Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 January 14, 2016: Fox Business Network sixth undercard Republican debate transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Fox Business undercard Republican debate transcript

Source: WaPo, 1-14-16

Hosted by Fox Business Network in North Charleston, South Carolina

Participants: CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Moderators: Trish Regan and Sandra Smith

TRISH REGAN, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK ANCHOR: In Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, the president said that our economy is strong. He cited the significant decline we’ve seen in unemployment rate and the millions of jobs that have been created.

What is your assessment of the economy right now? And I would like to hear from all of you on this one, beginning with Ms. Fiorina.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, thank you. Good evening. If I may begin by saying how honored I am to be standing here with two former Iowa Caucus winners.

Governor, Senator.

And how honored I am to be talking with all of you. You know, I’m not a political insider. I haven’t spent my lifetime running for office. The truth is I have had and been blessed by a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things in my life.

And unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: I’m standing here because I think we have to restore a citizen government in this country. I think we have to end crony capitalism. The crony capitalism that starts with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

You know, Hillary Clinton sits inside government and rakes in millions, handing out access and favors. And Donald Trump sits outside government and rakes in billions buying people like Hillary Clinton.

The state of our economy is not strong. We have record numbers of men out of work. We have record numbers of women living in poverty. We have young people who no longer believe that the American dream applies to them.

We have working families whose wages have stagnated for decades, all while the rich get richer, the powerful get more powerful, the wealthy and the well-connected get more connected.

Citizens, it’s time to take our country back.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDRA SMITH, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK ANCHOR: Governor Huckabee, same question to you. Where do you see the country right now?

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wish I saw the country in the same place that the president presented it to be the other night in the State of the Union. He talked about how great the economy was doing. And I guess for the people he hangs out with, it’s probably doing great.

But the president should’ve stood in the line at the layaway counter at Walmart just before Christmas. He would have heard a very different story about the economy of America.

HUCKABEE: I wish I could introduce him the lady who cleans the building where our campaign headquarters is located in Little Rock. Her name is Kathleen (ph). She works all day at a local hospital cleaning, and then she goes to the building where a bank, and our headquarters, and other offices are she spends another seven hours. She works 15 hours a day.

I guarantee you she’s not working 15 hours a day because she loves scrubbing toilets, and sweeping floors. She’s working that many hours because that’s what it takes for her to make it work.

And, she’s not alone. There are people all over this country who are working like that. Many of them working two jobs — and they used to have one job, and that would take care of them. But, because of wage stagnation, which we’ve had for 40 years, because the fact that they’re punished for working harder if they work that many hours. The government gets more of their second shift than they do.

And, as a result there are a lot of people who are hurting today. I wish the President knew more of them. He might make a change in the economy and the way he’s managing it.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you Governor Huckabee. Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Well, all he has to do is listen to the Democratic debate and find out how bad the economy is. All they do is complain about the hollowing out of the middle of America, and how America is struggling so badly, and have to make these radical changes in Washington.

But they’ve been in control for the last seven years, and what have we seen? The most important jobs, I believe, in this country are the ones that fill the middle. For the 74% of Americans who don’t have a college degree between the age of 25 and 65 are manufacturing jobs. Your governor, and your legislature, and your team here have done an amazing job of bringing manufacturing jobs back to South Carolina.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

SANTORUM: Right here. Right here in Charleston, right down in the street in Boeing (ph). You’ve done a great job, and what’s happened? You’ve grown this economy, you’ve strengthened the center of your state, the middle. That’s because you know that if you’re really going to create wealth and opportunity, you got to get jobs, and good paying jobs for everybody.

And, so what’s happened? Two million jobs, manufacturing jobs, have left this country because of Barack Obama. Regulations, EPA, workplace regulations, things driving people off-shore all because of his number one priority, global climate change.

Well, let me tell you this, Mr. President. For every dollar of GDP, China creates five times as much pollution as we do here. You want to — lower global climate change, bring those jobs back to America and let American workers do that job with less pollution.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Thank you, Senator Santorum. Thank you, candidates.

Moving to the world stage. The middle east is on the brink of chaos. Iran continues to provoke the United States, North Korea claims it’s tested a hydrogen bomb, and Afghanistan is in danger of falling back into Taliban hands. Critics of the administration say it’s all due to lack of U.S. leadership.

To you, Mrs. Fiorina, how do you see America’s role in the world today?

FIORINA: America must lead because when we do not lead, when this exceptional nation does not lead, the world is more dangerous and a more tragic place.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, they all refuse to lead. Worse, they refuse to respond when this nation is provoked. Hillary Clinton famously asked what difference does it make how four Americans died in Benghazi?

Mrs. Clinton, here’s what difference it makes. When you do not stand up and say the truth, that this was a purposeful terrorist attack, when you do not say the United States of America will retaliate for that attack, terrorists assume it’s open season.

We have refused to respond to every provocation. The President wouldn’t even mention the fact that Iran had taken two Navy boats and our sailors — hostage. He didn’t mention the fact that they violated the Geneva convention. He didn’t respond to the fact that Iran launched two ballistic missile just a short time ago, in direct violation of a deal they had just signed. We didn’t respond to the fact that North Korea attacked Sony Pictures.

When we refuse to respond over, and over to provocation and bad behavior, we will get more provocation and bad behavior. I know most of our allies personally. I have met many of our adversaries. I know our military and our intelligence capability, and I know this. When we will not stand with our allies, when we will not respond to our adversaries, when we do not lead in the world the world is a dangerous and tragic place. I will be a Commander in Chief who will lead.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Well, since we’ve been talking about the Middle East, Senator Santorum, conflicts between Saudi Arabia and Iran have certainly escalated, amid accusations that Saudi Arabia bombed the Iranian Embassy in Yemen after the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was attacked.

As we confront an increasingly unstable Middle East, how will you, as president, navigate this administration’s promises to Iran while standing by our historic allies in the region?

RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FORMER SENATOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the historic promises that we have made to — to Iran in this agreement need to be torn up on the first day in office of the next president.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: And let me tell you why, because Iran has already torn it up. Iran has not approved the agreement that President Obama has said that they have approved. They have approved a different agreement in their parliament.

The fact of the matter is they have violated this agreement. Carly just mentioned some of those violations.

They have launched ballistic missiles, tested them, in clear violation.

And here’s the pathetic part. The president announced that they were going to impose sanctions. And then President Rouhani went on Twitter and said there would be retaliation.

And what did we do?

We backed down.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are 50 some Citadel cadets in this audience tonight.

(APPLAUSE) SANTORUM: I would ask them to stand up if they will. And here’s what I want to tell each and every one of them, as you stand. Here’s what I want to tell them.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Whether it’s you’re watching that movie this weekend that just came out when we abandoned our men and women in Benghazi, or whether it’s we treat Iran, that gave courtesies to our sailors, as they made them record a hostage video, let me tell you this, if you choose to serve this country, I will have your back. I will not let America be trampled upon anymore by these radical jihadists.

REGAN: Thank you, Senator Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Governor Huckabee, in Afghanistan, the Taliban is strengthening. Attacks are on the rise and thousands more civilians have been wounded or killed. Much of the Taliban surge can be attributed to the withdrawal of U.S. forces there.

You have expressed skepticism with the war there, saying you see no end game in sight.

What, then, is your solution to the growing conflict there?

MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AK), FORMER GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me put that in context. When I went to Afghanistan, I saw a land that looked like the land of the Flintstones. It was desolate. It was barren. It was primitive.

And it’s been that way for thousands of years. They want to take the world back to be just like that.

We don’t.

We need to make a clear goal as to why we want to be anywhere in the Middle East, and I’ll tell you why we want to be and need to be, is to destroy radical Islam and everything that threatens civilization. It’s not just a threat…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: — to Israel or to America, it’s a threat to every civilized person on this Earth. And we need to be equipping not only the Kurds in Iraq, we need to be making sure that those who are willing to fight radical Muslims will do it, but we need to never ever spend a drop of American blood unless there is a clearly defined goal and we can’t make sure we win unless we have a military that’s the strongest in the history of mankind.

We’ve got to rebuild our navy. It’s the smallest navy we’ve had since 1915, when my grandfather got on a destroyer in World War I when he was in the U.S. Navy. We’ve got young men in Air Force B-52s, one in particular, he’s flying a B-52 that his father flew in the ’80s and his grandfather flew in the ’50s. Those planes are older than me.

We’ve got to have a military that the world is afraid of, use it sparingly, but when we do, the whole world will know that America is on their tail and they will be on their tail on the ground, never ever to rise up again.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Governor Huckabee, if I could just follow-up with that.

Do we need to be in Afghanistan?

HUCKABEE: Only if there is a concerted effort to destroy the advance of radical Islamists who are against us. As far as what are we going to make it look like. Frankly, I don’t know what we can make it look like. You can’t create for other people a desire for freedom and democracy.

And frankly, that is not the role of the United States. The role of the United States military is not to build schools, it is not to build bridges, it is not to go around and pass out food packets.

It is to kill and destroy our enemy and make America safe and that is the purpose we should be there if we’re going to be there.

REGAN: Thank you Governor Huckabee.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Ms. Fiorina, nearly 600 women say they were attacked in a German city on New Year’s Eve by men of Arab or North African descent and 45 percent of those alleged attacks were sexual assaults. Twenty-two of those 32 men arrested so far are asylum-seekers. Are you worried about similar problems in the United States?

FIORINA: Of course I’m worried about similar problems in the United States. We can not allow refugees to enter this country unless we can adequately vet them and we know we can’t. Therefore we should stop allowing refugees into this country.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: And by the way, we do not need to be lectured about why we’re angry and frustrated and fearful because we’ve had an illegal immigration problem in this country for 25 years.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: And we have every right to be frustrated about the fact that politicians stand up in election after election after election and promise us to fix the problem and yet, it has never been fixed.

I offer leadership that understands that actions speak louder than words, that results count. We must secure our border. We must fix our broken immigration system. We must enforce a pro-American immigration system that serves our interests, not the rest of the world. I understand what it takes to translate goals into results and that is what I will do as president of the United States. Of course, we should be worried, for heavens sakes.

This administration has now told us they don’t know who has overstayed a visa. This administration has told us they don’t even bother to check Facebook or Twitter to find out who’s pledging allegiance to jihadis. We can do better than this, citizens. We need to take our country back.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: I want to stay with you on this. The world shares a common enemy right now in the way of ISIS. Russia, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, we all agree ISIS is a threat and it must be stopped.

During World War II, the world partnered with Joseph Stalin, who was arguably one of the most formidable — despicable figures of the 20th century. But they partnered with him to fight the Nazis.

Today, everyone seems to agree we need some kind of coalition to fight ISIS. Do you agree with that? And if so, would your coalition include possibly, Russia and Iran?

FIORINA: We need to be very clear-eyed now about who are our allies and who are our adversaries. In the fight against ISIS, Saudi Arabia is our ally. Iran is our adversary. And despite Donald trump’s bromance with Vladmir Putin, Vladmir Putin and Russia are our adversary. We can not…

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: We can not outsource leadership in the Middle East to Iran and Russia. We must stand and lead. The Kuwaitis, the Jordanians, the Saudis, Egyptians, Bahrainis (sic), the Emirates, the Kurds. I know virtually all of these nations and their leaders. And they have asked us for very specific kinds of support: bombs, material, arms, intelligence.

We are not providing any of it today. I will provide all of it. We have allies who will stand up and help us deny ISIS territory, which is what we must do to defeat them. We must deny them territory. They will help us do this. And yes, we need a coalition.

