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)

Advertisements

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.

 

Political Musings October 29, 2014: US-Israel crisis reactions: Obama official calls Netanyahu coward, chickenshit

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

US-Israel crisis reactions: Obama official calls Netanyahu coward, chickenshit

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States Israel relations have gone downhill fast. At the beginning of the month, President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a friendly meeting at the White House, but in four weeks, the fragile personal relationship has…READ MORE

Political Headlines March 10, 2013: Jeb Bush: I’m ‘In Sync’ with Lindsey Graham & Republicans on Immigration Reform

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Jeb Bush: I’m ‘In Sync’ with Lindsey Graham on Immigration Reform

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-10-13

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush told ABC’s This Week that he is “in sync” with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham on the immigration reform issue. This following an incident on Monday when Bush said he disagreed with a key component of the plan.

Graham, a leading member of the bipartisan group of senators pushing for immigration reform, took Bush to task after the Bush said Monday that he did not support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, major part of the plan….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 8, 2013: Rand Paul’s Near 13-Hour Filibuster Receives Mixed Reviews & Criticism from Sens. John McCain & Lindsey Graham

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Rand Paul’s Near 13-Hour Filibuster Receives Mixed Reviews

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-7-13

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised Sen. Rand Paul’s stamina and conviction after his nearly 13-hour filibuster, but some of Paul’s Republican colleagues were less than impressed with the Kentucky senator’s marathon effort….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 7, 2013: Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham rebuke Sen. Rand Paul for filibuster over drones

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

McCain, Graham rebuke Sen. Paul for filibuster over drones

Source: Fox News, 3-7-13

Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster over the government’s drone program drew praise from conservatives, libertarians and progressives alike who said the firebrand Kentucky senator focused a spotlight on a critical issue….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 6, 2013: President Barack Obama has Dinner with 12 Republican Senators

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama, GOP Senators Break Bread

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-7-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama and Republican senators had a “good exchange of ideas” Wednesday evening during their roughly two-hour-long dinner at the posh Jefferson Hotel, just blocks from the White House, according to a senior administration official….

Here is a full list of attendees at Wednesday night’s dinner: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.; Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.; and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 20, 2013: President Barack Obama Calls Republican Senators on Immigration

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Calls Republican Senators on Immigration

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-20-13

President Obama made his first direct overture to Republicans on immigration Tuesday night, placing calls to the three key GOP players on the issue in the Senate:  John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Marco Rubio (Fla)….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 11, 2013: Sen. Lindsey Graham Threatens to Hold Up Confirmation Vote on Chuck Hagel, John Brennan Nominations

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Sen. Graham Threatens to Hold Up Vote on Hagel, Brennan Nominations

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-11-13

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham says until he knows exactly how President Obama acted immediately after the U.S consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked last Sept. 11, he will attempt to hold up confirmation votes on the White House picks for secretary of defense and CIA director.

Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, the South Carolina Republican said, “We know nothing about what the president did on the night of Sept. 11, during a time of national crisis, and the American people need to know what their commander-in-chief did, if anything, during the eight-hour attack.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines February 10, 2013: Lindsey Graham threatens to hold up confirmations of John Brennan, Chuck Hagel

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Lindsey Graham threatens to hold up confirmations of John Brennan, Chuck Hagel

Source: WaPo, 2-10-13

The South Carolina Republican wants more answers from the administration about the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, and threatening to hold up the president’s nominees for defense secretary and CIA director until he gets them….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 5, 2013: GOP Blasts President Barack Obama’s Deficit Reduction Proposals & Budget Plans as ‘Last Thing Americans Need’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Blasts Obama’s Deficit Reduction Proposals as ‘Last Thing Americans Need’

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-5-13

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Republicans criticized President Obama’s call Tuesday for a short-term deficit reduction package of spending cuts and tax revenue to postpone the deep automatic cuts known as sequestration that would begin the first week of March if a deficit cutting deal is not reached….

Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. released an official statement on President Obama’s remarks on budget sequestration, saying that Obama has failed to address the issue for more than a year and promising to introduce their own piece of legislation that will not increase taxes, as Obama’s plan would….READ MORE

Political Headlines November 12, 2012: GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss Says ‘Put Politics Aside’ to Avoid ‘Fiscal Cliff’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Senator Says ‘Put Politics Aside’ to Avoid ‘Fiscal Cliff’

With the “fiscal cliff” looming, there was plenty of talk Sunday by members of both political parties of reaching a deal to avoid spending cuts and tax hikes that some economists say could plunge the country back into recession.

“We need to put politics aside.  The election is over.  President Obama has won,” Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said on ABC’s This Week….READ MORE

Political Highlights May 10, 2010: Obama Nominates Kagan & Financial Overhaul Debates

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President, Vice President, and Elena Kagan

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 5/10/1

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Polls say Sestak now leads Specter in U.S. Senate race: U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter’s once seemingly insurmountable lead in the polls is gone. Reflecting a trend that developed over the last month, two new polls released Monday showed Mr. Specter trailing his challenger for the Democratic Senate nomination, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, a suburban Philadelphia congressman. Polls by Rasmussen Reports and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion each showed Mr. Sestak with the support of 47 percent of likely Democratic voters and Mr. Specter with 42 percent. They come a week after a Quinnipiac University poll showed Mr. Specter’s lead had been cut from 21 percentage points in early April to 8 points early last week… – Scranton Times Tribune, 5-10-10
  • Poll: Lincoln, Boozman leading Ark. Senate race: A new poll shows incumbent U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas holding an edge over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter as both seek the Democratic nomination for the post. The Mason-Dixon poll of likely voters released Friday showed Lincoln with 44 percent support among likely voters and Halter next with 32 percent. Among eight Republicans, Congressman John Boozman led the pack with 48 percent support…. – AP, 5-7-10
  • Crist Holds 6-Point Lead as Independent in Florida Senate Race, Poll Shows: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is holding a six-point lead in his state’s Senate race, according to a poll conducted after Crist left the Republican Party to run as an independent last week. The poll showed Crist with 38 percent support, compared with 32 percent for Rubio and 19 percent for Meek. Eleven percent were undecided. Pollster Brad Coker told the Orlando Sentinel that since most of Crist’s supporters are Democrats a large bloc of his support could abandon him as Meek raises his profile in the race. The poll showed 48 percent of Crist’s supporters were Democrats…. – Fox News, 5-6-10
  • Poll: Tea party platform fares best among GOP conservatives: The conservative “tea party” movement appeals almost exclusively to supporters of the Republican Party, bolstering the view that the tea party divides the GOP even as it has energized its base. That conclusion, backed by numbers from a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, also suggests that the tea party may have little room for growth. Most Americans — including large majorities of those who don’t already count themselves as supporters — say they’re not interested in learning more about the movement. A sizable share of those not already sympathetic to the tea party also say that the more they hear, the less they like the movement.
    Overall, the tea party remains divisive, with 27 percent of those polled saying they’re supportive but about as many, 24 percent, opposed. Supporters overwhelmingly identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents; opponents are even more heavily Democratic. The new movement is also relatively small, with 8 percent of supporters claiming to be “active participants” — about 2 percent of the total population…. – WaPo, 5-4-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Kagan fits Obama’s vision for the Supreme Court: With his second Supreme Court nomination in as many years, President Barack Obama has laid down clear markers of his vision for the court, one that could prove to be among his most enduring legacies….
    Kagan, 50, the solicitor general named to replace outgoing liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, would not immediately alter the ideological balance of the bench. But her addition would almost certainly provide a lasting, liberal presence, and administration officials hope she would, in the words of one, “start to move the court into a different posture and profile.”….
    Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said Kagan will have to show “that she was not chosen by the president as a political ally who will rubber-stamp his agenda — but as an impartial jurist who will uphold the Constitution’s limits on the proper role of the federal government and defend the liberties of everyday Americans.”…. – WaPo, 5-10-10
