harmful to the American public, but a $.50 cents an hour increase over three years, which is what I’m proposing.

SANTORUM: So we would have a minimum wage which would be roughly in the area of what it’s been historically, about 5 percent of wages.

To me, if you’re going to talk to 90 percent of American workers — by the way, 90 percent of American workers don’t own a bar. They don’t own a business. They work for a living. They’re wage — most of them are wage earners.

And Republicans are losing elections because we’re not talking about them. All we want to talk about is, what happened to our business? There are people who work in that business.

I was at a — I was at the convention four years ago, and on the signs — on all of the seats the night I spoke was a sign that said, “We built that,” because Barack Obama had talked about how businesses didn’t build their own businesses.

Then we trotted out one small-business person after another for almost an hour that night talking about how they built their businesses. And that’s wonderful.

But you know what we didn’t do? We didn’t bring one worker on that stage.

How are you going to win, ladies and gentlemen? How are we going to win if 90 percent of Americans don’t think we care at all…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

SANTORUM: … about them and their chance to rise…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. We have to take a quick break.

When we come back, confrontation or negotiation? How will these candidates attempt to handle Russian President Vladimir Putin? That’s next.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: And we’re back at the CNN Republican Debate at the Reagan Library in beautiful Simi Valley, California.

TAPPER: Let’s turn now to some issues of foreign policy.

Senator Graham, you all oppose the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a Republican, is pushing for a U.S. military strike against Iran, against its nuclear facilities.

Senator Graham, would you authorize, as president, a nuclear strike against — I mean, sorry — a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities?

GRAHAM: If I believed they were trying to break out and get a bomb, absolutely. And here’s the most important thing: they know I would if I had to.

And none of us are going to be able to defend this country adequately until we rebuild our military. A weak economy, a military in decline, the world on fire, does that sound familiar to you?

Michael, does that sound familiar to you?

The first thing I’m going to do as commander in chief on day one is call the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and say, what do you need that you don’t have?

We’re cutting our military; we’re on track to have the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915 and John Kasich says he wants to close more bases. I want to rebuild our military and I want the Iranians to know that, if I had to, I would use it.

The worst nightmare in the world is a radical Islamic regime with a weapon of mass destruction. The only reason 3,000 of us died on 9/11 is not 3 million, not 3 million is because they couldn’t get the weapons to kill us. They’re on track to get a bomb even if they don’t cheat.

This deal is a nightmare for Israel. They are coming here if we don’t watch it terrorism with a nuclear capability sponsored by Iran. So, yes, I would use military force to stop them. I would set this deal aside and I would get you a better deal.

If you gave $100 billion, I could get almost anybody out of jail. We couldn’t even get our hostages out of jail.

TAPPER: Governor —

(APPLAUSE) TAPPER: — Hugh — I’m going to go to Hugh Hewitt for a question for Governor Pataki.

HEWITT: There are other ways, Governor, than bombing Iran.

I want to quote Rick Santorum.

“We should send a very clear message that If you are a scientist and you’re going to work on a nuclear program to develop a bomb for Iran, you are not safe.”

Does that message work?

Is anything that works on the table?

PATAKI: Not on the table but I think there’s a lot that does work. And that is to have a strong America, a strong military and a resolve where the Iranians know that not only are we going to reject this deal on day one and reimpose sanctions but, if they move forward with the nuclear program, their safety for those facilities will be at risk.

I’ll tell you a couple of things I’d do. I’d give the Israelis bombs called MOPs, massive ordnance penetrators. Give them to Israel. Let the Iranians know we’re prepared to work with Israel to make sure they never have a nuclear weapon.

And let me point out that Hillary Clinton, supporting this deal, she was the senator from New York on September 11th, she saw what happened at the hands of radical Islam. This is the senator who did the reset program with Russia, who allowed the Middle East to deteriorate to flames, who has lied about Benghazi and is now supporting the Iranian deal.

That’s the opponent we’re going to have next November. We have got to win this election. Everything we say is wonderful. But we have to win and, once we win, we have to actually do what we say. I can do this.

HEWITT: Senator Santorum, stay on that: any means necessary?

Is that what you meant to say?

Is that what’s still on this table after this, what many of us believe is a catastrophic deal?

SANTORUM: As you know, Hugh, 12 years ago I authored the Iran Freedom Support Act, which put sanctions on the Iran nuclear program as we came within four votes of passing a very strong version of that. The four people who opposed on the floor: Joe Biden, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And we came four votes short.

But for 12 years, I have been laser-beam focused on the issue of Iran with a nuclear weapon. Why? Because I understand who they are.

Yes, they are radical Islamists, that’s true. But their particular version of it, which is an apocalyptic version, which is a death cult, they believe in bringing about the end of the — end of the world. If you — if you poll Iranians and Iraqis, Shiites in the region, more than two-thirds of them believe that the end of the world is going to come within their lifetime.

Why? Because their regime preaches it. They believe in bringing about the end of times. That’s their theological goal and we are in the process of giving them a nuclear weapon to do just that.

That’s why, on day one, I would say to the Iranian government, you open up all of these facilities for inspection, you make them available to the U.N. and to the U.S., everything, we can go everywhere or else we will take out those facilities.

And when people say, you’re going to start a war —

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

SANTORUM: — my response is, no, I’m going to stop a war because a nuclear Iran is the end.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

Senator Graham —

(APPLAUSE)

JINDAL: Jake, I’d like to answer that question.

TAPPER: We’re bringing you in on this question as well.

TAPPER: Senator Graham, Vladimir Putin in recent days has sent an estimated six more tanks, four helicopters and Russian ground troops into Syria to help support President Assad, an enemy of the United States. The Russian military is also buzzing American planes and Naval vessels around the world.

Your front-runner, Donald Trump, says he can do details with President Putin, that the two of them will get along, quote, “very well.”

Why would your confrontational approach work better than Mr. Trump’s negotiation?

GRAHAM: Do you think Putin would be in the Ukraine or Syria today if Ronald Reagan were president? No.

This is what happens when you have a weak, unqualified commander- in-chief who doesn’t understand the role America plays in the world.

Why is it bad for you that Russia’s helping Assad? He’s the magnet for Sunni extremists. The Syrian people are not going to accept him as their legitimate leader.

By Assad being helped by Russia, it means the war never ends. It means the next 9/11, which is most likely to occur from an attack from Syria. It’s more likely.

At the end of the day, if I’m president of the United States, I’ve told you what I’m going to do. There’s nobody left in Syria to train. We’re going to get a regional army who doesn’t like ISIL, who won’t accept Assad, because he’s a puppet of Iran. We’re going in the ground, and we’re going to destroy the caliphate, pull it up by roots, and we’re going to hold the territory.

This is a slap in a face from Putin to Kerry and Obama. Assad must go. If he doesn’t go, this war never ends…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: … and if the war in Syria continues, it is coming here.

For God’s sakes, let’s get on with…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: … with fixing the problem in Syria.

TAPPER: Governor Jindal, how would President Jindal…

(APPLAUSE)

… get the Russians out of Syria?

JINDAL: Well, Jake, I want to answer that question. I want to go back to Iran. I didn’t get a chance to answer that as well.

Look, on Russia, across the world, dictators walk all over this president. He treats our friends like dirt. He lets our enemies walk all over us.

The only group he’s able to out-negotiate are the Senate Republicans. They never should’ve passed this bad Corker bill. Instead of a two-thirds vote to reject — to approve the Iran deal, now it takes a two-thirds vote to reject the Iran deal. I want to ask Lindsey a question. Will the Senate Republicans —

they still have time — are they willing to use the nuclear option, meaning get rid of the filibusters, stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power?

Now is the time for the Senate Republicans to stand up and fight. We are tired of the establishment saying there’s nothing we can do.

(APPLAUSE)

All night tonight, we’ve heard Republicans say things like, “Well, if the Supreme Court’s ruled, there’s nothing I can do about religious liberty,” you know. “The president did this. There’s nothing we can do about it for two more years.”

There is something we can do. We won the Senate. We won the House. What was the point of winning those chambers if we’re not going to do anything with them?

You’re going back tonight. You still have time before the Thursday deadline. Will y’all use the nuclear option to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power?

(APPLAUSE)

GRAHAM: Bobby, you were in the Congress, and all I can tell you, to everybody here, if you want to repeal Obamacare, get a new president. If you want to defund Planned Parenthood, elect a pro-life president, because that’s the only way.

If we pass the Cardin bill, Graham, Menendez, it would go to the president. He would veto it. 67 votes are required to override the veto.

JINDAL: Lindsey…

GRAHAM: Wait a minute. Now, you asked me a question. So I don’t want to take off the table the ability to slow down Obama in his last 13 to 14 months, because I want 60 votes to stop what I think he’s going to do between now and January 2017. Five Republicans deflect — leave — we’re in trouble.

So folks, the world really is the way it is. President Obama is president. The goal is to get him out of there and pick somebody who would actually do something to repeal Obamacare, who would get you a better agreement.

So Bobby, he would veto the bill, we don’t have 67 votes, and you’re giving away a defense against Obama for the rest of his presidency.

No, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to tell you things I can’t do. I’m not going to tell you by shutting the government down, we’re going to defund Obamacare as long as he’s president. All that does is hurt us. I am trying to lead this party to winning.

JINDAL: Lindsey, well, that’s my frustration.

(APPLAUSE)

JINDAL: Listen to what you’ve heard. You — you basically heard a Senate Republican say, “We can’t defund Planned Parenthood, despite these barbaric videos.”

GRAHAM: Are you going to shut the government down?

JINDAL: “We can’t — we can’t…”

GRAHAM: Are you going to shut the government…

JINDAL: “… we can’t get rid of Obamacare” — Lindsey, let me answer this question now. I wish the Senate Republicans had half the fight in them the Senate Democrats did.

Look, President Obama didn’t give up on Obamacare when they lost the Senate election in Massachusetts. I want my side to follow the Constitution. They broke the Constitution, they broke the law, but they forced Obamacare down our throats, even when they didn’t have 60 votes.

I wish Republicans in D.C. had half the fight of the Senate Democrats to get rid of Obamacare, to defund Planned Parenthood.

(APPLAUSE)

If we can’t defund Planned Parenthood now, if we can’t stand for innocent human life after these barbaric videos, it is time to be done with the Republican Party.

We defunded them in Louisiana. Let’s defund them in D.C.

JINDAL: If we can’t win…

TAPPER: (INAUDIBLE)…

JINDAL: — on that issue, there is no point for being cheaper Democrats, no point grabbing a second liberal party. It is time to get rid of the Republican Party, start over with a new one that’s at least conservative.

Give Harry Reid and Pelosi credit. At least they fight for what they believe in. I want senators and House members in DC to fight for what we believe in, as well. It’s time to have Republican…

TAPPER: Well…

JINDAL: — with a backbone in DC.

GRAHAM: Can I just say something?

(APPLAUSE)

GRAHAM: You know, Bobby, we’re running to be president of the United States, the most important job in the free world. With it comes a certain amount of honesty. I’m tired of telling people things they want to hear that I know we can’t do.

He is not going to sign a bill that would defund ObamaCare. If I am president of the United States, I wouldn’t put one penny in — in my budget for Planned Parenthood, not one penny. I’m as offended by these videos as you are.

But the one thing I’m not going to do going into 2016 is shut the government down and tank our ability to win. What you’re saying and what Senator Cruz is saying, I am really sick of hearing, trying to get the bottom…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: — the Republican Party in a position…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator…

GRAHAM: — to win. That’s what I’m trying to do. And that does matter to me (INAUDIBLE)…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. The final question…

GRAHAM: It matters a lot.

TAPPER: The final questions for these four Republicans as the top contenders get ready to take their places on the debate stage when we come back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to the CNN Republican debates at the Reagan Library in beautiful Simi Valley, California. We have time for one more question for the candidates.

Governor Pataki, let’s start with you. You have all spent the last hour and a half debating each other. The other 11 candidates are on their way to the stage.

What is the one thing as a candidate that you offer that no one at the next debate can offer?

PATAKI: I think there are two things, Jake. Two things that we need as Republicans.

First, we have to win the election. You’re going to hear a lot of great ideas, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that. None of it matters unless you win the election.

And the second is, once you win, you have to be able to govern successfully. You’ve heard a lot of fighting back and forth, you didn’t get this done, you didn’t get that done. That’s the way Washington is today. You have to have a leader, a president, who will actually get a conservative agenda through. I’m running because I have done both those things, and I did them

in one of the most liberal states in America. I got elected three times in the state of New York. Twice by the largest pluralities ever for a Republican. I ran as a Republican conservative.

If I get the nomination, I will be able to get broad support and win this election, and take the White House back for our party. But more importantly, once I’ve won, I will put in place a sweeping conservative agenda. I did that in New York.

Over $143 billion in tax cuts. More than the other 49 states combined. Taking one million people off welfare and putting them into jobs, in a state where the Democrats control the state assembly.

TAPPER: Thank you, senator.

PATAKI: 103-47. I got them to support a conservative agenda. If I get elected president, I will make things work in Washington.

TAPPER: Thank you. PATAKI: For the Republican party and for the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: I came to Washington in the most unlikely way. I defeated a 14-year incumbent, a 60 percent Democratic district. I went to Washington thinking I was only going to be there for one term, and so I just shook things up.

We sent the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to jail. We ended 40 years, 40 years of Democratic control of the Congress. And I led that fight with reforms, substantive reforms, welfare reform. I led the charge — I wrote the bill when I was in the House. I led the charge in the United States Senate.

Partial-birth abortion — in fact, three pro-life bills, bipartisan pro-life bills. I mentioned the Iran bill. We also passed one on Syria. Health savings accounts, as many of you know, I authored the original bill on health savings accounts, pushed that through the Congress for private sector health care reform.

An outsider who came to Washington from the tough state of Pennsylvania, and we got conservative things done. I made things happen in a town where things don’t happen very much. Now, after 10 years of seeing the mess, the retreat that we see in the Republican party in Washington, D.C., it’s time to get someone who is an outsider.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

SANTORUM: Who can go to Washington, D.C., and get things done. You know what, you have a lot of folks who will tell you a lot of things. Look at their record. I went to Washington as an outsider.

TAPPER: Thank you.

SANTORUM: Shook things up, got things done.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

SANTORUM: And that’s why you can trust me to do it again.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Santorum.

Governor Jindal, what is something that you offer as a candidate that the other 11 candidates coming on stage in a few minutes cannot offer?

JINDAL: Jake, I’m a doer, not a talker. Look, the idea of America is slipping away from us. If you want somebody who is going to manage the slow decline of this country, makes incremental changes, vote for somebody else. If you want to vote for somebody who understands what is at stake — Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts across this country, and the Senate Republicans have already given up, even without a fight.

I am tired of this surrender (ph) caucus, I am angrier at the Republicans in D.C. than I am at the president. The president is a socialist. At least he fights for what we believe in.

We don’t need to just send any Republican to the White House. We need to sent somebody who understands that it’s time to make big changes. It’s time to take on the establishment, it’s time to take on the D.C. permanent governing class.

Every Republican says they will shrink the size of the government. I’m the only one that has done it. Cut our budget 26 percent.

If you want somebody that’s going to make incremental change, vote for somebody else. It’s time to get the idea of America back. At some point, we’re going to be held — we’ll be asked, what did you do when the idea of America was slipping away?

I’ll promise you this. I will give every ounce of blood, energy, sweat I’ve got to save the idea of America, the greatest country in the history of the world.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Senator Graham?

GRAHAM: Well, number one, I will win a war that we can’t afford to lose. I have a plan to destroy radical Islam because it has to be. These are religious Nazis running while President Obama has made one mistake after another and it’s caught up with us.

What do I have to offer that’s different?

I get my foreign policy from being in on the ground. I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan in the Middle East 35 times in the last decade, trying to understand how we got in this mess.

Our leading candidate gets his foreign policy from watching television.

And what I heard last night is the Cartoon Network, oh, I’m big, I’m strong, we’re going to hit them in the head.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: That’s not foreign policy. That’s a cartoon character.

John Kasich, a good friend of mine, said in New Hampshire, we’re going to close more bases on his watch.

On my watch, we’re going to open up more bases. The military is in decline, folks. We’re going to have the smallest military in modern times, spending half of what we’d normally spend by the end of this decade.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: What do I offer? What do I offer?

To make your families safe and our country strong again, a vision and a determination to win a war that we cannot afford to lose.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Graham.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Our thanks to the candidates for a great debate. In just a moment, we’re bringing the candidates from both of tonight’s debates together for a group photo. That will be a first in this campaign.

And then, of course, the main event, the top 11 candidates going head to head. I will be back as moderator.

Right now, let’s go to my colleague, Anderson Cooper.

 

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A new CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 is a mix of both good and bad news for the current 113th Congress; Americans think it is the worst ever, but also more likely to vote for a…READ MORE