But only in the United States of America can lead such a coalition. I will lead it. But we must be clear-eyed through this fight. Iran is our adversary. Russia is our adversary. We can never outsource our leadership. Only the United States of America can lead to defeat ISIS. I will.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Ms. Fiorina, thank you.

SMITH: All right, thank you, candidates. We’re just getting started. Jobs, Homeland Security, gun rights, all those issues are coming up straight ahead. We’re live from North Charleston and the Republican Presidential Debate. We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Welcome back, everyone, to the Republican presidential debate. On to the next round of questions — Sandra.

SMITH: All right, let’s get started. Senator Santorum, to you first. President Obama has urged technology leaders to make it hard for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice. Hillary Clinton says social media companies can help by swiftly shutting down terrorist accounts.

The companies say that they’re already working with law enforcement and any proposed legislation would do more harm than good. Should companies like Facebook and Twitter be required by law to more actively — be more actively engaged in fighting terror?

SANTORUM: I would just say that if we were doing a better job within the government, we wouldn’t need the private sector to do the things that we’re asking them to do.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: I’ve had a little experience in this in the private sector myself. And what I found was a government with layers and layers of bureaucracy, of people who had some technical expertise but they had no authority, number one.

And one of the things I found out about in the bureaucracy is if a lot of people have authority, nobody has authority, number one. And number two, that if you don’t do anything, you don’t get fired.

It’s only when you do something and something goes wrong, you get fired. So they do nothing. And that’s what is happening in our Defense Department right now. We have a capability that they’re trying to develop to play defense.

We have a lot of technologists that are very skilled. And they’re trying to figure out how to play defense. But what we don’t have is we don’t have folks who are thinking about offense.

We don’t have war-fighters. We have technologists. Technologists are not war-fighters. Technologists are thinking, how do I protect cyber-security, how do I secure, how do I protect?

SANTORUM: And we need to have a much more dynamic, how do we — how do we go after them?

How do we respond?

And we need leadership that’s willing to make sure that when someone attacks us — and ladies and gentlemen, they’re attacking us as we speak. They’re attacking us all day every day, not just the government, but they’re attacking private sector companies all day every day.

They have to learn that we’re going to pay — they’re going to pay a price when they do so.

And then right now, just like in every other aspect of our national security, people who attack us are not paying a price. We need a leader who will make sure that they know when they mess with America, they’re going to pay a price.

SMITH: Senator, would you — would you require anything of those companies like Facebook and Twitter if you were president?

SANTORUM: Look, Facebook and Twitter can teach us things. We can cooperate with them. We can share ideas and information. But this is a — and this is a very dicey area for the government to go in and require the industry to do its job.

It needs to develop that capability. We need to be — have responsible dialogue, but I don’t think requirements are the order of the day.

SMITH: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Ms. Fiorina, the president has just issued an executive order to expand the gun laws and background checks. And none of you on stage agree with this.

But recent polls show the majority of Americans are in favor of universal background checks.

(BOOS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not in this room.

REGAN: It’s the poll data.

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: And we all believe the polling data all the time, don’t we?

REGAN: So tell me…

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: — why, in your view, is the president’s proposal a problem?

FIORINA: Oh, it’s a problem for so many reasons.

First of all, it is yet another lawless executive order. You see, he doesn’t like the fact that Congress has rejected his ideas twice on a bipartisan basis, so he’s decided he just gets to override them.

Sorry, Mr. President, not the way “The Constitution” works.

Secondly…

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: — secondly, he basically admitted in that speech that he hasn’t been paying much attention to enforcing the laws we have. He said, gee, we need a few more FBI agents. That would have helped, perhaps, stop a tragedy here in South Carolina with Dylann Roof, a guy who clearly never should have been sold a gun.

In other words, Mr. President, you’re right, we need to enforce the laws we have. Let’s enforce the laws we have. There are criminals running around with guns who shouldn’t have them. We don’t prosecute any of them. Less than 1 percent.

But I want to go back to the technology issue for a moment, if I may, as well, because in this regard, I disagree with Senator Santorum. Look, I come from the technology industry and I can tell you there is one thing that bureaucracies don’t know how to do. They do not know how to innovate.

We have come seven generations of technology since 2011. We have bureaucracies that are incapable of bringing in that innovation.

So, yes, there are some very specific things that we should ask the private sector to help us with, including making sure we have the latest and greatest in algorithms to search through all these databases so that we find terrorists before they attack us, not after it’s too late.

And, finally, when a president who understands technology in the Oval Office. Mrs. Clinton, actually, you cannot wipe a server with a towel.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Ms. Fiorina, you’ve said that was when you were CEO of HP, you actually worked with the government.

FIORINA: Yes, and see…

REGAN: — to try and combat some of these terrorist threats.

FIORINA: As CEO of Hewlett Packard…

REGAN: What did you do?

FIORINA: As CEO of Hewlett Packard, I was asked very specifically for some very real help. The help I was asked to provide, this is now public information. So I am not revealing what — something that was — was classified.

We had a very large shipment of equipment, software and hardware, headed to a retail outlet. And I was called by the head of the NSA, who had an urgent need for that capability, to begin laying out a program to track terrorists.

We turned that truck around on a highway and it was escorted to the headquarters in San Jose.

In World War II, our government went to the private sector and said, help us do things that we cannot do.

The private sector has capabilities that the government does not have. There are some legal authorities that are required.

The Sony attack could have been detected and repelled, had legal authorities been passed in Congress allowing private networks and public networks to work together.

Those legal authorities have not yet been passed.

Yes, I was asked to help.

(RINGS BELL)

FIORINA: I know the technology industry. They will help again. But they must be asked by a president who understands what they have.

REGAN: Ms. Fiorina, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: All right, Governor Huckabee, you called President Obama’s executive orders on gun control unconstitutional and completely insane.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: (LAUGHING) Yes, I did.

SMITH: You even told gun store owners to ignore the President’s orders.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Yet, innocent people are dying from gun violence in cities like Detroit, Chicago, and Charleston everyday. Is there anything that can be done at the federal level to prevent guns from falling into the hands of criminals?

HUCKABEE: Well, why don’t we start by making sure the Justice Department never does an idiotic program like Fast and Furious where the U.S. Government put guns…

(CHEERING)

HUCKABEE: …in the hands of Mexican drug lords…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: …and end up killing one of our border agents. You know, they want to talk about law abiding citizens, I just find it amazing the President keeps saying the gun show loophole. There is no gun show loophole. I promise you I’ve been to more gun shows than President Obama.

SMITH: (LAUGHING)

HUCKABEE: And, I’ve bought more weapons at them, and you fill out forms. The President also says things that it’s easier to get a gun now than it is to grow trees. Again, I purchase guns, and I can assure you that it is much more difficult to purchase a firearm than it is to get the ingredients of a salad at the supermarket.

What the President keeps pushing are ideas that have never worked. Ideas that would not have stopped San Bernadino, Sandy Hook, Aurora, and at some point you wonder if you keep retrying things that don’t work, maybe we should just see if we could resell all those used lottery tickets that didn’t work real well because that’s the logic of just keep doing the same thing, but something that has failed. Of course, we want to stop gun violence, but the one common thing that has happened in most mass shootings is that they happened in gun- free zones where people who would have been law abiding citizens, who could have stood up and at least tried to stop it and we’re not allowed to under the law.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Thank you, Governor Huckabee.

REGAN: Governor Huckabee, an American in San Bernardino murdered 14 people while terrorists with Belgian and French passports murdered 130 people. Were facing a threat within our borders, and from outside the United States. Those European terrorists, they could have come here at any time given that we have a visa waiver program that enables people to travel back and forth. It exists within those countries, and 36 others.

In countries around the world, including many in Europe, cannot ensure that their citizens are not jihadists, why are we waiving the visa requirement at all?

HUCKABEE: Well, we shouldn’t be and that’s one of the reasons that I think there a lot of voices in our country who are saying it’s time to relook (ph) at the visa program. The European Union is a failure, it’s not allowed for even the economic goals that they were trying to achieve.

But, what we’re not seeing is that it’s making Europe less safe, and it’s proven not to be exactly what they all thought it was going to be.

Our first and foremost responsibility in this country, and the first responsibility of the President of the United States is protect America, and protect Americans. We have a President who seems to be more interested in protecting the reputation and image of Islam than he is protecting us. And, I want to be very clear…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: …that this President.

(CHEERING)

HUCKABEE: Makes comments like he did the other night, that we have to be so careful because we don’t want to offend Muslims. He needs to read his own FBI crime stats from last year which would show him that of the hate crimes in the country, over 5,500, about 1,100 were religious hate crimes. And, of those, 58% were directed toward Jews. Only 16% directed toward Muslims.

Maybe what the President should have talked about the other night is how we ought to be more careful in the anti-semitic comments that are going toward American Jews than toward Muslims because by three times as many…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: …they’re being targeted for religious hate crime.

REGAN: If you get the visa waiver program, does that shut down international commerce?

HUCKABEE: It does not shut down international commerce, but it may slow it down. And, you don’t want to slowdown commerce that is making us safer. It’s worth it. This lady who came and joined with the San Bernardino killer had passed three background checks, and that’s why a lot of Americans didn’t buy it when the President said we’ll bring in Syrian refugees, but don’t worry we’ll check them out.

We have a lot of confidence in a president who told us that we could keep our doctor, we could keep our health insurance, and cost us less, and now the latest is if you like your gun you can keep it too, and frankly, we don’t buy it. We don’t believe it. He’s lost his credibility, and his inept…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: …inability to work with Congress and pass legislation has led him to do what I never even imagined doing as a governor, and that’s just going and doing it my own way.

HUCKABEE: That’s why we elect a president, is to lead, is to be able to shepherd things through. And if I can do it with a 90 percent Democrat legislature in Arkansas, there is no excuse for any president not being able to lead in Washington if he knows what the heck he is doing when he gets there.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you, Governor Huckabee.

SMITH: Senator Santorum, many of our military leaders believe America’s critical infrastructure is vulnerable to a terrorist attack. This is the power in our homes, the water we drink, the Internet and phone systems by which we stay connected.

If attacked, these essential services that underpin American society could come to a grinding halt. Do you have a specific plan to protect us from this type of attack?

SANTORUM: Well, the most devastating attack that could occur is an electromagnetic pulse attack, and that would be an attack that would be triggered by a nuclear explosion in the upper atmosphere of our country.

The best way to stop that from happening is to make sure that those who contemplating and actually war-gaming and talking about using it, Iran, doesn’t get a nuclear weapon so they can’t explode that device.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: And the president of the United States has put Iran on a path to a nuclear weapon. And we have done nothing to do anything to harden our grid. There is actually a bill in Congress that would put money forward to try to put redundancy and harden our electric grid so it could actually survive an EMP.

An EMP is a devastating explosion that sends a pulse that knocks out all electric, everything, everything that is connected to any kind — that is wired, that has a circuit board gets fried out. Everything is gone. Cars stop. Planes fall out of the sky.

This is a devastating attack. And this president has done nothing, number one, to take the most probable person to — probable country to launch an attack and stop them, and has done nothing to try to defend us, particularly our electric grid. The bottom line is, I put the original sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program when I was in the United States Senate. I’ve been fighting for 12 years with one thing in mind, that we must stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And…

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Because they’re different than every other country. They do not want a nuclear weapon to defend themselves. They want a nuclear weapon to have theological ends to bring about their mahdi so they can control the world. And that is the most serious threat facing this country right now.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Senator Santorum, I want to stay with you on this, moving to jobs and the economy. In his State of the Union Address the other night, President Obama touted his record on jobs, citing more than 14 million new jobs and boasted of nearly 900,000 manufacturing jobs added in the past six years.