  • Republican senators pressing to end federal control of Fannie, Freddie: The total price tag for mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie MacFannie will be $145 billion, easily becoming the costliest element of the government’s rescue of the financial system.
    As the Senate resumed debate Monday on legislation to overhaul financial regulation, leading Republican lawmakers are pushing an amendment that would wind down the government-controlled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The proposal by Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) calls for the government to end its control of the companies within two years. Under the amendment, Fannie and Freddie would have to reduce the size of their mortgage portfolios and begin paying state and local sales taxes…. WaPo, 5-11-10
  • Obama Is Said to Select Kagan as Justice: President Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th justice, choosing his own chief advocate before the Supreme Court to join it in ruling on cases critical to his view of the country’s future, Democrats close to the White House said Sunday. After a monthlong search, Mr. Obama informed Ms. Kagan and his advisers on Sunday of his choice to succeed the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. He plans to announce the nomination at 10 a.m. Monday in the East Room of the White House with Ms. Kagan by his side, said the Democrats, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the decision before it was formally made public…. – NYT, 5-10-10
  • A Climb Marked by Confidence and Canniness – NYT, 5-10-10
  • Holder Backs a Miranda Limit for Terror Suspects: The Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. flatly asserted that the defendant in the Times Square bombing attempt was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan. Mr. Holder proposed carving out a broad new exception to the Miranda rights established in a landmark 1966 Supreme Court ruling. It generally forbids prosecutors from using as evidence statements made before suspects have been warned that they have a right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer…. – NYT, 5-10-10
  • Oil executives face U.S. Congress on Gulf spill: Big oil goes under the spotlight on Tuesday when U.S. lawmakers grill top executives on a drilling rig explosion and oil spill that threatens an environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
    The hearings come during a desperate race against time to stem the oil gushing from a well ruptured after an explosion last month that killed 11 workers, sank the rig and set in motion the unfolding economic and ecological disaster…. – Reuters, 5-11-10
  • Reid seeks to fast-track financial overhaul bill Network News: ….”We have had a big day in the Senate,” Reid said, his voice oozing sarcasm. “Because of my Republican friends, we have been able to accomplish almost nothing — not quite, but almost nothing.”… While his frustration seemed genuine, Reid’s scolding in the empty chamber was part political theater, aimed at speeding up a top policy priority for President Obama. His remarks presaged a week in which the Senate moved forward on the landmark legislation in brief spurts of action during long periods of procedural delays and partisan bickering.
    Republicans have warned against pushing ahead too quickly with the far-reaching legislation, arguing that such haste could lead to unintended consequences that harm the very people that lawmakers are trying to help…. – WaPo, 5-10-10
  • US warns Pakistan over Times Square bomb attempt: The United States has delivered a tough new warning to Pakistan to crack down on Islamic militants or face severe consequences after the failed Times Square bombing. In a meeting on Friday between Stanley McChrystal, the US military commander in Afghanistan, and Pakistani military commander General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, General McChrystal urged Pakistan quickly to begin a military offensive against the Pakistani Taleban and al-Qaeda in North Waziristan, according to the New York Times newspaper…. – Times Online, 5-9-10
  • GOP loses consumer plan vote in Senate: Prodded by President Obama, the Senate rejected a Republican consumer protection plan yesterday that would have diluted a central element of the administration’s financial regulation package. Democrats and the president argued that the GOP proposal would have gutted consumer protections. The vote was 61 to 38, with two Republicans — Senators Olympia Snowe of Maine and Charles Grassley of Iowa — joining Democrats to defeat the GOP measure…. – Boston Globe, 5-7-10
  • Walter Hickel, former Alaska governor and Nixon Cabinet Member Walter Hickel dies at 90: Former Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel, who was Richard Nixon’s interior secretary until he was fired after criticizing the handling of Vietnam protests, has died at age 90. Longtime assistant Malcolm Roberts says Hickel died Friday night at Horizon House, an assisted living facility in Anchorage. – AP, 5-8-10