Do you dispute his track record of creating jobs?

SANTORUM: Well, the numbers just don’t add up. I mean, they have not added manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing jobs have been lost in this country, 2 million of them. The bottom line is that this president has done more to take jobs away from the hard-working people who are struggling the most.

And that’s folks who are, as I said, the 74 percent of Americans who don’t have a college degree. And they’re out there talking about, well, we’re going to provide free college for everybody. Well, who is going to pay for it? The 74 percent that don’t have a college degree.

They’re not — nobody is focused. Let’s just be honest, nobody is focused on the people who are struggling the most in America today. We talk about immigration. Talk about the president’s immigration plan. He wants to bring in more and more people into this country. Let people who are here illegally stay in this country.

Almost all of the people who are here illegally, and most of the people who came here legally over the last 20 years, they’re working in wage-earning jobs. That is why wages have flat-lined.

And we have unfortunately two political parties with most of the candidates in this field for some form of amnesty, some form of allowing people to stay here even though they’re here illegally and for increasing levels of legal immigration.

I’m someone who believes that we need to be the party that stands for the American worker. And when we say we need to send people back, I mean we send people back.

And let me just make one point. I was in Storm Lake, Iowa, the other day, near a Tyson’s plant, 91 percent of the kids that go to the elementary school there are minority kids. And they said, well, what are you going to do with all of these people, their families, they’ve lived here for a long time?

I said, I’m going to give them a gift. I’m going to give them a gift of being able to help the country they were born in.

SANTORUM: And I’m going to export America, the education they were able to see. They learned English language. They learned about capitalism. They learned about democracy. You want to stop flow of immigrants?

Let’s send six million Mexicans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, El Savadorians…

(BELL RINGS)

… back into their country, so they can start a renaissance in their country so they won’t be coming over here anymore.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Senator Santorum, thank you.

SMITH: Governor Huckabee, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, has said the greatest threat to our security is our national debt.

Our national debt is now on pace to top $19 trillion. Yet, you as well as Ms. Fiorina have laid forward no plan to reform entitlements. How can you say you’re going to pay down our country’s debt without cutting Social Security or Medicare?

HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, let’s just remember that Social Security is not the government’s money, it belongs to the people who had it taken out of their checks involuntarily their entire working lives.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: For the government to say, well it is fault of working people that we have a Social Security problem, no. It is the fault of a government that used those people’s money for something other than protecting those people’s accounts. So let’s not blame them and punish them.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: But here is a fact, and I sometimes hear Republicans say well, we’re going to have to cut this and extend the age. You know what I think a lot of times when I hear people say, well, let’s make people work to their 70. That sounds great for white-collar people who sat at a desk most of their lives. You ever talk to somebody that stood on concrete floor for the first 40 years of their working life? Do you think they can stand another five years or 10 years, many of them will retired virtually crippled because they worked hard. And we’re going to punish them some more? I don’t think so. Here’s the fact.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCAKBEE: Four percent economic growth, we fully fund Social Security and Medicare. Our problem is not that Social Security is just too generous to seniors. It isn’t. Our problem is that our politicians have not created the kind of policies that would bring economic growth.

And I still support strongly that we get rid of the 77,000 pages of the monstrous tax code…

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: … pass the fair tax, supercharge this economy with the rocket fuel that happens with the consumption tax and we don’t have to cut Social Security to any senior who has worked their lifetime for it.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you, Governor Huckabee.

SMITH: OK. We’re going to continue this conversation. We’re taking a quick break and then coming up, the candidates’ plans for strengthening the middle class. We’re live in North Charleston with the Republican Presidential Debate. We’ll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

REGAN: Welcome back to the Republican presidential debate live from North Charleston.

We want to jump right back in.

Sandra is kicking it off.

SMITH: All right, thanks, Trish.

Well, let’s get started with Ms. Fiorina.

Today, the middle class represents about 50 percent of the U.S. population, down from about 61 percent back in 1971. That’s according to Pew Research. The same research revealed a widening income gap in America. The rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

What will you do to strengthen a middle class that is no longer the majority?

FIORINA: For decades, the professional political class in both parties has been talking about the middle class. For decades, Republicans in particular have been talking about reducing the size and scope of government, spending less money, reducing the complexity.

And yet, for 40 years, the government has gotten bigger and more expensive.

We now have a 75,000 plus page tax code, although politicians have run for office for decades promising reform. And all the while, middle class incomes have stagnated.

You see, when government gets bigger and bigger, more powerful, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class gets squeezed.

We need to understand who the job creators are in this country, because we need more jobs to grow the middle class and to grow the wages of the middle class.

Who creates jobs?

Small businesses, new businesses, family-owned businesses. (APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: They create two thirds of the new jobs in this country and they employ half the people.

I started out typing for a nine person real estate firm. My husband Frank started out driving a tow truck for a family-owned auto body shop. And we are crushing small businesses and destroying the middle class.

So here’s my blueprint to take back America. Let us first actually reform the tax code from 73,000 pages down to three. There’s a 20-year-old plan to do exactly that.

And then let us begin piece by piece to focus on every single dollar the government spends, so that we will spend less overall and still have enough for our priorities. And that requires the government to budget the way you do at home — examine every dollar, cut any dollar, move any dollar. The fancy term for that is zero- based budgeting, but I call it common sense.

Citizens, we’ve got to take our country back.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Governor Huckabee, you know it used to be you could graduate from high school and get a pretty good job at the local factory, enough to take care of your family and yourself. Those days seem to be gone. It’s pretty hard to do that nowadays.

Businesses are increasingly turning to automation to increase their productivity levels. It’s happening right here, in fact, at the Boeing factory in North Charleston.

The president says automation threatens workers’ ability to get higher wages.

Do you agree with that?

And if so, do you have a solution?

HUCKABEE: Let me go back to the reason so many people are having a hard time getting ahead. The tax system punishes them.

Think about this. If you work really hard and you start moving up the economic ladder, you get bumped into a different tax bracket. So the government thinks it deserves more of your hard work than you do.

And it’s one of the reasons that no matter how many different reforms you have to a tax on people’s productivity, you’re still taxing their work, their savings. You’re taxing their capital gains, inheritance, dividends, you’re taxing everything that produces something.

And it’s way I really believe it’s time to do something bold, not something minute. This is no time for a tap of the hammer, a twist of the screwdriver. It’s time for something big. That’s why the fair tax transforms our economy.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: And we don’t punish workers. It’s the only way we’re going to get middle class people moving ahead again, because the harder they work, the more they keep. No payroll tax deducted from their checks. They get their entire paycheck.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: And, one of the most important parts, it’s built on the common sense with which we raised our kids, and trained dogs. You reward behavior you want more of. And, you punish behavior you want less of. That’s how I raise kids, it’s how I trained our dogs, and folks, it’s not that difficult.

We now punish the behavior we say we want more of by taxing it, and we reward the behavior that we say we want less of, so if you make a good investment, we punish you with a tax. If you make a bad investment you can write that off and the rest of the taxpayers will help subsidize you, and bail you out.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you very much, Governor Huckabee.

Senator Santorum, 40% of babies born today are born to single moms. That’s twice as high as reported back in 1980, and it’s 11 times as high as in 1940. Studies show that children are always better off economically, most often — and emotionally, with two parents in a household. From a policy perspective, should the government be doing anything to encourage family formation?

SANTORUM: You know, we’ve had this debate about the economy, and we haven’t talked the one issue now increasingly even the right, and even the are coming to agreement. I’ve run around doing 300 town hall meetings talking about a book written by a liberal Harvard sociologist, not a normal thing for me to be talking about, but I now name Robert Putnam who wrote a book called, “Our Kids”.

And, he wrote this book, I think, ostensibly to support the Democratic argument that the middle of America’s hollowing out, and income gap is widening, and rich are getting richer. When he studied all the information as to what was going on, he realized that the biggest reason that we’re seeing the hollowing out of the middle of America is the breakdown of the American family.

The reality is that if you’re a single parent — a child of a single parent, and you grew up in a single parent family neighborhood, you went to that single parent family school, the chance of you ever, ever reaching the top 20% of income earners is 3% in America. At least — I don’t know about you, but that’s not good enough. And, we have been too politically correct in this country because we don’t want to offend anybody to fight for the lives of our children. (APPLAUSE)

You want — You want to be shocked? You read the first few chapters of Mr. — Dr. Putnam’ book. He talks about Port Clinton, Ohio and growing up there in the 1950’s, and how poor kids actually survived and did well, even though they were poor and disadvantaged. But, then he goes to the towns today and these kids are failing, and failing miserably. They don’t even have a shot, and we won’t even have the courage to have leadership at the federal level — not with legislation, but the most powerful tool a president have, the bully pulpit to encourage each and everyone of you, churches and businesses, and educators, and community leaders to let’s have a national campaign to rebuild the American family, and give every child its birthright which is a Mom and a Dad who loves them.

That will change this economy.

(CHEERING & APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you, Senator.

We’re not finished yet. More Republican Presidential Debate in North Charleston after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMITH: Welcome back, it’s time for the closing statements. Candidates will each get one minute, starting with Senator Santorum.

Thank you very much, I want to thank the people of Charleston, which has become a little bit of a second home to me, because I am very privileged to have two young men who go to the Citadel here and they’re here tonight, my son John and my son Daniel.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Ladies and gentlemen, America is frustrated and angry and looking for someone who’s a fighter, but I also think they’re looking for someone who’s a winner. Somebody who can go out there and take on the establishment and make a difference. And take on someone who’s going to be the person who’s going to be between a Republican holding the presidency and that’s Hillary Clinton.

And there’s one person on this stage, one person in the race who’s done it and done it repeatedly. I’ve taken on Hillary Clinton on the issues you care about. Partial-birth abortion.

Go and google Rick Santorum and Hillary Clinton and there you’ll see a five-minute debate. I’ll let you decide who won the debate. I’ll tell you who won, because we passed the bill and I know I’m out of time but I’m going to take some of Rand Paul’s time here for a second.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: If you’re looking for someone who fought Hillary Clinton on Iran’s sanctions, she was one of four who voted — who’s deciding vote who voted against Iran’s sanctions, so we didn’t get it in place as earlier as we should have.

I’ve fought battles against her. In 1994, I ran against the Clinton machine. James Carville and Paul Begala, ran the race against me when I took on the author of Hillary care.

And each one of those battles, I won. You want a fighter, you want a winner, I’d appreciate your vote. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Thank you, Senator Santorum. Governor Mike Huckabee.

HUCAKBEE: Well, Rick, I’m pretty sure I did also fight the Clinton machine because every election I was ever in in Arkansas, I assure you, they were behind it, helping finance and campaign for every opponent.

And I share with you the understanding that it’s going to be a tough battle. But I spent the first half of my adult life in the private and nonprofit sector, raising a family, understanding how tough it is for people to make it.

And that first half of my life is what led me to believe that America needs a different kind of leadership, not people who spent their whole life running from one office to the next, and living off the government dime. And I got involved because I got sick of what I saw.

I also believe that there’s got to be some leadership that not only addresses the monetary and military issues of this country, but the moral issues of this country. At the end of every political speech, most of us say, God bless America.

But how can he do that when we continue to slaughter 4,000 babies a day?

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: And I want to be the president that treats every person, including the unborn, as a person. And protect them under the 5th and 14th amendments of the constitution. I close with this word from a gentleman in East Texas named Butel Lucre (ph). He’s 100 years old and I met him down in East Texas.