  • Origin of Wall Street’s Plunge Continues to Elude Officials: A day after a harrowing plunge in the stock market, federal regulators were still unable on Friday to answer the one question on every investor’s mind: What caused that near panic on Wall Street? Through the day and into the evening, officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies hunted for clues amid a tangle of electronic trading records from the nation’s increasingly high-tech exchanges. But, maddeningly, the cause or causes of the market’s wild swing remained elusive, leaving what amounts to a $1 trillion question mark hanging over the world’s largest, and most celebrated, stock market…. – NYT, 5-8-10
  • New Justice to Confront Evolution in Powers: As President Obama prepares to nominate somebody to succeed Justice John Paul Stevens, his administration appears to be on a collision course with the Supreme Court in legal disputes that will test the limits of executive power. Those disputes — involving issues like detainee rights and secrecy — throw into sharp relief the differences in the records of several leading contenders for the nomination, including Solicitor General Elena Kagan and two appeals court judges, Merrick B. Garland and Diane P. Wood. While any plausible Democratic nominee would probably rule the same way Justice Stevens would have in many areas of law, including abortion rights and the new health care law, executive power may be an exception. Justice Stevens was a critical vote in a five-justice faction that rejected expansive assertions of executive authority by former President George W. Bush. If his successor is more sympathetic to the vantage point of the Obama White House, the balance could shift to a new bare majority that is far more willing to uphold broad presidential powers… – NYT, 5-8-10
  • Pressure on Pakistan amid fresh terror links: Alleged links between the Times Square plot and extremist networks are adding to perceptions of Pakistan as a global exporter of terrorism and increasing pressure on its military to crack down on extremists along the Afghan border.
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that Pakistan has become far more helpful in battling extremists over the past year but that cooperation could be improved.
    She also warned that the Obama administration has made it clear there will be “severe consequences” if an attack on U.S. soil is traced back to Pakistan. Clinton spoke in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” to air this weekend AP, 5-8-10
  • Faithful mark prayer day at Capitol after judge’s ruling: Congress established the National Day of Prayer in 1952. But last month, a federal judge in Wisconsin declared that the government’s observance of the event is unconstitutional, calling it “an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function.” The ruling angered many in the faith community. The Obama administration has decided to appeal the ruling. And as he did last year, President Obama issued a National Day of Prayer proclamation: “I call upon the citizens of our Nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings.”…. – WaPo, 5-6-10
  • “Joe the Plumber” Wins Local GOP Elected Office: Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher became famous in 2008 when the John McCain presidential campaign heralded him as an average small business owner. Now, he is an elected official himself. Wurzelbacher won one of nearly 400 seats on the Republican Party committee for northwest Ohio’s Lucas County, the Associated Press reports. The group only meets a few times a year to elect the county chairman and sets the party agenda…. – CBS News,
  • Republicans want to lift bank swaps ban: senator: Banks would be allowed to keep their lucrative swaps-trading desks under a softened set of regulations for the $450 trillion derivatives market proposed by U.S. Senate Republicans on Wednesday… – Reuters, 5-6-10
  • Financial regulations still face delays, disputes: A tentative agreement in hand, Democrats and Republicans still face an array of hurdles and uncertain timing over a Senate bill that would rein in financial institutions. While Democrats agreed to jettison a $50 billion fund to liquidate large, failing firms, disputes over consumer protections, Federal Reserve oversight and regulation of complex securities are for the moment beyond compromise. Democrats and Republicans were preparing to fight those issues out on the Senate floor.
    “They’re stalling everything we do,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid complained Tuesday evening. He called for the bill to be completed by the end of next week.
    Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had a different timetable in mind. “I must tell you, I don’t think this is a couple-of-weeks bill,” he said. “It’s not that we don’t want to pass it, but we do want to cover the subject.”… – AP, 5-5-10
  • Chicago judge interviewed for Supreme Court vacancy: Diane Wood, a Chicago federal appeals court judge, was interviewed by President Obama on Tuesday about replacing retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, a source told the Chicago Sun-Times. Wood had a second interview with Vice President Joe Biden about the upcoming vacancy. Stevens, a Chicago native, was in Chicago on Monday to speak at a 7th Circuit lawyers and judges conference where another person in the running to replace him — Solicitor General Elena Kagan — was also on the program. Wood and Obama know each other from the days when he taught law at the University of Chicago…. – Chicago Sun Times, 5-5-10