HUCKABEE: And he said this to me. “I sure wish, Mike, we had the days when The Ten Commandments were in all of our capitals and in every school, and we prayed again.

You know, he may be 100 years old, but I believe some of those old ideas to get this country back where we unapologetically get on our knees before we get on our feet might be the best solutions we’ve ever sought as a country.

(APPLAUSE)

HUCKABEE: And I ask for your support and your vote.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Thank you, Governor.

REGAN: Carly Fiorina?

FIORINA: My husband Frank, that I mentioned, I love spending time with. He’s down there. He was real excited the other day because in New Hampshire, he was introduced as my eye candy.

(LAUGHTER)

FIORINA: You know, everybody out there watching knows this. You cannot wait to see the debate between me and Hillary Clinton. You would pay to see that fight.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: And that’s because you know I will win. And that’s important. We’ve got to start by beating Hillary Clinton.

All of my life, I have been told to sit down and be quiet. Settle. Settle. Don’t challenge the system.

That’s what the American people are being told now and we have been told that for way too long — sit down and be quiet about our God, about our guns, about the abortion industry, settle for illegal immigration that’s been a problem for decades, as so many of our problems have festered for decades. Accept a system of government and politics that no longer works for us.

I will not sit down and be quiet. And neither will you.

So I ask you to stand with me, fight with me, vote for me, citizens. It is time to take our future back, time to take our politics back. It is time to take our government back. Citizens, it is time. We must take our country back.

(APPLAUSE)

REGAN: Thank you to all the candidates.

(CROSSTALK)

REGAN: That does it, everyone for the first debate right here in North Charleston.

 

 

Full Text 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)

Campaign Buzz December 7, 2011: GOP Candidates Speak out in Support of Israel at Republican Jewish Coalition 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

From left: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum address the Republican Jewish Coalition. | AP Photos
Speaking to the RJC, the candidates all promised to strengthen the alliance with Israel. | AP Photos

IN FOCUS: REPUBLICAN JEWISH COALITION 2012 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FORUM

Live Twitting from the RJC Forum @ #RJC2012

“You’ll see some very strong, clear, unequivocal contrast between the vision of Republicans running and the current president as it relates to Israel, a turbulent Middle East and pushing back on the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons.” — Matthew Brooks, RJC’s Executive Director

“This one-sided continuing pressure that says it’s always Israel’s fault no matter how bad the other side is has to stop.” — Newt Gingrich

“We will send the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I will ask [former Bush 43 administration U.N. ambassador] John Bolton to be secretary of State!” — Newt Gingrich

“I will travel to Israel on my first foreign trip. I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. I want the world to know that the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakable.” — Mitt Romney

“Three years in office and [President Obama] hasn’t found time to visit Israel, our friend, our ally, the nation in the region that shares our values… throwing Israel under the bus…. Over the last three years, Obama has instead chastened Israel” — Mitt Romney

“I already have secured a donor who said they will personally pay for the ambassador’s home to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Like you, my commitment is unequivocal and unchanging. We stand with Israel. Millions of Jews lost their lives. Today, a madman is speaking and once again it seems as if the world isn’t really listening.” — Michele Bachmann

“This torrent of hostility toward Israel, it doesn’t seem to be coordinated. It seems to be a natural expression of this administration’s attitude toward Israel.” — Rick Perry

“If you can’t live with a nuclear Iran, and I can’t, then you have to say all options are on the table.” — Jon Huntsman

Republican candidates rattle sabers against Iran: Republican presidential candidates on Wednesday rattled sabers against Iran and accused President Barack Obama of being soft in his support for Israel as they vied for the backing of Jewish Republicans.
One by one, the major contenders for the Republican nomination to face the Democratic president in 2012 told the Republican Jewish Coalition conference they would strengthen ties with Israel and not let Iran develop a nuclear weapon.
Candidates took time out from criss-crossing Iowa, New Hampshire and other early voting states to seek Jewish support, hoping to make inroads into a traditionally Democratic voting bloc.
A theme throughout the speeches was the Republican desire to strengthen the U.S. commitment to Israel and ensure it remains a democratic bulwark in an unstable region threatened by the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon…. – Reuters, 12-7-11

  • G.O.P. Candidates, at Jewish Coalition, Pledge to Be Israel’s Best Friends: The leading Republican candidates drew enthusiastic applause from Republican Jewish leaders here on Wednesday after accusing President Obama of falling short in his support of Israel while coddling its adversaries. But it remained to be seen how far those arguments will carry them, especially given the candidates’ rightward tilt on other issues that have traditionally been important to American Jews.
    The speeches to the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum suggested that the candidates would differ substantially from previous Democratic and Republican administrations on critical elements of the Middle East peace process. Some indicated they would put less pressure on Israel on issues like the contours of an independent Palestinian state…. – NYT, 12-8-11
  • Gingrich: ‘We need a dramatically rethought strategy for the Middle East’: Newt Gingrich offered up a sweeping critique of American policy toward the Islamic world during his appearance at today’s Republican Jewish Coalition presidential candidates’ forum.
    “We need a dramatically rethought strategy for the Middle East,” the former House speaker and current Republican frontrunner told the gathering on Wednesday afternoon.
    In comments that he acknowledged at the outset were not politically correct, Gingrich expressed concern about America’s stance toward “radical Islam,” saying it was currently based on lies and appeasement.
    He reiterated his criticism of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent speech at the Saban Forum about Israel, calling it “outrageous.”
    “This one-sided continuing pressure that says it’s always Israel’s fault no matter how bad the other side is has to stop,” Gingrich said.
    He also reiterated his vow to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem to great applause.
    Gingrich connected his criticisms of President Obama’s policies toward Israel to his broader criticisms of the president’s approach toward the Islamic world….. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 12-7-11
  • Gingrich, the RJC crowd-pleaser: Per Summers, Gingrich said he would make John Bolton, a former potential candidate, his secretary of state.
    As for the current one, he said, to great effect, “The fact that Secretary [Hillary] Clinton could talk about discrimination against women in Israel and then meet with Saudis?”
    He also said he would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a huge applause line (despite how difficult it actually would be to do, as all candidates who pledge it and then take office learn)…. – Politico, 12-7-11
  • Gingrich Sees Growing Radical Islamist Threat: Newt Gingrich on Wednesday equated the United States’ understanding of what will be a “long struggle with radical Islam” to where the country stood with the Soviet Union just after World War II, on the eve of a cold war that would dominate American foreign policy for more than four decades.
    The country is “about where we were in 1946, when we were trying to understand the Soviet Union,” Mr. Gingrich said. “We had not yet had George Kennan’s long telegram explaining the source of Soviet power.”
    The stark comments by Mr. Gingrich, the former speaker of the House who is now leading polls of the Republican field, came during a well-received speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington…. – NYT, 12-7-11
  • The Politics of Israel: Campaign 2012: Presidential hopeful and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney speaks to the Jewish Republican Coalition’s 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington.
    In American presidential politics wrapping yourself in the Israeli flag is a no-brainer. Stalwart support for Israel is important for many American-Jewish voters, an important source of campaign donations, and a potential swing vote in key battleground states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Fealty to Israel plays well with evangelical Christians who back the Jewish state largely out of theology, and who can make the difference in early-voting states like Iowa and South Carolina. Strong backing of Israel is viewed as a litmus test for powerful lobby groups in Washington, D.C.
    Especially for a field of Republican presidential candidates who are almost uniformly attacking Barack Obama’s foreign policy from the neoconservative right, the temptation has proven irresistible to use the president’s failed attempts at peacemaking in the Middle East, and frosty relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a cudgel…. – National Journal, 12-7-11
  • Gingrich and Bachmann Would Move Embassy to Jerusalem: Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich said on Wednesday that as president he would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a proposal designed to appeal to American Jewish voters. It also escalated the jockeying among the GOP candidates to be viewed as the most pro-Israel choice.
    Rival candidate Michele Bachmann, a House member from Minnesota, said on Wednesday that she too would insist on moving the embassy. Bachmann and Gingrich were among six GOP candidates who spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s candidates’ forum in Washington.
    Jerusalem is the declared capital of Israel, but that fact is not internationally recognized because of the long-standing territorial disputes with the Palestinians…. – National Journal, 12-7-11
  • Newt Gingrich Rips Panetta’s Israel Policy Speech: And today, the major candidates—except for Ron Paul, who believes the United States should cut aid to Israel and let it handle its own affairs—are expressing their take at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum … – U.S. News & World Report, 12-7-11
  • US politics live blog: GOP candidates at Republican Jewish CoalitionThe Guardian UK, 12-7-11
  • GOP 2012 presidential rivals target Obama’s Israel record at Jewish forumChicago Sun-Times, 12-7-11
  • GOP hopefuls scold Obama on ‘timid’ Israel supportBoston Globe, 12-7-11
  • Romney says Obama has ‘chastened’ Israel; he would visit nation in first trip as PresidentWaPo, 12-7-11
  • Romney Gets Enthusiastic Reception at Republican Jewish ForumWSJ, 12-7-11
  • Romney: My first visit as US President would be to the Jewish state of Israel: “I want the world to know that the bonds between the US and Israel are unshakable,” he said. “I wouldn’t meet with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. … – Ha’aretz, 12-7-11
  • Romney: Why I’d be better for Israel than Obama: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney reaffirmed his commitment to Israel as America’s partner in the Middle East while accusing President Barack Obama of hindering peace in the region, during his speech Wednesday before the Republican Jewish Coalition.
    The former Massachusetts governor took the president to task for criticizing Israel, not saying enough about the thousands of Hamas rockets fired into the country and his support for Israel to adopt “indefensible borders.”… – CNN, 12-7-11
  • Republicans Decry Obama Israel Policy in Bid for Jewish Vote: Romney was one of six Republican presidential candidates scheduled to address the Republican Jewish Coalition at the day- long forum hosted by the group…. – BusinessWeek, 12-7-11
  • Gingrich says he’d name John Bolton as secretary of state: Newt Gingrich received a standing ovation from the audience at a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting on Wednesday for promising to appoint John Bolton to be secretary of state if elected president. … – MSNBC, 12-7-11
  • Gingrich vows to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem: Newt Gingrich worked to one-up Mitt Romney and the other Republican presidential hopefuls in his approach to relations with Israel, pledging to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. … – The Hill, 12-7-11
  • Republicans talk tough on Iran, vie for Jewish vote: Republican unity and a wall-to-wall turnout packed the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2012 Presidential candidates forum as would-be commanders-in-chief offered up tough talk Tuesday on Iran and against US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy. … – Jerusalem Post, 12-7-11
  • Republican Candidates Aim at Obama Foreign Policy: The Republicans are expected to press this case on Wednesday at a Republican Jewish Coalition forum in Washington, just as they have stepped up attacks in recent days, demanding that Howard Gutman, the ambassador to Belgium, be recalled after he said … – NYT, 12-6-11
  • Gingrich says Obama should ‘renounce anti-Israel remarks’ from admin officials: “I’m confident this will be the most comprehensive effort in presidential campaign history.” Republican presidential candidates will meet Wednesday in Washington at the Republican Jewish Coalition 2012 Candidate Forum…. – The Hill, 12-6-11
  • The Republican Jewish Coalition 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum: In addition to the traditional debates, Mike Huckabee and Jim Demint have already held presidential forums. Donald Trump is hosting a debate. Yet one event that demands attention is the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) 2012 Candidates Forum…. – Washington Times, 12-6-11

Campaign Buzz December 3, 2011: Republican Presidential Forum with Mike Huckabee on Fox News — GOP Candidates Tout Their Conservative Credentials — VA AG Ken Cuccinelli Remains Unconvinced

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Six candidates joined the Republican Presidential Forum with Mike Huckabee on Fox News on Saturday night.