  • Barack Obama extends US sanctions against Syria US president accuses Damascus of supporting terrorist groups and pursuing weapons of mass destruction: President Barack Obama extended US sanctions against Syria, saying yesterday it supported terrorist organisations and pursued weapons of mass destruction and missile programmes. Syria’s actions and policies “pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States”, Obama said in a statement…. – Guardian.co.uk, 5-4-10
  • Obama administration discloses size of U.S. nuclear arsenal: Shattering a taboo dating from the Cold War, the Obama administration revealed Monday the size of the American nuclear arsenal — 5,113 weapons — as it embarked on a campaign for tougher measures against countries with hidden nuclear programs. The figure was in line with previous estimates by arms-control groups. But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized that it was the very disclosure of the long-held secret that was important. “We think it is in our national security interest to be as transparent as we can about the nuclear program of the United States,” she told reporters at a high-level nuclear conference in New York, where she announced the change in policy. “We think that builds confidence.”… –  WaPo, 5-3-10
  • Voting begins in Senate on Wall Street reform: The U.S. Senate will cast its first votes on Tuesday on a sweeping Wall Street reform bill, with passage of a handful of uncontroversial amendments expected and a key procedural question still unsettled. Democratic leaders had not yet determined as of late Monday whether amendments will need 50 or 60 votes to pass. The difference is important because Democrats control 59 votes in the 100-member chamber, versus the Republicans’ 41 votes…. – Reuters, 5-4-10
  • Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens silent on his replacement in speech Justice bypasses court discussion, instead talks about his beloved Cubs: In one of his last public speeches before retiring, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Monday bypassed talk of the court’s deep ideological divide and the battle to replace him and instead talked to a Chicago legal group about his beloved Cubs. The Chicago native recalled one of his most precious boyhood memories — watching Babe Ruth hit his famous “called shot” for the New York Yankees in the 1932 World Series with the Cubs… – Chicago Tribune, 5-4-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Outside groups fuel heated Ark. Senate race: Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter of Arkansas recently complained about a Senate campaign ad in which Indian-American actors thanked him for allegedly outsourcing jobs to India. (Americans for Job Security via Associated Press); For Arkansas voters, the names on the ballot in the Democratic Senate primary election next week will be well known: US Senator Blanche Lincoln, the two-term incumbent, and her opponent, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, the father of the state’s lottery. But the campaign they have waged is like nothing Arkansas has seen before.
    In a state known for face-to-face politics where candidates make the rounds of small-town events such as the Gillett Coon Supper and the Slovak Oyster Supper, the race for Lincoln’s Senate seat has been overwhelmed by a multimillion-dollar, televised proxy battle among some of the nation’s largest interest groups for supremacy in the Democratic Party…. – Boston Globe, 5-10-10
  • Ohio Democrats respond to racy GOP ad: Ohio Democrats have released a political ad full of shirtless workers. It’s the party’s answer to a sexually suggestive GOP ad that depicted a bare-chested U.S. Senate candidate. The original ad, created by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, features an image of a shirtless Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher in a provocative pose….- AP, 5-10-10
  • National Democrats pull out of Hawaii: National Democrats pull their money out of Hawaii’s special election and local Republicans are rejoicing over the end of their opponent’s smear tactics. Even the local Democrats say they are pleased the national Democrats are leaving saying the negative ads didn’t play well in Hawaii. Voters won’t be getting anymore recorded calls from President Obama either…. – HawaiiNewsNow, 5-10-10
  • Paul may not vote for McConnell as floor leader: Front-runner Rand Paul said in a U.S. Senate debate Monday night that he may not support Kentucky’s other senator, Mitch McConnell, for minority floor leader if he’s elected. “I’d have to know who the opponent is and make a decision at that time,” Paul said in a sometimes testy televised debate, the final face off in what has become an increasing acrimonious race to replace Sen. Jim Bunning…. – AP, 5-11-10
  • Veteran Democrat faces anti-incumbent challenge: Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan has delivered for his West Virginia district for nearly three decades — steering millions of dollars in projects that have helped an anemic economy.
    His rival in Tuesday’s primary is state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who has criticized the agenda of President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. In a state where Republican presidential nominee John McCain won handily in 2008, that criticism has helped the 46-year-old financial adviser attract the support of some of West Virginia’s tea party supporters as well as former Mollohan allies. “I think the voters in northern West Virginia have simply lost confidence in Congressman Mollohan,” Oliverio said… – AP/USA Today, 5-9-10
  • Some Palin Facebook fans unhappy with endorsement: Ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has outraged some of her fans with an endorsement of former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina in the GOP’s U.S. Senate primary in California…. In the Thursday posting, Palin called Fiorina a “Commonsense Conservative” who has the potential to beat “liberal” Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in November…. – AP, 5-8-10
  • Last weeks of GOP Senate primary race focus on Boxer Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina face the challenge of drawing attention from Republicans Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman in race for governor. LAT, 5-8-10
  • Bennett out; GOP delegates reject 18-year Senate veteran Delegates reject 18-year Senate veteran; Bridgewater and Lee move to June primary: Three-term Sen. Bob Bennett became the first victim this year of a wave of voter anger toward Washington in a defeat that will likely send a jolt through incumbents everywhere. Businessman Tim Bridgewater finished first in the final round of balloting, beating attorney Mike Lee 57 percent to 43 percent, meaning they will face off in a June 22 primary battle. “I always think I’m going to win. I met 2,700 delegates. I knew where the delegates were,” Bridgewater said. “I feel like I can relate to people from all walks of life in this state.”…. – The Salt Lake Tribune, 5-8-10
  • Suddenly, Rubio likes Arizona’s immigration law: Facing a media throng recently in West Miami that included Spanish-language television, U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio left no doubt where he stood on a contentious new immigration law in Arizona.
    “I think the law has potential unintended consequences, and it’s one of the reasons why I think immigration needs to be a federal issue, not a state one,” Rubio said at the April 27 event, where he signed the official papers to be on the 2010 ballot. “That’s how I felt when I was in the Florida House.” Rubio added at the West Miami event: “Everyone is concerned with the prospect of the reasonable suspicion provisions where individuals could be pulled over because someone suspects they may not be legal in this country,” he said. “I think over time people will grow uncomfortable with that.”… – Miami Herald, 5-8-10
  • Bush backs Rubio, rips Crist in speech: In one of his first political campaign appearances since he left the Florida governor’s office, and an indication of his political re-emergence, former Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed Marco Rubio in a speech to a gathering of Tampa Bay area Republicans on Friday.
    “I’m a little rusty; I don’t speak that much to partisan crowds these days. I haven’t been on the stump that much,” Bush said at the Pasco County Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner…. – TBO, 5-8-10
  • Last weeks of GOP Senate primary race focus on Boxer: Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina face the challenge of drawing attention from Republicans Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman in race for governor…. – LAT, 5-8-10
  • GOP Senate candidates spar in first face-to-face debate: Campbell, DeVore and Fiorina tussle over immigration, the Wall Street bailout and taxes at L.A.’s Museum of Tolerance. The debate will air in California on ABC stations on Sunday…. – LAT, 5-7-10
  • Case ties himself to Obama in new ad: In a last-ditch attempt to gain momentum, former congressman Ed Case is latching himself to President Obama in his latest television ad – even though the White House hasn’t publicly backed him in the three-way special election taking place in Hawaii. “Only one candidate is strong enough to stand with the president: Ed Case,” a narrator says in the ad. “The White House believes Ed Case has the best chance of beating Djou and moving America forward. Ed Case, President Obama – putting Hawaii first.” The ad also accuses Republicans of wanting Obama to fail in office, and is using Republican Charles Djou, a Honolulu city councilman, to achieve that goal.??… – Politico, 5-6-10
  • Sen. DeMint endorses Paul in US Senate race in Ky.: U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint put himself at odds with Kentucky’s Sen. Mitch McConnell on Wednesday by endorsing an antiestablishment candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, gave his support to political outsider Rand Paul, one day after Minority Floor Leader McConnell endorsed establishment candidate Trey Grayson. “I’m endorsing Rand Paul because he’s a true conservative who will stand up to the Washington establishment,” said DeMint, who released a written statement saying he still supports McConnell as floor leader even though the two disagree on Kentucky’s Senate race. “Rand has been running on the issues that matter since the beginning of this campaign, DeMint said in the statement. “He’s a strong advocate for balanced budgets. He wants to end the culture of earmarks. He supports term limits. And he’s 100 percent pro-life.”… – AP, 5-5-10