IN FOCUS: REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL FORUM WITH MIKE HUCKABEE ON FOX NEWS

Republican Candidates Pressed to Prove Their Conservatism: Six Republican presidential candidates faced tough questioning on their ideological bona fides and the coherence of their proposals during a policy-heavy forum shown on Fox News Channel on Saturday night.
With a gantlet of three conservative state attorneys general peppering the candidates with questions, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, was pressed on how conservatives can “trust that a President Gingrich will not advance these sorts of big government approaches” that he had advocated in the past, including his one-time support for a mandate that citizens obtain health insurance. Mr. Gingrich noted that he did so in league with other conservatives and that “every conservative has in fact left that kind of a model.”….- NYT, 12-3-11

“My benchmark was: I want to leave with comfort that each of these six candidates is going to be a limited-government, conservative president. And despite pressing Newt Gingrich several times, I didn’t get that. I did not get that. We could have another compassionate conservative on our hands.

I don’t see a lot of difference there between him [Romney] and the president.” — Ken Cuccinelli

“That is what we do in a jury trial. That’s the whole point. That’s why the founding fathers who distrusted judges insisted on juries. Because ultimately, in a free society, the citizens have to bear responsibility for their own culture and their own society. And ultimately, they are — I believe they are — more trustworthy. If you ask me would I trust a jury or a Washington bureaucrat, I would rather have my fate decided by a jury of my peers than have my fate decided by a Washington bureaucrat.” — Newt Gingrich

“Sitting on the couch with Nancy Pelosi is the dumbest single thing I’ve done in the last few years — but if you notice, I’ve never favored cap and trade, and in fact I actively testified against it. I was at the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee the same day Al Gore was there to testify for it, I testified against it and through American Solutions we fought it in the Senate and played a major role in defeating it.” — Newt Gingrich

“President Bush recognized that the only way for us to determine which schools were succeeding and which were failing, which teachers were succeeding and which were failing was to test our kids. And the only way that could happen was for the federal government to stand up to the huge federal teachers’ unions that have massive resources, huge number of members. He stood up to them. I look forward to the day when we don’t have to have that federal role because education should be held at the local level. It should be managed and controlled by states, by localities, by parents and families, and not by the federal government.” — Mitt Romney

“Do I like the bill overall? Yes. Am I proud of what we did for our state? Yes. But what the president has done is way beyond what we envisioned.” — Mitt Romney

“Even on the Federal Reserve — everybody knows my position on the Federal Reserve — it is unconstitutional, but I don’t advocate that you close down the Federal Reserve tomorrow. I advocate competing currencies… so I have transition programs, and that makes a big difference.” — Ron Paul

Rick Perry: “The executive order obviously gives you that authority [to repeal the law]. But also, as I said earlier, having men and women in those agencies who are going to share your philosophy – I think that’s an important message.”

Ken Cuccinelli: “I just want to be real clear to make sure I understand this: You are taking the position that you can stop the implementation of a law passed by Congress, signed by the president, with an executive order?”

Rick Perry: “I’m saying we can stop parts of it. The other parts of it obviously would have to be done from the rules standpoint, those rules are going to be implemented by the Health and Human Services, etc.”

 

  • Candidates Respond to State Attorneys General at Huckabee Forum: Six presidential candidates participated in Mike Huckabee’s presidential forum in New York City Saturday, fielding questions from three Republican attorneys general – Pam Bondi of Florida, Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, and Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma…. – Fox News, 12-4-11
  • GOP hopefuls keep it friendly at Huckabee forum: The presidential race began Saturday with Herman Cain’s dramatic, theatrical exit from the contest, but it ended with a substantive and subdued discussion of constitutional issues at Mike Huckabee’s presidential forum. Each allotted an equal…. – Politico, 12-3-11
  • Republican hopefuls make pitch at Huckabee forum: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, facing increased scrutiny as he solidifies his standing atop the Republican presidential field, sought to convince conservatives in a forum Saturday night that he would not stray from a limited-government philosophy. … – WaPo, 12-3-11
  • State attorneys general grill Republican candidates at forum: Six presidential hopefuls court conservatives with shows of commitment to the Constitution and a less powerful federal government…. – LAT, 12-4-11
  • Perry pleads for 2nd chance, Gingrich admits “dumb” mistake: Six Republican presidential candidates went head-to-head Saturday with some of the nation’s conservative attorneys general to discuss their views on the Constitution, a forum that produced some illuminating moments from some of the contenders…. – CBS News, 12-4-11
  • Gingrich Defends Conservative Bona Fides at Candidates’ Forum: Former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich defended his fiscal conservative credentials last night in a televised Republican presidential forum, arguing that his achievements in Congress outweigh his past…. – BusinessWeek, 12-4-11
  • Cuccinelli dings Gingrich, wins praise: Newt Gingrich may be the latest hot ticket in the anybody-but-Romney wing of the Republican Party. But he hasn’t yet convinced Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli he’d be a conservative president. Cuccinelli, who announced his plans to run for … – Politico, 12-3-11
  • Behind the Scenes at a Forum for Republican Candidates: A newspaper reporter was invited into the Republican candidates’ inner sanctum after the Fox News forum on Saturday night…. – NYT, 12-4-11

Political Highlights March 14, 2011: President & Michelle Obama Launch Anti-Bullying Initiative — Reactions to Japan’s Earthquake — Budget Battles — Wisconsin Passes Anti-Union Bill

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama's News Conference
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 3/11/11

STATS & POLLS

  • StopBullying.gov
  • Obama weekly approval rating lowest of the year: Gallup reported that Obama’s latest weekly approval rating — Feb. 28-March 6 — clocked in at 46%, it’s lowest level since mid-December.
    “Obama’s weekly approval rating had steadily improved from mid-December to late January, peaking at 50% during the final two weeks in January, before dropping below that mark in February,” Gallup said. It also reported that “Obama is now essentially back to where he was in the immediate post-election phase of 2010,” when Republicans won control of the U.S. House and picked up six Senate seats… – USA Today, 3-8-11
  • Sarah Palin’s Popularity Slips to 60 Percent Disapproval Rate in Poll:
    Sarah Palin, perhaps the most closely watched of all potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, is viewed in an unfavorable light by 60 percent of those questioned in a new Bloomberg News poll. Palin’s numbers suggest she would face a challenge in attracting voters beyond her conservative base if she decides to run for president next year. Bloomberg’s survey of 1,001 adults was taken between March 4-7 by the Iowa firm, Selzer & Co. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
    Within the 60 percent who disapproved of Palin, 38 percent said they had “very unfavorable” feelings about her. She was viewed favorably by 28 percent, with only 4 percent not sure how they felt. A December Bloomberg poll had Palin’s unfavorable rating at 57 percent…. – Politics Daily, 3-11-11
  • Poll: Evangelicals Like Huckabee, Palin; Not Obama: Among evangelicals, Huckabee’s ratings (88 percent favorable, 11 percent unfavorable) led those of Palin (79 percent favorable, 21 percent unfavorable), Gingrich (57 percent/37 percent), Romney (56 percent/29 percent and Ron Paul (51 percent/26 percent). Obama, though, is viewed favorably by only 6 percent of evangelicals. Ninety-four percent view him unfavorably…. – Baptist Press, 3-7-11
  • Poll: New Jerseyans’ opinion of Gov. Christie has dropped 10 points: New Jerseyans’ opinion of Gov. Chris Christie has dropped 10 points since December, according to a Rutgers- Eagleton poll made public Monday. At the same time, a strong majority of residents, 57 percent, hold a favorable view of President Obama, while only 36 percent view him unfavorably. The president’s favorable rating remains largely unchanged since December…. – New Jersey Newsroom, 3-7-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

  • Arab League’s backing of no-fly zone over Libya increases pressure on West: The Arab League endorsed the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya on Saturday and recognized the fledgling rebel movement seeking to topple Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi… – WaPo, 3-12-11
  • Bahrain protesters clash with police: Sunday’s clashes between police and anti-government protesters are among the most violent since a Feb. 17 protest. At Bahrain University, Shiite Muslims clash with Sunnis amid rising sectarian tension…. – LAT, 3-14-11
  • In Libya, an underground jail a daunting reminder of Moammar Gaddafi’s grip: Fadlallah Haroun spent seven years in Libyan prisons without being charged. Here he is seen through a hole in the roof of an underground prison found in the rebel-held city of Benghazi…. – WaPo, 3-12-11
  • Clinton urges reform in post-revolt Egypt, Tunisia: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s trip to the turbulent Middle East highlights the Obama administration’s deep concern over developments in Libya and fear that the unrest roiling the Arab world may not produce the changes demanded by increasingly vocal and emboldened anti-government protesters.
    Failure to meet those demands for greater economic, political and social freedoms could spark more chaos and complicate the U.S. position in one of the world’s most critical regions… – AP, 3-13-11
  • Gadhafi drives rebels from one of last strongholds: Moammar Gadhafi’s forces swept rebels from one of their final strongholds with hours of searing waves of strikes from warships, tanks and warplanes on Sunday but the insurgents claimed that they moved back in after nightfall. One rebel said that after their initial defeat, opposition forces destroyed armored vehicles and captured dozens of fighters from Gadhafi’s elite Khamis Brigade in the oil town of Brega, driving others back into the town’s airport…. – AP, 3-13-11
  • White House hails Arab League no-fly zone request: The White House says the Arab League has taken an “important step” by asking the U.N. Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and increasing international pressure on Moammar Gadhafi.
    A statement from the White House says there’s a clear international message that the violence in Libya must stop…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • Bahrain protesters march on palace as Gates visits: Tens of thousands of Bahraini protesters encircled one of the royal family’s palaces Saturday, shouting calls for political freedom and the king’s ouster a day after a similar march triggered a violent response from security forces. There was no repeat of the violent scenes from a day earlier when police backed by pro-government mobs drove crowds back from a different palace by firing rubber bullets and tear gas in a melee that injured dozens, according to witness accounts. In contrast, Saturday’s demonstration — which coincided with a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates — was allowed to ring the palace with police deployed only inside its premisses… – AP, 3-12-11
  • Gates: Arab nations must enact democratic reforms: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday he believes leaders in Persian Gulf ally Bahrain are serious about addressing grievances that have spawned a growing protest movement, but swift action is needed to deny rival Iran the chance to exploit the current instability.
    “I told them that in this instance, time is not our friend” in light of Iran’s interest in capitalizing on the unrest, the Pentagon chief said in an interview after meetings in Manama, the capital. “We have no evidence that suggested that Iran started any of these popular revolutions or demonstrations across the region, but there is clear evidence that as the process is protracted — particularly in Bahrain — that the Iranians are looking for ways to exploit it and create problems,” Gates said…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • Gadhafi pushes ahead as Arab League calls for help: The world moved a step closer to a decision on imposing a no-fly zone over Libya but Moammar Gadhafi was swiftly advancing Saturday on the poorly equipped and loosely organized rebels who have seized much of the country…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • AP Interview: Libyan rebels plead for no-fly zone: A rebel leader pleaded Saturday with the international community to approve a no-fly zone over Libya as Moammar Gadhafi’s forces gained strength in the east, securing a key port city and oil refinery.
    Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the head of the opposition’s interim governing council, also expressed disappointment over the failure to act by the United States and other Western countries, which have expressed solidarity with the rebels in their fight to oust Gadhafi but stopped short of approving any military action.
    “If there is no no-fly zone imposed on Gadhafi’s regime, and if his ships are not checked then we will have a catastrophe in Libya,” Abdul-Jalil told The Associated Press in an interview in a professors’ lounge at the Omar Mukhtar University in Bayda, where he is also head of the city council…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • US extends sanctions on Gadhafi clan, advisers: The Obama administration extended its Libya sanctions to more Gadhafi family members and close advisers on Thursday, blacklisting business with the Libyan leader’s wife, four of his children and his chief of military intelligence.
    The Treasury Department froze the assets of nine Libyans in all as part of the strategy to peel off Moammar Gadhafi’s closest advisers while punishing those who remain loyal to the regime even as it commits human rights violations…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • US officials are at odds over Libya outcome: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper expects Moammar Kadafi to ultimately defeat rebels, but the White House has a different view… – LAT, 3-10-11
  • Source: Gadhafi willing to discuss his exitMSNBC, 3-10-11
  • NATO to Discuss Libya Options: NATO members begin two days of talks on Libya Thursday to discuss the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone to stop air attacks by forces supporting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi…. – Voice of America, 3-10-11
  • US, Europe increase diplomatic pressure on Libya: The Obama administration cut ties Thursday with Libya’s embassy in the United States and announced high-level meetings with opposition leaders, as France became the first nation to recognize the governing council fighting against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.
    As Western powers examined their military options, the U.S. warned that a go-it-alone approach in Libya could have unforeseeable and devastating consequences.
    “We’re looking to see whether there is any willingness in the international community to provide any authorization for further steps,” she said. “Absent international authorization, the United States acting alone would be stepping into a situation whose consequences are unforeseeable.,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said amid NATO discussions about a possible no-fly zone over Libya… – AP, 3-10-11
  • Qaddafi bombs oil facility in blow to Libya’s oil infrastructure: A rebel position at Libya’s Ras Lanuf came under withering fire today as Muammar Qaddafi’s forces set an oil tank ablaze at a key export terminal…. – CS Monitor, 3-9-11
  • WH: No imminent decision on further steps on Libya: The White House says a top level meeting by President Barack Obama’s top security advisers to discuss Libya will not result in an immediate decision on whether the U.S. should further intervene in the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Egypt’s security forces are weakened after decades as Mubarak’s enforcer: Motivated by recent shows of political strength by neighbors in Egypt, demonstrators in the Middle East and North Africa are taking to the streets of many cities to rally for change… – WaPo, 3-9-11
  • Cameron and Obama in Libya talks: The international community cannot “stand aside” and allow brutal repression to continue in Libya, David Cameron has said after discussing plans for the “full spectrum of possible responses” including a no-fly zone with US President… – The Press Association, 3-9-11
  • Yemeni security forces open fire on protesters: As Yemen’s growing protest movement sought to expand its presence in the capital, at least 10 were injured by gunfire from security forces, eyewitnesses said…. – CS Monitor, 3-8-11
  • Gadhafi: Libyans will fight against no-fly zone: Moammar Gadhafi says Libyans will fight if a no-fly zone is imposed by Western nations, saying that would show their real intention is to seize the country’s oil.
    Gadhafi made his remarks during an interview aired Wednesday by Turkey’s state-run TRT Turk television. The interview was conducted on Tuesday night… – AP, 3-8-11
  • Obama and his team mull responses on Libya: Preparing for the prospect of deeper international intervention, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron conferred Tuesday on the spectrum of military and humanitarian responses to Libya’s worsening civil strife. The British leader bluntly said after the talk that the world cannot stand aside and let Moammar Gadhafi brutalize his people.
    In weighing the options, the Obama administration underscored that any authorization of a no-fly zone over Libya must come from the United Nations Security Council.
    “We think it’s important that the United Nations make this decision — not the United States,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Britain’s Sky News. The comment reflected Obama’s thinking that any action intended to halt Libya’s violence must carry the legitimacy and strength of an international coalition…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • A million Libyans need aid as UK, France seek no-fly zoneReuters, 3-7-11
  • US, allies edge toward military options for Libya: The U.S. and its NATO allies edged closer Monday to formulating a military response to the escalating violence in Libya as the alliance boosted surveillance flights over the country and the Obama administration signaled it might be willing to help arm Moammar Gadhafi’s opponents. Europe, meanwhile, kick-started international efforts to impose a no-fly zone.
    The violence “perpetrated by the government in Libya is unacceptable,” President Barack Obama declared as he authorized $15 million in new humanitarian aid to assist and evacuate people fleeing the fighting. “I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Col. Gadhafi,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office alongside Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is in Washington for meetings. “It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward. And they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place.”… – AP, 3-7-11

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

  • Dalai Lama resigns: ELIZABETH JACKSON: The Dalai Lama has announced that he will step down from his role as the political leader of the Tibetan exile government. ABC Online, 3-11-11

THE HEADLINES….

President and First Lady Obama at Bullying Prevention Conference

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with a group of students and parents from the Conference on Bullying Prevention in the Oval Office, March 10, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • White House urges Cuba to release US contractor: An outraged White House said Saturday it wants the Cuban government to immediately release an American international development worker sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against the state.
    National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the prison term “adds another injustice” to Alan Gross’s ordeal…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • Born in the USA: Barack Obama joke enjoyed by journalists at annual dinner: Barack Obama was in lighthearted mood at the annual Gridiron Club dinner for the president and Washington’s political journalists…. – The Guardian, 3-13-11
  • Obama cracks jokes at Gridiron: Obama delivered remarks at the dinner Saturday. They were his first at the event as president…. – Politico, 3-12-11
  • Obama, journalists ham it up at dressy dinner: Searching for laughs — and finding them — president Barack Obama spared few targets Saturday night, from Democratic allies to Republican antagonists to the journalists who cover him. At his first presidential appearance before the Gridiron Club, Obama picked up on the spirit of the evening, leveling jokes in every direction including his own.
    He jabbed at potential Republican presidential rivals. He saluted Mississippi’s portly Gov. Haley Barbour, saying he appreciated his support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign. “Haley, when Michelle said you should run, she didn’t mean for president.”
    He didn’t spare himself, either. He noted that last time he was at the Gridiron, in 2006, he was a first-term senator from Illinois. “Back then I was a newcomer who couldn’t get anything done in the Senate. Now I’m a president who can’t get anything done in the Senate.”
    Obama also poked fun at a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. “Tim Pawlenty’s not here, but he’s hit the campaign trail hard,” Obama said. “And to be honest, I think the American people are going to have some tough questions for Tim. Specifically, ‘Who are you and where do you come from?’ Which is OK. Two years into my presidency and I’m still getting those questions.”
    Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the main Republican speaker, needled the president by recalling one of Obama’s private musings to fundraisers during the 2008 campaign that conservatives found refuge in religion and guns. Daniels, his right arm in a sling due to rotator cuff surgery, quipped: “Mr. President, until I get this thing off, I can cling to my gun or my Bible, but not both.” Later he turned to Obama and mockingly took a shot at the president’s penchant for assistance during his speeches. “Mr. President you’re not laughing, who forgot to put ha-ha-ha on the teleprompter?”… – AP, 3-12-11
  • Former President George HW Bush Honors Reagan With Public Service Award: Former President George HW Bush posthumously honored his friend and mentor, President Ronald Reagan, with the 2011 George Bush Award For Excellence In Public Service…. – Fox News, 3-11-11
  • Sebelius: GOP health care move would cut benefits: The Obama administration says a Montana Republican’s long-shot legislation to deny funding for the new federal health care law would prevent Medicare from paying the bills for millions of seniors — displaying the GOP’s difficulty trying to unwind a law that recrafted much of the nation’s health care rules.
    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says if Congress passes the defunding bill, Medicare would not be able to issue payments to popular private insurance plans that cover about one-fourth of all the seniors in the program. The health care law scaled back payments to Medicare Advantage plans, as the private insurance option is known…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Obama keeps focus on fight for women’s equality: Father of two girls, President Barack Obama says he wants to improve the status of women in the United States. Women are more likely than men to graduate from college today, yet earn less on average, face a greater chance of living in poverty and are outnumbered in critical subjects such as math and science, he said in his weekly radio and online address Saturday.
    “Achieving equality and opportunity for women isn’t just important to me as president. It’s something I care about deeply as the father of two daughters who wants to see his girls grow up in a world where there are no limits to what they can achieve,” he said…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • Obama tells GOP: Nice try on health care records: President Barack Obama once promised that negotiations over his health care overhaul would be carried out openly, in front of TV cameras and microphones. Tell that to the White House now. Republican congressional investigators got the brush-off this past week after pressing for details of meetings between White House officials and interest groups, including drug companies and hospitals that provided critical backing for Obama’s health insurance expansion… – AP, 3-12-11
  • Appeals court speeds up health overhaul appeal: A federal appeals court has agreed to act swiftly in considering a Florida judge’s ruling that President Obama’s health care overhaul is unconstitutional.
    The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said Friday that it had agreed to expedite the appeal, setting a faster timetable than even the federal government had requested.
    The decision means the federal government must file its first set of court papers on the issues in the case by April 4, and the state of Florida has until May 4 to file its papers. The federal government would file additional papers by May 18.
    The appeals court said it had not made a decision on a request that the initial review be held before all 10 federal judges…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • GOP budget targets agency that warned of tsunami: A spending plan being pushed by Republicans would slash funding for the agency that warned Hawaii and the West Coast about the devastating tsunami in Japan.
    The plan, approved by the GOP-controlled House last month, would trigger an estimated $126 million in cuts for the National Weather Service, the agency that houses the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii. The center issued widespread warnings minutes after Friday’s earthquake and issued guidance and updates throughout the day…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Obama: Treatment of WikiLeaks suspect appropriate: President Barack Obama said Friday that the Pentagon has assured him that the Army private believed responsible for the largest leak of classified American documents ever is being held under appropriate conditions. He commented after the State Department’s top spokesman made waves by describing the military’s treatment of the suspect as “ridiculous” and “stupid.” Pfc. Bradley Manning is being held in solitary confinement for all but an hour every day at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., and is stripped naked each night, given a suicide-proof smock to wear to bed…
    Obama said he asked the Pentagon whether the suspected WikiLeaks leaker’s confinement conditions were appropriate and whether they met basic standards. “They assure me that they are,” he told a White House news conference…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Obama, McConnell, agree _ and disagree _ on budget: President Barack Obama and the Senate’s top Republican both declared on Friday they want to take on the huge entitlement programs driving America’s long-term deficits — but their lines of attack differed sharply and that could lead to a showdown over government borrowing.
    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned that GOP senators would not vote to increase the federal debt limit unless Obama agreed to significant long-term budget savings that could include cost curbs for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, laying down a high-stakes marker just weeks before the limit is reached.
    Obama said he also wants to tackle military spending and tax loopholes — issues on which he can expect Republican opposition…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Obama: Japan earthquake potentially ‘catastrophic’: President Barack Obama said he was “heartbroken” by images of devastation in Japan following Friday’s deadly earthquake and tsunami, and pledged U.S. assistance to help the country recover.
    “Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region, and we’re going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy,” Obama said during a White House news conference…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Gates to allies: Don’t rush to Afghan war exits: In a blunt warning to U.S. allies eager to pull out of Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday that while the U.S. intends to begin withdrawing troops in July, a rush to the exits by European forces would risk squandering battlefield gains achieved at great American expense.
    In a closed-door meeting of NATO defense ministers, Gates urged the allies to resist domestic political pressure to depart prematurely, while asserting that the U.S. troop reductions promised by President Barack Obama will be made this summer “based on conditions on the ground,” not politics…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Obama: Address long-term debt after spending deal: President Barack Obama says he and Congress should address the nation’s long-term fiscal condition after lawmakers complete a deal on spending for the current fiscal year…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Last WWI vet to be buried in Arlington service: The body of the West Virginia soldier who outlived every other American who served in World War I will be buried Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, a family spokesman said Thursday.
    Biographer and filmmaker David DeJonge said the service for Frank Buckles is set for 4 p.m., but it’s unclear who can attend.
    “The family is trying to get answers,” he said in an e-mail. “The family desires every American and foreign organization an ability to pay respects and recognize the passing of the generation.”… – AP, 3-10-11
  • Obama to hold White House news conference Friday: The White House says President Barack Obama will address rising oil and gasoline prices at a news conference on Friday… – AP, 3-10-11
  • Obamas Focus on Antibullying Efforts: President Obama poked fun at his own big ears and funny name on Thursday, but all in the service of a serious subject as he and Michelle Obama opened a White House conference to spur antibullying efforts in schools and communities nationwide…. – NYT, 3-10-11
  • Obama to bullying victims: I know what it’s like: President Barack Obama smiled when he said his large ears and funny name once made him a target of school-yard harassment. But he was all seriousness Thursday when he told a White House conference on bullying that torment and intimidation must not be tolerated.
    “If there’s one goal of this conference,” Obama said, “it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not.” He spoke to more than 100 parents, students, teachers and others gathered to discuss the problem and share ideas for solutions. “Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people. And it’s not something we have to accept,” he said…. – AP, 3-10-11
  • Obama Administration Seeks Fast Appeal of Health-Care Ruling: The US Justice Department is seeking an expedited appeal of a federal judge’s ruling striking down President Barack Obama’s health-care reform legislation… – Bloomberg, 3-9-11
  • Obama nominates Locke to be ambassador to China: Hoping to make China more friendly to American business, President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated as his top envoy to Beijing Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American to serve in that diplomatically and commercially important assignment.
    Locke is well-versed in the Chinese trade policies that have frustrated American businesses trying to sell their products in the huge and growing Asian power. He’s led delegations of U.S. companies on dozens of trade missions abroad, including to China, where U.S. exports were up 34 percent last year. “When he’s in Beijing, I know that American companies will be able to count on him to represent their interests in front of China’s top leaders,” Obama said as he announced Locke’s nomination…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Australian PM pledges cooperation with US: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday endorsed the U.S. strategy in the ongoing war in Afghanistan and promised her country’s cooperation on the increasingly critical Asia-Pacific region, trade and job promotion.
    “You have a true friend down under,” Gillard told a joint meeting of the House and Senate. The Washington visit, which also included an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama, was Gillard’s first since winning election last summer as Australia’s first female prime minister… – AP, 3-9-11
  • Obamas take anti-bullying message to Facebook: President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have posted a video on Facebook to promote a bullying prevention conference they’ll host at the White House…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Obama to meet with Clinton, host basketball party: President Barack Obama is meeting Wednesday with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton before hosting a White House party to watch basketball.
    In between, Obama will meet with the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Richard Eubank…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • AP Interview: Petraeus says tough summer ahead: Fighting in Afghanistan may be considerably worse this summer than last, but some reduction in American forces is still possible in July, the top U.S. and NATO commander in the country said Wednesday.
    Gen. David Petraeus told The Associated Press that he will present President Barack Obama with multiple plans, including different levels of troop reductions that accommodate Obama’s July target for starting a force drawdown…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Biden in Moscow for 2 days of talks: Two years after he introduced the phrase “push the reset button” for America’s relations with Russia, Vice President Joe Biden is in Moscow to see what sort of fine-tuning is needed.
    Biden plans two days of meetings Wednesday and Thursday, including with President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and representatives of Russia’s beleaguered opposition groups. He is to cap the trip with an address at Moscow State University that is expected to lay out the White House’s vision for U.S.-Russian relations in the last half of President Barack Obama’s term.
    “This trip for the vice president is an opportunity to take stock of the reset and what we’ve achieved and where we hope to go next,” said Biden’s national security adviser Tony Blinken. AP, 3-9-11
  • Expounding on a Theme, Obama Visits Boston School: President Obama visited a high-tech public school in Boston on Tuesday to pound away at his themes of innovation and education, sticking to a schedule that has taken him out of Washington nearly every week, despite budget battles and upheaval in the Arab world.
    Declaring that “there is no better economic policy than one that produces more graduates with the skills necessary to succeed,” Mr. Obama said that revitalizing education was one of his administration’s top priorities and a “responsibility of every American — every parent, every teacher, every business leader, every public official, and yes, every student.”
    The president has been elaborating on a theme of American competitiveness since he first articulated it in his State of the Union address in January. The school Mr. Obama visited here, known as the TechBoston Academy, was ideally suited to illustrate his points, its gritty classrooms stuffed with laptops and students mixing fluids to analyze their density and purity…. – NYT, 3-8-11
  • First lady celebrates women in US and around world: Michelle Obama says that while women are breaking barriers and excelling in careers their mothers and grandmothers believed were off-limits, more progress is needed to achieve true equality.
    American women still earn less than men and lag in math and science fields, she said Tuesday, while many foreign countries exclude female voices from government decision-making.
    Still, the first lady said: “We’ve come a long way, ladies.”… – AP, 3-8-11
  • White House veto threat on home refinance bill: The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a Republican bill that would abolish an Obama administration program aimed at helping people refinance homes that are worth less than they paid for them.
    The veto threat could be the first of several as House Republicans begin working on bills terminating four administration-backed programs aimed at preventing foreclosures.
    The House Financial Services Committee voted last week to terminate The Federal Housing Administration Refinance Program on a 33-22 party line vote, with majority Republicans saying the program has not worked. AP, 3-8-11
  • Obama to GOP: Don’t cut education spending: Placing a limit on his own willingness to slice spending, President Barack Obama issued a not-too-veiled warning at Republican budget cutters Tuesday and characterized any reductions in money for education as irresponsible and harmful to the long-term health of the nation’s economy.
    In his most vigorous defense yet of his education spending proposals, Obama conceded that after years of deficits, the government needed to embrace fiscal discipline. And in a restrained speech to Democratic donors, he cautioned the partisan crowd not to equate compromise with failure…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • Gates sees war gains _ but can Afghans hold them?: Gates visited some of the most hotly contested parts of the country, where the effects of President Barack Obama’s 30,000-troop surge have been most keenly felt, as the Obama administration considers where to begin withdrawing and thinning out U.S. forces. The defense secretary’s very presence in some far-flung combat bases was meant to show the progress the U.S.-led international military force claims.
    “The closer you are to the fight, the better it looks,” he told reporters Tuesday at a U.S. combat outpost to the west of here, in Kandahar province… – AP, 3-8-11
  • Obama Reopens Debate on Military Trials of Guantanamo Detainees: President Barack Obama’s decision to order the resumption of military trials for detainees at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has reopened the debate about how to handle suspected terrorists … – Bllomberg, 3-8-11
  • White House Says Tribunals Can Resume at Guantánamo: President Obama reversed his order halting new military charges against detainees, implicitly admitting failure for now of his pledge to close the camp…. – NYT, 3-7-11
  • John Ensign Will Retire From Senate: Senator John Ensign, the two-term Nevada Republican caught up in a sex scandal, is to announce that he will not seek re-election, according to Republicans familiar with the decision. NYT, 3-7-11
  • Gates: US should stay involved in Afghanistan: US, Afghan leaders say US military should stay involved in Afghanistan beyond 2014… Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the U.S. will likely begin pulling troops from Afghanistan this summer, but that the reduction would be small…. – WaPo, 3-7-11
  • Congressional leaders push Obama for more aggressive response to Libya violence: Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, for the first time raised the possibility of bombing military airfields in Libya to deny the use of runways to Moammar Gaddafi’s air force… – WaPo, 3-7-11
  • Obama takes Australian prime minister to school: Obama and Gillard began with a more traditional approach on Monday. They held a private meeting and then a relatively news-free appearance before reporters in the Oval Office, proclaiming cooperation on the war in Afghanistan, trade and security. But then the president took the prime minister back to school.
    The two took a quick road trip to Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., to mix it up with an 11th grade history class. Obama had used the school as the site of a national address on education, and Gillard is Australia’s former education minister and was interested in taking a look at U.S. education methods…. – AP, 3-7-11
  • Joe Biden in Finland, en route to Moscow, Moldova: Finland, Russia and Moldova — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived Monday in Helsinki on the first leg of an unusual European tour aimed at building warmer ties between Washington and Moscow… – AP, 3-7-11
  • Obama officials push for S. Korea trade pact: The Obama administration said Monday it’s ready to send a highly coveted South Korea trade agreement to Congress for final approval but warned that delaying the deal would cause U.S. companies to miss out on jobs and export opportunities…. – AP, 3-7-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Peter King hearings: Are American Muslims the problem or the solution?: A hearing chaired by Rep. Peter King to investigate radicalization within the American Muslim community touches on an important topic, terrorism experts say. But they question the tone… – CS Monitor, 3-10-11
  • McConnell: No debt increase without benefit cuts: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned on Friday that GOP senators will not vote to increase the government’s borrowing limit unless President Barack Obama agrees to rein in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, laying down a high-stakes marker just weeks before the debt ceiling is reached.
    In an interview with The Associated Press, McConnell complained that Obama has refused his offers — both public and private — to work on a bipartisan plan to tackle the nation’s massive benefit programs, which threaten to overwhelm the budget in coming years.
    “There will be no entitlement reform without President Obama,” McConnell said. “It cannot be done without him, will not be done without him.” AP, 3-10-11
  • Senators push tough law on Guantanamo detainees: Senate Republicans said Thursday a tougher, more comprehensive military detention policy for terror suspects is necessary to fill the void created by two years of what they call the Obama administration’s inconsistent approach.
    Just days after President Barack Obama’s decision to resume military trials for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, five GOP lawmakers and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., proposed legislation that would keep open the military prison by barring money for any alternative, impose restrictions on transferring detainees to foreign countries and push for military commissions, not civilian courts, to decide the fate of detainees… – AP, 3-10-11
  • Spending fight: Back to the bargaining table: Their opening budget gambits history, lawmakers are returning to the bargaining table in search of a fiscal plan that cuts spending, as voters demanded in the last election, and could carry political value in the next one.
    The balance is particularly delicate for senators up for re-election next year. Some, mostly Democrats, bucked their parties in a pair of votes Wednesday that sank a slashing budget proposal passed by the House and killed a less onerous Senate alternative.
    The two versions were nearly $50 billion apart on how much spending should be cut over the next seven months. Neither stood a chance of passing. Senate Democrats brought them up to cancel each other out and move forward with negotiations on a compromise. The votes could be faint memories by Election Day 2012, suggested senators who will face voters then…. – AP, 3-10-11
  • A fresh focus on Social Security in budget debate: In the midst of the budget crisis, an old debate has broken out with new force: Should Social Security be seen as part of the deficit that Washington needs to rein in?
    The White House is balking at calls to tackle Social Security’s financial problems now, before baby boomers swamp the system. But the massive retirement program, like the rest of the government, is running a deficit and has become part of the argument on Capitol Hill…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • GOP challenges proposed gov’t deal on foreclosures: Leading House Republicans challenged a deal Wednesday that federal and state officials have offered to five big U.S. banks that would change the handling of foreclosures and force lenders to modify more mortgages.
    In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the five GOP lawmakers said the draft offer would reshape the rules long governing the mortgage industry. They posed more than dozen questions to Geithner about the proposal, including what the legal justification is for the federal and state governments to try imposing such sweeping changes.
    The lawmakers wrote that the proposal raised “significant concerns about its effect on the financial system, as well as concerns that the administration and state agencies are attempting to legislate through litigation.”… – AP, 3-9-11
  • House Republicans say federal workers are overpaid: While conservative GOP governors are demanding concessions from state workers, House Republicans are making federal employees the next target.
    Republicans at a House hearing on Wednesday complained that the 2.1 million-strong federal work force is overpaid compared with workers holding similar jobs in the private sector…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Senate rejects rival GOP, Democratic budgets: The Democratic-led Senate on Wednesday emphatically rejected a budget-slashing House spending bill as too draconian. It then immediately killed a rival Democratic plan that was derided by moderate Democrats as too timid in its drive to cut day-to-day agency budgets.
    The votes to scuttle the competing measures were designed, ironically, to prompt progress. The idea was to show tea party-backed GOP conservatives in the House that they need to pare back their budget-cutting ambitions while at the same time demonstrating to Democratic liberals that they need to budge, too…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • In Senate’s debt debate, talk isn’t cheap: In the United States Senate, failure is not an option. It is a requirement. Lawmakers, unable to agree on action to deal with the looming debt crisis, set up camp on a new plateau of pointlessness Wednesday: They scheduled votes on two rival plans to cut spending – but only after guaranteeing in advance that both plans would be defeated.
    Senate Republicans needed to prove to their colleagues in the House, and conservative activists everywhere, that they don’t have the votes to pass major cuts to the current year’s budget. Senate Democrats needed to prove to the White House, and to their liberal base, that they don’t have the votes to maintain the status quo.
    And so, after days of haggling, both sides agreed that they would effectively doom both proposals – severe Republican cuts and cosmetic Democratic cuts – by subjecting them to 60-vote supermajorities. As it happens, such precautions were unnecessary, because, after a three-hour debate, both proposals fell well short of even a simple 50-vote majority…. – WaPo, 3-9-11
  • Domestic Terrorism Hearing Set to Begin: A much-anticipated Congressional hearing on homegrown Islamic terrorism — lambasted by critics as a throwback to McCarthyism — gets under way Thursday on Capitol Hill, featuring testimony from a Muslim member of Congress, the Los Angeles County sheriff and the relatives of two young men who embraced extremist violence.
    The hearing, convened by Representative Peter T. King, the Republican who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and represents parts of Long Island, is the first in a series that Mr. King says will explore the threat of Islamic fundamentalism inside the United States. The session, titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response” will also examine what the congressman asserts is the failure of some Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement…. – NYT, 3-9-11
  • Senate passes bill to overhaul patent system: The nation’s outmoded patent system, which has forced innovators and inventors to wait years and outlast challenges and lawsuits before getting recognition for their products, would be overhauled under a measure passed Tuesday by the Senate.
    The legislation, which was approved 95-5, transforms a patent system now operating under a law passed in 1952, at a time when the high-tech revolution was still in the future and international competition was still negligible. It now moves to the House.
    President Barack Obama said he looked forward to signing into law “the most significant patent reform in over half a century” to help grow the economy and create jobs…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • Republicans push for tougher Guantanamo limits: House Republicans on Tuesday demanded tougher restrictions for terror suspects at Guantanamo even after President Barack Obama reversed course and ordered the resumption of military trials for detainees. Annoyed that Obama acted by executive authority — and without congressional input, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., and six other GOP lawmakers said Tuesday they would introduce legislation to limit legal representation for detainees and permanently block money to build or renovate a facility in the United States to house suspects now held at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
    The bill also would give the defense secretary rather than the attorney general the final say on keeping a detainee in military custody and restrict the transfer of a detainee to other countries unless the defense secretary certifies a host country meets certain standards…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • Hornet’s nest ahead? Congress examines Islam in US: Now comes New York Rep. Peter King, forcing the issue with congressional hearings about radical Islam in the U.S. The first is Thursday, and the protests have already started. Among his fiercest critics, comparisons to McCarthyism, the era of hunting communist sympathizers, are being heard.
    “We see no productive outcome in singling out a particular community for examination in what appears to be little more than a political show trial,” a coalition of 50 liberal groups said in a letter to King on Tuesday…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • Freshman Democrat upbraids Obama on spending: A freshman Democratic senator accused President Barack Obama on Tuesday of failing to provide leadership on a worsening national deficit as top Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill spent more time pointing fingers than seeking common ground on a must-do measure to fund the government for the next six months… – AP, 3-8-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • ‘Wisconsin 14’ group of Democratic senators returns, greeted by thousands at CapitalWaPo, 3-12-11
  • PROMISES, PROMISES: Obama Shies Away From ProtestsABC News
  • Democratic senators return to Wisconsin Capitol, get boisterous welcomeMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-13-11
  • Union Bill Is Law, but Debate Is Far From Over: Protesters packed the hallways of the Capitol in Madison, with many chanting “shame, shame” as the bill was signed. Democrats and union leaders, emboldened by the huge outpouring of protesters who have rallied for weeks at the Capitol to oppose what they called a politically motivated effort to weaken unions, pledged to redouble their political, legal and legislative efforts to block measures that the governor had described as necessary to balance the budget…. – NYT, 3-11-11
  • Walker not interested in vice-presidential run: Gov. Scott Walker, considered by many in the national Republican Party to be a politician on the rise, dismissed any talk of a vice-presidential nomination in 2012. “Honestly, that’s not an issue that crosses my mind. I made a firm commitment to help the people of Wisconsin and the private sector create 250,000 jobs by 2015. I’m firmly committed to seeing that through,” Walker told Journal Sentinel reporters on Friday, just hours after he signed a bill that ends most collective bargaining for public employee unions… – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3-11-11
  • 2011-’13 Budget in Brief (pdf, 77 pages)
  • Budget Repair Bill summary (pdf)
  • Current state budget
  • Republican lawmakers receive e-mail threats: Republican senators and representatives likely are looking over their shoulders a bit more after receiving e-mail death threats related to the measure that eliminates most collective bargaining … – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-11-11
  • Unions: Losing friends all around: As Barack Obama stood on that frigid inaugural stage in 2009, labor leaders could envisage the glorious future awaiting them…. – Fortune, 3-10-11
  • Wis. GOP bypasses Dems, cuts collective bargaining: The Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, approving an explosive proposal that had rocked the state and unions nationwide after Republicans discovered a way to bypass the chamber’s missing Democrats.
    All 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois nearly three weeks ago, preventing the chamber from having enough members present to consider Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget-repair bill” — a proposal introduced to plug a $137 million budget shortfall…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Hard Stance Seems Softer In E-Mail Of Governor: For weeks, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has publicly held firm to his plan to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights for most public workers, despite the protests of union supporters. But e-mail messages released Tuesday between representatives of Mr. Walker and some Senate Democrats who oppose the measure suggest that Mr. Walker has privately considered tempering at least some limited elements of those bargaining changes.
    Mr. Walker’s initial proposal, which set off a firestorm of debate in Wisconsin and beyond, would allow collective bargaining on matters of wages only, limit raises to the Consumer Price Index, keep contracts to one year and require unions to vote annually to determine whether most workers still wish to be members.
    The e-mails show that as recently as Sunday evening Mr. Walker’s representatives appeared willing to agree to some changes…. – NYT, 3-9-11
  • Walker blames unions for standoff Governor thinks national labor leaders barring deal: Gov. Scott Walker blamed national labor organizers Monday evening for scuttling attempts at compromise with 14 Democratic senators who fled to Illinois to avoid a vote on a budget-repair bill that would take away most collective bargaining rights of public workers. Citing a Wall Street Journal report, Walker said Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) indicated Sunday that the Democrats would return to Wisconsin. But he said that changed Monday.
    The governor said he doesn’t know what happened, but he suspects it was union leaders who are influencing the 14 Democrats. “I don’t have this on firsthand knowledge. My guess is he got a phone call from one of the union bosses in D.C. who said, ‘You cannot go back there and let them have a vote,’ ” Walker said… – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-7-11
  • Why ‘Wisconsin 14’ are ready to return: They think they’re winning: Wisconsin’s 14 Democratic absentee state senators indicate they’re ready to return – because they think they’ve already won the war, if not this battle…. – CS Monitor, 3-7-11
  • Lawmaker: Wisconsin Democrats returning soon: The Democratic senators who fled are convinced that Republicans will be severely hurt if Walker’s plan is passed…. The State Senate Democrats who left Wisconsin to block a vote on a bill that would severely curb collective bargaining for most public employees are planning to return soon, one of the lawmakers said…. – WaPo, 3-7-11
  • Wisconsin’s Walker dismisses Democratic overture: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dismissed as “ridiculous” a request on Monday from the leader of absent Senate Democrats to meet and negotiate a compromise in their standoff over Republican plans to limit public sector union powers…. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker blasted the leader of the state’s Senate Democrats as an obstacle in getting some of the Democrats to return and vote on his budget proposal…. – Reuters, 3-7-11
  • Walker blames unions for standoff: Gov. Scott Walker blamed national labor organizers Monday evening for scuttling attempts at compromise with 14 Democratic senators who fled to Illinois to avoid a vote on a budget-repair bill… – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-7-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Tea party favourite US Rep. Bachmann flubs Revolutionary War geography: A potential Republican presidential candidate who is a favourite of the conservative tea party movement which extolls America’s Founding Fathers got her geography mixed up when it came to where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were … The Canadian Press, 3-13-11
  • Dems hope to taint Romney with health law praise: President Barack Obama and other top Democrats have been quick to lavish praise on former Massachusetts Republican Gov…. – AP, 3-13-11
  • Barbour contrasts himself with Obama on economy: Previewing a presidential campaign pitch, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is blaming President Barack Obama for the sluggish recovery and accusing him of enacting a series of policies that “created economic uncertainty or directly hurt the economy.”
    The two-term Republican governor also is holding up his record as proof that he could do better on two pillars: economic growth and job creation.
    “We still have more to do in Mississippi. But we have made great progress and are laying a foundation for the future,” Barbour says in remarks prepared for delivery later Monday to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce…. – AP, 3-13-11
  • Campaigning as All Things to All Republicans: CONCORD, NH – Many aspiring Republican presidential candidates are going to great lengths to avoid the spotlight, but not Tim Pawlenty…. – NYT, 3-13-11
  • Pawlenty takes on “problem-solver” mantle in NH: In Arizona recently, Tim Pawlenty courted a convention of Tea Party supporters with a passionate defense of constitutional freedoms…. – Boston Globe, 3-11-11
  • Mitt supporter loves Romneycare: Health care may be Mitt Romney’s biggest political liability, but the controversial program he enacted as Massachusetts governor actually helped earn him a key endorsement Thursday … – Politico, 3-11-11
  • Julianne Moore to star in Sarah Palin movie: Actress Julianne Moore is to star as Sarah Palin in the movie Game Change about the former Alaska governor’s rise to prominence in the 2008 presidential election campaign, it was announced Wednesday. Monsters and Critics.com, 3-11-11
  • Plastic Mitt: Nyhan argues that Romney is being caricatured as inauthentic. Waldman half-agrees;
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