  • Bennett appeals to GOP to let him keep Senate seat: Sen. Bob Bennett abandoned Washington this week, spending his days in Utah pleading with Republicans until he was hoarse to let him keep his job — in Washington. The three-term conservative is in serious danger of losing at a GOP state convention Saturday, tripped up by anti- incumbent sentiment and Utah’s quirky nomination system. His only hope is to win over enough delegates to force the party to hold a primary in June. He has until Saturday morning to pitch some 3,500 die-hard GOP convention delegates, who tend to be more conservative than Utah Republicans overall. Polls show Bennett trailing in third place…. – AP, 5-6-10
  • Obey retirement gives GOP hopeful opening in Wis.: Democratic U.S. Rep. David Obey’s unexpected retirement has thrust a conservative former cast member of MTV’s “The Real World” into position to capture a Wisconsin seat held by a leading liberal for four decades. It also left several Democrats pondering the legacy of Obey, at 71 the third longest-serving current member of the House, and weighing whether to get in the race…. – AP, 5-6-10
  • Jeb Bush endorses Marco Rubio in Fla. Senate race: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is endorsing Marco Rubio’s campaign for U.S. Senate. Bush, still popular and influential with Florida Republicans, has long been rumored to be a Rubio backer, but his endorsement comes less than a week after Gov. Charlie crist decided to run as an independent rather than face Rubio in the GOP primary. Bush says Rubio is a passionate, principled leader who wouldn’t change his views when political winds shift… – AP, 5-5-10
  • Cohen hits campaign trail for governor Former lieutenant governor candidate who quit amid political scandal is launching independent bid: Pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen announced his independent candidacy for governor Monday, trying to leap back into the political fray that chewed him up and spit him out in February. Cohen said he was still searching for a running mate, and he was vague on details about how he would circulate enough petitions by June 21 to secure the 25,000 signatures needed for a spot on the ballot. But he claimed that polling he conducted in March suggested he was a viable candidate. “I am not perfect, but I am honest,” Cohen said at a news conference in the plaza outside the Thompson Center. “Illinois needs honesty more than perfection.”… – Chicago Tribune, 5-3-10
  • Union: Ads chiding Ark. Senate candidate ‘racist’: A Virginia-based advocacy group began airing television ads in Arkansas on Monday in which Indian actors “thank” Democratic Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, claiming he outsourced jobs overseas. The ad, which features Indian-American actors thanking Halter while superimposed in front of various street scenes in India, was denounced by Halter’s campaign and that of his Democratic rival, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, as offensive. The Arkansas chapter of the AFL-CIO, which has endorsed Halter, called it “horribly racist.” The spot has been criticized as playing up stereotypes of India because it features actors with Indian accents and uses the street scenes…. – AP, 5-3-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: Health Reform Starts to Kick In WH, 5-8-10
  • Education vital to U.S. success, Obama tells Hampton University graduates: President Obama delivered a strong argument Sunday on the importance of education, telling the new graduates of the historic black university here that “all of us have a responsibility, as Americans, to change” the comparatively low academic achievement of African Americans in this country.
    Before an audience of more than 12,000 students, family members and guests at Hampton University’s commencement, Obama said the nation must “offer every single child in this country an education that will make them competitive in our knowledge economy.”
    “But I have to say, Class of 2010, all of you have a separate responsibility. To be role models for your brothers and sisters,” Obama told the 1,072 students receiving undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees on the cool but lovely spring morning. “To be mentors in your communities. And, when the time comes, to pass that sense of an education’s value down to your children, a sense of personal responsibility and self-respect.”… – WaPo, 5-10-10
  • President Obama says health law benefits already being felt: “Already we are seeing a health care system that holds insurance companies more accountable and gives consumers more control,” Obama said during his weekly radio address. “For too long, we have been held hostage to an insurance industry that jacks up premiums and drops coverage as they please,” he said. “The new health care law has also begun to end the worst practices of insurance companies,” he said… – NY Daily News, 5-9-10
  • Kerry, Lieberman press climate bill without Graham: The leading sponsors of a long-delayed energy and climate change bill said Friday they will press ahead despite losing the support of their only Republican partner. Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass, and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said they plan to introduce a bill on Wednesday. The pair made the announcement just hours after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said it’s impossible to pass the legislation now because of disagreements over offshore drilling and immigration reform.
    “Regrettably, in my view, this has become impossible in the current environment,” Graham said in a statement. “I believe there could be more than 60 votes for this bipartisan concept in the future. But there are not nearly 60 votes today and I do not see them materializing until we deal with the uncertainty of the immigration debate and the consequences of the oil spill.”
    Kerry and Lieberman said they plan to introduce the bill on Wednesday — two weeks after they first pledged to unveil it. “We are more encouraged today that we can secure the necessary votes to pass this legislation this year in part because the last (few) weeks have given everyone with a stake in this issue a heightened understanding that as a nation, we can no longer wait to solve this problem which threatens our economy, our security and our environment,” Kerry and Lieberman said. “We look forward to … passing the legislation with the support of Senator Graham and other Republicans, Democrats and independents this year,” they said…. – AP, 5-7-10
  • Obama: ‘Our obligations to our troops don’t end on the battlefield’: President Obama signed legislation today designed to help keep severely wounded troops in their homes by providing aid to family members who care for them. “Keeping faith with our veterans and their families is work that is never truly finished,” Obama said before signing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. The law increases health benefits for veterans, and provides new assistance to family members who care for loved ones injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’re forever mindful that our obligations to our troops don’t end on the battlefield,” Obama said…. – USA Today, 5-5-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian Zelizer: Gov. Daniels: GOP’s best hope for 2012?: Conservative pundits are in love with a candidate for 2012, and it is not Sarah Palin. If you ask many top Republicans their favorite pick for the presidential campaign, they will answer Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels….
    Certain Republicans find Daniels attractive because they realize the 2012 campaign will not only be a mandate on President Obama; the GOP will undertake its campaign in the long shadow of President Bush, who ended his presidency with historically low approval ratings and a demoralized party.
    Daniels could help Republicans reclaim the mantel of fiscal conservatism. The skyrocketing federal deficit has emerged as a significant political issue. Concerns about how European countries will handle their debt have amplified fears within the United States….
    If Daniels decides to run, and he says he does not want to, his fate within the party would tell us a lot about the direction the Republican Party is heading. It is clear that there are other candidates, such as Palin or Romney or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who might be an easier and more predictable choice for the GOP.
    Yet it is not clear whether any of them are candidates, as Daniels might be, who could help Republicans win back suburban and independent voters who went blue in 2008. – CNN, 5-9-10
  • Is Gulf oil spill Obama’s Katrina moment?: “The Obama administration has done nothing wrong,” said Katrina historian Douglas Brinkley. “This has been British Petroleum not having a Plan ‘A’ or Plan ‘B’ or Plan ‘C’ or Plan ‘D.” – CNN, 5-7-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Arizona law foes’ best weapon is dollars: In response to Arizona’s law cracking down on illegal immigration, pro-immigration and Hispanic organizations have launched a national protest campaign…..
    Pro-immigration groups have started a national boycott against Arizona. The boycott promises to be substantial in scale and scope. San Francisco, California, Mayor Gavin Newsom has announced that he will ban city employees from traveling to the state. Los Angeles officials are considering doing the same. There is growing pressure on Major League Baseball to pull next year’s all-star game out of Phoenix if the law is not changed. In other words, Arizona has a potentially big economic problem on its hands.
    The economic boycott has been a powerful tool in the struggle for social rights. During the civil rights era, African-American activists used boycotts to create pressure for social change and to draw national attention to their cause…. – CNN, 5-4-10
  • Douglas Brinkley: White House Expects Battle Over Supreme Court Nominee Advisers say Obama’s pick will draw controversy no matter who he chooses: “There’s no ‘Kumbaya’ going on—it’s gotten harsh and bitter,” says historian Doug Brinkley. He traces the acrimony to President Nixon’s controversial and unsuccessful high court nominations of Clement Haynsworth and Harrold Carswell in 1969 and 1970, respectively, and later, the defeat of Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, and the divisive but successful nomination of Clarence Thomas by George H.W. Bush in 1991. “Now it’s almost par for the course,” Brinkley says. The pattern is for opponents to dredge up everything they can to harm a nominee, including books checked out of a library and movies rented from a video store. “We live in glass houses,” he says, and the result too often is a media circus. US News & World Report, 4-29-10
%d bloggers like this: