Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 January 14, 2016: The Fox Business Network Sixth Republican Debate in Charleston Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Full Transcript of the Sixth Republican Debate in Charleston

Source: Time, 1-14-16

 

Hosted by Fox Business Network in Charleston, South Carolina

Participants: New York businessman Donald Trump, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former New York Sen. Ted Cruz, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Moderators: Fox Business Network anchors Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo.

CAVUTO: It is 9:00 p.m. here at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center in South Carolina. Welcome to the sixth Republican presidential <debate> of the 2016 campaign, here on the Fox Business Network.

CAVUTO: I’m Neil Cavuto, alongside my friend and co-moderator Maria Bartiromo.

BARTIROMO: Tonight we are working with Facebook to ask the candidates the questions voters want answered. And according to Facebook, the U.S. election has dominated the global conversation, with 131 million people talking about the 2016 race. That makes it the number one issue talked about on Facebook last year worldwide.

CAVUTO: Now, the seven candidates on the stage tonight were selected based on their standing in six national polls, as well as polls in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, those standings determining the position on the stage of the candidates tonight. And here they are.

Businessman Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE)

Texas senator Ted Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

Florida senator Marco Rubio.

(APPLAUSE)

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

(APPLAUSE)

New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

And Ohio governor John Kasich.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Tonight’s rules are simple: up to 90 seconds for each answer, one minute for each follow-up response. And if a candidate goes over the allotted time, you’ll hear this.

(BELL RINGS) So let’s get started. Candidates, jobs and growth — two of the biggest issues facing the country right now. In his State of the Union address earlier this week, the president said, quote, “we have the strongest, most durable economy in the world.”

And according to our Facebook research, jobs is one of the biggest issues resonating across the country, including here in South Carolina. The president is touting 14 million new jobs and an unemployment rate cut in half.

The president said that anyone who claims America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction. Senator Cruz, what do you see that he doesn’t?

CRUZ: Well, Maria, thank you for that question, and let me say thank you to the state of South Carolina for welcoming us.

Let me start — I want to get to the substance of the question on jobs, but I want to start with something. Today, many of us picked up our newspapers, and we were horrified to see the sight of 10 American sailors on their knees, with their hands on their heads.

In that State of the Union, President Obama didn’t so much as mention the 10 sailors that had been captured by Iran. President Obama’s preparing to send $100 billion or more to the Ayatollah Khamenei. And I’ll tell you, it was heartbreaking.

But the good news is the next commander-in-chief is standing on this stage.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: And I give you my word, if I am elected president, no service man or service woman will be forced to be on their knees, and any nation that captures our fighting men will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, on to your substantive question. The president tried to paint a rosy picture of jobs. And you know, he’s right. If you’re a Washington lobbyist, if you make your money in and around Washington, things are doing great. The millionaires and billionaires are doing great under Obama. But we have the lowest percentage of Americans working today of any year since 1977. Median wages have stagnated. And the Obama-Clinton economy has left behind the working men and women of this country.

The reason all of us are here is we believe we should be fighting for the working men and women of this country, and not Washington, D.C.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Governor Kasich, we are not even two weeks into this stock trading year, but (inaudible) investors already lost $1.6 trillion in market value. That makes it the worst start to a new year ever. Many worry that things will get even worse, and that banks and financial stocks are particularly vulnerable.

Now, if this escalates, like it did back when Barack Obama first assumed the presidency, what actions would you take if this same thing happens all over again just as, in this example, you are taking over the presidency?

KASICH: Look, it takes three things basically to grow jobs. And I’ve done it when I was in Washington when we had a balanced budget; had four years of balanced budgets; paid down a half-trillion of debt. And our economy was growing like crazy. It’s the same thing that I did in Ohio. It’s a simple formula: common sense regulations, which is why I think we should freeze all federal regulations for one year, except for health and safety. It requires tax cuts, because that sends a message to the job creators that things are headed the right way. And if you tax cuts — if you cut taxes for corporations, and you cut taxes for individuals, you’re going to make things move, particularly the corporate tax, which is the highest, of course, in the — in the world.

But in addition to that, we have to have fiscal discipline. We have to show that we can march to a balanced budget. And when you do that, when you’re in a position of managing regulations; when you reduce taxes; and when you have fiscal discipline, you see the job creators begin to get very comfortable with the fact that they can invest.

Right now, you don’t have the — you have taxes that are too high. You have regulations — I mean, come on, they’re affecting everybody here, particularly our small businesses. They are — they’re in a position where they’re smothering people. And I mean, are you kidding me? We’re nowhere close to a balanced budget or fiscal discipline.

Those three things put together are going to give confidence to job creators and you will begin to see wages rise. You will begin to see jobs created in a robust economy. And how do I know it? Because I’ve done it. I did it as the chairman of the Budget Committee, working with Senator Domenici. And I’ve done it in the state of Ohio as the chief executive.

Our wages are growing faster than the national average. We’re running surpluses. And we can take that message and that formula to Washington to lift every single American to a better life.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: We know that recent global events have many people worried — Iran detaining American sailors, forcing them to apologize; North Korea and its nuclear ambitions; an aggressive China; and a Middle East that continues to deteriorate, not to mention ISIS is getting stronger.

Governor Christie, sometimes it seems the world is on fire. Where and when should a president use military action to restore order?

CHRISTIE: Well, Maria, I’m glad to have heard from you in the summary of that question about what’s going on in the world. Because Tuesday night, I watched story time with Barack Obama. And I’ve got to tell you, it sounded like everything in the world was going amazing, you know?

(APPLAUSE)

The fact is, there’s a number of things that the next president is going to have to do to clean up this mess. The first thing is we have to strengthen our alliances around the world. And the best way to do that is to start talking to our allies again and having them be able to count on our word.

CHRISTIE: Lots of people will say lots of different things about me in this campaign and others, but the one thing they’ve never said about me is that I’m misunderstood. And so when we talk to our allies and we give them our word, in a Christie administration, they know we’re going to keep it.

Next, we have to talk to our adversaries, and we have to make sure they understand the limits of our patience. And this president, given what Ted said right at the beginning, he’s absolutely right. It’s a — it’s absolutely disgraceful that Secretary Kerry and others said in their response to what’s going on in Iran that this was a good thing; it showed how the relationship was getting better.

The president doesn’t understand — and by the way, neither does Secretary Clinton — and here’s my warning to everybody out in the audience tonight. If you’re worried about the world being on fire, you’re worried about how we’re going to use our military, you’re worried about strengthening our military and you’re worried most of all about keeping your homes and your families safe and secure, you cannot give Hillary Clinton a third term of Barack Obama’s leadership.

I will not do that. If I’m the nominee, she won’t get within 10 miles of the White House.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Just to be clear Governor, where and when would you use military action?

CHRISTIE: MIlitary action, Maria, would be used when it was absolutely necessary to protect American lives and protect American interests around the world. We are not the world’s policeman, but we need to stand up and be ready.

And the problem, Maria, is that the military is not ready, either. We need to rebuild our military, and this president has let it diminish to a point where tinpot dictators like the mullahs in Iran are taking our Navy ships. It is disgraceful, and in a Christie administration, they would know much, much better than to do that.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Governor Bush, the president just told the nation two nights ago that America is back and that the idea that our enemies are getting stronger or that this country is getting weaker, well, it’s just rhetoric and hot air. Now other Democrats go even further, sir, saying Republicans even suggesting such comments actually embolden our enemies. I guess they would include you. What do you say?

BUSH: Well first of all, the idea that somehow we’re better off today than the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated president of the United States is totally an alternative universe. The simple fact is that the world has been torn asunder.

Think about it. With grandiose language, the president talks about red lines and nothing to follow it up; talks about ISIS being the JV team, they form a caliphate the size of Indiana with 35 (thousand) to 40,000 battle-tested terrorists. He’s missing the whole point, that America’s leadership in the world is required for peace and stability.

In the crowd today is Major General James Livingston, who’s the co-chairman of my campaign here in South Carolina, a Medal of Honor recipient.

(APPLAUSE)

I’ve learned from him that what we need to achieve is peace through strength, which means we need to rebuild the military. In this administration, every weapon system has been gutted, in this administration, the force levels are going down to a level where we can’t even project force. Our friends no longer think we have their back and our enemies no longer fear us, and we’re in a much difficult — we’re in a much different position than we should be.

And for the life of me, I have no understanding why the president thinks that everything is going well. Terrorism is on the run, China, Russia is advancing their agenda at warp speed, and we pull back.

As president of the United States, I will be a commander in chief that will have the back of the military. We will rebuild the military to make sure that it is a solid force, not to be the world’s policeman, but to make sure that in a peaceful world, people know that the United States is there to take care of our own national interests and take care of our allies.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: So I take it from that you do not agree with the president.

BUSH: No. And worse — worse yet, to be honest with you, Hillary Clinton would be a national security disaster.

Think about it. She wants to continue down the path of Iran, Benghazi, the Russian reset, Dodd-Frank, all the things that have — that have gone wrong in this country, she would be a national security mess. And that is wrong.

And you know what? Here’s the problem. If she gets elected, she’s under investigation with the FBI right now. If she gets elected, her first 100 days, instead of setting an agenda, she might be going back and forth between the White House and the courthouse. We need to stop that. (LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Senator Rubio, the president says that ISIS doesn’t threaten our national existence like a Germany or a Japan back in World War II, that the terror group is nothing more than twisted souls plotting attacks in their garages.

But House Homeland Security Committee recently said that over 1,000 ongoing investigations of homegrown extremism in 50 states. So how do you define the threat? Germany then or dangerous nut cases now?

RUBIO: Yeah, I would go, first of all, one step further in this description of Hillary Clinton. She wouldn’t just be a disaster, Hillary Clinton is disqualified from being commander in chief of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

Someone who cannot handle intelligence information appropriately cannot be commander in chief and someone who lies to the families of those four victims in Benghazi can never be president of the United States. Ever.

(APPLAUSE)

On the issue of Barack Obama, Barack Obama does not believe that America is a great global power. Barack Obama believes that America is a arrogant global power that needs to be cut down to size. And that’s how you get a foreign policy where we cut deals with our enemies like Iran and we betray our allies like Israel and we gut our military and we go around the world like he has done on 10 separate occasions and apologized for America.

He doesn’t understand the threat in ISIS. He consistently underestimates it but I do not. There is a war against ISIS, not just against ISIS but against radical jihadists terrorists, and it is a war that they win or we win.

When I’m president of the United States, we are going to win this war on ISIS. The most powerful intelligence agency in the world is going to tell us where we are, the most powerful military in the world is going to destroy them. And if we capture any of them alive, they are getting a one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and we are going to find out everything they know.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Thank you, Senator.

BARTIROMO: Dr. Carson, the president says he does not want to treat ISIS as a foreign army, but ISIS is neither a country nor a government. How do you attack a network that does not respect national borders?

CARSON: Well, I’m very happy to get a question this early on. I was going to ask you to wake me up when that time came.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, I find it really quite fascinating some of the president’s proclamations. The fact of the matter is he doesn’t realize that we now live in the 21st century, and that war is very different than it used to be before. Not armies massively marching on each other and air forces, but now we have dirty bombs and we have cyber attacks and we have people who will be attacking our electrical grid. And, you know, we have a whole variety of things that they can do and they can do these things simultaneously. And we have enemies who are obtaining nuclear weapons that they can explode in our exoatmosphere and destroy our electric grid.

I mean, just think about a scenario like that. They explode the bomb, we have an electromagnetic pulse. They hit us with a cyberattack simultaneously and dirty bombs. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue at that point? He needs to recognize that those kinds of things are in fact an existential threat to us.

But here’s the real key. We have the world’s best military, even though he’s done everything he can to diminish it. And the fact of the matter is if we give them a mission and we don’t tie their hands behind their back, they can get it accomplished.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Mr. Trump, at the State of the Union, the president pointed to a guest who was a Syrian refugee you might recall whose wife and daughter and other family members were killed in an air attack. Now he fled that country seeking asylum here, ultimately ended up in Detroit where he’s now trying to start a new life.

The president says that that doctor is the real face of these refugees and not the one that you and some of your colleagues on this stage are painting; that you prefer the face of fear and terror and that you would refuse to let in anyone into this country seeking legitimate asylum. How do you answer that?

TRUMP: It’s not fear and terror, it’s reality. You just have to look today at Indonesia, bombings all over.

(APPLAUSE)

You look at California, you look, frankly, at Paris where there’s a — the strictest no-gun policy of any city anywhere in the world, and you see what happens: 130 people dead with many to follow. They’re very, very badly wounded. They will — some will follow. And you look around, and you see what’s happening, and this is not the case when he introduced the doctor — very nice, everything perfect but that is not representative of what you have in that line of migration.

That could be the great Trojan Horse. It could be people that are going to do great, great destruction. When I look at the migration, I looked at the line, I said it actually on your show recently, where are the women? It looked like very few women. Very few children. Strong, powerful men, young and people are looking at that and they’re saying what’s going on?

TRUMP: You look at the kind of damage that two people that two people that got married, they were radicalized — they got married, they killed 15 people in actually 15 — going to be probably 16 but you look at that and you take a look — a good strong look and that’s what we have. We are nineteen trillion dollars — our country’s a mess and we can’t let all these people come into our country and break our borders. We can’t do it.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Senator Cruz, the New York Times is reporting that you failed to properly disclose a million dollars in loans from Goldman Sachs and CitiBank. During your senate race, your campaign said, “it was inadvertent.” A million dollars is inadvertent?

CRUZ: Well Maria, thank you for passing on that hit piece in the front page of the New York Times. You know the nice thing about the mainstream media, they don’t hide their views. The New York Times a few weeks back had a columnist who wrote a column saying, “Anybody But Cruz.” Had that actually — that same columnist wrote a column comparing me to an evil demonic spirit from the move, “It Follows” that jumps apparently from body to body possessing people.

So you know the New York Times and I don’t have exactly have the warmest of relationships. Now in terms of their really stunning hit piece, what they mentioned is when I was running for senate — unlike Hillary Clinton, I don’t have masses of money in the bank, hundreds of millions of dollars. When I was running for senate just about every lobbyist, just about all of the establishment opposed me in the senate race in Texas and my opponent in that race was worth over 200 million dollars. He put a 25 million dollar check up from his own pocket to fund that campaign and my wife Heidi and I, we ended up investing everything we owned.

We took a loan against our assets to invest it in that campaign to defend ourselves against those attacks. And the entire New York times attack — is that I disclosed that loan on one filing with the United States Senate, that was a public filing. But it was not on a second filing with FDIC and yes, I made a paperwork error disclosing it on one piece of paper instead of the other. But if that’s the best the New York Times has got, they better go back to the well.

BARTIROMO: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right. Welcome back to the Republican presidential <debate>, right here in North Charleston, South Carolina. Let’s get right back to the questions. And I’ll start with you, Senator Cruz.

Now you are, of course, a strict constitutionalist — no one would doubt that. And as you know, the U.S. Constitution says only natural-born citizens are eligible for the office of president of the United States. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Now, you were born…

(LAUGHTER)

… you were born in Canada to an American mother. So you were and are considered an American citizen. But that fellow next to you, Donald Trump — and others — have said that being born in Canada means you are not natural-born, and that has raised questions about your eligibility.

Do you want to try to close this topic once and for all tonight?

CRUZ: Well, Neil, I’m glad we’re focusing on the important topics of the evening.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

You know, back in September, my friend Donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way, and there was no issue there. There was nothing to this birther issue.

(LAUGHTER)

Now, since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed.

(LAUGHTER)

But the poll numbers have.

(APPLAUSE)

And I recognize — I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa. But the facts and the law here are really quite clear. Under longstanding U.S. law, the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen.

If a soldier has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why John McCain, even though he was born in Panama, was eligible to run for president.

If an American missionary has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was eligible to run for president, even though he was born in Mexico.

At the end of the day, the legal issue is quite straightforward, but I would note that the birther theories that Donald has been relying on — some of the more extreme ones insist that you must not only be born on U.S. soil, but have two parents born on U.S. soil.

Under that theory, not only would I be disqualified, Marco Rubio would be disqualified, Bobby Jindal would be disqualified and, interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified.

(APPLAUSE)

(UNKNOWN): Not me.

CRUZ: Because — because Donald’s mother was born in Scotland. She was naturalized. Now, Donald…

TRUMP: But I was born here.

CRUZ: … on the issue — on the issue of citizenship, Donald…

TRUMP: (inaudible). Big difference.

CRUZ: … on the issue of citizenship, Donald, I’m not going to use your mother’s birth against you.

TRUMP: OK, good. Because it wouldn’t work.

CRUZ: You’re an American, as is everybody else on this stage, and I would suggest we focus on who’s best prepared to be commander- in-chief, because that’s the most important question facing the country.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Mr. Trump…

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: … that you raised it because of his rising poll numbers.

TRUMP: … first of all, let me just tell you something — and you know, because you just saw the numbers yourself — NBC Wall Street Journal just came out with a poll — headline: Trump way up, Cruz going down. I mean, so don’t — so you can’t — you can’t…

(BOOING)

… they don’t like the Wall Street Journal. They don’t like NBC, but I like the poll.

(LAUGHTER)

And frankly, it just came out, and in Iowa now, as you know, Ted, in the last three polls, I’m beating you. So — you know, you shouldn’t misrepresent how well you’re doing with the polls.

(APPLAUSE)

You don’t have to say that. In fact, I was all for you until you started doing that, because that’s a misrepresentation, number one.

TRUMP: Number two, this isn’t me saying it. I don’t care. I think I’m going to win fair and square (inaudible) to win this way. Thank you.

Lawrence Tribe and (inaudible) from Harvard — of Harvard, said that there is a serious question as to whether or not Ted can do this. OK? There are other attorneys that feel, and very, very fine constitutional attorneys, that feel that because he was not born on the land, he cannot run for office.

Here’s the problem. We’re running. We’re running. He does great. I win. I choose him as my vice presidential candidate, and the Democrats sue because we can’t take him along for the ride. I don’t like that. OK?

(LAUGHTER)

The fact is — and if for some reason he beats the rest of the field, he beats the rest of the field (inaudible). See, they don’t like that. They don’t like that.

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

No, they don’t like he beats the rest of the field, because they want me.

(LAUGHTER)

But — if for some reason, Neil, he beats the rest of the field, I already know the Democrats are going to be bringing a suit. You have a big lawsuit over your head while you’re running. And if you become the nominee, who the hell knows if you can even serve in office? So you should go out, get a declaratory judgment, let the courts decide. And you shouldn’t have mentioned the polls because I would have been much…

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Why are you saying this now — right now? Why are you raising this issue now?

TRUMP: Because now he’s going a little bit better. No, I didn’t care (inaudible). It’s true. No, it’s true. Hey look, he never had a chance. Now, he’s doing better. He’s got probably a four or five percent chance.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: Neil…

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: The fact is, there is a big overhang. There’s a big question mark on your head. And you can’t do that to the party. You really can’t. You can’t do that to the party. You have to have certainty. Even if it was a one percent chance, and it’s far greater than one percent because (inaudible).

I mean, you have great constitutional lawyers that say you can’t run. If there was a — and you know I’m not bringing a suit. I promise. But the Democrats are going to bring a lawsuit, and you have to have certainty. You can’t have a question. I can agree with you or not, but you can’t have a question over your head.

CAVUTO: Senator, do you want to respond?

CRUZ: Well, listen, I’ve spent my entire life defending the Constitution before the U.S. Supreme Court. And I’ll tell you, I’m not going to be taking legal advice from Donald Trump.

TRUMP: You don’t have to. Take it from Lawrence Tribe.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Take it from your professors…

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: The chances of any litigation proceeding and succeeding on this are zero. And Mr. Trump is very focused…

TRUMP: He’s wrong. He’s wrong.

CRUZ: … on Larry Tribe. Let me tell you who Larry Tribe is. He’s a left-wing judicial activist, Harvard Law professor who was Al Gore’s lawyer in Bush versus Gore. He’s a major Hillary Clinton supporter. And there’s a reason why Hillary’s supporters are echoing Donald’s attacks on me, because Hillary…

TRUMP: He is not the only one.

CRUZ: … wants to face Donald Trump in the general election.

TRUMP: There are many lawyers.

CRUZ: And I’ll tell you what, Donald, you — you very kindly just a moment ago offered me the V.P. slot.

(LAUGHTER) I’ll tell you what. If this all works out, I’m happy to consider naming you as V.P. So if you happen to be right, you could get the top job at the end of the day.

TRUMP: No — no…

(LAUGHTER)

… I think if it doesn’t…

(APPLAUSE)

I like that. I like it. I’d consider it. But I think I’ll go back to building buildings if it doesn’t work out.

CRUZ: Actually, I’d love to get you to build a wall.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I have a feeling it’s going to work out, actually.

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: Let me (inaudible). I was invoked in that question, so let me just say — in that answer — let me say, the real question here, I hate to interrupt this episode of Court TV.

(LAUGHTER)

But the real — but I think we have to get back to what this election has to be about. OK? Listen, we — this is the greatest country in the history of mankind. But in 2008, we elected a president that didn’t want to fix America. He wants to change America. We elected a president that doesn’t believe in the Constitution. He undermines it. We elected a president that is weakening America on the global stage. We elected a president that doesn’t believe in the free enterprise system.

This election has to be about reversing all of that damage. That’s why I’m running for office because when I become president of the United States, on my first day in office we are going to repeal every single one of his unconstitutional executive orders. When I’m president of the United States we are getting rid of Obamacare and we are rebuilding our military. And when I’m president, we’re not just going to have a president that gives a State of the Union and says America is the greatest country in the world. When I’m president, we’re going to have a president that acts like it.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, senator.

BARTIROMO: Mr. Trump, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in her response to the State of the Union address

(APPLAUSE)

BARITROMO: appeared to choose sides within the party, saying Republicans should resist, quote, “the siren call of the angriest voices”. She confirmed, she was referring to you among others. Was she out of line? And, how would a President Trump unite the party?

TRUMP: Okay. First of all, Nikki this afternoon said I’m a friend of hers. Actually a close friend. And wherever you are sitting Nikki, I’m a friend. We’re friends. That’s good.

(LAUGHTER)

But she did say there was anger. And I could say, oh, I’m not angry. I’m very angry because our country is being run horribly and I will gladly accept the mantle of anger. Our military is a disaster.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Our healthcare is a horror show. Obamacare, we’re going to repeal it and replace it. We have no borders. Our vets are being treated horribly. Illegal immigration is beyond belief. Our country is being run by incompetent people. And yes, I am angry.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And I won’t be angry when we fix it, but until we fix it, I’m very, very angry. And I say that to Nikki. So when Nikki said that, I wasn’t offended. She said the truth.

One of your colleagues interviewed me. And said, well, she said you were angry and I said to myself, huh, she’s right. I’m not fighting that. I didn’t find it offensive at all. I’m angry because our country is a mess.

(APPLAUSE)

BARITROMO: But what are you going to do about it?

CAVUTO: Marco Rubio. I’m sorry, it’s the time constraints. You and Governor Christie have been exchanging some fairly nasty words of late, and I will allow the governor to respond as well.

The governor went so far to say, you won’t be able to slime your way to the White House. He’s referring to a series of ads done by a PAC, speaking on your behalf, that say quote,”One high tax, Common Core, liberal, energy-loving, Obamacare, Medicaid-expanding president is enough. You think you went too far on that and do you want to apologize to the governor?

RUBIO: You know, as I said already twice in this <debate>, we have a very serious problem in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: We have a president of the United States that is undermining this country’s security and expanding the role of…

CAVUTO: That is not my question.

RUBIO: Well, I am going to answer your question, Neil. He is — this president is undermining the constitutional basis of this government. This president is undermining our military. He is undermining our standing in the world. I like Chris Christie, but we can not afford to have a president of the United States that supports Common Core.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: We can not afford to have a president of the United States that supports gun control. This president, this president is more interested in funding — less interested in funding the military, than he is in funding planned — he’s more interested in funding Planned Parenthood than he is in funding the military.

Chris Christie wrote a check to Planned Parenthood. All I’m saying is our next president has to be someone that undoes the damage Barack Obama has done to this country. It can not be someone that agrees with his agenda.

Because the damage he has done to America is extraordinary. Let me tell you, if we don’t get this election right, there may be no turning back for America. We’re on the verge of being the first generation of Americans that leave our children worse off than ourselves.

So I just truly, with all my heart belief, I like everybody on the stage. No one is a socialist. No one here is under FBI investigation. So we have a good group of people.

CAVUTO: Is he a liberal?

RUBIO: Our next president…

CAVUTO: Is he a liberal?

RUBIO: Unfortunately, Governor Christie has endorsed many of the ideas that Barack Obama supports, whether it is Common Core or gun control or the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor or the donation he made to Planned Parenthood. Our next president, and our Republican nominee can not be someone who supports those positions.

CAVUTO: Governor?

(APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: I stood on the stage and watched Marco in rather indignantly, look at Governor Bush and say, someone told you that because we’re running for the same office, that criticizing me will get you to that office.

It appears that the same someone who has been whispering in old Marco’s ear too.

(LAUGHTER)

So the indignation that you carry on, some of the stuff, you have to also own then. So let’s set the facts straight. First of all, I didn’t support Sonia Sotomayor. Secondly, I never wrote a check to Planned Parenthood.

Third, if you look at my record as governor of New Jersey, I have vetoed a 50-caliber rifle ban. I have vetoed a reduction this clip size. I vetoed a statewide I.D. system for gun owners and I pardoned, six out-of-state folks who came through our state and were arrested for owning a gun legally in another state so they never have to face charges.

And on Common Core, Common Core has been eliminated in New Jersey. So listen, this is the difference between being a governor and a senator. See when you’re a senator, what you get to do is just talk and talk and talk. And you talk so much that nobody can ever keep up with what you’re saying is accurate or not.

When you’re a governor, you’re held accountable for everything you do. And the people of New Jersey, I’ve seen it.

(APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: And the last piece is this. I like Marco too, and two years ago, he called me a conservative reformer that New Jersey needed. That was before he was running against me. Now that he is, he’s changed his tune.

I’m never going to change my tune. I like Marco Rubio. He’s a good guy, a smart guy, and he would be a heck of a lot better president than Hillary Rodham Clinton would ever be.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Neil, my name was mentioned here. Neil, my name was mentioned as well.

Here’s the deal, Chris is totally right. He’s been a good governor, and he’s a heck of a lot better than his predecessor that would have bankrupted New Jersey.

Everybody on this stage is better than Hillary Clinton. And I think the focus ought to be on making sure that we leave this nomination process, as wild and woolly as it’s going to be — this is not being bad.

These attack ads are going to be part of life. Everybody just needs to get used to it. Everybody’s record’s going to be scrutinized, and at the end of the day we need to unite behind the winner so we can defeat Hillary Clinton, because she is a disaster.

(APPLAUSE)

Our country rise up again, but we need to have a compelling conservative agenda that we present to the American people in a way that doesn’t disparage people, that unites us around our common purpose.

And so everybody needs to discount some of the things you’re going to hear in these ads, and discount the — the back-and-forth here, because every person here is better than Hillary Clinton.

CARSON: Neil, I was mentioned too.

CAVUTO: You were?

CARSON: Yeah, he said everybody. (LAUGHTER)

And — and I just want to take this opportunity to say, you know, in the 2012 election, you know, we — and when I say we, Republicans — tore themselves apart.

You know, we have to stop this because, you know, if we manage to damage ourselves, and we lose the next election, and a progressive gets in there and they get two or three Supreme Court picks, this nation is over as we know it. And we got to look at the big picture here.

BARTIROMO: Governor Kasich…

(APPLAUSE)

… Governor Kasich, Hillary Clinton is getting some serious competition from Senator Bernie Sanders. He’s now at 41 percent in the latest CBS/New York Times poll. Vice President Biden sang his praises, saying Bernie is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real, and he has credibility on it.

So what does it say about our country that a candidate who is a self-avowed socialist and who doesn’t think a 90 percent tax rate is too high could be the Democratic nominee?

KASICH: Well, if that’s the case, we’re going to win every state, if Bernie Sanders is the nominee. That’s not even an issue. But look…

(APPLAUSE)

… and I know Bernie, and I can promise you he’s not going to be president of the United States. So here’s this — the situation, I think, Maria.

And this is what we have to — I — I’ve got to tell you, when wages don’t rise — and they haven’t for a lot of families for a number of years — it’s very, very difficult for them.

Part of the reason why it hasn’t risen because sometimes we’re not giving people the skills they need. Sometimes it’s because the Federal Reserve kept interest rates so low that the wealthy were able to invest in — in strong assets like the stock market when everybody else was left behind.

People are upset about it. I’ll tell you what else they’re upset about: you’re 50 or 51 years old, and some kid walks in and tells you you’re out of work, and you don’t know where to go and where to turn. Do we have answer for that? We do. There are ways to retrain the 50 and 51-year-olds, because they’ve got great value.

I’ll tell you what else people are concerned about. Their kids come out of college, they have high debt and they can’t get a good job. We got to do a lot about the high cost of high — higher education, but we’ve got to make sure we’re training people for jobs that exist, that are good jobs that can pay.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me tell you that, in this country — in this country, people are concerned about their economic future. They’re very concerned about it. And they wonder whether somebody is getting something to — keeping them from getting it.

That’s not the America that I’ve ever known. My father used to say, “Johnny, we never — we don’t hate the rich. We just want to be the rich.” And we just got to make sure that every American has the tools, in K-through-12 and in vocational education, in higher education.

And we got to fight like crazy so people can think the American dream still exists, because it does, with rising wages, with full employment and with everybody in America — and I mean everybody in America — having an opportunity to realize the American dream of having a better life than their mother and their father.

I’m president — look, I’ve done it once. I’ve done it once in Washington, with great jobs and lower taxes. The economy was really booming.

And now in Ohio, with the same formula, wages higher than the — than the national average. A growth of 385,000 jobs.

(BELL RINGS)

It’s not that hard. Just know where you want to go, stick to your guts. Get it done, because our — our children and grandchildren are counting on us to get it done. And, folks, we will. You count on it.

BARTIROMO: Dr. Carson, one of the other candidates on this stage has brought Bill Clinton’s past indiscretions. Is that a legitimate topic in this election? And what do you think of the notion that Hillary Clinton is an enabler of sexual misconduct?

CARSON: Well, there’s not question that we should be able to look at past president whether they’re married to somebody who’s running for president or not in terms of their past behavior and what it means. But you know, here’s the real issue, is this America anymore? Do we still have standards? Do we still have values and principles?

You know, you look at what’s going on, you see all the divisiveness and the hatred that goes on in our society. You know, we have a war on virtual everything — race wars, gender wars, income wars, religious wars, age wars. Every war you can imaging, we have people at each other’s throat and our strength is actually in our unity.

You know, you go to the internet, you start reading an article and you go to the comments section — you cannot go five comments down before people are calling each all manner of names. Where did that spirit come from in America? It did not come from our Judeo-Christian roots, I can tell you that. And wherever it came from we need to start once again recognizing that there is such a thing as right and wrong. And let’s not let the secular progressives drive that out of us.

The majority of people in American actually have values and principles and they believe in the very things that made America great. They’ve been beaten into submission. It’s time for us to stand up for what we believe in.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Well, we are not done. Coming up, one of the top things people are talking about on Facebook, guns. And you can join us live us on this stage in the conversation during this commercial break right from home. You can go to Facebook.com/(inaudible). We will be streaming live and talking about how we think the <debate> is going so far.

CAVUTO: We’re back in a moment in Charleston, South Carolina.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back to the Republican presidential debates, right here in North Charleston. Let’s get right back to the questions.

Governor Bush, gun rights, one of the top issues seen on Facebook with close to 3 million people talking about it in the past month. Right here in Charleston, Dylann Roof, who has been accused of killing nine people in a nearby church, reportedly had not passed his background check when he got his gun. What is the harm in tightening standards for not only who buys guns, but those who sell them?

BUSH: First of all, I’d like to recognize Governor Haley for her incredible leadership in the aftermath of the —

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: The Emanuel AME church killings. And I also want to recognize the people in that church that showed the grace of God and the grace of forgiveness and the mercy that they showed.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I don’t know if any of us could have done what they did, one after another, within 48 hours of that tragedy taking place. Look, here’s the deal, in this particular case, the FBI made a mistake. The law itself requires a background check, but that didn’t fulfill their part of the bargain within the time that they were supposed to do.

We don’t need to add new rules, we need to make sure the FBI does its job. Because that person should not have gotten a gun, should not — would not have passed a background check. The first impulse of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is to take rights away from law- abiding citizens.

That’s what they do, whether it’s the San Bernardino attack or if it’s these tragedies that take place, I think we need to focus on what the bigger issue is. It isn’t law-abiding gun owners.

Look, I have an A plus rating in the NRA and we also have a reduction in gun violence because in Florida, if you commit a crime with a gun, you’re going away. You’re going away for a long, long while.

And that’s what we should focus on is the violence in our communities. Target the efforts for people that are committing crimes with guns, and if you do that, and get it right, you’re going to be much better off than creating a political argument where there’s a big divide.

The other issue is mental health. That’s a serious issue that we could work on. Republicans and Democrats alike believe this.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: The president’s first impulse is do this by executive order, power he doesn’t have. Why not go to Congress and in a bipartisan way, begin to deal with the process of mental health issues so that people that are spiraling out of control because of mental health challenges don’t have access to guns.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Trump, are there any circumstances that you think we should be limiting gun sales of any kind in America?

TRUMP: No. I am a 2nd amendment person. If we had guns in California on the other side where the bullets went in the different direction, you wouldn’t have 14 or 15 people dead right now.

If even in Paris, if they had guns on the other side, going in the opposite direction, you wouldn’t have 130 people plus dead. So the answer is no and what Jeb said is absolutely correct.

We have a huge mental health problem in this country. We’re closing hospitals, we’re closing wards, we’re closing so many because the states want to save money. We have to get back into looking at what’s causing it. The guns don’t pull the trigger. It’s the people that pull the trigger and we have to find out what is going on.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We have to protect our 2nd amendment and you cannot do this and certainly what Barack Obama was doing with the executive order. He doesn’t want to get people together, the old-fashioned way, where you get Congress. You get the Congress, you get the Senate, you get together, you do legislation. He just writes out an executive order. Not supposed to happen that way.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you sir.

XXX where you get Congress.

TRUMP: You get the Congress. You get the Senate. You get together. You do legislation. He just writes out an order, executive order. It’s not supposed to happen that way.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Senator Rubio, you said that President Obama wants to take people’s guns away. Yet under his presidency, gun sales have more than doubled. That doesn’t sound like a White House unfriendly to gun owners.

RUBIO: That sounds like people are afraid the president’s going to take their guns away.

(APPLAUSE)

Look, the Second Amendment is not an option. It is not a suggestion. It is a constitutional right of every American to be able to protect themselves and their families. I am convinced that if this president could confiscate every gun in America, he would. I am convinced that this president, if he could get rid of the Second Amendment, he would. I am convinced because I see how he works with his attorney general, not to defend the Second Amendment, but to figure out ways to undermine it.

I have seen him appoint people to our courts not to defend the Second Amendment, but to figure out ways to undermine it.

Here’s my second problem. None of these instances that the president points to as the reason why he’s doing these things would have been preventive. You know why? Because criminals don’t buy their guns from a gun show. They don’t buy their guns from a collector. And they don’t buy their guns from a gun store. They get — they steal them. They get them on the black market.

And let me tell you, ISIS and terrorists do not get their guns from a gun show. These…

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

… his answer — you name it. If there’s an act of violence in America, his immediate answer before he even knows the facts is gun control. Here’s a fact. We are in a war against ISIS. They are trying to attack us here in America. They attacked us in Philadelphia last week. They attacked us in San Bernardino two weeks ago. And the last line standing between them and our families might be us and a gun.

When I’m president of the United States, we are defending the Second Amendment, not undermining it the way Barack Obama does.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: But what fact can you point to, Senator — what fact can you point to that the president would take away everyone’s gun? You don’t think that’s (inaudible)?

RUBIO: About every two weeks, he holds a press conference talking about how he can’t wait to restrict people’s access to guns. He has never defended…

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: I’ll give you a fact. Well, let me tell you this. Do you remember when he ran for president of the United States, and he was a candidate, and he went and said, “These Americans with traditional values, they are bitter people, and they cling to their guns and to their religion.” That tells you right away where he was headed on all of this.

This president every chance he has ever gotten has tried to undermine the Second Amendment.

(APPLAUSE)

He doesn’t meet — here’s the difference. When he meets with the attorney general in the White House, it’s not “how can we protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans.” It’s “give me options on how I can make it harder for law-abiding people to buy guns.” That will never happen when I am president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Governor Christie, you, too, have criticized the president’s recent executive action on gun control, saying it’s unconstitutional, another step to bypass Congress. But hasn’t your own position on guns evolved, sir? The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that you signed several laws to regulate the possession of firearms, and that you argued back in August 2013, and I quote, “These common sense measures will strengthen New Jersey’s already tough gun laws.”

So isn’t that kind of what the president wants to do now?

CHRISTIE: No, absolutely not. The president wants to do things without working with his Congress, without working with the legislature, and without getting the consent of the American people. And the fact is that that’s not a democracy. That’s a dictatorship. And we need to very, very concerned about that.

See, here’s the thing. I don’t think the founders put the Second Amendment as number two by accident. I don’t think they dropped all the amendments into a hat and picked them out of a hat. I think they made the Second Amendment the second amendment because they thought it was just that important.

The fact is in New Jersey, what we have done is to make it easier now to get a conceal and carry permit. We have made it easier to do that, not harder. And the way we’ve done it properly through regulatory action, not buy signing unconstitutional executive orders. This guy is a petulant child. That’s what he is. I mean, you know…

(APPLAUSE)

… the fact is, Neil, let’s think about — let’s think about — and I want to maybe — I hope the president is watching tonight, because here’s what I’d like to tell him.

Mr. President, we’re not against you. We’re against your policies. When you became president, you had a Democratic Congress and a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate. You had only 21 Republican governors in this country. And now after seven years of your policies, we have the biggest majority we’ve had since the 1920s in the House; a Republican majority in the Senate; and 31 out of 50 Republican governors.

The American people have rejected your agenda and now you’re trying to go around it. That’s not right. It’s not constitutional. And we are going to kick your rear end out of the White House come this fall.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: So what is the answer, Senator Cruz, to stop mass shootings and violent crime, up in 30 cities across the country?

CRUZ: The answer is simple. Your prosecute criminals. You target the bad guys. You know, a minute ago, Neil asked: What has President Obama do — done to illustrate that he wants to go after guns?

Well, he appointed Eric Holder as attorney general. Eric Holder said he viewed his mission as brainwashing the American people against guns. He appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, someone who has been a radical against the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

He launched Fast and Furious, illegally selling guns to Mexican drug lords that were then used to shoot law enforcement officials. And I’ll tell you what Hillary Clinton has said: Hillary Clinton says she agrees with the dissenters — the Supreme Court dissenters in the Heller case.

There were four dissenters, and they said that they believe the Second Amendment protects no individual right to keep and bear arms whatsoever, which means, if their view prevailed and the next president’s going to get one, two, three, maybe four Supreme Court justices, the court will rule that not a single person in this room has any right under the Second Amendment and the government could confiscate your guns.

And I’ll note that California senator — Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said, if she could say to Mr. America and Mrs. America, “give me your guns, I’m rounding them up,” she would.

And let me make a final point on this. Listen, in any Republican primary, everyone is going to say they support the Second Amendment. Unless you are clinically insane…

(LAUGHTER)

… that’s what you say in a primary. But the voters are savvier than that. They recognize that people’s actions don’t always match their words. I’ve got a proven record fighting to defend the Second Amendment.

There’s a reason Gun Owners of America has endorsed me in this race. There’s a reason the NRA gave me their Carter Knight Freedom Fund award…

(BELL RINGS) … and there’s a reason, when Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer came after our right to keep and bear arms, that I led the opposition, along with millions of Americans — we defeated that gun control legislation.

And I would note the other individuals on this stage were nowhere to be found in that fight.

BARTIROMO: Senator…

(APPLAUSE)

… let me follow up and switch gears.

Senator Cruz, you suggested Mr. Trump, quote, “embodies New York values.” Could you explain what you mean by that?

CRUZ: You know, I think most people know exactly what New York values are.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO: I am from New York. I don’t.

CRUZ: What — what — you’re from New York? So you might not.

(LAUGHTER)

But I promise you, in the state of South Carolina, they do.

(APPLAUSE)

And listen, there are many, many wonderful, wonderful working men and women in the state of New York. But everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro- gay-marriage, focus around money and the media.

And — and I would note indeed, the reason I said that is I was asked — my friend Donald has taken to it as (ph) advance playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”, and I was asked what I thought of that.

And I said, “well, if he wanted to play a song, maybe he could play, ‘New York, New York’?” And — and — you know, the concept of New York values is not that complicated to figure out.

Not too many years ago, Donald did a long interview with Tim Russert. And in that interview, he explained his views on a whole host of issues that were very, very different from the views he’s describing now.

And his explanation — he said, “look, I’m from New York, that’s what we believe in New York. Those aren’t Iowa values, but this is what we believe in New York.” And so that was his explanation.

And — and I guess I can — can frame it another way. Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I’m just saying.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO: Are you sure about that?

CAVUTO: Maria…

TRUMP: So conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan, including William F. Buckley and others, just so you understand.

(APPLAUSE)

And just so — if I could, because he insulted a lot of people. I’ve had more calls on that statement that Ted made — New York is a great place. It’s got great people, it’s got loving people, wonderful people.

When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York. You had two one hundred…

(APPLAUSE)

… you had two 110-story buildings come crashing down. I saw them come down. Thousands of people killed, and the cleanup started the next day, and it was the most horrific cleanup, probably in the history of doing this, and in construction. I was down there, and I’ve never seen anything like it.

And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death — nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell, the air.

TRUMP: And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers. And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Governor bush, for the third time in as many months, the Iranians have provoked us, detaining us, as we’ve been discussing, with these 10 Navy sailors Tehran had said strayed into their waters. The sailors were released, but only after shown on video apologizing for the incident. This occurring only weeks after Iran fired multiple rockets within 1,500 yards of a U.S. aircraft carrier and then continued to test medium range missiles.

Now you’ve claimed that such actions indicate Tehran has little to fear from a President Obama. I wonder, sir, what would change if they continued doing this sort of thing under a President Jeb Bush?

BUSH: Well, first of all, under President Jeb Bush, we would restore the strength of the military. Last week, Secretary Carter announced that the Navy’s going to be cut again. It’s now half the size of what it was prior to Operation Desert Storm.

The deployments are too high for the military personnel. We don’t have procurement being done for refreshing the equipment. The B-52 is still operational as the long range bomber; it was inaugurated in the age of Harry Truman. The planes are older than the pilots. We’re gutting our military, and so the Iranians and the Chinese and the Russians and many other countries look at the United States not as serious as we once were.

We have to eliminate the sequester, rebuild our military in a way that makes it clear that we’re back in the game.

Secondly, as it relates to Iran, we need to confront their ambitions across the board. We should reimpose sanctions, they’ve already violated sanctions after this agreement was signed by testing medium-range missiles.

Thirdly, we need to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to send a serious signal that we’re back in the game with Israel —

(APPLAUSE)

… and sign an agreement that makes sure that the world knows that they will have technological superiority.

We need to get back in the game as it relates to our Arab nations. The rest of the world is moving away from us towards other alliances because we are weak. This president and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton all have made it harder for the next president to act, but he must act to confront the ambitions of Iran. We can get back in the game to restore order and security for our own country.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Thank you, Governor. Governor Kasich, while everyone has been focusing on Iran’s provocations, I’m wondering what you make of what Saudi Arabia has been doing and its recent moves in the region, including its execution of a well-known Shi’ite cleric and its move to dramatically increase oil production, some say in an effort to drive down oil prices and force a lot of U.S. oil producers out of business.

Sure enough, oil prices have tumbled. One brokerage house is predicting a third or more of American oil producers and those heavily invested in fracking will go bankrupt, and soon Saudi Arabia and OPEC will be back in the driver’s seat.

U.S. energy player Harold Hamrie similarly told me with friends like these, who needs enemies? Do you agree?

KASICH: Well, let me — let me first of all talk a little bit about my experience. I served on the Defense Committee for 18 years, and by the way, one of the members of that committee was Senator Strom Thurmond from South Carolina. Let em also tell you…

(APPLAUSE)

… that after the 9/11 attacks, Secretary Rumsfeld invited me to the Pentagon with a meeting of the former secretaries of Defense. And in that meeting, I suggested we had a problem with technology, and that I wanted to take people from Silicon Valley into the Pentagon to solve our most significant problems. So I not only had the opportunity to go through the Cold War struggles in Central America, and even after 9/11 to be involved.

With Saudi Arabia and oil production, first of all, it’s so critical for us to be energy independent, and we’re getting there because of fracking and we ought to explore because, see, energy independence gives us leverage and flexibility, and secondly, if you want to bring jobs back to the United States of America in industry, low prices make the difference.

We’re seeing it in my state and we’ll see it in this country. And that’s why we must make sure we continue to frack.

In terms of Saudi Arabia, look, my biggest problem with them is they’re funding radical clerics through their madrasses. That is a bad deal and an evil situation, and presidents have looked the other way. And I was going to tell you, whether I’m president or not, we better make it clear to the Saudis that we’re going to support you, we’re in relation with you just like we were in the first Gulf War, but you’ve got to knock off the funding and teaching of radical clerics who are the very people who try to destroy us and will turn around and destroy them.

(APPLAUSE)

KASICH: So look, in foreign policy — in foreign policy, it’s strength, but you’ve got to be cool. You’ve got to have a clear vision of where you want to go. And I’m going to tell you, that it — I’m going to suggest to you here tonight, that you can’t do on the job training.

I’ve seen so much of it – a Soviet Union, the coming down of a wall, the issues that we saw around the world in Central America, the potential spread of communism, and 9/11 and Gulf War. You see what the Saudi’s — deliver them a strong message but at the end of the day we have to keep our cool because most of the time they’re going right with us. And they must be part of our coalition to destroy ISIS and I believe we can get that done.

Thank you.

CAVUTO: Thank you John.

BARTIROMO: There’s much more ahead including the fight against ISIS. More from Charleston, South Carolina when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: We welcome back to the Republican Presidential <Debate>, right back to the questions.

Candidates, the man who made fighting ISIS the cornerstone of his campaign, South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham is out the race but he joins us tonight in the audience.

(APPLAUSE)

He says, “the air-strike now in their 16th month have been ineffective.” Dr. Carson …

CARSON: Wait a minute, who in their 16th month?

BARTIROMO: The air-strikes.

CARSON: OK.

BARTIROMO: Now in their 16th month are ineffective. Dr. Carson, do you think Senator Graham is right in wanting to send 20,000 troops — ground troops to Iraq and Syria to take out ISIS?

CARSON: Well, there’s no question that ISIS is a very serious problem, and I don’t believe that this administration recognizes how serious it is.

I think we need to do a lot more than we’re doing. Recognize that the caliphate is what gives them the legitimacy to go out on a jihadist mission, so we need to take that away from them.

The way to take that away from them is to talk to our military officials and ask them, “what do you need in order to accomplish this goal?”

Our decision is, then, do we give them what we need. I say, yes, not only do we give them what they need, but we don’t tie their hands behind their backs so that they can go ahead and get the job done.

In addition to that…

(APPLAUSE)

… in addition to that, we go ahead and we take the oil from them, their source of revenue. You know, some of these — these engagement rules that the administration has — “we’re not going to bomb a tanker that’s coming out of there because there might be a person in it” — give me a break.

Just tell them that, you put people in there, we’re going to bomb them. So don’t put people in there if you don’t want them bombed. You know, that’s so simple.

(APPLAUSE)

And then we need to shut down — we need to shut down their mechanisms of funding and attack their command-and-control centers. Why should we let their people be sitting there smoking their cigars, sitting in their comfortable chairs in Raqqa?

We know (ph) to go ahead and shut off the supply routes, and send in our special ops at 2:00 a.m. and attack them everywhere they go. They should be running all the time, then they won’t have time to plan attacks against us.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir. Senator Graham has also said that the U.S. will find Arab support for its coalition if it removes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And I quote, “The now king of Saudi Arabia told us, ‘you can have our army, you just got to deal with Assad.’

“The emir of Qatar said, ‘I’ll pay for the operation, but they are not going to fight ISIS and let Damascus fall into the hands of the Iranians. Assad has to go.’”

Governor Christie, how important is it to remove Assad from power and how would you do it?

CHRISTIE: Maria, you look at what this president and his secretary of state, Secretary of State Clinton, has done to get us in this spot. You think about it — this is the president who said, along with his secretary of state — drew a red line in Syria, said, if Assad uses chemical weapons against his people, that we’re going to attack.

He used chemical weapons, he’s killed, now, over a quarter of a million of his own people, and this president has done nothing. In fact, he’s done worse than nothing.

This president — and, by the way, Secretary Clinton, who called Assad a reformer — she called Assad a reformer. Now, the fact is, what this president has done is invited Russia to play an even bigger role, bring in Vladimir Putin to negotiate getting those chemical weapons back from Assad, yet what do we have today?

We have the Russians and the Iranians working together, not to fight ISIS, but to prop up Assad. The fact of the matter is we’re not going to have peace — we are not going to have peace in Syria. We’re not going to be able to rebuild it unless we put a no-fly zone there, make it safe for those folks so we don’t have to be talking about Syrian refugees anymore.

The Syrians should stay in Syria. They shouldn’t be going to Europe. And here’s the last piece…

(APPLAUSE)

… you’re not going to have peace in Syria with Assad in charge. You’re simply not. And so Senator Graham is right about this.

And if we want to try to rebuild the coalition, as Governor Kasich was saying before, then what we better do is to get to the Arab countries that believe that ISIS is a threat, not only to them, but to us and to world peace, and bring them together.

And believe me, Assad is not worth it. And if you’re going to leave this to Hillary Clinton, the person who gave us this foreign policy, the architect of it, and you’re going to give her another four years, that’s why I’m speaking out as strongly as I am about that.

Hillary Clinton cannot be president. It will lead to even greater war in this world. And remember this, after Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have had nearly 8 years, we have fewer democracies in the world than we had when they started.

That makes the world less peaceful, less safe. In my administration, we will help to make sure we bring people together in the Middle East, and we will fight ISIS and defeat them.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

(APPLAUSE)

Mr. Trump — Mr. Trump, your comments about banning Muslims from entering the country created a firestorm. According to Facebook, it was the most-talked-about moment online of your entire campaign, with more than 10 million people talking about the issue.

Is there anything you’ve heard that makes you want to rethink this position?

TRUMP: No.

(LAUGHTER)

No.

(APPLAUSE)

Look, we have to stop with political correctness. We have to get down to creating a country that’s not going to have the kind of problems that we’ve had with people flying planes into the World Trade Centers, with the — with the shootings in California, with all the problems all over the world.

TRUMP: I just left Indonesia — bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb.

We have to find out what’s going on. I said temporarily. I didn’t say permanently. I said temporarily. And I have many great Muslim friends. And some of them, I will say, not all, have called me and said, “Donald, thank you very much; you’re exposing an unbelievable problem and we have to get to the bottom of it.”

And unlike President Obama, where he refuses even to use the term of what’s going on, he can’t use the term for whatever reason. And if you can’t use the term, you’re never going to solve the problem. My Muslim friends, some, said, “thank you very much; we’ll get to the bottom of it.”

But we have a serious problem. And we can’t be the stupid country any more. We’re laughed at all over the world.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Donald, Donald — can I — I hope you reconsider this, because this policy is a policy that makes it impossible to build the coalition necessary to take out ISIS. The Kurds are our strongest allies. They’re Muslim. You’re not going to even allow them to come to our country?

The other Arab countries have a role to play in this. We cannot be the world’s policeman. We can’t do this unilaterally. We have to do this in unison with the Arab world. And sending that signal makes it impossible for us to be serious about taking out ISIS and restoring democracy in Syria.

(APPLAUSE)

So I hope you’ll reconsider. I hope you’ll reconsider. The better way of dealing with this — the better way of dealing with this is recognizing that there are people in, you know, the — Islamic terrorists inside, embedded in refugee populations.

What we ought to do is tighten up our efforts to deal with the entry visa program so that a citizen from Europe, it’s harder if they’ve been traveling to Syria or traveling to these other places where there is Islamic terrorism, make it harder — make the screening take place.

We don’t have to have refugees come to our country, but all Muslims, seriously? What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world that the United States is a serious player in creating peace and security?

CAVUTO: But you said — you said that he made those comments and they represented him being unhinged after he made them.

BUSH: Yeah, they are unhinged.

CAVUTO: Well — well, after he made them…

(APPLAUSE)

… his poll numbers went up eight points in South Carolina. Now — now, wait…

TRUMP: Eleven points, to be exact.

CAVUTO: Are you — are you saying — are you saying that all those people who agree with Mr. Trump are unhinged?

BUSH: No, not at all, absolutely not. I can see why people are angry and scared, because this president has created a condition where our national security has weakened dramatically. I totally get that. But we’re running for the presidency of the United States here. This isn’t — this isn’t, you know, a different kind of job. You have to lead. You cannot make rash statements and expect the rest of the world to respond as though, well, it’s just politics.

Every time we send signals like this, we send a signal of weakness, not strength. And so it was (inaudible) his statement, which is why I’m asking him to consider changing his views.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I want security for this country. OK?

(APPLAUSE)

I want security. I’m tired of seeing what’s going on, between the border where the people flow over; people come in; they live; they shoot. I want security for this country. We have a serious problem with, as you know, with radical Islam. We have a tremendous problem. It’s not only a problem here. It’s a problem all over the world.

I want to find out why those two young people — those two horrible young people in California when they shot the 14 people, killed them — people they knew, people that held the wedding reception for them. I want to find out — many people saw pipe bombs and all sorts of things all over their apartment. Why weren’t they vigilant? Why didn’t they call? Why didn’t they call the police?

And by the way, the police are the most mistreated people in this country. I will tell you that.

(APPLAUSE)

The most mistreated people. In fact, we need to — wait a minute — we need vigilance. We have to find out — many people knew about what was going on. Why didn’t they turn those two people in so that you wouldn’t have had all the death?

There’s something going on and it’s bad. And I’m saying we have to get to the bottom of it. That’s all I’m saying. We need security.

BARTIROMO: We — we want to hear from all of you on this. According to Pew Research, the U.S. admits more than 100,000 Muslim immigrants every single year on a permanent lifetime basis. I want to ask the rest of you to comment on this. Do you agree that we should pause Muslim immigration until we get a better handle on our homeland security situation, as Mr. Trump has said?

Beginning with you, Governor Kasich.

KASICH: I — I’ve been for pausing on admitting the Syrian refugees. And the reasons why I’ve done is I don’t believe we have a good process of being able to vet them. But you know, we don’t want to put everybody in the same category.

KASICH: And I’ll go back to something that had been mentioned just a few minutes ago. If we’re going to have a coalition, we’re going to have to have a coalition not just of people in the western part of the world, our European allies, but we need the Saudis, we need the Egyptians, we need the Jordanians, we need the Gulf states. We need Jordan.

We need all of them to be part of exactly what the first George Bush put together in the first Gulf War.

(BELL RINGS)

It was a coalition made up of Arabs and Americans and westerners and we’re going to need it again. And if we try to put everybody in the same — call everybody the same thing, we can’t do it. And that’s just not acceptable.

But I think a pause on Syrian refugees has been exactly right for all the governors that have called for it, and also, of course, for me as the governor of Ohio.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir, we want to hear from the rest of you,

Governor Christie, your take.

CHRISTIE: Now Maria, listen. I said right from the beginning that we should take no Syrian refugees of any kind. And the reason I said that is because the FBI director told the American people, told Congress, that he could not guarantee he could vet them and it would be safe. That’s the end of the conversation.

I can tell you, after spending seven years as a former federal prosecutor, right after 9/11, dealing with this issue. Here’s the way you need to deal with it. You can’t just ban all Muslims. You have to ban radical Islamic jihadists. You have to ban the people who are trying to hurt us.

The only way to figure that out is to go back to getting the intelligence community the funding and the tools that it needs to be able to keep America safe.

(BELL RINGS)

And this summer, we didn’t do that. We took it away from the NSA, it was a bad decision by the president. Bad by those in the Senate who voted for it and if I’m president, we’ll make our intelligence community strong, and won’t have to keep everybody out, we’re just going to keep the bad folk out and make sure they don’t harm us.

BARTIROMO: Senator Rubio, where do you stand?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, let’s understand why we are even having this <debate> and why Donald tapped in to some of that anger that’s out there about this whole issue. Because this president has consistently underestimated the threat of ISIS.

If you listen to the State of the Union the other night, he described them as a bunch of guys with long beards on the back of a pickup truck. They are much more than that. This is a group of people that enslaves women and sells them, sells them as brides.

This is a group of people that burns people in cages, that is conducting genocide against Christians and Yazidis and others in the region. This is not some small scale group.

They are radicalizing people in the United States, they are conducting attacks around the world. So you know what needs to happen, it’s a very simple equation, and it’s going to happen when I’m president. If we do not know who you are, and we do not know why you are coming when I am president, you are not getting into the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Senator Cruz, where do you stand? Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: You know I understand why Donald made the comments he did and I understand why Americans are feeling frustrated and scared and angry when we have a president who refuses to acknowledge the threat we face and even worse, who acts as an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism.

I think what we need is a commander in chief who is focused like a laser on keeping this country safe and on defeating radical Islamic terrorism. What should we do? First, we should pass the Expatriate Terrorist Act, legislation I’ve introduced that says if an American goes and joins ISIS and wages jihad against America, that you forfeit your citizenship and you can not come in on a passport.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: And secondly, we should pass the legislation that I’ve introduced…

(BELL RINGS)

… that suspends all refugees from nations that ISIS or Al Qaida controls significant territory. Just last week, we see saw two Iraqi refugees vetted using the same process the president says will work, that were arrested for being alleged ISIS terrorists.

If I’m elected president, we will not let in refugees from countries controlled by ISIS or Al Qaida. When it comes to ISIS, we will not weaken them, we will not degrade them, we will utterly and completely destroy ISIS

(APPLAUSE).

BARTIROMO: Dr. Carson, where do you stand? Do you agree with Mr. Trump?

CARSON: Well, first of all, recognize it is a substantial problem. But like all of our problems, there isn’t a single one that can’t be solved with common sense if you remove the ego and the politics. And clearly, what we need to do is get a group of experts together, including people from other countries, some of our friends from Israel, who have had experience screening these people and come up with new guidelines for immigration, and for visas, for people who are coming into this country.

That is the thing that obviously makes sense, we can do that. And as far as the Syrians are concerned, Al-Hasakah province, perfect place. They have infrastructure. All we need to do is protect them, they will be in their own country.

And that is what they told me when I was in Jordan in November. Let’s listen to them and let’s not listen to our politicians.

BARTIROMO: So, to be clear, the both of you do not agree with Mr. Trump?

BUSH: So, are we going to ban Muslims from India, from Indonesia, from countries that are strong allies — that we need to build better relationships with? Of course not. What we need to do is destroy ISIS.

I laid out a plan at the Citadel to do just that and it starts with creating a “No Fly Zone” and “Safe Zones” to make sure refugees are there. We need to lead a force, a Sunni led force inside of Syria. We need to embed with — with the Iraqi military. We need to arm the Kurds the directly. We need to re-establish the relationships with the Sunnis.

We need the lawyers(ph) off the back of the war fighters. That’s how you solve the problem. You don’t solve it by big talk where you’re banning all Muslims and making it harder for us to build the kind of coalition for us to be successful.

BARTIROMO: Thank you governor.

CAVUTO: Mr. Trump, sometimes maybe in the heat of the campaign, you say things and you have to dial them back. Last week, the New York Times editorial board quoted as saying that you would oppose, “up to 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods.”

TRUMP: That’s wrong. They were wrong. It’s the New York Times, they are always wrong.

CAVUTO: Well…

TRUMP: They were wrong.

CAVUTO: You never said because they provided that…

TRUMP: No, I said, ” I would use — ” they were asking me what to do about North Korea. China, they don’t like to tell us but they have total control — just about, of North Korea. They can solve the problem of North Korea if they wanted to but they taunt us.

They say, ” well, we don’t really have control.” Without China, North Korea doesn’t even eat. China is ripping us on trade. They’re devaluing their currency and they’re killing our companies. Thousands of thousands — you look at the number of companies and the number in terms of manufacturing of plans that we’ve lost — 50,000 because of China.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: So they’ve never said to put a tariff on their…

TRUMP: We’ve lost anywhere between four and seven million jobs because of China. What I said then was, “we have very unfair trade with China. We’re going to have a trade deficit of 505 billion dollars this year with China.” A lot of that is because they devalue their currency.

What I said to the New York Times, is that, “we have great power, economic power over China and if we wanted to use that and the amount — where the 45 percent comes in, that would be the amount they saw their devaluations that we should get.” That we should get.

What I’m saying is this, I’m saying that we do it but if they don’t start treating us fairly and stop devaluing and let their currency rise so that our companies can compete and we don’t lose all of these millions of jobs that we’re losing, I would certainly start taxing goods that come in from China. Who the hell has to lose 505 billion dollars a year?

CAVUTO: I’m sorry, you lost me.

TRUMP: It’s not that complicated actually.

CAVUTO: Then I apologize. Then I want to understand, if you don’t want a 45 percent tariff, say that wasn’t the figure, would you be open — are you open to slapping a higher tariff on Chinese goods of any sort to go back at them?

TRUMP: OK, just so you understand — I know so much about trading about with China. Carl Icahn today as you know endorsed. Many businessmen want to endorse me.

CAVUTO: I know…

TRUMP: Carl said, “no, no — ” but he’s somebody — these are the kind of people that we should use to negotiate and not the China people that we have who are political hacks who don’t know what they’re doing and we have problems like this. If these are the kinds of people — we should use our best and our finest.

Now, on that tariff — here’s what I’m saying, China — they send their goods and we don’t tax it — they do whatever they want to do. They do whatever what they do, OK. When we do business with China, they tax us. You don’t know it, they tax us.

I have many friends that deal with China. They can’t — when they order the product and when they finally get the product it is taxed. If you looking at what happened with Boeing and if you look at what happened with so many companies that deal — so we don’t have an equal playing field. I’m saying, absolutely, we don’t have to continue to lose 505 billion dollars as a trade deficit for the privilege of dealing with China.

I’m a free trader. I believe in it but we have to be smart and we have to use smart people to negotiate. I have the largest bank in the world as a tenant of mine. I sell tens’ of millions of (inaudible).

I love China. I love the Chinese people but they laugh themselves, they can’t believe how stupid the American leadership is.

CAVUTO: So you’re open to a tariff?

TRUMP: I’m totally open to a tariff. If they don’t treat us fairly, hey, their whole trade is tariffed. You can’t deal in China without tariffs. They do it to us, we don’t it. It’s not fair trade.

KASICH: Neil, Neil — can I say one thing about this. I’m a free trader. I support NAFTA. I believe in the PTT because it’s important those countries in Asia are interfacing against China. And we do need China — Donald’s right about North Korea.

I mean the fact is, is that they need to put the pressure on and frankly we need to intercepts ships coming out of North Korea so they don’t proliferate all these dangerous materials. But what he’s touching — talking about, I think has got merit. And I’ll allow putting that tariff or whatever he’s saying here…

TRUMP: I’m happy to have him tonight…

(LAUGHTER)

KASICH: For too long — no, for too long, what happens is somebody dumps their product in our country and take our people’s jobs, and then we go to an international court and it takes them like a year or two to figure out whether they were cheating us. And guess what? The worker’s out of a job.

So when they — be found against that country that’s selling products in here lower than the cost of what it takes to produce them, then what do we tell the worker? Oh, well, you know, it just didn’t work out for you.

I think we should be for free trade but I think fair trade. And when countries violate trade agreements or dump product in this country, we need — we need to stand up against those countries that do that without making them into an enemy.

And I want to just suggest to you. How do I know this? Because so many people in my family worked in steel mills, and they didn’t work with a white collar, they worked in a blue collar. And the fact is those jobs are critical, they’re hard working members of the middle class and they need to be paid attention to because they’re Americans and they carry the load. So let’s demand open trade but fair trade in this country. That’s what I think we need to do.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: All right.

RUBIO: But on this point, if I may add something on this point. We are all frustrated with what China is doing. I think we need to be very careful with tariffs, and here’s why.

China doesn’t pay the tariff, the buyer pays the tariff. If you send a tie or a shirt made in China into the United States and an American goes to buy it at the store and there’s a tariff on it, it gets passed on in the price to price to the consumer.

So I think the better approach, the best thing we can do to protect ourselves against China economically is to make our economy stronger, which means reversing course from all the damage Barack Obama is doing to this economy.

It begins with tax reform. Let’s not have the most expensive business tax rate in the world. Let’s allow companies to immediately expense.

(APPLAUSE)

It continues with regulatory reform. Regulations in this country are out of control, especially the Employment Prevention Agency, the EPA, and all of the rules they continue to impose on our economy and hurting us.

How about Obamacare, a certified job killer? It needs to be repealed and replaced. And we need to bring our debt under control, make our economy stronger. That is the way to deal with China at the end of the day.

TRUMP: Neil, the problem…

BARTIROMO: We’re getting…

TRUMP: … with what Marco is saying is that it takes too long, they’re sucking us dry and it takes too long. It would just — you absolutely have to get involved with China, they are taking so much of what we have in terms of jobs in terms of money. We just can’t do it any longer.

CAVUTO: He is right. If you put a tariff on a good, it’s Americans who pay.

BUSH: Absolutely.

TRUMP: You looking at me?

BUSH: Yeah.

BARTIROMO: Prices go higher for…

TRUMP: Can I tell you what? It will never happen because they’ll let their currency go up. They’re never going to let it happen.

Japan, the same thing. They are devaluing — it’s so impossible for — you look at Caterpillar Tractor and what’s happening with Caterpillar and Kamatsu (ph). Kamatsu (ph) is a tractor company in Japan. Friends of mine are ordering Kamatsu (ph) tractors now because they’ve de-valued the yen to such an extent that you can’t buy a Caterpillar tractor. And we’re letting them get away with it and we can’t let them get away with it.

And that’s why we have to use Carl (ph) and we have to use our great businesspeople and not political hacks to negotiate with these guys.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Here’s — apart from the — apart from the higher prices on consumers and people are living paycheck to paycheck, apart from that, there will be retaliation.

BARTIROMO: Yeah.

BUSH: So they soybean sales from Iowa, entire soybean production goes — the equivalent of it goes to China. Or how about Boeing right here within a mile? Do you think that the Chinese, if they had a 45 percent tariff imposed on all their imports wouldn’t retaliate and start buying Airbus? Of course, they would. This would be devastating for the economy. We need someone with a steady hand being president of the United States.

BARTIROMO: Real quick, Senator — go ahead, Senator Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

And then we have to get to tax reform.

TRUMP: And we don’t need a weak person being president of the United State, OK? Because that’s what we’d get if it were Jeb — I tell you what, we don’t need that.

AUDIENCE: Boo.

TRUMP: We don’t need that. That’s essentially what we have now, and we don’t need that. And that’s why we’re in the trouble that we’re in now. And by the way, Jeb you mentioned Boeing, take a look. They order planes, they make Boeing build their plant in China. They don’t want them made here. They want those planes made in China.

BUSH: They’re a mile away from here.

TRUMP: That’s not the way the game is supposed to be played.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Governor Bush. Thank you, Mr. Trump. Very briefly.

BUSH: My name was mentioned. My name was mentioned here. The simple fact is that the plane that’s being build here is being sold to China. You can — if you — you flew in with your 767, didn’t you? Right there, right next to the plant.

TRUMP: No, the new planes. I’m not talking about now, I’m talking about in the future they’re building massive plants in China because China does not want Boeing building their planes here, they want them built in China, because China happens to be smart the way they do it, not the way we do it.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Mr. Trump.

BUSH: When you head back to airport tonight, go check and see what the…

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Mr. Trmup. Thank you, Governor.

TRUMP: I’ll check for you.

BUSH: Check it out.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO: Senator briefly.

CRUZ: Thanks for coming back to me, Maria. Both Donald and Jeb have good points, and there is a middle ground. Donald is right that China is running over President Obama like he is a child, President Obama is not protecting American workers and we are getting hammered.

CRUZ: You know, I sat down with the senior leadership of John Deere. They discussed how — how hard it is to sell tractors in China, because all the regulatory barriers. They’re protectionist.

But Jeb is also right that, if we just impose a tariff, they’ll put reciprocal tariffs, which will hurt Iowa farmers and South Carolina producers and 20 percent of the American jobs that depend on exports.

So the way you do it is you pass a tax plan like the tax plan I’ve introduced: a simple flat tax, 10 percent for individuals, and a 16 percent business flat tax, you abolish the IRS…

(APPLAUSE)

… and here’s the critical point, Maria — the business flat tax enables us to abolish the corporate income tax, the death tax, the Obamacare taxes, the payroll taxes, and they’re border-adjustable, so every export pays no taxes whatsoever.

It’s tax-free — a huge advantage for our farmers and ranchers and manufacturers — and every import pays the 16 percent business flat tax. It’s like a tariff, but here’s the difference: if we impose a tariff, China responds.

The business flat tax, they already impose their taxes on us, so there’s no reciprocal…

(BELL RINGS)

… tariffs that come against us. It puts us on a level, even playing field, which brings jobs here at home…

(UNKNOWN): Maria…

CRUZ: … and as president, I’m going to fight for the working men and women.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO: We’ve got to get to tax reform, gentlemen. We’ve got to get to tax reform, and we’ve got to get to the…

(UNKNOWN): Yeah, but I want to talk about taxes.

BARTIROMO: … we’ve got to get to the national debt as well. Coming up next, the growing national debt, the war on crime, tax reform. More from North Charleston, South Carolina, when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back to the Republican presidential <debate> here in North Charleston. Right back to the questions.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Christie, we have spoken much about cutting spending, given the $19 trillion debt. But according to one report, America needs $3.6 trillion in infrastructure spending by 2020.

Here in South Carolina, 11 percent of bridges are considered structurally deficient, costing drivers a billion dollars a year in auto repairs. What is your plan to fix the ailing roads and bridges without breaking the bank?

CHRISTIE: Well, I’m glad you asked that, Maria. Here’s — here’s our plan. We’ve all been talking about tax reforms tonight, and paying for infrastructure is caught right up in tax reform.

If you reform the corporate tax system in this country, which, as was mentioned before, is the highest rate in the world — and we double tax, as you know.

And what that’s led to over $2 trillion of American companies’ monies that are being kept offshore, because they don’t want to pay the second tax. And who can blame them? They pay tax once overseas. They don’t want to pay 35 percent tax on the way back.

So beside reforming that tax code, bringing it down to 25 percent and eliminating those special-interest loopholes that the lobbyists and the lawyers and the accountants have given — bring that rate down to 25 percent, but also, a one-time repatriation of that money.

Bring the money — the $2 trillion — back to the United States. We’ll tax it, that one time, at 8.75 percent, because 35 percent of zero is zero, but 8.75 percent of $2 trillion is a lot of money. And I would then dedicate that money to rebuilding infrastructure here in this country.

It would not necessitate us raising any taxes. It would bring the money back into the United States to help build jobs by American companies and get our economy moving again, and growing as a higher rate, and it would rebuild those roads and bridges and tunnels that you were talking about. And — and — and the last piece of this, Maria, is this. You know, the fact is that this president has penalized corporations in America. He’s penalized — and doesn’t understand. In fact, what that hurts is hurt hardworking taxpayers.

You’ve seen middle-class wages go backwards $3,700 during the Obama administration. That’s wrong for hardworking taxpayers in this country. We’d rebuild infrastructure that would also create jobs in this country, and we’d work with the states to do it the right way, to do it more efficiently and more effectively.

And remember this — I’m credible on this for this reason: Americans for Tax Reform says that I’ve vetoed more tax increases than any governor in American history. We don’t need to raise taxes to get this done.

We need to make the government run smarter and better, and reform this corporate tax system, bring that money back to the United States to build jobs and rebuild our infrastructure, and we need to use it also to protect our grid from terrorists.

All of those things are important, and all those things would happen in a Christie administration.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir. Dr. Carson…

(APPLAUSE)

… it is true U.S. companies have $2 trillion in cash sitting overseas right now. That could be used for investment and jobs in America.

Also, several companies right now are pursuing mergers to move their corporate headquarters abroad, and take advantage of much lower taxes. What will you do to stop the flow of companies building cash away from America, and those leaving America altogether?

CARSON: Well, I would suggest a fair tax system, and that’s what we have proposed. A flat tax for everybody — no exemptions, no deductions, no shelters, because some people have a better capability of taking advantage of those than others.

You know, and then the other thing we have to do is stop spending so much money. You know, I — my — my mother taught me this. You know, she only had a third-grade education, but — you know, she knew how to stretch a dollar.

I mean, she would drive a car until it wouldn’t make a sound, and then gather up all her coins and buy a new car. In fact, if my mother were secretary of treasury, we would not be in a deficit situation. But…

(LAUGHTER)

… you know, the — the — the fact of the matter is — you know, if we fix the taxation system, make it absolutely fair, and get rid of the incredible regulations — because every regulation is a tax, it’s a — on goods and services. And it’s the most regressive tax there is.

You know, when you go into the store and buy a box of laundry detergent, and the price has up — you know, 50 cents because of regulations, a poor person notices that. A rich person does not. Middle class may notice it when they get to the cash register.

And everything is costing more money, and we are killing our — our — our people like this. And Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will say it’s those evil rich people.

It’s not the evil rich people. It’s the evil government that is — that is putting all these regulations on us so that we can’t survive.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

Senator Rubio…

TRUMP: Maria — Maria, what you were talking about just now is called corporate inversion. It’s one of the biggest problems our country has. Right now, corporations, by the thousands, are thinking of leaving our country with the jobs — leave them behind.

TRUMP: They’re leaving because of taxes, but they are also leaving because they can’t get their money back and everybody agrees, Democrats and Republicans, that is should come back in. But they can’t get along. They can’t even make a deal.

Here is the case, they both agree, they can’t make a deal. We have to do something. Corporate inversion is one of the biggest problems we have. So many companies are going to leave our country.

BARTIROMO: Which is why we raised it.

Senator Rubio?

Thank you, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: One of the biggest fiscal challenges is our entitlement programs, particularly Social Security and Medicare. What policies will you put forward to make sure these programs are more financially secure?

RUBIO: Well, first let me address the tax issue because it’s related to the entitlement issue and I want to thank you for holding a substantive debates where we can have debates about these key issues on taxes.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: Here is the one thing I’m not going to do. I’m not going to have something that Ted described in his tax plan. It’s called the value added tax. And it’s a tax you find in many companies in Europe.

Where basically, businesses now will have to pay a tax, both on the money they make, but they also have to pay taxes on the money that they pay their employees.

And that’s why they have it in Europe, because it is a way to blindfolded the people, that’s what Ronald Reagan said. Ronald Regan opposed the value tax because he said it was a way to blindfold the people, so the true cost of government was not there there for them.

Now, you can support one now that’s very low. But what is to prevent a future liberal president or a liberal Congress from coming back and not just raising the income tax, but also raising that VAT tax, and that vat tax is really bad for seniors. Because seniors, if they are retired, are no longer earning an income from a job. And therefore, they don’t get the income tax break, but their prices are going to be higher, because the vat tax is embedded in both the prices that business that are charging and in the wages they pay their employees.

When I am president of the United States, I’m going to side with Ronald Regan on this and not Nancy Pelosi and we are not having a vat tax.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you senator.

CRUZ: Maria, I assume that I can respond to that.

BARTIROMO: Senator Cruz, yes. You were meant to. Yes, of course.

CRUZ: Well, Marco has been floating this attack for a few weeks now, but the problem is, the business flat tax in my proposal is not a vat. A vat is imposed as a sales tax when you buy a good.

This is a business flat tax. It is imposed on business and a critical piece that Marco seems to be missing is that this 16 percent business flat tax enables us to eliminate the corporate income tax. It goes away. It enables us to eliminate the death tax.

If you’re a farmer, if you’re a rancher, if you are small business owner, the death tax is gone. We eliminate the payroll tax, we eliminate the Obamacare taxes. And listen, there is a real difference between Marco’s tax plan and mine.

Mine gives every American a simple, flat tax of 10 percent. Marco’s top tax rate is 35 percent. My tax plan enables you to fill out your taxes on a postcard so we can abolish the IRS. Marco leaves the IRS code in with all of the complexity. We need to break the Washington cartel, and the only way to do it is to end all the subsidies and all…

(BELL RINGS)

… the mandates and have a simple flat tax. The final observation, invoked Ronald Reagan. I would note that Art Laffer, Ronald Reagan’s chief economic adviser, has written publicly, that my simple flat tax is the best tax plan of any of the individuals on this stage cause it produces economic growth, it raises wages and it helps everyone from the very poorest to the very richest.

BARTIROMO: Thank you senator.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: But that’s not an accurate description of the plan. Because, first of all, you may rename the IRS but you are not going to abolishes the IRS, because there has to be some agency that’s going to collect your vat tax. Someone’s going to be collecting this tax.

In fact, Ronald Reagan’s treasury, when Ronald Reagan’s treasury looked at the vat tax, you know what they found? That they were going to have to hire 20,000 new IRS agencies to collect it.

The second point, it does not eliminate the corporate tax or the payroll tax. Businesses will now have to pay 16 percent on the money they make. They will also have to pay 16 percent on the money they pay their employees.

So there are people watching tonight in business. If you are now hit on a 60 percent tax on both your income and on the wages you pay your employees, where are you going to get that money from? You’re going to get it by paying your employees less and charging your customers more, that is a tax, the difference is, you don’t see it on the bill.

And that’s why Ronald Reagan said that it was a blindfold. You blindfold the American people so that they cannot see the true cost of government. Now 16 percent is what the rate Ted wants it at. But what happens if, God forbid, the next Barack Obama takes over, and the next Nancy Pelosi, and the next Harry Reid…

(BELL RINGS)

and they decide, we’re going to raise it to 30 percent, plus we’re going to raise the income tax to 30 percent. Now, you’ve got Europe.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO: Thank you senator. I have to get to a question for Mr. Trump.

CRUZ: Maria…

BARTIROMO: Yes.

CRUZ: Maria, I’d just like to say…

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: Maria, I’d like to interrupt this <debate> on the floor of the Senate to actually answer the question you asked, which was on entitlements. Do you remember that, everybody? This was a question on entitlements.

And the reason — and the reason…

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: … no, you already had your chance, Marco, and you blew it. Here’s the thing.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: The fact is, the reason why…

RUBIO: If you’ll answer the (inaudible) core question.

CHRISTIE: … the fact is — the fact is the reason why that no one wants to answer entitlements up here is because it’s hard. It’s a hard problem. And I’m the only one up on this stage who back in April put forward a detailed entitlement reform plan that will save over $1 trillion, save Social Security, save Medicare, and avoid this — avoid what Hillary Rodham Clinton will do to you.

Because what she will do is come in and she will raise Social Security taxes. Bernie Sanders has already said it. And she is just one or two more poll drops down from even moving further left than she’s moved already to get to the left of Bernie on this.

We have seniors out there who are scared to death because this Congress — this one that we have right now, just stole $150 billion from the Social Security retirement fund to give it to the Social Security disability fund. A Republican Congress did that.

And the fact is it was wrong. And they consorted with Barack Obama to steal from Social Security. We need to reform Social Security. Mine is the only plan that saves over $1 trillion and that’s why I’m answering your question.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Governor.

(APPLAUSE) CARSON: Can I just add one very quick thing? And I just want to say, you know, last week we released our tax plan. And multiple reputable journals, including The Wall Street Journal, said ours is the best. Just want to get that out there, just saying.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Dr. Carson.

Coming up, how would the candidates protect America, and another terror attack, if we were to see it. But first, you can join us live on stage during the commercial break right from home. Go to facebook.com/foxbusiness. We’ll be streaming live and answering your questions during this break next.

More from South Carolina coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Mr. Trump, your net worth is in the multi-billions of dollars and have an ongoing thriving hotel and real estate business. Are you planning on putting your assets in a blind trust should you become president? With such vast wealth, how difficult will it be for you to disentangle yourself from your business and your money and prioritize America’s interest first?

TRUMP: Well, it’s an interesting question because I’m very proud of my company. As you too know, I know I built a very great company. But if I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company. It’s peanuts.

I want to use that same up here, whatever it may be to make America rich again and to make America great again. I have Ivanka, and Eric and Don sitting there. Run the company kids, have a good time. I’m going to do it for America.

So I would — I would be willing to do that.

BARTIROMO: So you’ll put your assets in a blind trust?

TRUMP: I would put it in a blind trust. Well, I don’t know if it’s a blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric run it. If that’s a blind trust, I don’t know. But I would probably have my children run it with my executives and I wouldn’t ever be involved because I wouldn’t care about anything but our country, anything.

BARTIROMO: Thank you sir.

TRUMP: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Governor Christie, going back to your U.S. Attorney days, you had been praised by both parties as certainly a tough law and order guy. So I wonder what you make of recent statistics that showed violent crimes that have been spiking sometimes by double digit ratings in 30 cities across the country. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said, “most local law enforcement officials feel abandoned by Washington.” Former NYC Police Chief Ray Kelly, says that, “police are being less proactive because they’re being overly scrutinized and second guessed and they’re afraid of being sued or thrown in jail.”

What would you do as president to address this?

CHRISTIE: Well, first off, let’s face it, the FBI director James Comey was a friend of mine who I worked with as U.S. Attorney of New Jersey. He was the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. He said, “there’s a chill wind blowing through law enforcement in this country.” Here’s why, the president of the United States and both his attorney’s general, they give the benefit of the doubt to the criminal, not to the police officers.

That’s the truth of the matter and you see it every time with this president. Every time he’s got a chance, going all the way back to — remember that Great Beer Summit he had after he messed up that time. This is a guy who just believes that law enforcement are the bad guys.

Now, I for seven years was the U.S. Attorney of New Jersey. I worked hard with not only federal agents but with police officers and here’s the problem, sanctuary cities is part of the problem in this country. That’s where crime is happening in these cities where they don’t enforce the immigration laws. And this president turns his back — this president doesn’t enforce the marijuana laws in this country because he doesn’t agree with them.

And he allows states to go ahead and do whatever they want on a substance that’s illegal. This president allows lawlessness throughout this country. Here’s what I would do Neil, I would appoint an Attorney General and I would have one very brief conversation with that Attorney General. I’d say, “General, enforce the law against everyone justly, fairly, and aggressively. Make our streets safe again. Make our police officers proud of what they do but more important than that, let them know how proud we are of them.”

We do that, this country would be safe and secure again not only from criminals but from the terrorist who threaten us as well. I’m the only person on this stage who’s done that and we will get it done as President of the United States.

CAVUTO: Thank you governor.

Governor Kasich, as someone has to deal with controversial police shootings in your own state, what do you make of Chicago’s move recently to sort of retrain police? Maybe make them not so quick to use their guns?

KASICH: Well, I created a task force well over a year ago and the purpose was to bring law enforcement, community people, clergy and the person that I named as one of the co-chair was a lady by the name of Nina Turner, a former State Senator, a liberal Democrat. She actually ran against one of my friends and our head of public safety.

KASICH: And they say down as a group trying to make sure that we can begin to heal some of these problems that we see between community and police.

KASICH: And they came back with 23 recommendations. One of them is a statewide use of deadly force. And it is now being put into place everyplace across the state of Ohio. Secondly, a policy on recruiting and hiring, and then more resources for — for training.

But let me also tell you, one of the issues has got to be the integration of both community and police. Community has to understand that that police officer wants to get home at night, and not — not to lose their life. Their family is waiting for them.

At the same time, law enforcement understands there are people in the community who not only think that the system doesn’t work for them, but works against them.

See, in Ohio, we’ve had some controversial decisions. But the leaders have come forward to realize that protest is fine, but violence is wrong. And it has been a remarkable situation in our state. And as president of the United States, it’s all about communication, folks. It’s all about getting people to listen to one another’s problems.

And when you do that, you will be amazed at how much progress you can make, and how much healing we can have. Because, folks, at the end of the day, the country needs healed. I’ve heard a lot of hot rhetoric here tonight, but I’ve got to tell you, as somebody that actually passed a budget; that paid down a half-a-trillion dollars of our national debt, you can’t do it alone. You’ve got to bring people together. You’ve got to give people hope.

And together, we can solve these problems that hurt us and heal America. And that is what’s so critical for our neighborhoods, our families, our children, and our grandchildren.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Thank you, Governor.

BARTIROMO: Senator Rubio?

(APPLAUSE)

Under current law, the U.S. is on track to issue more new permanent immigrants on green cards over the next five years than the entire population of South Carolina. The CBO says your 2013 immigration bill would have increased green cardholders by another 10 million over 10 years.

Why are you so interested in opening up borders to foreigners when American workers have a hard enough time finding work?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, this is an issue that’s been debated now for 30 years. And for 30 years, the issue of immigration has been about someone who’s in this country, maybe they’re here illegally, but they’re looking for a job. This issue is not about that anymore.

First and foremost, this issue has to be now more than anything else about keeping America safe. And here’s why. There is a radical jihadist group that is manipulating our immigration system. And not just green cards. They’re looking — they’re recruiting people that enter this country as doctors and engineers and even fiances. They understand the vulnerabilities we have on the southern border.

They’re looking — they’re looking to manipulate our — the visa waiver countries to get people into the United States. So our number one priority must now become ensuring that ISIS cannot get killers into the United States. So whether it’s green cards or any other form of entry into America, when I’m president if we do not know who you are or why you are coming, you are not going to get into the United States of America.

BARTIROMO: So your thinking has changed?

RUBIO: The issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, 36 months ago, you did not have a group of radical crazies named ISIS who were burning people in cages and recruiting people to enter our country legally. They have a sophisticated understanding of our legal immigration system and we now have an obligation to ensure that they are not able to use that system against us.

The entire system of legal immigration must now be reexamined for security first and foremost, with an eye on ISIS. Because they’re recruiting people to enter this country as engineers, posing as doctors, posing as refugees. We know this for a fact. They’ve contacted the trafficking networks in the Western Hemisphere to get people in through the southern border. And they got a killer in San Bernardino in posing as a fiance.

This issue now has to be about stopping ISIS entering the United States, and when I’m president we will.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: But Maria, radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago; 24 months ago, we had Al Qaida. We had Boko Haram. We had Hamas. We had Hezbollah. We had Iran putting operatives in South America and Central America. It’s the reason why I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and led the fight to stop the Gang of Eight amnesty bill, because it was clear then, like it’s clear now, that border security is national security.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: It is also the case that that Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill, one of the things it did is it expanded Barack Obama’s power to let in Syrian refugees. It enabled him — the president to certify them en masse without mandating meaningful background checks.

I think that’s a mistake. That’s why I’ve been leading the fight to stop it. And I would note the Senate just a few weeks ago voted to suspend refugees from Middle Eastern countries. I voted yes to suspend that. Marco voted on the other side. So you don’t get to say we need to secure the borders, and at the same time try to give Barack Obama more authority to allow Middle Eastern refugees coming in, when the head of the FBI tells us they cannot vet them to determine if they are ISIS terrorists.

RUBIO: Maria, let me clear something up here. This is an interesting point when you talk about immigration.

RUBIO: Ted Cruz, you used to say you supported doubling the number of green cards, now you say that you’re against it. You used to support a 500 percent increase in the number of guest workers, now you say that you’re against it. You used to support legalizing people that were here illegally, now you say you’re against it. You used to say that you were in favor of birthright citizenship, now you say that you are against it.

And by the way, it’s not just on immigration, you used to support TPA, now you say you’re against it. I saw you on the Senate floor flip your vote on crop insurance because they told you it would help you in Iowa, and last week, we all saw you flip your vote on ethanol in Iowa for the same reason.

(APPLAUSE)

That is not consistent conservatism, that is political calculation. When I am president, I will work consistently every single day to keep this country safe, not call Edward Snowden, as you did, a great public servant. Edward Snowden is a traitor. And if I am president and we get our hands on him, he is standing trial for treason.

(APPLAUSE)

And one more point, one more point. Every single time that there has been a Defense bill in the Senate, three people team up to vote against it. Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. In fact, the only budget you have ever voted for, Ted, in your entire time in the Senate is a budget from Rand Paul that brags about how it cuts defense.

Here’s the bottom line, and I’ll close with this. If I’m president of the United States and Congress tries to cut the military, I will veto that in a millisecond.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: There’s — look, there’s —

CAVUTO: Gentlemen, gentlemen —

CRUZ: I’m going to get a response to that, Neil. There’s no way he launches 11 attack —

CAVUTO: Very quick, very quick. CRUZ: I’m going to — he had no fewer than 11 attacks there. I appreciate your dumping your (inaudible) research folder on the <debate> stage.

RUBIO: No, it’s your record.

CRUZL But I will say —

CAVUTO: Do you think they like each other?

CRUZ: — at least half of the things Marco said are flat-out false. They’re absolutely false.

AUDIENCE: Boo.

CRUZ: So let’s start — let’s start with immigration. Let’s start with immigration and have a little bit of clarity. Marco stood with Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama on amnesty. I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King. Marco stood today, standing on this stage Marco supports legalization and citizenship for 12 million illegals. I opposed and oppose legalization and citizenship.

And by the way, the attack he keeps throwing out on the military budget, Marco knows full well I voted for his amendment to increase military spending to $697 billion. What he said, and he said it in the last <debate>, it’s simply not true. And as president, I will rebuild the military and keep this country safe.

CAVUTO: All right, gentlemen, we’ve got to stop. I know you are very passionate about that.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Bush, fears have gripped this country obviously, and you touched on it earlier since the San Bernardino attacks. Since our last <debate>, the national conversation has changed, according to Facebook data as well.

Now this first graphic shows the issues that were most talked about right before those attacks and now after: the issues of Islam, homeland security and ISIS now loom very large. The FBI says Islamic radicals are using social media to communicate and that it needs better access to communication. Now the CEO of Apple, Governor, Tim Cook said unless served with a warrant private communication is private, period. Do you agree, or would you try to convince him otherwise?

BUSH: I would try to convince him otherwise, but this last back and forth between two senators — back bench senators, you know, explains why we have the mess in Washington, D.C. We need a president that will fix our immigration laws and stick with it, not bend with the wind.

The simple fact is one of the ways, Maria, to solve the problem you described is narrow the number of people coming by family petitioning to what every other country has so that we have the best and the brightest that come to our country. We need to control the border, we need to do all of this in a comprehensive way, not just going back and forth and talking about stuff —

CAVUTO: Would you answer this question?

BUSH: Oh, I’ll talk about that, too. But you haven’t asked me a question in a while, Neil, so I thought I’d get that off my chest if you don’t mind.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Fair enough. So Tim Cook — so Tim Cook says he’s going to keep it private.

BUSH: I got that. And the problem today is there’s no confidence in Washington, D.C. There needs to be more than one meeting, there needs to complete dialogue with the large technology companies. They understand that there’s a national security risk. We ought to give them a little bit of a liability release so that they share data amongst themselves and share data with the federal government, they’re not fearful of a lawsuit.

We need to make sure that we keep the country safe. This is the first priority. The cybersecurity challenges that we face, this administration failed us completely, completely. Not just the hacking of OPM, but that is — that is just shameful. 23 million files in the hands of the Chinese? So it’s not just the government — the private sector companies, it’s also our own government that needs to raise the level of our game.

We should put the NSA in charge of the civilian side of this as well. That expertise needs to spread all across the government and there needs to be much more cooperation with our private sector.

CAVUTO: But if Tim cook is telling you no, Mr. President.

BUSH: You’ve got to keep asking. You’ve got to keep asking because this is a hugely important issue. If you can encrypt messages, ISIS can, over these platforms, and we have no ability to have a cooperative relationship —

CAVUTO: Do you ask or do you order?

BUSH: Well, if the law would change, yeah. But I think there has to be recognition that if we — if we are too punitive, then you’ll go to other — other technology companies outside the United States. And what we want to do is to control this.

We also want to dominate this from a commercial side. So there’s a lot of balanced interests. But the president leads in this regard. That’s what we need. We need leadership, someone who has a backbone and sticks with things, rather than just talks about them as though anything matters when you’re talking about amendments that don’t even actually are part of a bill that ever passed.

CAVUTO: Governor, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: When we come right back, closing statements. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

Candidates, it is time for your closing statements. You get 60 seconds each.

Governor John Kasich, we begin with you.

KASICH: You know, in our country, there are a lot of people who feel as though they just don’t have the power. You know, they feel like if they don’t have a lobbyist, if they’re not wealthy, that somehow they don’t get to play.

But all of my career, you know, having been raised in — by a mailman father whose father was a coal miner, who died of black lung and was losing his eyesight; or a mother whose mother could barely speak English. You see, all of my career, I’ve fought about giving voice to the people that I grew up with and voice to the people that elected me.

Whether it’s welfare reform and getting something back for the hard-earned taxpayers; whether it’s engaging in Pentagon reform and taking on the big contractors that were charging thousands of dollars for hammers and screw drivers and ripping us off; or whether it’s taking on the special interests in the nursing home industry in Ohio, so that mom and dad can have the ability to stay in their own home, rather than being forced into a nursing home.

KASICH: Look, that’s who I stand up for. That’s who’s in my mind

(BELL RINGS)

And if you really want to believe that you can get your voice back, I will tell you, as I have all my career, I will continue to fight for you, because you’re the ones that built this country, and will carry it into the future. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Governor Bush?

BUSH: Who can you count on to keep us safer, stronger and freer? Results count, and as governor, I pushed Florida up to the top in terms of jobs, income and small business growth.

Detailed plans count, and I believe that the plan I’ve laid out to destroy ISIS before the tragedies of San Bernardino and Paris are the right ones.

Credibility counts. There’ll be people here that will talk about what they’re going to do. I’ve done it. I ask for your support to build, together, a safer and stronger America.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Governor Chris Christie?

CHRISTIE: Maria, Neil, thank you for a great <debate> tonight.

When I think about the folks who are out there at home tonight watching, and I think about what they had to watch this week — the spectacle they had to watch on the floor of the House of Representatives, with the president of the United States, who talked a fantasy land about the way they’re feeling.

They know that this country is not respected around the world anymore. They know that this country is pushing the middle class, the hardworking taxpayers, backwards, and they saw a president who doesn’t understand their pain, and doesn’t have any plan for getting away from it.

I love this country. It’s the most exceptional country the world has ever known. We need someone to fight for the people. We need a fighter for this country again.

I’ve lived my whole life fighting — fighting for things that I believe in, fighting for justice and to protect people from crime and terrorism, fighting to stand up for folks who have not had enough and need an opportunity to get more, and to stand up and fight against the special interests.

But here’s the best way that we’re going to make America much more exceptional: it is to make sure we put someone on that stage in September who will fight Hillary Clinton and make sure she never, ever gets in the White House again.

I am the man who can bring us together to do that, and I ask for your vote.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Dr. Ben Carson?

CARSON: You know, in recent travels around this country, I’ve encountered so many Americans who are discouraged and angry as they watch our freedom, our security and the American dream slipping away under an unresponsive government that is populated by bureaucrats and special interest groups.

We’re not going to solve this problem with traditional politics. The only way we’re going to solve this problem is with we, the people. And I ask you to join me in truth and honesty and integrity. Bencarson.com — we will heal, inspire and revive America for our children.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Senator Marco Rubio?

RUBIO: You know, 200 years ago, America was founded on this powerful principle that our rights don’t come from government. Our rights come from God.

That’s why we embraced free enterprise, and it made us the most prosperous people in the history of the world. That’s why we embraced individual liberty, and we became the freest people ever, and the result was the American miracle.

But now as I travel the country, people say what I feel. This country is changing. It feels different. We feel like we’re being left behind and left out.

And the reason is simple: because in 2008, we elected as president someone who wasn’t interested in fixing America. We elected someone as president who wants to change America, who wants to make it more like the rest of the world.

And so he undermines the Constitution, and he undermines free enterprise by expanding government, and he betrays our allies and cuts deals with our enemies and guts our military. And that’s why 2016 is a turning point in our history. If we elect Hillary Clinton, the next four years will be worse than the last eight, and our children will be the first Americans ever to inherit a diminished country.

But if we elect the right person — if you elect me — we will turn this country around, we will reclaim the American dream and this nation will be stronger and greater than it has ever been.

(APPLAUSE)

CAVUTO: Senator Ted Cruz?

CRUZ: “13 Hours” — tomorrow morning, a new movie will debut about the incredible bravery of the men fighting for their lives in Benghazi and the politicians that abandoned them. I want to speak to all our fighting men and women.

I want to speak to all the moms and dads whose sons and daughters are fighting for this country, and the incredible sense of betrayal when you have a commander-in-chief who will not even speak the name of our enemy, radical Islamic terrorism, when you have a commander-in- chief who sends $150 billion to the Ayatollah Khamenei, who’s responsible for murdering hundreds of our servicemen and women.

I want to speak to all of those maddened by political correctness, where Hillary Clinton apologizes for saying all lives matter. This will end. It will end on January 2017.

And if I am elected president, to every soldier and sailor and airman and marine, and to every police officer and firefighter and first responder who risk their lives to keep us safe, I will have your back.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Mr. Donald Trump?

TRUMP: I stood yesterday with 75 construction workers. They’re tough, they’re strong, they’re great people. Half of them had tears pouring down their face. They were watching the humiliation of our young ten sailors, sitting on the floor with their knees in a begging position, their hands up.

And Iranian wise guys having guns to their heads. It was a terrible sight. A terrible sight. And the only reason we got them back is because we owed them with a stupid deal, $150 billion. If I’m president, there won’t be stupid deals anymore.

We will make America great again. We will win on everything we do. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Candidates, thank you.

CAVUTO: Gentlemen, thank you all. All of you. That wraps up our <debate. We went a little bit over here. But we wanted to make sure everyone was able to say their due. He’s upset. All right. Thank you for joining us. Much more to come in the Spin Room ahead.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 December 15, 2015: Fifth Republican Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Transcript: Fifth CNN Republican Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada

Source: Time, 12-15-15

Nine candidates for the Republican nomination faced off in Las Vegas Tuesday night for a primetime debate on CNN, moderated by Wolf Blitzer, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, and Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

Here’s a complete transcript of the event, courtesy of CNN.

BLITZER: Welcome to the CNN-Facebook Republican presidential debate here at the Venetian Las Vegas.

We have a very enthusiastic audience. Everyone is here. They’re looking forward to a serious and spirited discussion about the security of this nation.

I’m Wolf Blitzer, your moderator tonight. This debate is airing on CNN networks here in the United States and around the world, and on the Salem Radio Network. The nine leading candidates, they are here. Let’s welcome them right now.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

(APPLAUSE)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

Businessman and real estate developer Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE)

Retired neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

(APPLAUSE)

And Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome these Republican candidates for president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

This is the final Republican debate before the election year begins, and we’re taking a moment for the photographs of the candidates together on the stage. Now, everyone, please rise for the national anthem sung by Ayla Brown.

(NATIONAL ANTHEM)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: I know everyone is eager to get started. So, candidates, please take your places while I explain the ground rules for tonight.

As moderator, I’ll guide the discussion, and I’ll be joined in the questioning by Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt and CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash. We also asked Republicans and independents nationwide to share their questions for the candidates. We teamed up with Facebook to send a campaign camper across the country over the past several weeks.

Thousands of people stepped inside and recorded their questions on video. Millions more have weighed in on Facebook. Candidates, I’ll try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions. You’ll have a minute and 15 seconds to answer and 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. I’ll give you time to respond if you’re singled out for criticism.

Our viewers should know that we have timing lights that are visible to the candidates to warn them when their time is up. And as the candidates requested, a bell will sound like this. We know you are all eager to jump in and debate these important issues, so, please, wait until you’re called on.

These nine Republicans are positioned on stage based on their ranking in the recent polls, so let’s begin right now. I’d like to invite each candidate to introduce himself or herself to our audience. You’ll have one minute.

First to you, Senator Paul.

PAUL: The question is, how do we keep America safe from terrorism? Trump says we ought to close that Internet thing. The question really is, what does he mean by that? Like they do in North Korea? Like they do in China?

Rubio says we should collect all Americans’ records all of the time. The Constitution says otherwise. I think they’re both wrong. I think we defeat terrorism by showing them that we do not fear them. I think if we ban certain religions, if we censor the Internet, I think that at that point the terrorists will have won. Regime change hasn’t won. Toppling secular dictators in the Middle East has only led to chaos and the rise of radical Islam. I think if we want to defeat terrorism, I think if we truly are sincere about defeating terrorism, we need to quit arming the allies of ISIS. If we want to defeat terrorism, the boots on the ground — the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots on the ground.

As commander-in-chief, I will do whatever it takes to defend America. But in defending America, we cannot lose what America stands for. Today is the Bill of Rights’ anniversary. I hope we will remember that and cherish that in the fight on terrorism.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Kasich?

KASICH: Thank you, Wolf. Just last weekend, just last week, a friend asked one of my daughters, “Do you like politics?” And my daughter said, “No, I don’t. And the reason I don’t like it is because there’s too much fighting, too much yelling. It’s so loud, I don’t like it.” You know, I turned to my friend and I said, “You know, she’s really on to something.”

And when we think about our country and the big issues that we face in this country; creating jobs, making sure people can keep their jobs, the need for rising wages, whether our children when they graduate from college can find a job, protecting the homeland, destroying ISIS, rebuilding defense. These are all the things that we need to focus on but we’ll never get there if we’re divided. We’ll never get there if republicans and democrats just fight with one another.

Frankly, we are republicans and they’re democrats but before all of that, we’re Americans. And I believe we need to unify in so many ways to rebuild our country, to strengthen our country, to rebuild our defense, and for America to secure it’s place it world; for us, for our children, and for the next generation.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Christie?

CHRISTIE: Thank you Wolf.

America has been betrayed. We’ve been betrayed by the leadership that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton have provided to this country over the last number of years. Think about just what’s happened today. The second largest school district in America in Los Angeles closed based on a threat. Think about the effect that, that’s going to have on those children when they go back to school tomorrow wondering filled with anxiety to whether they’re really going to be safe.

Think about the mothers who will take those children tomorrow morning to the bus stop wondering whether their children will arrive back on that bus safe and sound. Think about the fathers of Los Angeles, who tomorrow will head off to work and wonder about the safety of their wives and their children.

What is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton done to this country? That the most basic responsibility of an administration is to protect the safety and security of the American people. I will tell you this, I’m a former federal prosecutor, I’ve fought terrorists and won and when we get back in the White House we will fight terrorists and win again and America will be safe.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina?

FIORINA: Like all of you I’m angry. I’m angry at what’s happening to our nation. Citizens, it’s time to take our country back.

Bombastic insults wont take it back. Political rhetoric that promises a lot and delivers little, won’t take it back. All of our problems can be solved. All of our wounds can be healed by a tested leader who is willing to fight for the character of our nation.

I have been tested. I have beaten breast cancer. I have buried a child. I started as a secretary. I fought my way to the top of corporate America while being called every B word in the book. I fought my way into this election and on to this debate stage while all the political insiders and the pundits told, “it couldn’t be done.”

I’ve been told, “no,: all my life. And all my life, I’ve refused to accept no as an answer. Citizens, it is time to take our country back from the political class, from the media, from the liberal elite. It can be done, it must be done, join me and we will get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Bush?

BUSH: Our freedom is under attack. Our economy is under water. The leading democrat is under investigation. And America is under the gun to lead the free world to protect our civilized way of life.

Serious times require strong leadership, that’s what at stake right now. Regarding national security, we need to restore the defense cuts of Barack Obama to rebuild our military, to destroy ISIS before it destroys us. Regarding economic security, we need to take power and money away from Washington D.C. and empower American families so that they can rise up again.

Look, America still is an exceptional country. We love to lead and we love to win. And we do it, when we take on any challenge and when we take – we support our friends.

As president, I will keep you and our country safe, secure, and free.

Thank you.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: Thank you Wolf.

It’s really amazing to be back in Las Vegas. I spent six years as a child growing not far from where we stand tonight. I use to sit on the porch of our home and listen to my grandfather tell stories as he smoked one of three daily cigars.

One of the things my grandfather instilled in me, was that I was really blessed because I was a citizen of the greatest country in the history of our mankind. But there have always been people in American politics that wanted America to be more like the rest of the world. And In 2008, one of them was elected president of this country and the result has been a disaster.

Today you have millions of Americans that feel left out and out of place in their own country, struggling to live paycheck to paycheck, called bigots because they hold on to traditional values.

And around the world, America’s influence has declined while this president has destroyed our military, our allies no longer trust us, and our adversaries no longer respect us. And that is why this election is so important.

That is why I’m running for president. And that’s why I’m going to ask you for your vote tonight. If you elect me president, we will have a president that believes America is the greatest country in the world and we will have a president that acts like it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Cruz.

CRUZ: Thank you, Wolf.

America is at war. Our enemy is not violent extremism. It is not some unnamed malevolent force. It is radical Islamic terrorist. We have a president who is unwilling to utter its name. The men and women on this stage, every one of us, is better prepared to keep this nation safe than is Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

We need a president who understands the first obligation of the commander-in-chief is to keep America safe. If I am elected president, we will hunt down and kill the terrorists. We will utterly destroy ISIS.

We will stop the terrorist attacks before they occur because we will not be prisoners to political correctness. Rather, we will speak the truth. Border security is national security and we will not be admitting jihadists as refugees.

We will keep America safe.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Dr. Carson.

CARSON: Thank you, Wolf.

Please join me for a moment of silence and remembrance of the San Bernardino victims. Thank you. You know, our country since its inception has been at war, every 15 or 20 years. But the war that we are fighting now against radical Islamist jihadists is one that we must win. Our very existence is dependent upon that.

You know, as a pediatric neurosurgeon, I frequently faced life and death situations, and had to come up with the right diagnosis, the right plan, and execute that plan frequently with other colleagues.

Right now, the United States of America is the patient. And the patient is in critical condition and will not be cured by political correctness and will not be cured by timidity.

And I am asking the Congress, which represents the people, to declare a war on ISIS so that we can begin the process of excising that cancer and begin the healing process, and bring peace, prosperity, and safety back to America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Thank you.

I began this journey six months ago. My total focus was on building up our military, building up our strength, building up our borders, making sure that China, Japan, Mexico, both at the border and in trade, no longer takes advantage of our country.

Certainly would never have made that horrible, disgusting, absolutely incompetent deal with Iran where they get $150 billion. They’re a terrorist nation. But I began it talking about other things.

And those things are things that I’m very good at and maybe that’s why I’m center stage. People saw it. People liked it. People respected it.

A month ago things changed. Radical Islamic terrorism came into effect even more so than it has been in the past. People like what I say. People respect what I say. And we’ve opened up a very big discussion that needed to be opened up.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Since you last debated, Americans have witnessed terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The FBI director says the country now faces the greatest terror threat since 9/11. You all have different approaches to keeping the country safe. And that will be the focus of tonight’s debate.

BLITZER: Mr. Trump, as you mentioned in your opening statement, part of your strategy is to focus in on America’s borders. To keep the country safe, you say you want to temporarily ban non-American Muslims from coming to the United States; ban refugees fleeing ISIS from coming here; deport 11 million people; and wall off America’s southern border. Is the best way to make America great again to isolate it from much of the rest of the world?

TRUMP: We are not talking about isolation. We’re talking about security. We’re not talking about religion. We’re talking about security. Our country is out of control. People are pouring across the southern border. I will build a wall. It will be a great wall. People will not come in unless they come in legally. Drugs will not pour through that wall.

As far as other people like in the migration, where they’re going, tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them? I don’t think so, Wolf. They’re not coming to this country. And if I’m president and if Obama has brought some to this country, they are leaving. They’re going. They’re gone.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Bush, you called Mr. Trump “unhinged” when he proposed banning non-American Muslims from the United States. Why is that unhinged?

BUSH: Well, first of all, we need to destroy ISIS in the caliphate. That’s — that should be our objective. The refugee issue will be solved if we destroy ISIS there, which means we need to have a no-fly zone, safe zones there for refugees and to build a military force.

We need to embed our forces — our troops inside the Iraqi military. We need to arm directly the Kurds. And all of that has to be done in concert with the Arab nations. And if we’re going to ban all Muslims, how are we going to get them to be part of a coalition to destroy ISIS?

The Kurds are the greatest fighting force and our strongest allies. They’re Muslim. Look, this is not a serious proposal. In fact, it will push the Muslim world, the Arab world away from us at a time when we need to reengage with them to be able to create a strategy to destroy ISIS.

So Donald, you know, is great at — at the one-liners, but he’s a chaos candidate. And he’d be a chaos president. He would not be the commander in chief we need to keep our country safe.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Jeb doesn’t really believe I’m unhinged. He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign. It’s been a total disaster. Nobody cares. And frankly, I’m the most solid person up here. I built a tremendous company and all I want to do is make America great again.

I don’t want our country to be taken away from us, and that’s what’s happening. The policies that we’ve suffered under other presidents have been a disaster for our country. We want to make America great again. And Jeb, in all fairness, he doesn’t believe that.

BUSH: Look, he mentioned me. I can bring — I can talk. This is — this is the problem. Banning all Muslims will make it harder for us to do exactly what we need to do, which is to destroy ISIS. We need a strategy. We need to get the lawyers off the back of the warfighters. Right now under President Obama, we’ve created this — this standard that is so high that it’s impossible to be successful in fighting ISIS.

We need to engage with the Arab world to make this happen. It is not a serious proposal to say that — to the people that you’re asking for their support that they can’t even come to the country to even engage in a dialogue with us. That’s not a serious proposal. We need a serious leader to deal with this. And I believe I’m that guy.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Rubio — I’m going to go to Senator Rubio and get his thoughts.

You have said banning Muslims is unconstitutional. But according to a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll, a majority of Republicans support Mr. Trump’s idea. Why are they wrong?

RUBIO: Well, I understand why they feel that way, because this president hasn’t kept us safe. The problem is we had an attack in San Bernardino. And we were paying attention to the most important issue we have faced in a decade since 9/11, and then all the talk was about this proposal, which isn’t going to happen.

But this is what’s important to do is we must deal frontally with this threat of radical Islamists, especially from ISIS. This is the most sophisticated terror group that has ever threatened the world or the United States of America. They are actively recruiting Americans. The attacker in San Bernardino was an American citizen, born and raised in this country. He was a health inspector; had a newborn child and left all that behind to kill 14 people.

We also understand that this is a group that’s growing in its governance of territory. It’s not just Iraq and Syria. They are now a predominant group in Libya. They are beginning to pop up in Afghanistan. They are increasingly involved now in attacks in Yemen. They have Jordan in their sights.

This group needs to be confronted with serious proposals. And this is a very significant threat we face. And the president has left us unsafe. He spoke the other night to the American people to reassure us. I wish he hadn’t spoken at all. He made things worse. Because what he basically said was we are going to keep doing what we’re doing now, and what we are doing now is not working.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Hugh Hewitt, you have a question.

HEWITT: Senator Cruz, you’ve said you disagree with Mr. Trump’s policy. I don’t want a cage match; you’ve tweeted you don’t want a cage match. But Republican primary voters deserve to know, with the kind of specificity and responsiveness you delivered in your nine Supreme Court arguments, how you disagree with Mr. Trump. Would you spell that out with us?

CRUZ: Well, listen, Hugh, everyone understands why Donald has suggested what he has. We’re looking at a president who’s engaged in this double-speak where he doesn’t call radical Islamic terrorism by its name. Indeed, he gives a speech after the San Bernardino attack where his approach is to try to go after the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens rather than to keep us safe.

And even worse, President Obama and Hillary Clinton are proposing bringing tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to this country when the head of the FBI has told Congress they cannot vet those refugees.

I understand why Donald made that proposal. I introduced legislation in the Senate that I believe is more narrowly focused at the actual threat, which is radical Islamic terrorism, and what my legislation would do is suspend all refugees for three years from countries where ISIS or Al Qaida control substantial territory.

HEWITT: So you’re saying you disagree because he’s too broad and you have a narrower focus? Why do you disagree with him?

CRUZ: Well, you know, I’m reminded of what FDR’s grandfather said. He said, “All horse-thieves are Democrats, but not all Democrats are horse-thieves.”

(LAUGHTER)

In this instance, there are millions of peaceful Muslims across the world, in countries like India, where there is not the problems we are seeing in nations that are controlled — have territory controlled by Al Qaida or ISIS, and we should direct at the problem, focus on the problem, and defeat radical Islamic terrorism. It’s not a war on a faith; it’s a war on a political and theocratic ideology that seeks to murder us.

HEWITT: Carly Fiorina… (APPLAUSE)

… this is the Christmas dinner debate. This will be the debate that Americans talk about at Christmas. And thus far, in the first 10 minutes, we haven’t heard a lot about Ronald Reagan’s city on a hill. We’ve heard a lot about keeping Americans out or keeping Americans safe and everyone else out. Is this what you want the party to stand for?

FIORINA: What I think we need to stand for are solutions. I offer myself as a leader to the people of this country because I think they’re looking for solutions, not lawyers arguing over laws or entertainers throwing out sound bites that draw media attention. We need to solve the problem.

To solve the problem, we need to do something here at home and something over there in their caliphate. We need to deny them territory.

But here at home, we need to do two fundamental things. Number one, we need to recognize that technology has moved on. The Patriot Act was signed in 2001, roughly. The iPhone was invented in 2007. The iPad was invented in 2011. Snapchat and Twitter, all the rest of it, have been around just for several years. Technology has moved on, and the terrorists have moved on with it.

Let me tell you a story. Soon after 9/11, I got a phone call from the NSA. They needed help. I gave them help. I stopped a truckload of equipment. I had it turned around. It was escorted by the NSA into headquarters. We need the private sector’s help, because government is not innovating. Technology is running ahead by leaps and bound. The private sector will help, just as I helped after 9/11. But they must be engaged, and they must be asked. I will ask them. I know them.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Christie, Americans are clearly more afraid today than at any time since 9/11. As you mentioned in your opening statement, today in Los Angeles, 650 schoolchildren didn’t go to — 650,000 schoolchildren didn’t go to school because of an e-mail threat, this two weeks after an attack killed 14 people in San Bernardino. Is this the new normal? And if so, what steps would you take as president of the United States to ensure that fear does not paralyze America?

CHRISTIE: Wolf, unfortunately, it’s the new normal under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The fact is that if you listen to Hillary Clinton the other day, what she said to the American people was, as regards to ISIS, my strategy would be just about the same as the president’s.

Just about the same as the president’s? We have people across this country who are scared to death. Because I could tell you this, as a former federal prosecutor, if a center for the developmentally disabled in San Bernardino, California, is now a target for terrorists, that means everywhere in America is a target for these terrorists.

Now, I spent seven years of my life in the immediate aftermath of September 11th doing this work, working with the Patriot Act, working with our law enforcement, working with the surveillance community to make sure that we keep America safe.

What we need to do, Wolf, is restore those tools that have been taken away by the president and others, restore those tools to the NSA and to our entire surveillance and law enforcement community.

We need a president who is going to understand what actionable intelligence looks like and act on it. And we need a president and a cabinet who understands that the first and most important priority of the president of the United States is to protect the safety and security of Americans.

As someone who has done it, I will make sure it gets done again.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Governor Kasich, one of the killers in San Bernardino was an American who was not on anyone’s watch list. How are you going to find that radicalized person and stop another such attack?

KASICH: Well, first of all, Wolf, I said last February that we needed to have people on the ground, troops on the ground in a coalition similar to what we had in the first Gulf War.

I remember when the Egyptian ambassador to the United States stood in the Rose Garden and pledged Arab commitment to removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Before we came out here tonight, I am told that the Saudis have organized 34 countries who want to join in the battle against terrorism.

First and foremost, we need to go and destroy ISIS. And we need to do this with our Arab friends and our friends in Europe.

And when I see they have a climate conference over in Paris, they should have been talking about destroying ISIS because they are involved in virtually every country, you know, across this world.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, you destroy ISIS in a coalition. You get joint intelligence with our European friends. And then here at home, there are things called the Joint Terrorism Task Force, headed by the FBI, and made up of local law enforcement, including state police.

They need the tools. And the tools involve encryption where we cannot hear what they’re even planning. And when we see red flags, a father, a mother, a neighbor who says we have got a problem here, then we have to give law enforcement the ability to listen so they can disrupt these terrorist attacks before they occur.

We can do this, but we’ve got to get moving. Pay me now or pay me a lot more later. This is the direction we need to go.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Dana Bash, you have the next question.

BASH: A crucial question is how to balance surveillance with privacy and keeping Americans safe.

Senator Cruz, you voted for a bill that President Obama signed into law just this past June that made it harder for the government to access Americans’ phone records. In light of the San Bernardino attack, was your vote a mistake?

CRUZ: Well, Dana, the premise of your question is not accurate. I’m very proud to have joined with conservatives in both the Senate and the House to reform how we target bad guys.

And what the USA Freedom Act did is it did two things. Number one, it ended the federal government’s bulk collection of phone metadata of millions of law-abiding citizens.

But number two in the second half of it that is critical. It strengthened the tools of national security and law enforcement to go after terrorists. It gave us greater tools and we are seeing those tools work right now in San Bernardino.

And in particular, what it did is the prior program only covered a relatively narrow slice of phone calls. When you had a terrorist, you could only search a relatively narrow slice of numbers, primarily land lines.

The USA Freedom Act expands that so now we have cell phones, now we have Internet phones, now we have the phones that terrorists are likely to use and the focus of law enforcement is on targeting the bad guys.

You know what the Obama administration keeps getting wrong is whenever anything bad happens they focus on law-abiding citizens instead of focusing on the bad guys.

We need to focus on radical Islamic terrorists and we need to stop them before they carry out acts of terror.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Thank you.

Senator Rubio, Senator Cruz is right there was bipartisan support for that. But you voted against it. So, is Senator Cruz wrong?

RUBIO: He is and so are those that voted for it. There were some that voted for it because they wanted to keep it alive and they were afraid the whole program would expire.

Here’s the world we live in. This is a radical jihadist group that is increasingly sophisticated in its ability, for example, to radicalize American citizens, in its inability to exploit loopholes in our legal immigration system, in its ability to capture and hold territory in the Middle East, as I outlined earlier, in multiple countries.

This is not just the most capable, it is the most sophisticated terror threat we have ever faced. We are now at a time when we need more tools, not less tools. And that took we lost, the metadata program, was a valuable tool that we no longer have at our disposal.

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, you know, I would note that Marco knows what he’s saying isn’t true. You know, Mark Levin wrote a column last week that says that the attack ads his Super PAC is running that are saying the same thing, that they are knowingly false and they are, in fact, Alinsky-like attacks like Barack Obama.

And the reason is simple. What he knows is that the old program covered 20 percent to 30 percent of phone numbers to search for terrorists. The new program covers nearly 100 percent. That gives us greater ability to stop acts of terrorism, and he knows that that’s the case.

RUBIO: Dana, may I interject here?

BASH: Senator — Senator — Senator Rubio, please respond.

RUBIO: Let me be very careful when answering this, because I don’t think national television in front of 15 million people is the place to discuss classified information. So let me just be very clear. There is nothing that we are allowed to do under this bill that we could not do before.

This bill did, however, take away a valuable tool that allowed the National Security Agency and other law — and other intelligence agencies to quickly and rapidly access phone records and match them up with other phone records to see who terrorists have been calling. Because I promise you, the next time there is attack on — an attack on this country, the first thing people are going to want to know is, why didn’t we know about it and why didn’t we stop it? And the answer better not be because we didn’t have access to records or information that would have allowed us to identify these killers before they attacked.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Paul, Senator Paul, I know this is — this has been a very big issue for you. You hear many of your colleagues are calling for increased surveillance by law enforcement. You call that hogwash. Why is that hogwash?

PAUL: You know, I think Marco gets it completely wrong. We are not any safer through the bulk collection of all Americans’ records. In fact, I think we’re less safe. We get so distracted by all of the information, we’re not spending enough time getting specific immigration — specific information on terrorists.

The other thing is, is the one thing that might have stopped San Bernardino, that might have stopped 9/11 would have been stricter controls on those who came here. And Marco has opposed at every point increased security — border security for those who come to our country.

On his Gang of Eight bill, he would have liberalized immigration, but he did not — and he steadfastly opposed any new border security requirements for refugees or students.

Last week, I introduced another bill saying we need more security, we need more scrutiny. Once again, Marco opposed this. So Marco can’t have it both ways. He thinks he wants to be this, “Oh, I’m great and strong on national defense.” But he’s the weakest of all the candidates on immigration. He is the one for an open border that is leaving us defenseless. If we want to defend the country, we have to defend against who’s coming in, and Marco is — has more of an allegiance to Chuck Schumer and to the liberals than he does to conservative policy.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: I want to thank Rand for another 30 seconds, because, number one, what he’s pointing to is a bill last week that — amendment that he voted for that only 10 people voted for. You know why? Because it’s not focused on terrorists. It would have banned anyone from coming here. Someone from Taiwan would not have been able to come here as a tourist.

Number two, this program, this metadata program is actually more strict than what a regular law enforcement agency has now. If a regular law enforcement agency wants your phone records, all they have to do is issue a subpoena. But now the intelligence agency is not able to quickly gather records and look at them to see who these terrorists are calling. And the terrorists that attacked us in San Bernardino was an American citizen, born and raised in this country. And I bet you we wish we would have had access to five years of his records so we could see who he was working with…

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Governor Christie, Governor Christie…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Governor Christie, I’ll come to you in a minute. Go ahead, Senator Paul.

PAUL: If I was mentioned in the question, can I respond? BASH: Go ahead, please.

PAUL: Marco still misunderstands the immigration issue. What I put forward was an amendment that would have temporarily halted immigration from high-risk terrorist countries, but would have started it up, but I wanted them to go through Global Entry, which is a program where we do background checks.

The thing is, is that every terrorist attack we’ve had since 9/11 has been legal immigration. Marco wants to expand that. I want more rules, more scrutiny, and to defend the country, you have to defend the border.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator, we’re going to talk about immigration in a while. But, Governor Christie, just listening to this…

RUBIO: Do I get another 30 seconds? He mentioned me.

BASH: Listening to this, you talked — you heard Senator Paul, Senator Cruz talk about how important it is to protect Americans’ privacy, even in a time of grave danger. Why — what’s wrong with that?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I want to talk to the audience at home for a second. If your eyes are glazing over like mine, this is what it’s like to be on the floor of the United States Senate. I mean, endless debates about how many angels on the head of a pin from people who’ve never had to make a consequential decision in an executive position.

The fact is, for seven years, I had to make these decisions after 9/11, make a decision about how to proceed forward with an investigation or how to pull back, whether you use certain actionable intelligence or whether not to. And yet they continue to debate about this bill and in the subcommittee and what — nobody in America cares about that.

CHRISTIE: What they care about is, are we going to have a president who actually knows what they’re doing to make these decisions? And for the seven years afterwards, New Jersey was threatened like no other region in this country and what we did was we took action within the constitution to make sure that law enforcement had all the information they needed.

We prosecuted two of the biggest terrorism cases in the world and stopped Fort Dix from being attacked by six American radicalized Muslims from a Mosque in New Jersey because we worked with the Muslim American community to get intelligence and we used the Patriot Act to get other intelligence to make sure we did those cases. This is the difference between actually been a federal prosecutor, actually doing something, and not just spending your life as one of hundred debating it.

Let’s talk about how we do this, not about which bill, which one these guys like more. The American people don’t care about that.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Dr. Carson, you’re in favor of monitoring mosques and schools where there is anti-America sentiment, what do you consider anti- America?

CARSON: First of all, let me just complain a little bit. This is the first time I’ve spoken and several people have had multiple questions so please try to pay attention to that. Now, as far as monitoring is concerned, what my point is, we need to make sure that any place – I don’t care whether it’s a mosque, a school, a supermarket, a theater, you know it doesn’t matter. If there are a lot of people getting there and engaging in radicalizing activities then we need to be suspicious of it.

We have to get rid of all this PC stuff. And people are worried about if somebody’s going to say that I’m Islamophobic or what have you. This is craziness because we are at war. That’s why I asked congress, go ahead and declare the war .

We need to be on a war footing. We need to understand that our nation is in grave danger. You know, what the Muslim Brotherhood said in the explanatory memorandum that was discovered during the Holy Land Foundation Trial was that, “they will take advantage of our PC attitude to get us. :”

We have to be better than this. We have to be smarter than they are.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, who was right in that little debate that we just heard between Senator Rubio and Senator Paul?

CARSON: I think you have to ask them about that. I don’t want to get in between them. Let them fight.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on a sec, we have a lot more to come and everybody’s going to have their full opportunity.

Governor Bush, six days after 9/11 your brother visited a mosque and said quote, “Islam is peace.” The conversation tonight is about banning Muslims and surveillance of mosques, are President Bush’s words still relevant in today’s Republican party?

BUSH: They are reverent if we want to destroy ISIS. If we want to destroy radical Islamic terrors, we can’t disassociate ourselves from peace loving Muslims. If we expect to do this on our own, we will fail but if we do it in unison with people who are also are at risk and threatened by Islamic Radical terrorism, we’ll be far more successful.

Look, the FBI has the tools necessary un-American activities in our country. It goes on, we shouldn’t even be talking about it, to be honest with you out in the public. Of course they have those capabilities and we should make sure that we give the FBI, the NSA, our intelligence communities, all the resources they need to keep us safe.

But the main thing we should be focused on is the strategy to destroy ISIS. And I laid out a plan that the Reagan Library before the tragedy of Paris, and before San Bernardino to do just that. It requires leadership, it’s not filing an amendment and call it a success.

It is developing a strategy, leading the world, funding it to make sure that we have a military that’s second to none, and doing the job and making sure that we destroy ISIS there. That’s how you keep America safe.

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina, as you pointed out you were a CEO in Silicon Valley on 9/11. Companies there, they say they won’t help the FBI now crack encrypted communication from ISIS, should they be forced to.

FIORINA: You know, listening to this conversation, let me just say, we have a lot of argument about laws but none of it solves the problem. Let’s examine what happened, why did we miss the Tsarnaev brothers, why did we miss the San Bernardino couple? It wasn’t because we had stopped collected metadata it was because, I think, as someone who comes from the technology world, we were using the wrong algorithms.

This is a place where the private sector could be helpful because the government is woefully behind the technology curve. But secondly, the bureaucratic processes that have been in place since 9/11 are woefully inadequate as well. What do we now know? That DHS vets people by going into databases of known or suspected terrorists.

FIORINA: And yet, we also know that ISIS is recruiting who are not in those databases. So of course, we’re going to miss them. And then we now learn that DHS says, “No, we can’t check their social media.”

For heaven’s sakes, every parent in America is checking social media and every employer is as well, but our government can’t do it. The bureaucratic procedures are so far behind. Our government has become incompetent, unresponsive, corrupt. And that incompetence, ineptitude, lack of accountability is now dangerous.

It is why we need a different kind of leadership in the White House that understands how to get bureaucracies competent again.

BLITZER: But my question was: Should these Silicon Valley companies be forced to cooperate with the FBI?

FIORINA: They do not need to be forced. They need to be asked to bring the best and brightest, the most recent technology to the table. I was asked as a CEO. I complied happily. And they will as well. But they have not been asked. That’s why it cost billions of dollars to build an Obama website that failed because the private sector wasn’t asked.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump, you recently suggested closing that Internet up, those were your words, as a way to stop ISIS from recruiting online. Are you referring to closing down actual portions of the Internet? Some say that would put the U.S. in line with China and North Korea.

TRUMP: Well, look, this is so easy to answer. ISIS is recruiting through the Internet. ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet, and it was our idea. What I wanted to do is I wanted to get our brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS cannot do what they’re doing.

You talk freedom of speech. You talk freedom of anything you want. I don’t want them using our Internet to take our young, impressionable youth and watching the media talking about how they’re masterminds — these are masterminds. They shouldn’t be using the word “mastermind.” These are thugs. These are terrible people in ISIS, not masterminds. And we have to change it from every standpoint. But we should be using our brilliant people, our most brilliant minds to figure a way that ISIS cannot use the Internet. And then on second, we should be able to penetrate the Internet and find out exactly where ISIS is and everything about ISIS. And we can do that if we use our good people.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let me follow up, Mr. Trump.

So, are you open to closing parts of the Internet?

TRUMP: I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet. Yes, sir, I am.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Governor Kasich, is shutting down any part of the Internet a good idea?

KASICH: No, I don’t think it is. And I want to go back to two other issues. One is the metadata. We know we have to hold this data for a longer period of time. And, you know, in a lot of ways, Chris is right. Look, what a president has to do is take a position. We don’t want to err on the side of having less. We want to err on the side of having more. That’s good for our families.

In addition to that, Wolf, there is a big problem. It’s called encryption. And the people in San Bernardino were communicating with people who the FBI had been watching. But because their phone was encrypted, because the intelligence officials could not see who they were talking to, it was lost.

We have to solve the encryption problem. It is not easy. A president of the United States, again, has to bring people together, have a position. We need to be able to penetrate these people when they are involved in these plots and these plans. And we have to give the local authorities the ability to penetrate to disrupt. That’s what we need to do. Encryption is a major problem, and Congress has got to deal with this and so does the president to keep us safe.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

The fight against radical Islamic terrorists and ISIS has been called the war of our time. So let’s talk about how each of you, as commander in chief, would fight this war and win it.

Senator Cruz, you have said you would, quote, “carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion,” testing whether, quote, “sand can glow in the dark.” Does that mean leveling the ISIS capital of Raqqa in Syria where there are hundreds of thousands of civilians?

CRUZ: What it means is using overwhelming air power to utterly and completely destroy ISIS. To put things in perspective, in the first Persian Gulf War, we launched roughly 1,100 air attacks a day. We carpet bombed them for 36 days, saturation bombing, after which our troops went in and in a day and a half mopped up what was left of the Iraqi army.

Right now, Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day. It is photo op foreign policy. We need to use overwhelming air power. We need to be arming the Kurds. We need to be fighting and killing ISIS where they are.

And let me go back to the earlier discussion a minute ago. It’s not a lack of competence that is preventing the Obama administration from stopping these attacks. It is political correctness. We didn’t monitor the Facebook posting of the female San Bernardino terrorist because the Obama DHS thought it would be inappropriate. She made a public call to jihad, and they didn’t target it.

The Tsarnaev brothers, the elder brother made a public call to jihad and the Obama administration didn’t target it. Nidal Hasan communicated with Anwar al-Awlaki, a known radical cleric, asked about waging jihad against his fellow soldiers. The problem is because of political correctness, the Obama administration, like a lot of folks here, want to search everyone’s cell phones and e-mails and not focus on the bad guys. And political correctness is killing people.

BLITZER: Thank you. To be clear, Senator Cruz, would you carpet bomb Raqqa, the ISIS capital, where there are a lot of civilians, yes or no?

CRUZ: You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed — and you have embedded special forces to direction the air power. But the object isn’t to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.

To make it — listen, ISIS is gaining strength because the perception is that they’re winning. And President Obama fuels that perception. That will change when militants across the globe see that when you join ISIS that you are giving up your life, you are signing your death warrant, and we need a president who is focused on defeating every single ISIS terrorist and protecting the homeland, which should be the first priority.

BLITZER: Thank you. Thank you, Senator.

Senator Rubio, you’ve been critical of Senator Cruz’s strategy. You say his voting record doesn’t match his rhetoric. Why?

RUBIO: Well, let me begin by saying that we have to understand who ISIS is. ISIS is a radical Sunni group. They cannot just be defeated through air strikes. Air strikes are a key component of defeating them, but they must be defeated on the ground by a ground force. And that ground force must be primarily made up of Sunni Arabs themselves, Sunni Arabs that reject them ideologically and confront them militarily.

We will have to embed additional American special operators alongside them to help them with training, to help them conduct special missions, and to help improve the air strikes. The air strikes are important, but we need to have an air force capable of it. And because of the budget cuts we are facing in this country, we are going to be left with the oldest and the smallest Air Force we have ever had. We have to reverse those cuts, in addition to the cuts to our Navy and in addition to the cuts to our Army, as well.

And beyond that, I would say we must win the information war against ISIS. Every war we have ever been involved in has had a propaganda informational aspect to it. ISIS is winning the propaganda war. They are recruiting people, including Americans, to join them, with the promise that they are joining this great apocalyptic movement that is going to defeat the West. We have to show what life is really like in ISIS territory, and we have to show them why ISIS is not invincible, by going out and conducting these attacks and publicizing them to those who they recruit.

BLITZER: Because I asked the question, Senator, because you said this. You said he, referring to Senator Cruz, voted against the Defense Authorization Act every year that it came up, and I assume that if he voted against it, he would veto it as president. That’s the bill that funds our troops.

RUBIO: That is accurate. Three times he voted against the Defense Authorization Act, which is a bill that funds the troops. It also, by the way, funds the Iron Dome and other important programs. And I have to assume that if you vote against it in the Senate, you would also veto it as president.

He has also supported, by the way, a budget that is called the containment budget. And it is a budget that would radically reduce the amount of money we spend on our military. You can’t carpet bomb ISIS if you don’t have planes and bombs to attack them with. And if we continue those cuts that we’re doing now, not to mention additional cuts, we are going to be left with the oldest and the smallest Air Force this country has ever had, and that leaves us less safe.

BLITZER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, you know, Marco has continued these attacks, and he knows they’re not true. Yes, it is true that I voted against the National Defense Authorization Act, because when I campaigned in Texas I told voters in Texas that I would oppose the federal government having the authority to detain U.S. citizens permanently with no due process. I have repeatedly supported an effort to take that out of that bill, and I honored that campaign commitment.

CRUZ: But more broadly, you know, the notion Marco is suggesting, that somehow — he also has tossed more than a few insults this direction — let’s be absolutely clear. ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism will face no more determined foe than I will be.

We will utterly destroy them by targeting the bad guys. And one of the problems with Marco’s foreign policy is he has far too often supported Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama undermining governments in the Middle East that have helped radical Islamic terrorists.

We need to focus on killing the bad guys, not getting stuck in Middle Eastern civil wars that don’t keep America safe.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio.

RUBIO: Yes, let me — three points of distinction. The first is, if you’re an American citizen and you decide to join up with ISIS, we’re not going to read you your Miranda rights. You’re going to be treated as an enemy combatant, a member of an army attacking this country.

(APPLAUSE)

Number two, we do need our defense capabilities. It is a fact that the cuts we are facing today and the cuts that Senator Cruz would have supported would leave us with an even smaller Air Force and a smaller Navy than the one we are going to be left with.

And the final point that I would make is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s strategy is to lead from behind. It sounds like what he is outlining is not to lead at all. We cannot continue to outsource foreign policy. We must lead. We are the most powerful nation in the world. We need to begin to act like it, again.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We are going to have much more on this…

PAUL: Wolf…

BLITZER: We’re going to have much more on this. But I want to move now back to Mr. Trump.

PAUL: Wolf, this legislation…

BLITZER: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. PAUL: This legislation on indefinite detention…

BLITZER: We have a lot…

PAUL: … I think deserves a little more attention.

BLITZER: We have a lot to discuss. I want to move to Mr. Trump right now. We have a question on this war against ISIS and how you would fight and win this war. Here’s the question from Facebook. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH JACOB, COLLEGE STUDENT: I’m Josh Jacob from Georgia Tech. Recently Donald Trump mentioned we must kill the families of ISIS members. However, this violates the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants in international law.

So my question is, how would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: We have to be much tougher. We have to be much stronger than we’ve been. We have people that know what is going on. You take a look at just the attack in California the other day. There were numerous people, including the mother, that knew what was going on.

They saw a pipe bomb sitting all over the floor. They saw ammunition all over the place. They knew exactly what was going on.

When you had the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia.

They knew what was going on. They went home and they wanted to watch their boyfriends on television. I would be very, very firm with families. Frankly, that will make people think because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Donald, this has got…

BLITZER: Governor Bush. Governor Bush.

BUSH: This is another example of the lack of seriousness. Look, this is — this is troubling because we’re at war. They’ve declared war on us and we need to have a serious strategy to destroy ISIS.

But the idea that that is a solution to this is just — is just crazy. It makes no sense to suggest this. Look, two months ago Donald Trump said that ISIS was not our fight. Just two months ago he said that Hillary Clinton would be a great negotiator with Iran. And he gets his foreign policy experience from the shows.

That is not a serious kind of candidate. We need someone that thinks this through. That can lead our country to safety and security.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Look, the problem is we need toughness. Honestly, I think Jeb is a very nice person. He’s a very nice person. But we need tough people. We need toughness. We need intelligence and we need tough.

Jeb said when they come across the southern border they come as an act of love.

BUSH: You said on September 30th that ISIS was not a factor.

TRUMP: Am I talking or are you talking, Jeb?

BUSH: I’m talking right now. I’m talking.

TRUMP: You can go back. You’re not talking. You interrupted me.

BUSH: September 30th you said…

TRUMP: Are you going to apologize, Jeb? No. Am I allowed to finish?

BLITZER: Just one at a time, go ahead…

TRUMP: Excuse me, am I allowed to finish?

BLITZER: Go ahead, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: So…

BUSH: A little of your own medicine there, Donald.

TRUMP: … again…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Governor Bush, please.

TRUMP: I know you’re trying to build up your energy, Jeb, but it’s not working very well.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: One at a time.

TRUMP: Look, look, look. We need a toughness. We need strength. We’re not respected, you know, as a nation anymore. We don’t have that level of respect that we need. And if we don’t get it back fast, we’re just going to go weaker, weaker and just disintegrate.

We can’t allow that to happen. We need strength. We don’t have it. When Jeb comes out and he talks about the border, and I saw it and I was witness to it, and so was everyone else, and I was standing there, “they come across as an act of love,” he’s saying the same thing right now with radical Islam.

And we can’t have that in our country. It just won’t work. We need strength.

BLITZER: Governor Bush.

BUSH: Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. That’s not going to happen.

(APPLAUSE)

And I do have the strength. Leadership, leadership is not about attacking people and disparaging people. Leadership is about creating a serious strategy to deal with the threat of our time.

BUSH: And I laid out that strategy before the attacks in Paris and before the attacks in San Bernardino. And it is the way forward. We need to increase our military spending. We need to deal with a no- fly zone in Syria, a safe zone. We need to focus on building a military that is second-to-none…

BLITZER: Thank you.

BUSH: … so that we can destroy Islamic terrorism.

TRUMP: With Jeb’s attitude, we will never be great again, that I can tell you. We will never be great again.

BLITZER: All right. Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash, Hugh, go ahead with the next question.

HEWITT: Dr. Carson…

(APPLAUSE)

… you mentioned in your opening remarks that you’re a pediatric neurologist surgeon…

CARSON: Neurosurgeon.

HEWITT: Neurosurgeon. And people admire and respect and are inspired by your life story, your kindness, your evangelical core support. We’re talking about ruthless things tonight — carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?

CARSON: Well, interestingly enough, you should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them we’re going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor. They’re not happy about it, believe me. And they don’t like me very much at that point. But later on, they love me.

Sometimes you — I sound like him.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, later on, you know, they really realize what’s going on. And by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.

HEWITT: So you are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilian? It’s like…

CARSON: You got it. You got it.

HEWITT: That is what war — can you be as ruthless as Churchill was in prosecuting the war against the Nazis?

CARSON: Ruthless is not necessarily the word I would use, but tough, resolute, understanding what the problems are, and understanding that the job of the president of the United States is to protect the people of this country and to do what is necessary in order to get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Paul, you said ISIS grew stronger because of the hawks in your party. Do you really think that Republicans have fueled the rise of ISIS?

PAUL: I think that by arming the allies of ISIS, the Islamic rebels against Assad, that we created a safe space or made that space bigger for ISIS to grow. I think those who have wanted regime change have made a mistake. When we toppled Gadhafi in Libya, I think that was a mistake. I think ISIS grew stronger, we had a failed state, and we were more at risk.

I’d like to also go back to, though, another question, which is, is Donald Trump a serious candidate? The reason I ask this is, if you’re going to close the Internet, realize, America, what that entails. That entails getting rid of the First amendment, OK? It’s no small feat.

If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize that there’s something called the Geneva Convention we’re going to have to pull out of. It would defy every norm that is America. So when you ask yourself, whoever you are, that think you’re going to support Donald Trump, think, do you believe in the Constitution? Are you going to change the Constitution?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: So, they can kill us, but we can’t kill them? That’s what you’re saying. And as far as the Internet is concerned, we’re not talking about closing the Internet. I’m talking about parts of Syria, parts of Iraq, where ISIS is, spotting it.

Now, you could close it. What I like even better than that is getting our smartest and getting our best to infiltrate their Internet, so that we know exactly where they’re going, exactly where they’re going to be. I like that better.

(APPLAUSE)

But we have to — who would be — I just can’t imagine somebody booing. These are people that want to kill us, folks, and you’re — you’re objecting to us infiltrating their conversations? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Paul, Senator Paul, I want to go back to my initial question, which is you saying that ISIS grew stronger because of hawks in your party. And do you think your own party, the people who you’re describing, are responsible for the rise of ISIS?

PAUL: I think that if you believe in regime change, you’re mistaken. In 2013, we put 600 tons of weapons — us, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar — into the war against Assad. By pushing Assad back, we did create a safe space.

We had people coming to our Foreign Relations Committee and saying, “Oh, we need to arm the allies of Al Qaida.” They are still saying this. It is a crazy notion. This is the biggest debate we should be having tonight is is regime change a good idea; has it been a good idea.

There are still people — the majority on the stage, they want to topple Assad. And then there will be chaos, and I think ISIS will then be in charge of Syria.

BASH: Senator, we’re going to talk about regime change in a bit.

But Governor Kasich, would you like to respond to Senator Paul?

KASICH: Yeah, let me — let me just suggest to everybody, and I hear — last February, I said we needed to have people on the ground in a coalition with Europe and our allies. This is not going to get done just by working with the Sunnis. And it is not going to get done if we just embed a few people.

We have to go massively, like we did in the first Gulf War where we destroyed Saddam’s ability to take Kuwait. We need to have a coalition that will stand for nothing less than the total destruction of ISIS and we have to be the leader. We can’t wait for anybody else. I served on the Armed Services Committee for 18 years and we must lead, or the job won’t get done, unfortunately, for our country.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

Senator Rubio? Let’s continue this conversation. This is a critically important issue.

FIORINA: I hope at some point you’re going to ask me my strategy.

BLITZER: We will get to — we have a lot of time, Ms. Fiorina.

I want to get to Senator Rubio right now. Let’s talk about, one of the aspects of your strategy, you say the only way to defeat ISIS is with ground forces made up primarily of Sunni-Arab forces. Those Arab nations, though, as you well know, they’ve conducted less than five percent of the airstrikes and actually none since August. What makes you think they are willing to fight on the ground if they’re not even willing to fight from the air?

RUBIO: Well, they most certainly will have to be worked on to provide more than what they are doing now. There’s no doubt about it. And there’s one — one major reason why they have not been willing to be a broader part of the coalition, and that is they have lost complete trust and confidence in this president. This president cut a deal with their moral enemy, the Shia, in Iran. And this is the reason why they no longer trust this president and are willing to work alongside them.

But they have as much invested in this as we do. In fact, more so, for it is the king of Saudi Arabia they want to behead first. It’s the king of Jordan that they want to dethrone. It’s the — they want to go into Egypt the way they’ve already gone into Libya.

And on another point that we need to talk about, Assad is one of the main reasons why ISIS even exists to begin with. Assad is a puppet of Iran. And he has been so brutal toward the Sunni within Syria that he created the space that led to the people of Syria themselves to stand up and try to overthrow him. That led to the chaos which allowed ISIS to come in and take advantage of that situation and grow more powerful.

And the fact that this president led from behind meant there were no alternative groups on the ground to be empowered, leaving ISIS with the prime operating space they needed to become the force they have now become.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Stand by.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina, the former defense secretary, Bob Gates, says the chances of getting Sunni-Arab forces on the ground to get the job done, his words, “chances very remote.” What’s your strategy?

FIORINA: Well, first I’ll just point out that talking tough is not the same as being strong. And to wage war, we need a commander in chief who has made tough calls in tough times and stood up to be held accountable over and over, not first-term senators who’ve never made an executive decision in their life.

One of the things I would immediately do, in addition to defeating them here at home, is bring back the warrior class — Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, Keane, Flynn. Every single one of these generals I know. Every one was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear.

We must have Sunni-Arabs involved in this coalition. We must commit leadership, strength, support and resolve. I’ll just add that Margaret Thatcher once said, “If you want something talked about, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

Governor Christie, what’s your strategy?

CHRISTIE: Wolf, you sit up here and you listen to this stuff, and you think that so many of these people have had so much to do in this national debate, they talk like they were bystanders. You know, we talk about our military being degraded over time, and yet we’ve had folks on this stage who’ve been a part of Congress who have participated in sequester; who participated in the degrading of this military over time.

And that’s why I think people get so frustrated with Washington, D.C. now. That’s why they’re so angry with the — the electorate is so angry with everybody who is involved in government in Washington, D.C. Because if you listen to the folks up here, you think that they weren’t even there; they had nothing to do with this.

CHRISTIE: This is a difference between being a governor and being in a legislature. See, because when something doesn’t work in New Jersey, they look at me, say: “Why didn’t it get done? Why didn’t you do it?” You have to be responsible and accountable.

And so on ISIS, let’s be clear, the president needs to be a force that is trusted in the world. On this I agree with Marco. You know, this president is not trusted.

If you’re the King of Jordan, if you’re a part of the royal family in Saudi Arabia and he’s made this deal with Iran which gives them $150 billion to wage a war and try to extend their empire across the Middle East, why would you want to do it now?

But I will tell you this, when I stand across from King Hussein of Jordan and I say to him, “You have a friend again sir, who will stand with you to fight this fight,” he’ll change his mind.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, what is your strategy?

CARSON: First of all, I’ve been talking about this for over a year. We have to destroy their caliphate because that gives them legitimacy to go ahead with the global Jihad. We have to take their energy because they are — ISIS is the richest terrorist organization there is. We have to take their oil, shut down all of the mechanisms whereby they can disperse money because they go after disaffected individuals from all over the place, and they’re able to pay them. That makes a difference.

As far as the command centers are concerned in Raqqa and to a lesser degree Mosul, cut those off. Do the same kind of thing that we did with Sinjar a few weeks ago, working with our embedded special forces with the Kurds, shut off the supply route, soften them up, then we go in with specials ops followed by our air force to take them over. Those are things that work.

But also, you know, this whole concept of boots on the ground, you know, we’ve got a phobia about boots on the ground. If our military experts say, we need boots on the ground, we should put boots on the ground and recognize that there will be boots on the ground and they’ll be over here, and they’ll be their boots if we don’t get out of there now.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Everyone stand by. We’re only just beginning. Coming up, which candidates on this stage tonight want to move foreign policy in a dramatically new direction?

We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN-Facebook Republican Presidential Debate here at the Venetian, Las Vegas.

The war against ISIS will pose many new challenges for the next commander-in-chief. The last two presidents pursued a Middle East policy that supported toppling dictators to try to promote democracy.

Senator Cruz, you have said the world would be safer today if Saddam Hussein were still in power in Iraq, Moammar Gadhafi ruled Libya, and Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt. So would it be your policy to preserve dictatorships, rather than promoting democracy in the Middle East?

CRUZ: Wolf, I believe in a America first foreign policy, that far too often President Obama and Hillary Clinton — and, unfortunately, more than a few Republicans — have gotten distracted from the central focus of keeping this country safe.

So let’s go back to the beginning of the Obama administration, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led NATO in toppling the government in Libya. They did it because they wanted to promote democracy. A number of Republicans supported them. The result of that — and we were told then that there were these moderate rebels that would take over. Well, the result is, Libya is now a terrorist war zone run by jihadists.

Move over to Egypt. Once again, the Obama administration, encouraged by Republicans, toppled Mubarak who had been a reliable ally of the United States, of Israel, and in its place, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood came in, a terrorist organization.

And we need to learn from history. These same leaders — Obama, Clinton, and far too many Republicans — want to topple Assad. Assad is a bad man. Gadhafi was a bad man. Mubarak had a terrible human rights record. But they were assisting us — at least Gadhafi and Mubarak — in fighting radical Islamic terrorists.

And if we topple Assad, the result will be ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen U.S. national security interests. And the approach, instead of being a Woodrow Wilson democracy promoter…

BLITZER: Thank you.

CRUZ: … we ought to hunt down our enemies and kill ISIS rather than creating opportunities for ISIS to take control of new countries.

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

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Rubio, you supported the removal of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. Now that country is in turmoil, as ISIS is clearly growing there. Senator Cruz says you haven’t learned your lesson. Do you have any regrets for supporting President Obama’s intervention in Libya?

RUBIO: To begin with, Moammar Gadhafi and the revolt against Gadhafi was not started by the United States. It was started by the Libyan people. And the reason why I argued we needed to get involved is because he was going to go one way or the other. And my argument then was proven true, and that is, the longer that civil war took, the more militias would be formed and the more unstable the country would be after the fact.

As far as Moammar Gadhafi is concerned, by the way, Moammar Gadhafi is the man that killed those Americans over Lockerbie, Scotland. Moammar Gadhafi is also the man that bombed that cafe in Berlin and killed those Marines. And you want to know why Moammar Gadhafi started cooperating on his nuclear program? Because we got rid of Saddam Hussein. And so he got scared that he would be next, and that’s why he started cooperating.

Look, we will have to work around the world with less than ideal governments. The government in Saudi Arabia is not a democracy, but we will have to work with them. The government in Jordan is not perfect, but we will have to work with them. But anti-American dictators like Assad, who help Hezbollah, who helped get those IEDs into Iraq, if they go, I will not shed a tear.

BLITZER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Well, it’s more than not shedding a tear. It’s actively getting involved to topple a government. And we keep hearing from President Obama and Hillary Clinton and Washington Republicans that they’re searching for these mythical moderate rebels. It’s like a purple unicorn. They never exist. These moderate rebels end up being jihadists.

And I’ll tell you whose view on Assad is the same as mine. It’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said Israel doesn’t have a dog in that fight because Assad is a puppet of Iran, a Shia radical Islamic terrorist, but at the same time, Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn’t want to see Syria governed by ISIS. And we need to focus on American interests, not on global aspirations…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Standby. Everybody standby for a moment. Governor Kasich, go ahead.

KASICH: I don’t understand this thing about Assad. He has to go. Assad is aligned with Iran and Russia. The one thing we want to prevent is we want to prevent Iran being able to extend a Shia crescent all across the Middle East. Assad has got to go.

KASICH: And there are moderates there. There are moderates in Syria who we should be supporting. I do not support a civil war. I don’t want to be policeman of the world. But we can’t back off of this. And let me tell you, at the end, the Saudis have agreed to put together a coalition inside of Syria to stabilize that country.

BLITZER: Thank you.

KASICH: He must go. It will be a blow to Iran and Russia.

BLITZER: We’re going to talk about Assad in a moment.

Mr. Trump, are Americans safer with dictators running the world in the Middle East?

TRUMP: In my opinion, we’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.

We have done a tremendous disservice, not only to Middle East, we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have wiped away, and for what? It’s not like we had victory.

It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized. A total and complete mess. I wish we had the $4 trillion or $5 trillion. I wish it were spent right here in the United States, on our schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart.

(APPLAUSE)

FIORINA: That is exactly what President Obama said. I’m amazed to hear that from a republican presidential candidate. But let’s just start with, who got it wrong? Who really got it wrong?

Hillary Clinton has gotten every foreign policy challenge wrong. Hitting the reset button with Vladimir Putin – recall that she called Bashar Al-Assad a positive reformer and then she opened an embassy and then later she said, over, and over, and over again, “Bashar Al-Assad must go.” Although she wasn’t prepared to do anything about it. Recall that Hillary Clinton was all for toppling Gadhafi then didn’t listen to her own people on the ground. And then of course, when she lied about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, she invited more terrorist attacks.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Well, there’s nothing to respond to. Well, people feel differently. I mean, the fact is Benghazi was a disaster because of Libya, everything just fell into place. It could not have been worse.

What do we have now? We have nothing. We’ve spent $3 trillion and probably much more – I have no idea what we’ve spent. Thousands and thousands of lives, we have nothing. Wounded warriors all over the place who I love, we have nothing for it.

And by the way – and Ben said incorrectly – and I’m not saying this as a knock – he’s one of finest men. You’re not going to find a finer men.

But I’ve been talking about oil for three years. I’ve been saying,, “take the oil, take the oil.” I didn’t say, “just bomb it,” I said,” take it and use it and distribute it so that the wounded warriors -” People, I’ve been saying this now for many years.

BLITZER: All right.

TRUMP: Now, all of a sudden everybody’s saying, “take the oil.” It wasn’t so fashionable to take the oil six months ago. I’ve been saying it for years.

BLITZER: Thank you.

FIORINA: We’ve mismanaged going into Iraq.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, is the Middle East…

FIORINA: We’ve mismanaged going out of Iraq.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, is the Middle East better off with dictators?

CARSON: No one is ever better off with dictators but there comes a time you know, when you’re on an airplane, they always say, “in case of an emergency oxygen masks will drop down. Put yours on first and then administer help to your neighbor.” We need oxygen right now.

And we need to start thinking about the needs of the American people before we go and solve everybody else’s problems. The fact of the matter is, is that the Middle East has been in turmoil for thousands of years. For us to think that we’re going to in there and fix that with a couple of little bombs and a few little decorations is relatively foolish.

FIORINA: We actually…

BLITZER: Governor Bush.

BUSH: I think we’re focusing a whole…

BLITZER: Hold on Governor Bush., here’s the question. You said, “getting rid of Saddam Hussein in your words was a pretty good deal.” In light of what has happened in Iraq, do you still feel that way?

BUSH: I do. I think the lesson’s learned are that we have to have to have a strategy to get and a strategy to get out. Which means, that you create a stable situation.

This president and this is what the focus ought to be, it’s not the differences between us, it’s Barack Obama does not believe America’s leadership in the world is a force for good. He does not believe that our strength is a place where security can take place. He leads from behind. He creates an environment that now we’re creating the most unstable situation we’ve had since the World War II era.

The focus ought to be on the single fact that Hillary Clinton wants to double down on a failed foreign policy and we need to be united to defeat that because we’re going to be in a place that is far less secure than it is today. Don’t you all agree?

BLITZER: Senator Paul, was getting rid of Saddam Hussein a pretty good deal?

PAUL: These are the fundamental questions of our time, these foreign policy questions, whether or not regime change is a good idea or a bad idea. I don’t think because I think the regime change was a bad idea it means that Hussein was necessarily a good idea.

There is often variations of evil on both sides of the war. What we have to decide is whether or not regime change is a good idea. It’s what the neoconservatives have wanted. It’s what the vast majority of those on the stage want.

They still want regime change. They want it in Syria. They wanted it in Iraq. They want it in Libya. It has not worked.

Out of regime change you get chaos. From the chaos you have seen repeatedly the rise of radical Islam. So we get this profession of, oh, my goodness, they want to do something about terrorism and yet they’re the problem because they allow terrorism to arise out of that chaos.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hugh Hewitt, go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hugh.

CRUZ: The question of whether we should toppling dictatorships is asking the wrong question. We should be defeating our enemies. So the problem with defeating…

BLITZER: Senator, Senator, we’re going to get to you. Wait your turn. We have two hours of debate. We’ll have plenty of time. Let Hugh ask his question.

CRUZ: Well, but let me explain, the focus should be…

BLITZER: Senator, please.

CRUZ: … on defeating our enemies. So, for example…

BLITZER: Senator… CRUZ: … a regime we should change is Iran…

BLITZER: You’ll have plenty of opportunity.

Hugh, go ahead.

CRUZ: … because Iran has declared war on us. But we shouldn’t be toppling regimes…

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: … that are fighting radical Islamic terrorists that are helping…

BLITZER: These are the rules all of you agreed to.

Hugh, go ahead with your question.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump, we are talking about the most important thing, that’s why it’s heated. And it’s, you are OK with Mr. Assad staying in power, but you are also in favor of winning.

If he stays in power, Iran is winning, Hezbollah is winning. Iran is winning in Yemen. They are winning everywhere. If they are winning how can we be winning?

TRUMP: I think Assad is a bad guy, a very bad guy, all right? Lots of people killed. I think we are backing people we have no idea who they are. The rebels, we call them the rebels, the patriotic rebels. We have no idea. A lot of people think, Hugh, that they are ISIS.

We have to do one thing at a time. We can’t be fighting ISIS and fighting Assad. Assad is fighting ISIS. He is fighting ISIS. Russia is fighting now ISIS. And Iran is fighting ISIS.

We have to do one thing at a time. We can’t go — and I watched Lindsey Graham, he said, I have been here for 10 years fighting. Well, he will be there with that thinking for another 50 years. He won’t be able to solve the problem.

We have to get rid of ISIS first. After we get rid of ISIS, we’ll start thinking about it. But we can’t be fighting Assad. And when you’re fighting Assad, you are fighting Russia, you’re fighting — you’re fighting a lot of different groups.

But we can’t be fighting everybody at one time.

HEWITT: Governor Christie, is he right? Because if we step back, Iran goes nuclear. Is Donald Trump right?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think we have to focus, Hugh, on exactly what the priorities are. And to me, what I’ve always said is that the president has set up an awful situation through his deal with Iran, because what his deal with Iran has done is empower them and enrich them. And that’s the way ISIS has been created and formed here. ISIS is created and formed because of the abuse that Assad and his Iranian sponsors have rained down on the Sunnis in Syria.

And so when we empower Iran, this is why this president — and when Hillary Clinton says her theory against ISIS will be just about the same as the president, then get ready for more unrest and more murder and more violence in the Middle East.

We need to focus our attention on Iran, because if you miss Iran, you are not going to get ISIS. The two are inextricably connected because one causes the other.

HEWITT: Senator Paul, let me ask you, you heard Governor Kasich say Assad must go. Do you agree?

PAUL: No, I think it’s a huge mistake. I think regime change in Syria, and this is what — I’ve been saying this for several years now. In 2013 when we first went in, I said, you are going to give arms to the allies of al Qaida, to radical jihadists? That’s crazy.

But the other thing I said is the great irony is you will be back fighting against your own weapons. Had Assad been bombed when he used chemical weapons two years ago, ISIS would be in charge of all of Syria now.

We have to have a more realistic foreign policy and not a utopian one where we say, oh, we’re going to spread freedom and democracy, and everybody in the Middle East is going to love us. They are not going to love us.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: The foreign policy, you have to know how to pick and choose. There’s no way, if Saddam had not had weapons of mass destruction, I would have gone, because I don’t believe that the U.S. should be involved directly in civil wars.

I opposed the U.S. involvement in Lebanon. We ended up having to withdraw our marines after our barracks were blown up.

There is a difference between Iraq, where you have Sunni, Shia, and Kurds put together after the First World War by the Western powers. It doesn’t work. It needs to break up into three parts.

KASICH: And for the Russians, frankly, it’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose. They’ve gotten away with too much in this world and we need to stand up against them, not just there, but also in Eastern Europe where they threaten some of our most precious allies.

BLITZER: Let’s continue with Russia right now. We have another question from Facebook. Listen and watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: My name is Ashley Tofil. Ms. Fiorina, in November, you said that you would not talk to Vladimir Putin after you were elected because you would be communicating from a position of weakness. Do you believe that it is feasible to not communicate with another world leader? And do you think that that also is a sign of weakness?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina, as you know, U.S. and Russian warplanes are flying all over Syria right now. With so many lives on the line, is this a good time for the United States not to talk to Putin?

FIORINA: I didn’t say I would cut off all communication with Putin. What I said was as president of the United States, now is not the time to talk with him. Reagan walked away at Reykjavik. There is a time and a place for everything. There is a time and a place for talk. And there is a time and a place for action.

I know Vladimir Putin. He respects strength. He lied to our president’s face; didn’t both to tell him about warplanes and troops going into Syria. We need to speak to him from a position of strength. So as commander in chief, I will not speak to him until we’ve set up that no-fly zone; until we’ve gathered our Sunni-Arab allies and begun to deny ISIS territory; until I’ve called the supreme leader of Iran and told him new deal — new deal. We the United States of America are going to cut off the money flow, which we can do; which we don’t need anyone’s permission or collaboration to do.

And I will not speak to him personally until we’ve rebuilt the 6th Fleet a little bit right under his nose; rebuilt the missile defense program in Poland right under his nose; and conducted a few military exercises in the Baltic states.

And let us remember one other thing. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are responsible for the growth of ISIS because they precipitously withdrew from Iraq in 2011 against the advice of every single general and for political expediency. It’s not these people up here. It’s Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.

Governor Christie, if the U.S. imposed a no-fly zone over Syria and a Russian plane encroached, invaded that no-fly zone, would you be prepared to shoot down that Russian plane and risk war with Russia?

CHRISTIE: Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it. A no-fly zone means a no-fly zone, Wolf. That’s what it means.

(APPLAUSE)

See, maybe — maybe because I’m from New Jersey, I just have this kind of plain language hangup. But I would make very clear — I would not talk to Vladimir Putin. In fact, I would talk to Vladimir Putin a lot. But I’d say to him, “Listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone in Syria; you fly in, it applies to you.” And yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Paul — Senator Paul, I want you to respond to what we just heard from Governor Christie. If there was a no-fly zone, you say that potentially could lead to World War III. Why?

PAUL: Well, I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate. You know, here’s…

(APPLAUSE)

… the thing. My goodness, what we want in a leader is someone with judgment, not someone who is so reckless as to stand on the stage and say, “Yes, I’m jumping up and down; I’m going to shoot down Russian planes.” Russia already flies in that airspace. It may not be something we’re in love with the fact that they’re there, but they were invited by Iraq and by Syria to fly in that airspace.

And so if we announce we’re going to have a no-fly zone, and others have said this. Hillary Clinton is also for it. It is a recipe for disaster. It’s a recipe for World War III. We need to confront Russia from a position of strength, but we don’t need to confront Russia from a point of recklessness that would lead to war.

This is something — this type of judgment, you know, it’s having that kind of judgment; who you would appoint and how you’re going to conduct affairs, that is incredibly important.

I mean, I think when we think about the judgment of someone who might want World War III, we might think about someone who might shut down a bridge because they don’t like their friends; they don’t want to — you know, they want to (inaudible) a Democrat.

So I think we need to be very careful.

BLITZER: Governor Christie?

CHRISTIE: Well, Wolf, I’ll tell you what reckless is. What reckless is is calling Assad a reformer. What reckless is allowing Russia to come into Crimea and Ukraine. What reckless is is inviting Russia into Syria to team with Iran. That is reckless. And the reckless people are the folks in the White House right now. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the reckless people.

CHRISTIE: And if you think that a no-fly zone is a reckless policy, you’re welcome to your opinion. But how is it working so far? As we have 250,000 Syrians murdered, slaughtered; millions running around the world, running for their lives. It’s not working. We need to try something else. And that is not reckless.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right, let’s go back — Hugh and Dana?

HEWITT: Governor Bush, a commander-in-chief question. You’ve said that Mr. Trump is not qualified to be president because he’s not qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin. Why are you better qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin than Mr. Trump?

BUSH: Because I — first of all, I know what I don’t know. I know what I don’t know. I would seek out, as I have, the best advice that exists. I won’t get my information from the shows. I don’t know if that’s Saturday morning or Sunday morning. I don’t know which one.

(LAUGHTER)

I will seek out the best advice, and I will create a strategy and I will persuade the American people what the role of America should be. I’ve laid out a policy of rebuilding our military.

All of the talk that we’re seeing here — most of which I agree on, frankly — requires a much stronger military. We now have a lack of readiness that is quite scary. We have planes that were — that Harry Truman inaugurated, the B-52. We have — the Navy has been gutted and decimated. The readiness of the Marines is way down.

If we’re serious about America’s leadership in the world, then we need to make sure that we have the back of the armed forces. The Armed Forces Radio is here listening to this today. I hope they know that if I’m president, I’ll be a commander-in-chief, not an agitator- in-chief or a divider-in-chief, that I will lead this country in a way that will create greater security and greater safety.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: I think it’s very sad that CNN leads Jeb Bush, Governor Bush, down a road by starting off virtually all the questions, “Mr. Trump this, Mister” — I think it’s very sad. And, frankly, I watched — I think it’s very sad. And, frankly, I watched the first debate, and the first long number of questions were, “Mr. Trump said this, Mr. Trump said that. Mr. Trump” — these poor guys — although, I must tell you, Santorum, good guy. Governor Huckabee, good guy. They were very nice, and I respect them greatly. But I thought it was very unfair that virtually the entire early portion of the debate was Trump this, Trump that, in order to get ratings, I guess. In order to get ratings, I guess.

HEWITT: But, Mr. Trump, it’s not CNN — I was on CNN last night…

TRUMP: I just think it’s very — excuse me.

HEWITT: … watching…

TRUMP: Excuse me. I think it’s very unprofessional.

HEWITT: But it wasn’t — it wasn’t CNN. It was me. I watched you last night for 16 minutes. It’s not CNN.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Well, I think it’s very unprofessional.

HEWITT: It’s not CNN. It’s America’s watching you.

TRUMP: OK, fine.

HEWITT: It’s America’s watching.

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: So I was — I was — I was mentioned, so I can bring up something, I think, right? Look, the simple fact is, if you think this is tough you’re not being treated fairly…

TRUMP: This isn’t tough and easy. I wish it…

BUSH: … imagine what it’s going to be like dealing with Putin or dealing with President Xi.

TRUMP: I wish it was always this easy as you, Jeb.

BUSH: Or dealing with the Islamic terrorism that exists.

TRUMP: Oh, yeah.

BUSH: This is a tough business to run for president.

TRUMP: Oh, I know. You’re a tough guy, Jeb. I know.

BUSH: And it’s — and we need…

(LAUGHTER)

… to have a leader that is…

(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: You’re tough.

BUSH: You’re never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency.

TRUMP: Well, let’s see. I’m at 42, and you’re at 3. So, so far, I’m doing better.

BUSH: Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter.

TRUMP: So far, I’m doing better. You know, you started off over here, Jeb. You’re moving over further and further. Pretty soon you’re going to be off the end…

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: This doesn’t do a thing to solve the problems.

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: It doesn’t do a thing to solve the problems.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: One at a time. Hugh, go ahead.

KASICH: It sounds more and more what my daughter said that I said in the beginning, all the fighting and arguing is not advancing us.

FIORINA: It will not solve the problem.

KASICH: It is not the way we’re going to strengthen our country. We will strengthen our country when we come together.

(APPLAUSE)

And, look, you’ve got Rand Paul, you’ve got Ted Cruz, you’ve got Marco, you’ve got a lot of people on this stage that have studied these issues. You know what a leader does? A leader has a sound program, has a good policy, and then brings people together to solve problems.

(APPLAUSE)

Guess what? Both in Congress in balancing the budget and in Ohio fixing the economy — and, by the way, we talk about the fence. The first thing we better get going is strengthening our economy, because if we don’t have a strong economy, we can’t pay for all of this. And the world wants us to be able to function from strength, believe it or not. Get our economy going, get these people together in a room. We can fix this, ladies and gentlemen.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: We don’t have to fight all the time. It can be done, and we will be great…

HEWITT: Governor — thank you, Governor.

KASICH: … when we join together. Thank you, Hugh.

HEWITT: Dr. Carson, commander-in-chief question again. You’ve been the head of neurosurgery for a big hospital. You’re on a lot of boards of a lot of companies. You’ve traveled the world. You’re going traveling again next week. But does that prepare you to command troops from Djibouti to Japan, troops from Afghanistan to Iraq to be in charge of the men and women watching on Armed Services Network tonight?

CARSON: Well, you know, there’s a false narrative that only the political class has the wisdom and the ability to be commander-in- chief. But if you go back and you study the design of our country, it was really designed for the citizen statesman.

And we need to be talking about where does your experience come from? You know, and I’ve had a lot of experience building things, organizing things, you know, a national scholarship program.

One of the things that you’ll notice if you look through my life is that I don’t do a lot of talking. I do a lot of doing. And really, it says more about a person than how much they talk. And then some people say you’re weak because, you know, you’re not loud and you’re not boisterous and you’re not rude. But the fact of the matter is, look and see what I’ve done. And that speaks volumes about strength.

BASH: Thank you, Dr. Carson. We’ve been talking tonight about programs and policy proposals that you all have to keep Americans safe and it’s a big discussion on the campaign trail. Also about border security and immigration. So let’s talk about immigration.

Senator Rubio. You co-authored a bill with Democrats two years ago that allowed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Do you still support that path to citizenship, which means giving those immigrants rights, like the right to vote?

RUBIO: Yeah. Immigration is not an issue that I read about in the newspaper or watch a documentary on PBS or CNN. It’s an issues I’ve lived around my whole life. My family are immigrants. My wife’s family are immigrants. All of my neighbors are immigrants.

I see every aspect of this problem. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And here’s what we learned in 2013. The American people don’t trust the Federal Government to enforce our immigration laws, and we will not be able to do anything on immigration until we first prove to the American people that illegal immigration is under control. And we can do that. We know what it takes to do that.

It takes at least 20,000 more additional border agents. It takes completing those 700 miles of fencing. It takes a mandatory e-verify system and a mandatory entry/exit tracking system to prevent overstays. After we have done that, the second thing we have to do is reform and modernize the legal immigration system. And after we have done those two things, I think the American people are gonna be reasonable with what do you do with someone who has been in this country for 10 or 12 years who hasn’t otherwise violated our laws — because if they’re a criminal they can’t stay. They’ll have to undergo a background check, pay a fine, start paying taxes. And ultimately, they’ll given a work permit and that’s all they’re gonna be allowed to have for at least 10 years. But you can’t get to that third step until you have done the other two things, and that was the lesson we learned in 2013. There is no trust that the Federal Government will enforce the law. They will not support you until you see it done first.

BASH: Senator, you haven’t answered the question. You described a very long path but does that path end at citizenship?

RUBIO: But I’ve answered that question repeatedly. I am personally open — after all that has happened and after ten years in that probationary status where all they have is a permit, I personally am open to allowing people to apply for a green card.

That may not be a majority position in my party, but that’s down the road. You can’t even begin that process until you prove to people — not just pass a law that says you’re gonna bring illegal immigration under control. You’re gonna have to do it and prove to people that it’s working.

And that was the lesson of 2013. And it’s more true today, than it was then. After a migratory crisis on the border with minors coming over that you’re seeing start up again now, after all these executive orders the President has issued. More than ever we need to…

BASH: Thank you, senator.

RUBIO: … prove to people that illegal immigration is under control.

BASH: Thank you, senator. Senator Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Cruz, on the campaign trail, Senator Rubio has said that his immigration plan is not that different from yours. Is that true?

CRUZ: Well, he — he has attempted to muddy the waters, but I think that anyone who watched the battle that we had. You know, there was a time for choosing as Reagan put it. Where there was a battle over amnesty and some chose, like Senator Rubio to stand with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer and support a massive amnesty plan.

Others chose to stand with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and the American people and secure the border.

And let me mention, this issue is actually directly connected to what we’ve been talking about. Because the front line with ISIS isn’t just in Iraq and Syria, it’s in Kennedy Airport and the Rio Grande. Border security is national security. And, you know, one of the most troubling aspects of the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight Bill was that it gave President Obama blanket authority to admit refugees, including Syrian refugees without mandating any background checks whatsoever. Now we’ve seen what happened in San Bernardino. When you are letting people in, when the FBI can’t vet them, it puts American citizens at risk. And I tell you, if I’m elected president, we will secure the border. We will triple the border patrol. We will build a wall that works and I’ll get Donald Trump to pay for it.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Rubio, please.

RUBIO: Yeah, a couple points. In 2013 we had never faced a crisis like the Syrian refugee crisis now. Up until that point, a refugee meant someone fleeing oppression, fleeing Communism like it is in my community.

As far as Ted’s record, I’m always puzzled by his attack on this issue. Ted, you support legalizing people who are in this country illegally. Ted Cruz supported a 500-percent increase in the number of H-1 visas, the guest workers that are allowed into this country, and Ted supports doubling the number of green cards.

So I think what’s important for us to understand and there is a way forward on this issue that we an bring our country together on. And while I’m president I will do it. And it will begin by bringing illegal immigration under control and proving to the American people.

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: Look, I understand Marco wants to raise confusion, it is not accurate what he just said that I supported legalization. Indeed, I led the fight against his legalization and amnesty. And you know, there was one commentator that put it this way that, for Marco to suggest our record’s the same is like suggesting “the fireman and the arsonist because they are both at the scene of the fire.”

He was fighting to grant amnesty and not to secure the border, I was fighting to secure the border. And this also goes to trust, listening on to campaign trails. Candidates all the time make promises. You know, Marco said,” he learned that the American people didn’t trust the federal government.”

BASH: Senator Cruz?

RUBIO: No, no, give him time.

CRUZ: In Florida promising to…

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: Ted, do you…

CRUZ: go in the fight against amnesty…

RUBIO: Did Ted Cruz fight to support legalizing people that are in this country illegally?

CRUZ: He campaigned promising to lead the fight against amnesty.

FIORINA: Ladies and gentleman, this is why the American people are standing up.

BASH: Senator Cruz, can you answer that question please?

RUBIO: Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country now?

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ; I have never supported a legalization…

RUBIO: Would you rule it out?

CRUZ : I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization. Let me tell you how you do this, what you do is you enforce the law…

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: This is why the nation is fed up…

BASH: One at a time please.

CRUZ: Watt you do is enforcement the law…

FIORINA: We have been talking about this…

BASH: Ms. Fiorina, please wait your turn, we’re going to get to you.

FIORINA: Sorry, but you haven’t gotten to me. This is why…

CRUZ: What you do…

BASH: Senator Cruz go ahead.

FIORINA: the people are fed up with the political class.

CRUZ: What you do is you enforce the law. I’ve laid out a very, very detailed immigration plan on my website, tedcruz.org. It’s 11 pages of existing federal law and in particular the question of what to do with people who are here now? You enforce the law.

That means you stop the Obama administration’s policy of releasing criminal illegal aliens. Do you know how many aliens Bill Clinton deported? 12 million. Do you know how many illegal aliens, George W. Bush deported? 10 million.

We can enforce the laws and if we secure the border, that solves the problem. And as president I will solve this problem and secure the border.

BASH: Mr. Trump, you like to say that you restarted this conversation in the campaign. TRUMP: I believe I did.

BASH: So who do you side with? Who do you side with in this, Senator Rubio or Senator Cruz?

TRUMP: I have a very hardline position, we have a country or we don’t have a country. People that have come into our country illegally, they have to go. They have to come back into through a legal process.

I want a strong border. I do want a wall. Walls do work, you just have to speak to the folks in Israel. Walls work if they’re properly constructed. I know how to build, believe me, I know how to build.

I feel a very, very strong bind, and really I’m bound to this country, we either have a border or we don’t. People can come into the country, we welcome people to come but they have to come in legally.

BASH: Thank you.

Governor Bush?

BUSH: Yes.

BASH: Listening to this, do you think this is the tone — this immigration debate that republicans need to take to win back Hispanics into our party especially states like where we are in Nevada that has a pretty Hispanic community?

BUSH: No it isn’t but it is an important subject to talk about for sure. And I think people have good ideas on this. Clearly, we need to secure the border. Coming here legally needs to be a lot easier than coming here illegally.

If you don’t have that, you don’t have the rule of law. We now have a national security consideration, public health issues, we have an epidemic of heroine overdoses in all places in this country because of the ease of bringing heroine in. We have to secure the border.

It is a serious undertaking and yes, we do need more fencing and we do need to use technology, and we do need more border control. And we need to have better cooperation by the way with local law enforcement. There are 800,000 cops on the beat, they ought to be trained to be the eyes and ears for law enforcement for the threat against terror as well as for immigration.

This is a serious challenge and if we can get it right, yes, we’ll start winning votes again. The real problem isn’t anybody on this stage, the real problem is Barack Obama has had six years to advocate a position to fix this and he’s done nothing. The congress has funded these programs of building more fencing and doing all this and he hasn’t done it.

He wants to maintain it as a wedge issue and so does Hillary Clinton. Republicans need to fix it and when we do, we’ll be better off.

BLITZER: Governor, thank you very much.

BLITZER: So, Dr. Carson, you recently visited a refugee camp in Jordan and you deemed it your words, “really quite nice.” Saying the people there didn’t want to come to the United States. Do you think these camps are a long-term solution of the problem of Syrian refugees?

CARSON: Well, it was very interesting having an opportunity to talk to the Syrians themselves. And I asked them: What do you want? What is your supreme desire? Their supreme desire was to be settled back in their own country. I said, “What can Americans and other countries do?” They said, “Support the efforts of those who are trying to provide safety for us, including the Jordanians.”

Of course, they had a brand new hospital, for instance, that was unstaffed because there wasn’t enough money to do it. But here’s what’s really neat. If you go into Hasakah province in northeast Syria, that’s an area that’s as big as Lebanon. It’s controlled by the Kurds, the Christians and the moderate Sunnis. And there are airstrips and hotels. You could settle a lot of people there.

All we would have to do is be willing to provide them with some weaponry, some defensive weaponry. And we seem to be afraid to give the Kurds weaponry. We like to send it for some strange reason through Baghdad, and then they only get a tenth of it.

And if we would support them, we’d have a perfect ideal there. We don’t need to set this up as we either take a bunch of refugees who will be infiltrated with terrorists, I guarantee you. For them not to be would be terrorist malpractice. And we need to — to choose the right choice, not these false choices.

BLITZER: Senator Paul, you oppose letting in Syrian refugees at this time into the United States. The U.S. has already accepted 2,000 Syrian refugees, including 13 living here in Las Vegas right now. Would you send them back? What would you do with these people?

PAUL: You know, I think we need to set the record straight on this, because I think Marco misspoke about the bill. On the Gang of Eight bill, there was no provisions really for extra scrutiny or safety for refugees. At the time the bill came up, two Iraqi refugees came to my home town, Bowling Green, Kentucky. Their fingerprints were on a bomb from Iraq. They were in the database, but we didn’t pick them up.

We relocated them here, put them in government housing, got them on food stamps. And we began providing for them, but we didn’t have adequate security. On the Gang of Eight bill, on Marco’s bill, we had an opportunity. There was a conservative consensus for an amendment I put forward called Trust, But Verify that would have strengthened border security on both refugees, students and those coming here. And Marco sided and I guess was more sympathetic to Chuck Schumer and to the president than he was to conservative principles.

But this goes directly to national defense. And if he wants to run as a national — national defense conservative, he’s got to explain why he hasn’t stepped up to support border security.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio?

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: Well, he’s just admitted — as he’s just admitted, the reason why those refugees were allowed in was because they messed up in how they used the actual database. They should have know. They didn’t because they didn’t run the actual law as it exists now. It didn’t work well.

As far as the refugees are concerned, it’s not that America doesn’t want to accept refugees, Wolf. It’s that we may not be able to, because this is an issue we have to be 100 percent right on. If we allow 9,999 Syrian refugees into the United States, and all of them are good people, but we allow one person in who’s an ISIS killer — we just get one person wrong, we’ve got a serious problem.

And there is not a single person in the national defense apparatus of this country that can guarantee you are going to be 100 percent right. And that’s why as president, I’ll take this very seriously.

BLITZER: Senator Paul, you didn’t answer the question about the 2,000 Syrian refugees who are already here in the United States. Will you send them back or let them stay?

PAUL: What my bill would do would be only for refugees going forward. So I haven’t taken a position on sending anyone home. But I have taken the position that we have a lot of problems here in our country. And that one of the things that we do — charity is about giving your own money. Charity isn’t giving someone else’s money. To put everyone in government housing and food stamps and bring them in from around the world I think is a mistake. To give of your own money, I’ve given to my church. My church has helped people that came from Bosnia. That’s a good thing.

But we shouldn’t have a program where we just say that we’re going to take care of the world’s refugees. Nobody in the Middle East is doing anything. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait — all the Gulf nations are doing nothing. They need to step up and take…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We have another — we have another question. We have another question from Facebook. Let’s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: My name is Carla Hernandez. I’m from the University of Texas at Austin. And my question is directed to all the candidates.

If the Bible clearly states that we need to embrace those in need and not fear, how can we justify not accepting refugees?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Governor Christie, you say there should be a pause in allowing new refugees to come into the United States, including orphans under the age of five. What do you say to Carla?

CHRISTIE: What I say to Carla is that the first job of the president of the United States is to protect your safety and your security and the security and safety of your family. And this debate stops with me in the discussions with the FBI director.

CHRISTIE: Now, listen, I’m a former federal prosecutor, I know Jim Comey. We’ve worked together. He was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan when I was a U.S. attorney in New Jersey.

And when Jim Comey gets up before Congress and says, we cannot effectively vet these people, for me as president, that’s the end of the conversation. We have to put America’s security first.

(APPLAUSE)

The American people — we on this stage need to open our ears. We need to open our ears. The American people are not whispering to us. They are screaming to us. And they’re screaming to us that it’s our job to actually make this government work.

It’s so dysfunctional under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It’s so ineffective. It’s so ineffectual that the American people say, we don’t trust them to do anything anymore. So I’m not going to let Syrian refugees, any Syrian refugees in this country.

And it was widows and orphans, by the way, and we now know from watching the San Bernardino attack that women can commit heinous, heinous acts against humanity just the same as men can do it.

And so I don’t back away from that position for a minute. When the FBI director tells me that he can vet those people, then we’ll consider it and not a moment before because your safety and security is what’s most important to me.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Kasich.

KASICH: You know, obviously, as president of the United States, we’ve got to keep the people safe. That’s first and foremost.

But as governor of Ohio, I have an obligation to keep the 11.5 million people in Ohio safe. And we have been very effective with our Joint Terrorism Task Force, being able to make busts.

In fact, we just made one three-four weeks ago against a person who was favorable to ISIS living in Akron.

But let me tell you what is interesting about the administration. We had Central American miners that were placed in Ohio, and we never knew a thing about it. We didn’t know where they were. And, in fact, we know now that some of them, there is a case going on where some of them may have been human-trafficked.

So when the administration tells me we have a great vetting process, the proof is in the pudding. They sent these miners to us. Our schools were disrupted. We didn’t know where they were. And bad things happened to them. And now they tell me that we ought to be able to admit these Syrian refugees.

So, Wolf, look, people have accused me at times of having too big of a heart. You know, that’s OK. But I have to also to say I must keep the people of my state safe. So we take a pause.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

There is much more coming up. We are only just beginning. Coming up, what other global hot spots await the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN-Facebook Republican Presidential Debate. We’re here at the Venetian Las Vegas. Tonight we have been focusing on the Middle East, but let’s turn to some other world threats that you will potentially face as Commander in Chief.

Ms. Fiorina, candidates here have called the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un a maniac who is mentally unstable. Last week he said he now has a hydrogen bomb. If you were elected president, what would you do about Kim Jong-Un?

FIORINA: Well, first, Kim Jong-Un is a dangerous leader, without a doubt. And both Republican and Democrat administrations have been completely ineffective in dealing with him. So we must continue to isolate him. We will need China as part of that strategy.

China is a rising adversary. So one of the things we have to do if we want China’s support is to push back on China. They, too, recognize one thing — strength and their own economic interest.

I have done business in China for 25 years, so I know that in order to get China to cooperate with us, we must first actually retaliate against their cyber-attacks so they know we’re serious. We have to push back on their desire to control the trade route through the South China Sea through which flows $5 trillion worth of goods and services every year.

We cannot let them control the disputed islands, and we must work with the Australians, the South Koreans, the Japanese and the Filipinos to contain China. And then we must ask for their support and their help with North Korea. Because believe it or not, China is as concerned about Kim Jong-Un as we are.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, what would you do about Kim Jong-Un?

CARSON: Well, I definitely believe that he is unstable, and I do, in fact, believe that China has a lot more influence with him than we do. But we also recognize that North Korea is in severe financial straits, and they have decided to use their resources to build their military, rather than to feed their people and to take care of the various humanitarian responsibilities that they have.

We can capitalize upon that. You know, we should use our economic power in lots of different ways. I think we can use that in order to keep Putin contained, because he is a one-horse show. Energy. And we have an abundance of energy, but we have archaic energy exportation rules. We need to get rid of those, allow ourselves to really make Europe dependent on us and other parts of the world dependent on us for energy. Put him back in his little box where he belongs.

And, you know, we need to be doing lots of other things with the resources that we have. So economic power works just as well as military power, perhaps even better. And speaking of that, our Military needs to be upgraded. You know, you look at things like our Ohio Class submarines, they’re 25 years old. Our minuteman 3 missiles — they are 34 years old. Our B-52 bombers — 50 years old. You know, if we don’t get the military right nothing else matters.

BLITZER: Thank you, Dr. Carson. Dana and Hugh you have questions as well.

BASH: Governor Christie, you’ve said if China launches a cyber- attack against the U.S. on your watch, “they’re going to see cyber- warfare like they have never seen before.” What exactly would that response look like?

CHRISTIE: Well, what it would like is, we have one of the great advantages of America being the open society that we are. It is, we are not hiding things from the American people, but China everyday is conducting business in a way that hides things from their people.

CHRISTIE: So if they want to come in and attack all the personnel records in the federal government, which they’ve done, and which — they now have my Social Security number and my fingerprints, as well as maybe some other folks’ who are on this stage.

The fact is, they need to be fought back on. And what we need to do is go at the things that they are most sensitive and most embarrassing to them; that they’re hiding; get that information and put it out in public. Let the Chinese people start to digest how corrupt the Chinese government is; how they steal from the Chinese people; and how they’re enriching oligarchs all throughout China.

They need to understand that. And we need to take those type of steps. This president has seen personnel records of people who have sacrificed for the American people and for the federal government stolen by the Chinese and he’s done nothing in return. This is why — this is what I said at the beginning that this administration, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton through their foreign policy, have betrayed the American people, because the weakness they’ve displayed has led to Putin’s incursions in the Middle East and in eastern Europe, and has led — has led to significant problems in the Middle East as well, and the death and murder of lots of folks.

BASH: Governor Bush, what you just heard from Governor Christie, are you concerned that that could really escalate with China, that they would retaliate? And, for example, as the NSA has said, attack the U.S. and maybe it’s power grid, which the Chinese have the capability to do?

BUSH: I completely agree with Chris. And this administration has been so lax. Think about it. Hillary Clinton is using a private server for — where classified information go by. This is a — this is a serious administration?

The president receives an inspector general’s report that the Office of Personnel Management could be hacked into; they had antiquated firewalls; 23 million files have been — are in the hands of the Chinese allegedly, including, by the way, members of the press, it turns out, last week. Maybe that’s the only part that’s good news, so that you guys can get a feel for what it’s like now to see this type of attack.

This is something — we have to have the best defensive capabilities. We need to coordinate all of our efforts with the private sector. We need to give them liability relief so that we can do that. And offensively, we need to have capabilities second to none. We need to create a situation where they know that there will be adverse impacts if they continue to do what they’re doing.

They’ll respect that. They’ll respect a United States that is serious about protecting our — our infrastructure. If we don’t do it, we’ll continue to see what’s — exactly what’s happening, not just from the Chinese, by the way. The Russians and rogue actors, including ISIS — this is a serious part of the 21st century security challenge that we face.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump…

(APPLAUSE)

… Dr. Carson just referenced the single most important job of the president, the command, the control and the care of our nuclear forces. And he mentioned the triad. The B-52s are older than I am. The missiles are old. The submarines are aging out. It’s an executive order. It’s a commander-in-chief decision.

What’s your priority among our nuclear triad?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible; who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important. And one of the things that I’m frankly most proud of is that in 2003, 2004, I was totally against going into Iraq because you’re going to destabilize the Middle East. I called it. I called it very strongly. And it was very important.

But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game. Frankly, I would have said get out of Syria; get out — if we didn’t have the power of weaponry today. The power is so massive that we can’t just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn’t care. It was hand-to-hand combat.

The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable, this is what he’s saying. The biggest problem we have is nuclear — nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. That’s in my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces right now.

HEWITT: Of the three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority? I want to go to Senator Rubio after that and ask him.

TRUMP: I think — I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.

HEWITT: Senator Rubio, do you have a response?

RUBIO: I do. First, let’s explain to people at home who the triad — what the triad is. Maybe a lot of people haven’t heard that terminology before. The triad is our ability of the United States to conduct nuclear attacks using airplanes, using missiles launched from silos or from the ground, and also from our nuclear subs’ ability to attack. And it’s important — all three of them are critical. It gives us the ability at deterrence.

Now, some have become more critical than others; for example, the submarines. And that’s the Ohio Class submarine that needs to be modernized. The air component also needs to be modernized. The B-52, as someone earlier pointed out, is an outdated model that was flown by the grandparents of people that are flying it now. And we need a serious modernization program as well on our silo-launched missiles. All three are critical for the defense of the country.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator Rubio.

Some of you on this stage have questioned whether your opponents have temperament, the right temperament, to be in control of the nuclear codes.

Dana, you have a question on this?

BASH: Mr. Trump, just this weekend you said Senator Cruz is not qualified to be president because he doesn’t have the right temperament and acted like a maniac when he arrived in the Senate. But last month you said you were open to naming Senator Cruz as your running mate.

TRUMP: I did.

BASH: So why would you be willing to put somebody who’s a maniac one heartbeat away from the presidency?

TRUMP: Let me just say that I have gotten to know him over the last three or four days. He has a wonderful temperament.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: He’s just fine. Don’t worry about it.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Okay.

Senator Cruz. Senator Cruz, you have not been willing to attack Mr. Trump in public.

TRUMP: You better not attack…

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: But you did question his judgment in having control of American’s nuclear arsenal during a private meeting with supporters. Why are you willing to say things about him in private and not in public?

CRUZ: Dana, what I said in private is exactly what I’ll say here, which is that the judgment that every voter is making of every one of us up here is who has the experience, who has the vision, who has the judgment to be commander in chief. That is the most important decision for the voters to make. That’s a standard I’m held to. And it’s a standard everyone else is held to.

And I will note, you know, in the whole course of this discussion about our foreign policy threats, it actually illustrates the need for clarity of focus.

You know, my daughters, Caroline and Catherine, came tonight. They’re 7 and 5. And you think about the Los Angeles schools canceling their schools today.

And every parent is wondering, how do we keep our kids safe? We need a commander in chief who does what Ronald Reagan did with communism, which is he set out a global strategy to defeat Soviet communism. And he directed all of his…

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: I’m answering the question, Dana.

He directed all of his forces to defeating communism.

One of the things we’ve seen here is how easy it is for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to get distracted from dealing with radical Islamic terrorism. They won’t even call it by its name.

We need a president who stands up, number one, and says, we will defeat ISIS. And number two, says the greatest national security threat facing America is a nuclear Iran.

BASH: Senator, senator, I just…

CRUZ: And we need to be focused on defeating…

BASH: Senator, a lot of people have seen…

CRUZ: … defeating radical Islamic terrorists.

BASH: … a lot of people have seen these comments you made in private. I just want to clarify what you’re saying right now is you do believe Mr. Trump has the judgment to be commander in chief?

CRUZ: What I’m saying, Dana, is that is a judgment for every voter to make. What I can tell you is all nine of the people here would make an infinitely better commander in chief than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, senator. Thank you.

CRUZ: And there is a real danger, Dana, when people get distracted.

I’m answering the question, Wolf.

CRUZ: There’s a real danger when people get distracted by peripheral issues. They get distracted by democracy building. They get distracted about military conflicts. We need to focus on defeating jihadism. ISIS and Iran have declared war on America, and we need a commander in chief who will do everything necessary to keep our children safe.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

CRUZ: And I will do everything necessary to keep our children safe.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

We’re a month and a half away now from the first real test who will be the Republican presidential nominee.

Hugh, you have a question?

HEWITT: My listeners tell me again and again they are worried that Hillary Clinton will win the White House because you’ll run as an independent. Are you ready to assure Republicans tonight that you will run as a Republican and abide by the decision of the Republicans?

TRUMP: I really am. I’ll be honest, I really am.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I mean, the people have been putting me…

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I really am.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Dr. Carson, last week…

TRUMP: Let me just. Can I just finish my…

HEWITT: Please.

TRUMP: I’ve gained great respect for the Republican leadership. I’ve gained great respect for many — and I’m going to even say — I mean, in different forms for the people on the dais, in different forms.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: In different forms.

But I have great respect for the people I have met through this process. I’ve never done this process before. I’ve never been a politician. I mean, for the last six months I’ve been a politician.

But I will tell you, I am totally committed to the Republican Party. I feel very honored to be the front runner.

(APPLAUSE) TRUMP: And I think I’ll do very well if I’m chosen. If I’m so fortunate to be chosen, I think I’ll do very well.

Polls have come out recently saying I would beat Hillary. I will do everything in my power to beat Hillary Clinton, I promise you.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Dr. Carson, Mr. Trump just committed to stay the distance regardless of the result. How about you?

CARSON: Well, you know, the statement that I made last week, that I would leave the party was contingent upon whether in fact the party acts like they have in the past with a lot of subterfuge and dishonesty, or like they’re going act now because I spike to Reince Priebus, and he assured me that the Washington Post writer had it all wrong, and that they’re not be engaging in anything to thwart the will of the people.

That’s why I got into this race, as a member of we the people, to try bring some honesty and integrity back to the process.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Candidates, we have more coming up. When we come back, everyone will have an opportunity to explain why this particular candidate, each of you on the stage, believes he or she should be the Republican presidential nominee.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Now it’s time for the closing statements from the candidates. Each one has 30 seconds.

Senator Paul.

PAUL: The greatest threat to our national security is our debt. We borrow a million dollars a minute. And whose fault is it? Well, frankly, it’s both parties’ fault. You have those on the right who clamor and say, oh, we will spend anything on the military, and those on the left who say the same for domestic welfare.

But what most Americans don’t realize is there is an unholy alliance. They come together. There’s a secret handshake. We spend more money on everything. And we are not stronger nation if we go further into debt. We are not projecting power from bankruptcy court.

To me, there is no greater threat than our debt. I’m the only fiscal conservative on the stage because I’m willing to hold the line on all spending. I hope you will consider me in the election. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Kasich. KASICH: No Republican has ever been elected president of the United States without winning Ohio. Let me give you a little tip on how you win Ohio, it’s reform, it’s hope, it’s growth, it’s opportunity, and it’s security.

The people of Ohio are the people of America. The people of America are reflected in Ohio. Our message has to be big, and bold, and positive, and connect, not just with people’s heads but also connect with their hearts.

If we do it, we will beat Hillary Clinton, and we will run the White House, and we will strengthen and fix America, I promise you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Christie.

CHRISTIE: On September 10th, 2001, I was named chief federal prosecutor in New Jersey and on September 11th, 2001, my wife and my brother who are in the audience tonight went through the World Trade Center and to their offices just blocks away from the Trade Center.

I lost touch with them for six hours that day and prayed that they were alive. Luckily, they were sent home. But many of our friends and others in our neighborhood lost their lives that day.

Terrorism — radical jihadist terrorism is not theoretical to me. It’s real. And for seven years, I spent my life protecting our country against another one of those attacks. You won’t have to worry when I’m President of the Untied States whether that can be done because I’ve already done it. I want the chance to do it again to protect you, your children and your families.

If you give me the chance and give me your vote I will protect America from the wars that are being brought to our door step.

BLITZER: Ms. Fiorina.

FIORINA: I too remember September 11th. I remember immediately putting into place security procedures all throughout our company that did business in 170 countries where we thought corporate interests would be attacked next. To take our country back, to keep our nation safe, we have to begin by beating Hillary Clinton.

We need to unify our party. We need to better than our government, which 75 percent of the American people now think is corrupt and incompetent. They’re right. We need to better than our politics. 80 percent think we have a professional/political class of both parties that cares more about its power, position and privilege than actually on getting anything done.

We need to unify our party, we need a real Conservative in the White House, and we need to beat Hillary Clinton to take our country back and keep our nation safe.

I can. I am. And together, if you join me, we will take our country back.

BLITZER: Governor Bush. BUSH: Ask yourself, which candidate will keep you and our country safer, stronger and freer?

Hillary Clinton has aligned herself with Barack Obama on ISIS, Iran and the economy. It’s an alliance doomed to fail. My proven record suggests that — my detailed plans will fortify our national and economic security. And my proven record as governor makes — will give you a sense that I don’t make false promises. I deliver real results.

For America to be safe and sound, I ask for you support. Thank you all very much.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio.

RUBIO: Thank you. As we near the end of this year, we enter one of the most important elections in a generation. For what’s at stake in this election is not simply what party’s going to be in charge. But our very identity as a people and as a nation. For over 200 years this has been a special country. A unique place where anyone from anywhere can achieve anything. But now millions of Americans feel like they’re being left behind. Insecure in their future and unsafe in the face of terrorism. This election is about electing a president that will restore our economic vibrancy so that the American dream can expand to reach more people and change more lives than ever before. And rebuild our Military and our intelligence programs so that we can remain the strongest nation on earth. Tonight I ask you for your vote.

If you do this, we will rebuild this country, and together we will usher in a new American century — the greatest era in the history of this great land.

BLITZER: Senator Cruz.

CRUZ: Judgment, strength, clarity and trust. Barack Obama has said he doesn’t believe in American leadership or America winning — he is wrong. America can win again and we will win again. Ronald Reagan reignited the American economy, rebuilt the Military, bankrupted the Soviet Union and defeated Soviet Communism. I will do the same thing.

Cutting taxes, cutting regulation, unleashing small businesses and rebuilding the Military to defeat radical Islamic terrorism — our strategy is simple. We win, they lose. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson.

CARSON: I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to 58 different countries and I thank God everyday that I was born in this country. The most exceptional country that the world has ever known. And I want to make sure that we preserve that exceptionalism for the next generation. My mother told me if I work hard and I really believed in American principles and I believed in God, anything is possible. I believe that is true, and that’s why I’m not anxious to give away American values and principles for the sake of political correctness.

TRUMP: Our country doesn’t win anymore. We don’t win on trade. We don’t win on the military. We can’t defeat ISIS. We’re not taking care of our great people, the veterans. We’re not taking care of them.

We have to change our whole way, our health care system is a disaster. It’s going to implode in 2017, just like you’re sitting there. It doesn’t work. Nothing works in our country. If I’m elected president, we will win again. We will win a lot. And we’re going to have a great, great country, greater than ever before.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thanks to all the Republican presidential candidates. That does it for this Republican presidential debate.

On behalf of everyone at CNN, we want to thank the candidates, Facebook, the Republican National Committee, and the Venetian Las Vegas. My thanks also to Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash.

We especially want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas, happy holidays, especially to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines protecting us around the world.

Anderson Cooper picks up our coverage of tonight’s debate right now — Anderson.

Political Highlights May 9, 2011: Week in Review Osama bin Laden Captured & Killed — Republicans Debate

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 tapes the Weekly Address at Allison Transmission in Indiana, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/6/11

STATS & POLLS

  • NBC poll: Nearly two-thirds back decision not to release bin Laden photos: The latest NBC News poll finds that nearly two-thirds of Americans back President Obama’s decision not to release the photos taken after Osama bin Laden’s death.
    Fifty-two percent said they strongly believe the Obama administration should not release the photos, and an additional 12 percent agreed, although not as strongly. By comparison, 24 percent said they strongly believe the photos should be released, and 5 percent more agreed not so strongly…. – MSNBC, 5-8-11
  • Polls: worry about attacks, confidence in Obama up: Americans are concerned about retaliatory terrorist attacks following Osama bin Laden’s death but also have more confidence in President Barack Obama’s leadership as commander in chief, according to three polls taken after American forces killed the terror leader. Still, the surveys show that people divide sharply along partisan lines when choosing whether to credit Obama, a Democrat, or former President George W. Bush, a Republican, for bin Laden’s death.
    There is near universal acclaim for the military action that killed bin Laden — 93 percent approve according to a USA Today/Gallup poll — and a Washington Post-Pew Research Center survey finds most feel relieved, proud or happy about the death of the al-Qaida leader.
    A CNN/Opinion Research Center poll also finds Obama’s ratings as a “strong and decisive leader” rose after an April dip following a standoff with Congress over the federal budget. In the new poll, 58 percent said he is a strong leader, up 5 percentage points overall and 14 percentage points among independents. The USA Today/Gallup survey finds a narrow majority feel more confident in Obama’s abilities as commander in chief.
    But voters divide along partisan lines over the roles of Obama and Bush in bringing an end to the decade-long manhunt. Though 76 percent in the Post-Pew poll give Obama at least some credit for bin Laden’s death, that dips to 61 percent among Republicans. Likewise, while 51 percent overall give Bush some of the credit, just 35 percent of Democrats do…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Nielsen: 56 million watch Obama’s bin Laden speech: Despite the late hour in the East, President Obama’s speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden had an audience of 56.5 million viewers. The Nielsen Co. says Sunday’s audience was larger than Obama’s recent prime-time addresses, including his March 28 speech on Libya. The Wall Street Journal reports that Nielsen says it was Obama’s biggest audience since election night in 2008. On that night, about 70 million people were watching election coverage during the period that included Obama’s speech…. – AP, 5-3-11

IN FOCUS: OSAMA BIN LADEN CAPTURED & KILLED

President Obama places a wreath at the site of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/5/11
  • President Obama on the mission to kill bin Laden: Whether we like it or not, Osama bin Laden changed America. With that September morning in 2001, he introduced fear and ingrained the threat of terrorism into the daily lives of anyone who lives in a big city, travels by air or enters a federal building. For more than a decade, bin Laden managed to elude the U.S. military and intelligence establishments, and he taunted three U.S. presidents. That finally ended last Sunday, and the last thing bin Laden saw was a Navy SEAL in the third floor bedroom of his compound in Pakistan.
    Now, for the first time, we hear the story from President Barack Obama, who spoke with us on Wednesday at the White House. He explains how the plan was prepared and carried out, what was going through his mind as he watched it unfold, and the secrecy leading up to his historic announcement last Sunday night. “Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaida,” the president announced in a televised address to the nation late Sunday night…. – CBS News, 5-8-11
  • Obama: ‘Getting our man’ outweighed risks of raid: President Barack Obama ordered the commando raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after deciding the risks were outweighed by the possibility “of us finally getting our man” following a decade of frustration, he said in a Sunday broadcast interview. The helicopter raid “was the longest 40 minutes of my life,” Obama told CBS’ “60 Minutes,” with the possible exception of when his daughter Sasha became sick with meningitis as an infant.
    Monitoring the commando raid operation in the White House Situation Room a week ago, Obama said he and top aides “had a sense of when gunfire and explosions took place” halfway around the world, and knew when one of the helicopters carrying Navy SEALs made an unplanned hard landing. “But we could not get information clearly about what was happening inside the compound,” he said…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Obama: bin Laden had support network: Osama bin Laden benefited from “some sort of support network” inside Pakistan, President Barack Obama said in a Sunday broadcast interview, but he added it is not clear whether government officials knew the terrorist leader was living inside their country when U.S. commandos killed him in a raid last weekend.
    “We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate,” Obama said in an interview for CBS’ “60 Minutes.”…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Obama on bin Laden: The full “60 Minutes” interview: On Wednesday, May 4, 2011 – three days after he announced that American troops had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan – President Barack Obama talked with “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Below is a transcript of that interview. The video of this i NYT, 5-8-11
  • AP Interview: Petraeus on bin Laden-Taliban link: The killing of Osama bin Laden may weaken al-Qaida’s influence on the Afghan Taliban, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan said Sunday. Even so, Gen. David Petraeus warned that Afghanistan is still a potential refuge for international terror groups, and al-Qaida is just one of those. He also warned that the April 29 U.S. raid that killed the al-Qaida leader in his Pakistani compound did not spell the end of the NATO battle in Afghanistan, which began just one month after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington with the aim of wiping out al-Qaida and bin Laden.
    NATO officials have said that they do not intend to speed up their withdrawal just because al-Qaida’s leader is gone, but the military feels it may bring the Taliban closer to negotiations with the Afghan government.
    Interviewed aboard his helicopter by The Associated Press, Petraeus said the strong link between al-Qaida and the Taliban was personal, not organizational.
    “The deal between the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida was between Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, not the organizations,” Petraeus said as he visited U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Michelle Obama lauds US forces in bin Laden raid: “Just imagine, a small group of brave men, dropped by helicopter, half a world away in the dead of night into unknown danger inside the lair of the most wanted man in the world,” Mrs. Obama told the graduating class at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls. “They did not hesitate, risking everything for us, for our freedom and security. And they did it not just as Navy SEALs. They did it as husbands, as fathers, as sons. Their families were back here, with no idea of their mission or whether their loved one would ever come home.”… “Now, that’s the very essence of the word ‘service,'” she said of the military action. “And the least we can do is give something back to these troops and their families who have given us so much.”… – AP, 5-7-11
  • After Bin Laden: What might come next: After an extraordinary week of events in the United States and abroad, one thing is clear: Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of American forces has the potential to ripple out into global affairs in many ways — political and military, diplomatic and cultural, and of course U.S. national security…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Bin Laden death reignites debate over CIA tactics: The government’s hunt for Osama bin Laden has left the country questioning whether the tactics used to interrogate suspected terrorists were successful and lawful. With his death, both sides of the debate have regrouped along familiar lines, claiming they were right all along. But America’s greatest counterterrorism success does not represent a victory for either camp. Rather, it paints a clearer picture of the CIA’s interrogation and detention program, revealing where it was successful and where its successes have been overstated…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Candid videos show rare view of unkempt bin Laden: From a shabby, makeshift office, he ran a global terrorist empire. The world’s most wanted man watched newscasts of himself from a tiny television perched atop a rickety old desk cluttered with wires. For years, the world only saw the 54-year-old Osama bin Laden in the rare propaganda videos that trickled out, the ones portraying him as a charismatic religious figure unfazed by being the target of a worldwide manhunt. On Saturday, the U.S. released a handful of videos, selected to show bin Laden in a much more candid, unflattering light. In the short clips, bin Laden appears hunched and tired, seated on the floor, watching television wrapped in a wool blanket and wearing a knit cap. Outtakes of his propaganda tapes show that they were heavily scripted affairs. He dyed and trimmed his beard for the cameras, then shot and reshot his remarks until the timing and lighting were just right…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Key role in bin Laden raid for secret choppers: Secret until now, stealth helicopters may have been key to the success of the Osama bin Laden raid. But the so-far- unexplained crash of one of the modified Black Hawks at the scene apparently compromised at least some of the aircraft’s secrets.
    The two choppers evidently used radar-evading technologies, plus noise and heat suppression devices, to slip across the Afghan-Pakistan border, avoid detection by Pakistani air defenses and deliver two dozen Navy SEALs into the al-Qaida leader’s lair. Photos of the lost chopper’s wrecked tail are circulating online — proving it exists and also exposing sensitive details.
    President Barack Obama traveled Friday to Fort Campbell, Ky., and met privately with the elite Army pilots who flew the daring mission. They are members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, nicknamed the Night Stalkers, and he saluted them in public remarks afterward…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Pentagon chief: Bin Laden death a game-changer: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the killing of Osama bin Laden could be game-changer for the U.S. military in Afghanistan by splitting the native Taliban from the al-Qaeda terror network. Gates took questions for about 35 minutes Friday from about 300 airmen at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Analysis: Reimagining Obama after gutsy raid: It was just a firehouse chat with the guys of Engine 54 in lower Manhattan. But President Barack Obama delivered a message he hopes will also hit home with every American in this week of national catharsis: “You’re always going to have a president and an administration who’s got your back.” In the denouement to the daring raid that brought down Osama bin Laden, the president has in effect been reintroduced to the nation. While taking care to strike the right tone — trying to savor the success of the dramatic covert operation without appearing to gloat — Obama has offered himself as a decisive leader willing to take bold risks…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Source: Bin Laden directing al-Qaida figures: The wealth of information pulled from Osama bin Laden’s compound has reinforced the belief that he played a strong role in planning and directing attacks by al-Qaida and its affiliates in Yemen and Somalia, senior U.S. officials said Friday. And the data further demonstrates to the U.S. that top al-Qaida commanders and other key insurgents are scattered throughout Pakistan, not just in the rugged border areas, and are being supported and given sanctuary by Pakistanis, a senior defense official said. U.S. counterterrorism officials have debated how big a role bin Laden and core al-Qaida leaders were playing in the attacks launched by affiliated terror groups, particularly al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, and al-Shabab in Somalia…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to bin Laden assault team: ‘Job well done’: Brimming with pride, President Barack Obama on Friday met and honored the U.S. commandos he sent after terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, saluting them on behalf of America and the world and capping an extraordinary week for the country. “Job well done,” the president declared. Obama addressed roughly 2,000 troops after meeting privately with the full assault team — Army helicopter pilots and Navy SEAL commandos — who executed the dangerous raid on bin Laden’s compound and killed the al-Qaida leader in Pakistan early Monday. Their identities are kept secret.
    Speaking to a sweltering hangar full of cheering soldiers, Obama said: “The terrorist leader that struck our nation on 9/11 will never threaten America again.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • Bin Laden eyed US rails from his secret compound: Holed up in a compound in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden was scheming how to hit the United States hard again, according to newly uncovered documents that show al-Qaida plans for derailing an American train on the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Details of the plan emerged Thursday as some of the first intelligence was gleaned from the trove of information found in bin Laden’s residence when Navy SEALs killed the al-Qaida leader and four of his associates. They took his body and scooped up computers, DVDs and documents from the compound where U.S. officials think he had been living for as long as six years…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Ground zero crowd voices hope, apprehensionAP, 5-6-11
  • Indian Country network calls for Geronimo support: A media network aimed at Native Americans is urging social network users to change their profile pictures to an image of Geronimo in honor of the legendary Apache warrior. Indian Country Today put out the call to its Facebook and Twitter followers Thursday in response to the U.S. military’s use of Geronimo as a code name for Osama bin Laden. It asks followers and others to use the photo for the next two days to “honor the true spirit” of the 19th century warrior…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to meet some from bin Laden raid: A White House official says President Barack Obama will meet with some of those involved in the military assault that killed Osama bin Laden when he visits Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on Friday…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Families mourn US troops amid swirl of emotions: As mourners filed out of the church, two by two, the organist struck up an unusual tune for a funeral: “America the Beautiful.” Outside, military pallbearers in ceremonial dress carried the flag-draped casket of 1st Lt. Omar Vazquez to the waiting hearse, while a dozen retired servicemen saluted, flags in hand. About 60 miles away, President Barack Obama was laying a wreath at ground zero — another dramatic moment in a week of celebration and somber reflection that began with news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Families and friends of U.S. troops recently killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan face a swirl of emotions as they bury their dead while the nation marks the killing of the terrorist mastermind of 9/11…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Bush skips 9/11 event, keeps low public profile: In the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush famously grabbed a bullhorn while speaking to those gathered at ground zero, telling them: “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
    Almost 10 years later, the now former president declined an invitation from President Barack Obama to attend a somber remembrance Thursday at New York’s ground zero to mark the killing by U.S. forces of Osama bin Laden. Bush’s decision is consistent with his desire to keep a low profile.
    “He’s made the real decision not to enter into politics or the public eye,” former first lady Laura Bush told The Associated Press on Thursday after appearing at a Dallas elementary school to announce grants from her foundation to school libraries…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Pentagon: No firm evidence of Pakistani complicity: The U.S. has no “definitive evidence” that Pakistan knew Osama bin Laden had been living in the compound where Navy SEALs killed him, but the Pakistanis must now show convincingly their commitment to defeating the al-Qaida terrorist network, a senior Pentagon official said Thursday…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • 1st responders see Obama visits as sign of hope: As President Barack Obama visited with firefighters and police officers in New York City on Thursday, some saw a glimmer of hope that Osama bin Laden’s death may help bring an end to the decade of war and grief that began on Sept. 11, 2001.
    “Every day is a memory of that day,” said detective Steven Stefanakos, who was among the officers Obama met on his way to a wreath-laying ceremony at ground zero. “The difference now is we have an end, which means we can have a new beginning, a chance to move forward past this.”
    The president’s visit to New York — part somber, part celebratory — began with a stop at a Manhattan firehouse that suffered grave losses on 9/11…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Congressmen differ on releasing bin Laden photo: A New York Democrat is backing President Barack Obama’s refusal to release photos of the slain Osama bin Laden, while a California Republican says making the pictures public would bring closure for the relatives of 9/11 victims…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Islamic world quiet as bin Laden age closes: In life, Osama bin Laden was ingrained in the Muslim consciousness in countless ways: the lion of holy warriors, the untouchable nemesis of the West, the evil zealot who soiled their faith with blood and intolerance. In death, however, the voices across the Islamic world are now relatively muted in sharp counterpoint to the rage and shame — or hero-worship — that he long inspired…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Clinton: ‘No idea’ about timing of iconic photo: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday she has “no idea” what she and the rest of President Barack Obama’s national security team were watching at the precise moment that a photographer snapped what has become an iconic image of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
    “Those were 38 of the most intense minutes,” Clinton said of the raid on bin Laden’s compound by U.S. Navy SEALs. “I have no idea what any of us were looking at at that particular millisecond when the picture was taken.”
    “I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs,” she said. “So, it may have no great meaning whatsoever.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • When a terrorist dies, is it OK to gloat?: It’s one thing to be satisfied that the world’s most wanted terrorist has been killed by a U.S. Navy SEAL unit in Pakistan. But where does satisfaction end and gloating begin? It’s a question being posed online by ordinary Americans, religious figures, various commentators and several 9/11 widows. And it’s bound to be on President Barack Obama’s mind as he treads that fine line in a visit Thursday to ground zero.
    Could Obama’s visit in itself be interpreted as gloating? The president, who decided Wednesday not to release gruesome death photos of bin Laden so as not to “spike the football,” seems well aware of the dangers. He planned a somber and quiet New York visit — no speech, the White House said, just laying a wreath at the World Trade Center site and meeting privately with families and first responders.
    “The president thinks it’s entirely fitting and appropriate to visit the site … in the wake of this significant and cathartic moment for the American people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama to visit Fort Campbell, Ky., on Friday: The White House says President Barack Obama will travel to Fort Campbell, Ky., on Friday to speak with service members who recently came home from Afghanistan. Fort Campbell is home to several units, including the 101st Airborne Division. The division has several Brigade Combat Teams that recently returned from Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Inside bin Laden’s lair with SEAL Team Six: So much could have gone wrong as SEAL Team Six swept over Pakistan’s dark landscape, dropped down ropes into a compound lined by wall after wall, exchanged gunfire and confronted “Geronimo” face to face. The vital things went right. Just about every contingency the 25 commandos trained for came at them, rapidly, chaotically and dangerously, in their lunge for Osama bin Laden…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Spy chief, not Pentagon, led raid on bin Laden: Has anyone noticed that CIA Director Leon Panetta has said a lot more about the Navy commandos’ killing of Osama bin Laden than has the Pentagon chief, who, after all, is second in the military chain of command behind President Barack Obama? The reason Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said exactly nothing about the raid is that the CIA, not the Pentagon, ran the operation. That fact speaks volumes about the government’s rarely noticed post-9/11 melding of military might with intelligence craft…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Indians say bin Laden code name another insult: The U.S. military’s use of Geronimo as a code name for Osama bin Laden tarnished the achievement of the raid by insulting an American ethnic group, Native American tribal leaders and advocates told Congress on Thursday. Comparing the legendary Apache leader to a terrorist and enemy of the United States was deeply insulting and did real damage to Native Americans of all ages, said Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute, a Washington-based Native rights organization.
    “It is shocking, really shocking, that this happened,” said Harjo, a member of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Why the US had it wrong about bin Laden’s hideout: The dramatic raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in a Pakistani suburb this week capped a decade-long manhunt, but it also revealed just how wrong the U.S. had been about where the world’s most wanted terrorist was hiding. Time and again, the nation’s top national security officials told each other and the world that their best intelligence suggested that bin Laden was living along the mountainous, ungoverned border of Pakistan and Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Bin Laden death prompts questions about legality: The legality of U.S. forces shooting an unarmed Osama bin Laden hinges on a highly contentious and long-debated question: Is anti-terrorism part of a military campaign or a law-enforcement effort? In war, enemy combatants who don’t explicitly surrender are considered legitimate targets, international experts said. Bin Laden’s killing in a military context would be legal under the scenario officially put out by the White House Wednesday — that bin Laden was unarmed but tried to resist being taken in. In contrast, international human rights law dictates that police must use the greatest possible effort to capture suspects alive, barring direct threats to the lives of officers or civilians.
    “There is a higher obligation not to use lethal force,” said Andrea Prasow, senior counsel in Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program. “We don’t have enough facts to know whether the killing was justified under international law,” Prasow told AP. “We look forward to the U.S. government disclosing further information so we can understand exactly what happened. It may well have been a lawful killing in an armed conflict situation or it may have been a lawful killing in a law enforcement context.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Americans yearn to talk to SEALs in bin Laden raid: Patrons in bars across the country are raising toasts in the air, hoping the gesture of gratitude would somehow reach the clandestine Navy SEAL team that took down Osama bin Laden. Millions of others are turning to social networks with their thoughts. For many of them, it feels frustratingly incomplete to be deprived the chance to see the faces of those they consider heroes for killing the world’s most-wanted terrorist…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • US lawmaker says risk of photo release too high: A top Republican who has seen the death photo of Osama bin Laden says releasing the picture publicly could endanger U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
    Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says the picture could inflame anti-U.S. sentiments around the world and hamper intelligence cooperation with the United States. He says conspiracy theorists won’t be persuaded no matter what the U.S. does…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama will not release photo of bin Laden: President Barack Obama says the White House will not release a photo of Osama bin Laden’s body. Obama made the remarks during an interview Wednesday with CBS’ “60 Minutes.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama to lay wreath at Ground Zero: President Barack Obama will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Ground Zero and meet with 9/11 families and first responders when he visits Thursday…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Bin Laden mission was risky business for Obama: No guts, no glory. The nail-biting, 40-minute clandestine operation that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death could have been a calamitous political and military failure; a bloodbath in Pakistan that left U.S. forces and scores of civilians dead or captured by America’s most ferocious enemy.
    Or, as it happened, it could unfold largely in textbook fashion — delivering a stunning success for the often maligned intelligence community, a political and national security coup for a struggling president and revenge for Americans still carrying vivid memories of Sept. 11. By secretly sending a team of special operations forces into an enemy fortress in a suburban neighborhood of a sovereign country, President Barack Obama chose the path of greatest risk, but also greatest reward…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Raid poses narrative challenge for White House: For President Barack Obama, the test now is in the telling. The White House has struggled to craft its account of the audacious raid that killed Osama bin Laden for both a jubilant American public and a skeptical Muslim world, correcting parts of its narrative, withholding others and, after internal debate, deciding not to release photos that could be considered too provocative. “We review this information and make these decisions with the same calculation as we do with so many things — what we’re trying to accomplish and does it serve or in any way harm our interests, not just domestically but globally,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Officials: SEALs thought bin Laden threatening: President Barack Obama ordered grisly photographs of Osama bin Laden in death sealed from public view on Wednesday, declaring, “We don’t need to spike the football” in triumph after this week’s daring middle-of- the-night raid. The terrorist leader was killed by American commandos who burst into his room and feared he was reaching for a nearby weapon, U.S. officials said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Mayor: Obama will be in NYC for 9/11 anniversary: President Barack Obama will mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in New York City at the formal opening of the national memorial to the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terrorist attacks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.
    “I certainly think it’s terribly important for him to come on 9/11/11. And he will be there. At least the staff has told me that he will come,” Bloomberg said at an unrelated City Hall news conference. “It’s a very emotional moment in the country now. And I think it’s perfectly appropriate for him to come.”… – AP, 5-3-11
  • Bin Laden was unarmed when SEALs stormed room: Osama bin Laden was unarmed when Navy SEALs burst into his room and shot him to death, the White House said Tuesday, a change in the official account that raised questions about whether the U.S. ever planned to capture the terrorist leader alive. The Obama administration was still debating whether to release gruesome images of bin Laden’s corpse, balancing efforts to demonstrate to the world that he was dead against the risk that the images could provoke further anti- U.S. sentiment. But CIA Director Leon Panetta said a photograph would be released.
    “I don’t think there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public,” Panetta said in an interview with “NBC Nightly News.” Asked again later by The Associated Press, he said, “I think it will.” Asked about the final confrontation with bin Laden, Panetta said: “I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything.” The CIA chief told PBS NewsHour, “It was a firefight going up that compound. … I think it – this was all split-second action on the part of the SEALs.”
    Panetta said that bin Laden made “some threatening moves that were made that clearly represented a clear threat to our guys. And that’s the reason they fired.”…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House struggles to get story right on raid: Killing Osama bin Laden was a big victory for the U.S., but how exactly the raid went down is another story — and another, and another. Over two days, the White House has offered contradictory versions of events, including misidentifying which of bin Laden’s sons was killed and wrongly saying bin Laden’s wife died in gunfire, as it tries to sort through what the president’s press secretary called the “fog of combat” and produce an accurate account. Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that officials were trying to get information out as quickly as possible about the complex event witnessed by just a handful of people, and the story line was being corrected.
    “We provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you. … And obviously some of the information was, came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on,” Carney said…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • With bin Laden gone, will US stick to war plan?: The demise of Osama bin Laden complicates what was already a tough call for President Barack Obama: how to wind down the nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan. Now the symbolic reason for staying in the fight — to get al-Qaida’s leader and avenge 9/11 — has been undercut. Momentum had been building in Congress and elsewhere for a shift to a narrower, less costly military mission in Afghanistan even before the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden.
    This could suit Obama’s desire to put Afghanistan behind him by beginning a phased troop pullout this summer along with NATO partners. But it also could put him at sharper odds with his military commanders, who argue for a slower drawdown and a longer-term military commitment that they believe would lessen the chances of Afghanistan again falling apart…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House: bin Laden photo ‘gruesome’: The White House says the photograph of a dead Osama bin Laden is “gruesome” and that “it could be inflammatory” if released…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House: Bin Laden death won’t affect drawdown: The White House says Osama bin Laden’s death won’t affect plans to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan this summer. Spokesman Jay Carney says the plan is on track to begin pulling out troops in July and turning responsibility for security in certain areas over to the Afghans…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Newspapers see big demand from bin Laden news: When big news breaks, newspapers are in demand despite the immediacy of online news. Newspaper across the country including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Va., printed extra copies in anticipation of higher demand Monday, when headlines heralded the death of Osama bin Laden.
    Some newspapers stopped their presses to update their front pages with late Sunday’s developments. The Washington Examiner, a free daily newspaper, ran a special edition Monday afternoon under the headline, “We Got Him!”
    The website for the Newseum, a museum in Washington devoted to journalism, was inaccessible for many visitors Monday as thousands of people flocked to it to see how newspapers around the world handled coverage of the terrorist leader’s death. The website posts digital replicas of front pages of hundreds of newspapers every day…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House: US determined to destroy al-Qaida: White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan says U.S officials hope to build on the killing of Osama bin Laden to destroy the al-Qaida terrorist organization. Brennan tells NBC’s “Today” show the Obama administration is determined “to pummel the rest of al-Qaida.” He said the organization already has suffered “severe body blows.”… – AP, 5-3-11
  • Analysis: Bin Laden-fed unity may be short-lived: Republicans and Democrats heaped praise on the Obama administration’s role in killing Osama bin Laden. But few expect the goodwill to ease the path for tough domestic issues, such as taming the federal debt. “No way,” said Mike McKenna, a veteran Republican strategist and lobbyist. Everyone is pleased by the terrorist leader’s death, he said, “but it provides zero additional credibility on debt and deficit issues” for President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Fabled SEAL Team 6 ends hunt for bin Laden: The raid that killed Osama bin Laden will go down in history as the most important covert operation since 9/11, earning the elite Navy SEAL team that carried it out permanent bragging rights for finishing off the most-wanted terrorist on Earth. It was a near-textbook operation, despite the near-failure of one of the helicopters carrying the raiders. They all made it into Osama bin Laden’s high-walled compound in Pakistan, sliding down ropes in darkness, as they’ve done on so many raids hunting militants since al-Qaida declared war on the United States…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Phone call by Kuwaiti courier led to bin Laden: When one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted aides picked up the phone last year, he unknowingly led U.S. pursuers to the doorstep of his boss, the world’s most wanted terrorist. That monitored phone call, recounted Monday by a U.S. official, ended a years-long search for bin Laden’s personal courier, the key break in a worldwide manhunt. The courier, in turn, led U.S. intelligence to a walled compound in northeast Pakistan, where a team of Navy SEALs shot bin Laden to death…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama golf shoes could have been clue to bin Laden: Golf shoes in the Oval Office could have been a clue. President Barack Obama usually goes to the residence quarters of the White House after putting in a few weekend hours on the links. But he made an unusual beeline for his West Wing office last Sunday that raised eyebrows only in retrospect. He was headed for a top-secret meeting to review final preparations for a military operation he’d approved two days earlier, the one involving a raid by Navy SEALs that would end with the death of Osama bin Laden, one of the world’s most hunted men. But only a few insiders knew the real deal.
    In a remarkable 72 hours of his presidency, Obama carried around a momentous secret and gave no hint of it as he went about his duties consoling tornado victims, delivering a college commencement address and cracking jokes at a black-tie dinner…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Lawmakers: Did bin Laden hide in plain sight?: Incredulous lawmakers are pressing Pakistan for answers to two simple questions: What did its army and intelligence agents know of Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts and when did they know it? The al-Qaida terrorist leader behind the Sept. 11 attacks lived and died in a massive, fortified compound built in 2005 and located on the outskirts of Abbottabad, some 60 miles from the capital of Islamabad. It stood just a half- mile from the Kakul Military Academy, Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point, and close to various army regiments. Amid the high praise Monday for the successful U.S. military operation, congressional Republicans and Democrats questioned whether bin Laden was hiding in plain sight, with Pakistani military and intelligence operatives either totally unaware of his location or willfully ignoring his presence to protect him…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama urges continuation of national unity: President Barack Obama urged lawmakers Monday to “harness some of that unity” washing over the nation after Osama bin Laden’s death and carry it into the contentious debates awaiting them over federal spending, the debt and other issues. At a White House dinner for members of Congress, Obama acknowledged past disagreements and predicted future ones. But he said bin Laden’s demise was a reminder that what the country can achieve transcends party labels.
    “Last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11,” he said, urging that that spirit continue.
    Upon hearing bin Laden’s name, lawmakers of both parties interrupted the president with a standing ovation and whistles. Among the Republicans who rose to their feet were House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Obama has been sharply critical of Ryan’s 2012 budget plan.
    “We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics,” Obama said.
    Obama said he knows the unity that permeated the country after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks orchestrated by bin Laden has “frayed a little bit over the years” and said he has “no illusions” about the difficulties of the debates awaiting them. He noted other moments this year that brought the country together, including the January assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
    He added bin Laden’s death to that list. “So tonight, it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face,” he said…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Obama keeps poker face after bin Laden order: In a remarkable 72 hours of his presidency, Barack Obama carried a momentous secret and gave no hint of it as he consoled tornado victims, delivered a college commencement address and cracked jokes at a black-tie dinner. What few insiders knew was that Obama gave the go-ahead Friday for the military operation that would end with the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, target of the world’s most intense manhunt…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Tension as White House Situation Room watched raid: From halfway around the world, President Barack Obama and his national security team monitored the strike on Osama bin Laden’s compound in real time, watching and listening to the firefight that killed the terrorist leader. Gathered in the White House Situation Room, members of the group held their breath and barely spoke as they waited to see whether a carefully crafted yet extremely risky plan would succeed, said White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. Obama had been playing golf but returned to the White House for the suspenseful watch Sunday.
    Brennan said he would not reveal details “about what types of visuals we had or what type of feeds that were there but it was — it gave us the ability to actually track it on an ongoing basis.” Typically, members of the Navy SEAL team that conducted the operation wear helmet cameras that transmit sound and video to their operation centers and that data can be fed live to the White House and Pentagon. As the SEALs lowered themselves from helicopters into bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the president and his advisers could only wait.
    “It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday,” Brennan told reporters. “The minutes passed like days, and the president was very concerned about the security of our personnel.”…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Delivering on vow to kill bin Laden boosts Obama: As a candidate, Barack Obama pledged “we will kill bin Laden” by striking in Pakistan, if necessary, without that country’s consent. He drew intense criticism from all corners, even from Joe Biden, the Delaware senator who became his vice president, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination who is serving as his secretary of state. But Obama didn’t waver. And as president, he delivered.
    Now, in the early days of his re-election campaign, Obama is in a clear position of political strength as Americans finally are able to savor the death of the man responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Republicans who have long and successfully painted Democrats as weak on national security face a far tougher task in making that case against a triumphant Democratic incumbent.
    “The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden,” Obama said Monday in a statement certain to become a staple of his speeches in the presidential race…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Phone call by Kuwaiti courier led to bin Laden: When one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted aides picked up the phone last year, he unknowingly led U.S. pursuers to the doorstep of his boss, the world’s most wanted terrorist. That monitored phone call, recounted Monday by a U.S. official, ended a years-long search for bin Laden’s personal courier, the key break in a worldwide manhunt. The courier, in turn, led U.S. intelligence to a walled compound in northeast Pakistan, where a team of Navy SEALs shot bin Laden to death. The violent final minutes were the culmination of years of intelligence work. Inside the CIA team hunting bin Laden, it always was clear that bin Laden’s vulnerability was his couriers. He was too smart to let al-Qaida foot soldiers, or even his senior commanders, know his hideout. But if he wanted to get his messages out, somebody had to carry them, someone bin Laden trusted with his life…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Bin Laden’s demise: US rejoices after a decade: After nearly a decade of anger and fear, America rejoiced Monday at the demise of Osama bin Laden, the terror mastermind behind the horrific 9/11 attacks. Navy SEALs who killed the world’s most-wanted terrorist seized a trove of al-Qaida documents to pore over, and President Barack Obama laid plans to visit New York’s ground zero. Bin Laden, killed in an intense firefight in a daring raid at his fortified hideout in Pakistan, was hunted down based on information first gleaned years ago from detainees at secret CIA prison sites in Eastern Europe, officials disclosed…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • NY imam: Bin Laden death paves way for healing: The Muslim leader behind plans for a controversial mosque near the World Trade Center site is praising President Barack Obama after the death of Osama bin Laden. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (rah-OOF’) said Monday that Obama’s actions help support “people in the Arab world who are also fighting against terrorism by their own rulers.” Rauf said bin Laden’s death can bring “closure and healing around 9/11.”… – AP, 5-2-11
  • Govt borrowing goes on under GOP, Obama plans: It’s all but impossible to glean from the political rhetoric, but government borrowing will grow by trillions of dollars over the next decade if the budget backed by House Republicans translates into law. And by a few trillion more if President Barack Obama gets his way. Call it the unpleasant truth behind a political struggle over raising the debt limit that is expected to intensify as lawmakers return Monday from a two-week break…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • US: bin Laden must have had some Pakistani support: President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser says it is inconceivable that Osama bin Laden did not have some support in Pakistan, the country where he was hiding when he was killed in a firefight with U.S. forces…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Not everyone believes bin Laden really is dead: Knowing there would be disbelievers, the U.S. says it used convincing means to confirm Osama bin Laden’s identity during and after the firefight that killed him. But the mystique that surrounded the terrorist chieftain in life is persisting in death. Was it really him? How do we know? Where are the pictures? Already, those questions are spreading in Pakistan and surely beyond. In the absence of photos and with his body given up to the sea, many people don’t believe bin Laden — the Great Emir to some, the fabled escape artist of the Tora Bora mountains to foe and friend alike — is really dead. U.S. officials are balancing that skepticism with the sensitivities that might be inflamed by showing images they say they have of the dead al-Qaida leader and video of his burial at sea. Still, it appeared likely that photographic evidence would be produced…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Islamic scholars criticize bin Laden’s sea burial: Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets. Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca. Sea burials can be allowed, they said, but only in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship.
    Bin Laden’s burial at sea “runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs,” said Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque, Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • McChrystal praises courage of bin Laden mission: The raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan took extraordinary courage not only from the service members who carried it out, but from the “decision makers” behind the operation, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Monday.
    “Think of what would have happened if the mission had not been successful, and all of the second-guessing that would have happened,” Ret. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told a meeting of the American Iron and Steel Institute in Colorado Springs. “This mission sends a message about our will to stand up for what is right.”…. AP, 5-2-11
  • Clinton: bin Laden death doesn’t end war on terror: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is not the end of the war on terrorism and warned the network’s members that the United States would be relentless in its pursuit of them. Clinton said bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. forces in Pakistan nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks proved the United States was committed to tracking down the perpetrators of extremist violence and bringing them to justice.
    “Even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden,” she said…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Man unknowingly liveblogs Bin Laden operation: A computer programmer, startled by a helicopter clattering above his quiet Pakistani town in the early hours of the morning Monday, did what any social-media addict would do: he began sending messages to the social networking site Twitter. With his tweets, 33-year-old Sohaib Athar, who moved to the sleepy town of Abbottabad to escape the big city, became in his own words “the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”
    Soon the sole helicopter multiplied into several and gunfire and explosions rocked the air above the town, and Athar’s tweets quickly garnered tens of thousands of followers as he apparently became the first in the world to describe the U.S. operation to kill one of the world’s most wanted militants. Athar did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment — he explained in another tweet that a filter he set up to stop his email box from flooding could be culling out requests for interviews. He was up to more 70,000 followers by Monday evening.
    “I apologize for reporting the operation ‘unwittingly/unknowingly’ — had I known about it, I would have tweeted about it ‘wittingly’ I swear,” he tweeted after realizing what he had witnessed….
    Soon, however, the rumbling of international events far beyond the confines of this quiet upscale suburb began to dawn on Athar, and he realized what he might be witnessing.
    “I think the helicopter crash in Abbottabad, Pakistan and the President Obama breaking news address are connected,” he tweeted.
    Eight hours and about 35 tweets later, the confirmation came: “Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan,” Athar reported. “There goes the neighborhood.”… – AP, 5-2-11
  • Egypt’s al-Zawahri likely to succeed bin Laden: For years, Osama bin Laden’s charisma kept al-Qaida’s ranks filled with zealous recruits. But it was the strategic thinking and the organizational skills of his Egyptian right hand man that kept the terror network together after the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and pushed al-Qaida out. With Bin Laden killed, Ayman al-Zawahri becomes the top candidate for the world’s top terror job…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Analysis: Bin Laden death gives US reason to cheer: At last, something big to celebrate and lift America’s mood. A nation surly over rising gas prices, stubbornly high unemployment and nasty partisan politics poured into the streets to wildly cheer President Barack Obama’s announcement that Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, had been killed by U.S. forces after a decade-long manhunt.
    The outcome could not have come at a better time for Obama, sagging in the polls as he embarks on his re-election campaign. For now, at least, he is assured of a big political boost, something that could strengthen his hand as he heads into a big battle over federal spending with Republicans who control the House…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Inside the raid that killed bin Laden: Helicopters descended out of darkness on the most important counterterrorism mission in U.S. history. It was an operation so secret, only a select few U.S. officials knew what was about to happen. The location was a fortified compound in an affluent Pakistani town two hours outside Islamabad. The target was Osama bin Laden. Intelligence officials discovered the compound in August while monitoring an al-Qaida courier. The CIA had been hunting that courier for years, ever since detainees told interrogators that the courier was so trusted by bin Laden that he might very well be living with the al-Qaida leader…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Palin asks whether Pakistan helped bin Laden: Did Pakistani leaders help harbor Osama bin Laden? Sarah Palin wants to know. Speaking at a fundraiser the day after bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, the former Republican vice presidential nominee praised the Navy SEALs who killed the man believed to have been the architect of 9/11. But she said Monday’s military operation raises “many serious questions” about Pakistan.
    “He was killed in an affluent city outside Islamabad. It wasn’t in a dark cave in some remote mountains,” Palin said. Palin said “many retired Pakistani military officers live in the area” near where bin Laden was living in “relative luxury.” She went on, “How was the most wanted man in the world able to live in relative comfort out in the open?” Palin concluded, “Perhaps some of the Pakistani leaders were helping him.”… – AP, 5-2-11
  • Americans feel both joy and fear over bin Laden: Americans awoke on Monday to a world without Osama bin Laden, and many felt jubilation, a surge of patriotism and a sense that their prayers had been answered and that the U.S. had finally avenged the nearly 3,000 people killed nearly a decade ago on Sept. 11, 2001. But to many — including some of the same Americans glad to see bin Laden dead — the news didn’t make them feel safer. It led to uncertainty and fear…. – AP, 5-1-11
  • Obama’s remarks on killing of Osama bin Laden: Text of remarks by President Barack Obama Sunday night announcing the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, as transcribed by the White House…. – AP, 5-1-11
  • Bush hails bin Laden death as victory for America: Officials in George W. Bush’s administration joined the former president Monday in expressing gratitude that with the death of Osama bin Laden, justice had finally been served. Bush said in a statement issued late Sunday night that President Barack Obama had called to tell him of bin Laden’s death. “I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission,” he said. “They have our everlasting gratitude.”… – AP, 5-1-11
  • Obama: Bin Laden’s death a ‘good day’ for America: Declaring the killing of Osama bin Laden “a good day for America,” President Barack Obama said Monday the world was safer without the al-Qaida terrorist and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. His administration used DNA testing to help confirm that American forces in Pakistan had in fact killed bin Laden, as U.S. officials sought to erase all doubt about the stunning news. A U.S. official says Osama bin Laden went down firing at the Navy SEALs who stormed his compound. “Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” Obama said of the news bound to lift his political standing and help define his presidency. He hailed the pride of those who broke out in overnight celebrations as word spread around the globe…. – AP, 5-1-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

  • US welcomes EU decision on Syria sanctions: The White House is welcoming the European Union’s decision to sanction Syrian officials for cracking down on anti-government protesters. An EU official said the organization next week will freeze the assets of 13 Syrian government officials and ban them from traveling anywhere in the European Union. Syrian President Bashar Assad will not be affected.
    Last week, President Barack Obama imposed financial penalties against three top Syrian officials, Syria’s intelligence agency and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard over the violent crackdown on demonstrators in Syria. On Friday, the White House warned that the U.S. and its allies will take additional steps to register its disapproval with Syria’s behavior…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • US to use frozen Gadhafi assets for Libyan people: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the Obama administration is moving to free up some of the more than $30 billion it has frozen in Libyan assets to support opponents of Moammar Gadhafi…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Accord Brings New Sense of Urgency to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A day after Palestinian leaders signed what many called a landmark reconciliation accord, the antagonists in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their international mediators in Europe staked out positions in a rapidly shifting political and diplomatic landscape on Thursday. Khaled Meshal of Hamas speaking in Cairo on Wednesday. His group’s agreement with Fatah has changed the dynamics of the situation with Israel.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, travelling to Rome for a meeting focused on Libya, refused to slam the door on negotiations that could include Hamas as part of a larger Palestinian authority, even as Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, said he was fully committed to working for a two-state solution.
    But Mr. Meshal was in no mood for concessions. In an interview in his Cairo hotel suite, he declined to swear off violence or to agree that a Palestinian state would produce an end to the conflict — key demands of Israel, the United States and Europe. He defined his goal as “a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital, without any settlements or settlers, not an inch of land swaps and respecting the right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel itself.
    Asked if a deal honoring those principles would produce an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, Mr. Meshal declined to elaborate. “I don’t want to talk about that,” he said. He added: “When Israel made agreements with Egypt and Jordan, no one conditioned it on how Israel should think. The Arabs and the West didn’t ask Israel what it was thinking deep inside. All Palestinians know that 60 years ago they were living on historic Palestine from the river to the sea. It is no secret.”… – NYT, 5-5-11

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

  • Insurgents’ fight halted on 2nd day in Kandahar: Afghan security forces on Sunday killed a few insurgents who had barricaded themselves inside a hotel in the southern city of Kandahar, ending a two-day battle that left more than two dozen militants dead, officials said. The battle raised new questions about the effectiveness of a yearlong campaign to secure Afghanistan’s south and Kandahar in particular. The city was the birthplace of the Taliban and is the economic hub of southern Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Obama’s pledged trip to Pakistan less certain: President Barack Obama’s promised trip to Pakistan this year, once seen as a reward for a key ally in the fight against terrorism, is now a looming headache for the White House as it tries to determine whether the government in Islamabad was complicit in allowing Osama bin Laden to live for years within the country’s borders. Obama told Pakistani officials in the fall that he planned to travel there in 2011, in part to soothe concerns that the president was favoring Pakistan’s neighbor and archrival, India, by visiting there first. White House spokesmen questioned this week by The Associated Press refused to say whether Obama still planned to go.
    In the hours after bin Laden’s killing by a U.S. special forces team in Pakistan, John Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, left the topic open. “I’m not going to address the president’s schedule,” he said. “I think there’s a commitment that the president has made that he is intending to visit Pakistan. A lot depends on availability, scheduling.”… – AP, 5-7-11
  • US Ambassador to Mexico sets date to depart: U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual will leave Mexico by May 18 as a result of his resignation two months ago amid furor over leaked diplomatic cables that angered the Mexican government. Pascual will take a job on that date as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, U.S. Embassy spokesman Alex Featherstone said Thursday night. “One of his first tasks will be designing a new Bureau for Energy Resources that will integrate energy security with the conduct of U.S. foreign policy,” Featherstone wrote in a message announcing the plans…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Top US diplomat for Latin America resigning: The Obama administration’s senior diplomat for Latin America is stepping down, and the top Republican on the House foreign affairs committee is happy to see him go. The State Department said Friday that Arturo Valenzuela will leave this summer to return to a teaching post at Georgetown University after serving since 2009 as the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. Spokesman Mark Toner said the administration will start looking for a successor and that it was deeply appreciative of Valenzuela’s service…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Analysis: US-Pakistan relations troubled: Osama bin Laden’s death has Congress pointing fingers at Pakistan and many in the Obama administration expressing thinly veiled exasperation. But it probably won’t mean the breakup of a marriage of convenience that is maddening to both the U.S and nuclear-armed Pakistan. The alternative would be worse. “It is not always an easy relationship,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledged Thursday, but it is useful for both countries. “We are going to continue to cooperate between our governments, our militaries, our law enforcement agencies,” she said…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • White House advances US-Colombia trade agreement: The White House said Wednesday that it was ready to start talks with Congress on a free trade deal with Colombia, setting the stage for lawmakers to move ahead on similar agreements with South Korea and Panama, as Republicans had demanded. Administration officials said they expected technical discussions to begin Thursday with congressional aides, the first step in the approval process. President Barack Obama has made boosting U.S. trade an integral part of his economic agenda. The White House had hoped for quick approval of the largest deal, the Korean pact signed in December, but GOP lawmakers threatened to block it unless the White House also finalized agreements with Panama and Colombia…. – AP, 5-4-11

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to troops at Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, 2011. Vice President Joe Biden stands at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Health care costs a hefty price tag for Pentagon: A military built for fighting wars is looking more and more like a health care entitlement program. Costs of the program that provides health coverage to some 10 million active duty personnel, retirees, reservists and their families have jumped from $19 billion in 2001 to $53 billion in the Pentagon’s latest budget request. Desperate to cut spending in Washington’s time of fiscal austerity, President Barack Obama has proposed increasing the fees for working-age retirees in the decades-old health program, known as TRICARE. After years of resisting proposed increases for the military men and women who sacrificed for a nation, budget-conscious lawmakers suddenly are poised to make them pay a bit more for their health care, though not on the president’s terms…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Automatic budget cuts have spotty record: Congress and President Barack Obama are proposing ways to automatically trigger budget savings if they can’t rein in deficits the old-fashioned way, by enacting laws to cut spending or raise taxes. Similar efforts in the past have a spotty record.
    The last quarter-century has seen plenty of missed deficit and spending targets and inventive evasions of budget curbs. This is because the same legislators who put in place those budget constraints can pass laws to ignore them.
    This year’s expected record deficit of $1.5 trillion and a cumulative national debt topping $14 trillion have snowballed into a major political issue that probably will color presidential and congressional elections in 2012. As a result, Washington is awash with proposals from Obama, lawmakers and anti-deficit groups such as the Bipartisan Policy Center to automatically trigger budget savings if ceilings on spending, the national debt or other benchmarks are pierced…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Obama tries to reassure public on economy, jobs: President Barack Obama is reassuring the public that jobs and the economy are his top priority. At the end of a historic and emotionally charged week that began with his nationally televised announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan during a raid by U.S. special forces, Obama on Saturday returned to promoting his energy agenda…. The news of bin Laden’s demise dominated the week’s headlines.
    “So although our economy hasn’t been the focus of the news this week, not a day goes by that I’m not focused on your jobs, your hopes and your dreams,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Feds drop Bush era endangered species policy: The Obama administration has discarded a Bush administration policy that considered state boundaries when determining endangered species protections. Under the policy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could require special protection for a species in one state but not in another, even though the species’ habitat exists in both states…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to participate in town hall meeting on CBS: CBS News says it will be holding a town hall meeting on the economy with President Barack Obama on Wednesday. “Face the Nation” anchor Bob Schieffer and “Early Show” anchor Erica Hill will join Obama before a live audience at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the network announced Friday. Questions also will come from a nationwide online audience. The one-hour event will be broadcast on Thursday during the 8-to-9 a.m. Eastern hour of “The Early Show.”… – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to speak on immigration policy in Texas: The White House says President Barack Obama will deliver a speech on immigration when he visits El Paso, Texas, next Tuesday. It will be the latest in a string of events the White House has devoted to immigration policy despite an unfavorable climate on Capitol Hill for passing the kind of comprehensive legislation Obama favors. The president wants to see a path to legalization for the millions of illegal immigrants in this country, something opposed by Republicans who control the House…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Colin Powell: Obama blew away the birthers: Colin Powell told graduates of South Carolina’s premier historically black university that they were graduating during a tumultuous time that saw a royal wedding, a pope’s beatification and a U.S. military assault that killed Osama bin Laden, “the worst person on earth.” But the former secretary of state and Joint Chiefs chairman told South Carolina State University’s 400 graduates on Friday that he particularly enjoyed another recent event: “That was when President Obama took out his birth certificate and blew away Donald Trump and all the birthers!”… – A, 5-6-11
  • Obama visit highlights Ind. as tough state to hold: President Barack Obama, the first Democrat to win Indiana in a presidential election in four decades, could find it tough to hold on to in 2012 even if Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels decides not to enter the presidential race. And a White House run by Daniels from a state that’s recently become a showcase for conservatives could make a repeat victory by Obama impossible, one political expert said.
    The president made a stop in Indiana on Friday to tout his energy policy, his fifth visit since taking office. Daniels met him on the tarmac at the Indianapolis airport, a meeting his Republican supporters hoped would foreshadow a matchup to come…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Businesses now hiring at fastest pace since 2006: American companies are on a hiring spree. Businesses delivered a jolt of strength to the economy by creating 268,000 jobs in April, the biggest monthly total in more than five years. The gains were solid across an array of industries, even beleaguered construction. It was the third month in a row of at least 200,000 new jobs. The private sector has added jobs for 14 consecutive months. Even a slight rise in the unemployment rate to 9 percent appears to be a quirk….. – AP, 5-6-11
  • School in rural Wash. town vies for Obama speech: This rural farm town tucked amid Washington’s apple and cherry orchards seems an unlikely stop for a U.S. president. Yet Bridgeport High School is one of three national finalists for a commencement address by President Barack Obama, thanks to an on-time graduation rate that exceeds the national average and a college push that beats some of the ritziest public schools. All 37 seniors will graduate next month. All are headed to college or to a technical school. And the possibility of a presidential visit has them and their whole town buzzing…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama talks immigration at Cinco de Mayo event: President Barack Obama says it will take changing minds, hearts and votes to fix a broken immigration system. He also told celebrants at a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House that their help will be needed to make it happen…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Poetry night at the White House next Wednesday: President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will celebrate American poetry and prose with a gathering of poets, musicians and artists at the White House next Wednesday night. Professionals Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Common, Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Aimee Mann and Jill Scott will read, sing and highlight poetry’s influence on American culture…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama helps kick off Wounded Warriors’ bike ride: With a 1-2-3 and the sound of a horn, President Barack Obama has kicked off a regional bicycle tour to help raise money for wounded service members. Many of the riders had lost one or both legs and rode hand-cranked bicycles. Obama told the riders they are an inspiration…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama to meet with Prince Charles: President Barack Obama will meet with Britain’s Prince Charles on Wednesday. It’s the prince’s first trip to the U.S. visit since 2007…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Some White House records may not be preserved: The nation’s archivist said Tuesday he’s uncomfortable with allowing White House staff members to decide whether their tweets, emails and Facebook messages from personal accounts are work-related and must be saved. David Ferriero, archivist of the United States, told a House hearing that official communications sent from a presidential employee’s personal device, using personal accounts, must be preserved under the law. However, a staff member gets to determine what is official.
    Brook Colangelo, the Obama administration’s chief information officer, said there’s no way to automatically capture communications from personal accounts unless they are accessed through a government-issued computer or personal device, such as an iPad or BlackBerry. He said the administration relies on periodic training to help employees make the right decision…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama honors national teacher of the year: President Barack Obama is honoring Michelle Shearer of Maryland as the 2011 National Teacher of the Year. Shearer teaches chemistry at Urbana High School in Frederick, Md. In a Rose Garden ceremony, Obama says Shearer represents all teachers who are committed to improving their own skills in order to better educate their students…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama honors 2 Army privates killed in Korean War: When President Barack Obama expressed his pride in America’s men and women in uniform, he was speaking about those who hours earlier had killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and those who six decades earlier had given their lives in the Korean War. During a somber ceremony Monday in the White House East Room, Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor posthumously on two Army privates — Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano of Pukalani, Hawaii, and Henry Svehla of Belleville, N.J.
    “Today we remember them with the highest military decoration that our nation can bestow,” Obama said, describing the pair as “hometown kids who stood tall in America’s uniform.” The commander in chief also reflected on the news of bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. forces during a raid in Pakistan, saying “I think we can all agree this is a good day for America.”… – AP, 5-2-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Boehner Is Boxed In by Republican Party’s Anti-Tax Pledge: Jonathan Alter: Can the Republicans find sweet harmony? On the deficit debate, party frontman John Boehner is boxed in. “Why would you cut a deal before 2012?” asks one tax hard-liner. “It’s Paul’s idea,” House Speaker Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told ABC News in an April 25 interview. “Other people have other ideas.” If you get the sense that John is distancing himself from Paul, don’t blame Yoko. Boehner is worried that Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare — which passed the House with all but four Republican votes on April 15 — isn’t playing so well at town hall meetings. The speaker is in a box…. – Bloomberg, 5-5-11
  • Senate GOP won’t vote for consumer protection head: Almost every Senate Republican said Thursday they will vote against any Obama administration choice to head a new agency designed to protect consumers from harmful financial activities unless changes are made in the agency that Republicans say has been given too much power.
    “No person should have the unfettered authority presently granted to the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” 44 GOP senators wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama. “Therefore we believe that the Senate should not consider any nominee to be CFPB director until the CFPB is properly reformed.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • House passes bill making it easier to drill: The Republican-controlled House passed the first of three bills Thursday aimed at speeding up offshore oil and gas drilling a year after the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. In a 266-149 vote that included 33 Democrats in its majority, the House approved a bill that would force the federal government to conduct three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one off the Virginia coast within a year, or by June 2012. Lease sales are the first step in a multi-year process that can culminate in drilling. The Obama administration had postponed the sales after the massive Gulf oil spill, saying it needed time to conduct more thorough environmental reviews, to account for the blowout’s effects on the Gulf ecosystem and to incorporate lessons learned from the disaster…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • GOP seeks common ground with Obama on Medicare: The top House Republican responsible for Medicare says he’s open to other approaches besides privatization to curb the program’s costs. Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan told reporters Thursday he still supports the GOP plan to replace Medicare with a voucher-like payment for future retirees. But Camp said he’s not interested in laying down more political markers and wants solutions President Barack Obama can sign into law…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • House panel moves to revive alternate jet engine: A House panel on Wednesday took a step toward reviving the alternate engine for the next-generation F-35 fighter plane over the objections of President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who consider it wasteful spending. By voice vote, the Armed Services subcommittee overseeing land and air forces approved legislation that would force the Pentagon to re-open competition if it has to ask Congress for more money so Pratt & Whitney can build the chosen engine. Inevitably in military contracting, the Defense Department has to seek more funds for a highly sophisticated warplane. The provision would apply to Pentagon spending in the next budget year…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • House OKs limits on tax breaks for abortions: The House voted Wednesday to limit tax breaks for insurance policies that cover abortions. The bill, which passed 251-175, was the latest Republican effort to chip away at President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and follow through on the GOP’s campaign promise to keep taxpayers from underwriting abortions. “Abortion is not health care,” said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • House panel OKs more money for Special Forces: A House panel on Wednesday approved $10.5 billion for Special Operations Command and its Navy SEALs unit widely praised for the bold mission to take out terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. By voice vote, the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities agreed to the amount, an increase of about 7 percent from the current level, with lawmakers marveling at the success of the Navy SEALs. The elite unit infiltrated bin Laden’s Pakistan compound on Monday and killed the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • House leaders seek political points in Yucca fight: Yucca Mountain is a wild expanse of desert brush, red mountains and extracted rock 100 miles outside of Las Vegas where deer, coyote and antelope roam isolated fields and human visitors must pass background checks before they are allowed past heavily guarded fences. Republicans claim this stark landscape is the nation’s best hope for a national nuclear waste dump.
    But with Democrats running the White House and Senate, the Yucca Mountain nuclear site has been shuttered with no chance of reopening. Critics claim the project is dangerous. The half-built nuclear junkyard would require nuclear plants to ship their waste to rural Nevada along the nation’s vulnerable roadways and railways…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Boehner says small US force should remain in Iraq: House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday a small, residual U.S. force should remain in Iraq beyond the end of this year, the final drawdown date for the Americans. Boehner said it was imperative for the Obama administration to talk to the Iraqi government about extending the U.S. presence beyond Dec. 31.
    “It’s pretty clear to me there are gaps in the security arrangement of the Iraqi people beginning the first of next year,” said Boehner, who traveled to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan last month. He said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “made clear to me there are gaps, that there is assistance that they’re going to need. And I would hope that our military and diplomatic officials begin serious conversations with Iraqis about identifying those gaps in security and try to come to an agreement as soon as possible.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Hispanic lawmakers press Obama on immigration: Hispanic lawmakers say they have given President Barack Obama several ways his administration can help certain immigrants stay in the U.S. while they await immigration reform in Congress. Several members of the all-Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with Obama on Tuesday hoping for administrative remedies for young immigrants brought to the country illegally by parents or for other immigrants in danger of being deported…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Senate Democrats eye $4T budget savings plan: The top Democrat in the Senate on budget matters said Tuesday that he’s preparing a fiscal blueprint to slash the deficit by $4 trillion over the upcoming decade — a plan built on the bipartisan findings of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission. Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the plan calls for a complete overhaul of the tax code — stripping out numerous tax write-offs while lowering income tax rates — but would leave Social Security untouched. The tax reform idea would generate an overall revenue increase in the range of perhaps $1 trillion over the coming decade…. – AP, 5-3-11

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

  • Battle Over Health Care Law Shifts to Federal Appellate Courts: A five-week flurry of federal appellate hearings on the constitutionality of the Obama health care law kicks off Tuesday in Richmond, Va., beginning the second round of a race to the Supreme Court among a multitude of litigants eager to strike down the president’s signature domestic achievement. At Tuesday’s hearing, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will consider a pair of contradictory rulings sent up from the lower courts. In one case, filed by Virginia’s attorney general, a federal district judge in Richmond ruled late last year that Congress had exceeded its authority by requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance. In the other, filed by Liberty University, a conservative Christian institution, a district judge sitting 100 miles away in Lynchburg, Va., upheld the insurance mandate…. – NYT, 5-8-11
  • Holder intervenes in gay man’s deportation case: Attorney General Eric Holder took the rare step Thursday of asking an immigration judicial panel to reconsider the case of a gay man they’ve cleared for deportation. Holder set aside the Board of Immigration Appeals ruling allowing the deportation of Paul Wilson Dorman, a gay man illegally in the U.S. Dorman wants to stay in the country with his male partner, with whom he celebrated a civil union in New Jersey… – AP, 5-6-11
  • RI lawyer confirmed as US judge; GOP block fails: A trial lawyer nominated by President Barack Obama to be a federal judge in Rhode Island was confirmed on a party-line vote Wednesday just hours after a Senate GOP filibuster attempt failed. The Senate voted 50-44 to confirm lawyer John McConnell to the bench after a more significant 63-33 tally to advance the nomination past a filibuster orchestrated by GOP leaders…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • States ask US court to overturn health overhaul: More than two dozen states challenging the health care overhaul urged a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday to strike down the Obama administration’s landmark law, arguing it far exceeds the federal government’s powers. The motion, filed on behalf of 26 states, urges the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to uphold a Florida federal judge’s ruling that the overhaul’s core requirement is unconstitutional. The judge, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, said Congress cannot require nearly all Americans to carry health insurance. Allowing the law to go forward, the states argued in the 69-page filing, would set a troubling precedent that “would imperil individual liberty, render Congress’s other enumerated powers superfluous, and allow Congress to usurp the general police power reserved to the states.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Appeals court hears arguments in Obama birth suit: Leaders in the so-called “birther” movement argued their case over President Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship before a federal appeals court Monday in Southern California, claiming the full birth certificate he released last week had been doctored. But it was unclear how far their arguments would go, given the previous failed lawsuits on the issue and concern from the court about whether the latest claim was filed too late to be considered…. – AP, 5-2-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Disasters challenge GOP governors of Ala., Miss.: Alabama’s new governor thought his toughest job was going to be making double-digit spending cuts and deciding which state services to eliminate.
    “Then on day 100 of our administration — exactly day 100 — we had this massive outbreak of tornadoes,” Gov. Robert Bentley said.
    The deadly storms that pounded the South on April 27 were a quick initiation for Bentley into the massive task of disaster recovery. They were just another chapter for his colleague next door, fellow Republican and second- term Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Barbour has overseen his state’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and is now bracing for Mississippi River floodwaters. The responses of the two Deep South governors represent the different backgrounds of Bentley, a soft-spoken physician, and Barbour, a savvy, former Washington lobbyist and GOP insider…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Offensive email sender censured by OC GOP: An Orange County GOP official who sent email depicting President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee was censured Wednesday by the local party’s executive committee. The 12-2 vote to censure 74-year-old Marilyn Davenport, an elected member of the governing Central Committee, is the highest form of disapproval the county GOP could take under its bylaws, Orange County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh said…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Obama declares emergency in 3 states over flooding: The president has declared an emergency for parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky because of flooding. The White House says the order signed on Wednesday means the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other departments can help the states coordinate all disaster relief efforts in parts of all three states…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Anxiety rises along the flood-swollen Mississippi: People along the lower Mississippi River and its tributaries packed their belongings and emergency workers feverishly filled sandbags as high water pushed its way downstream Wednesday in a slow-motion disaster that could break flood records dating to the 1920s. From Illinois to Mississippi, thousands of people have already been forced from their homes, and anxiety is rising along with the mighty river, even though it could be a week or two before some of the most severe flooding hits…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Daley presides over last council meeting: Richard M. Daley, the longest serving mayor in Chicago history and one of the most powerful mayors in recent American history, presided over his last City Council meeting on Wednesday. With family members in attendance, Daley listened as one alderman after another paid tribute to the man who helped lead the transformation of Chicago from a gritty industrial hub to a sparking metropolis in his 22 years in office. Daley, said longtime Alderman Ed Burke, “made Chicago the most livable city in the nation,” moments before the council gave the mayor a standing ovation…. – AP, 5-4-11

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012…. — FIRST REPUBLICAN DEBATE

  • Campaign 2012: Who’s in and who’s out?: Republicans are beginning to announce whether they will pursue a bid for the presidency…. – WaPo, 5-3-11
  • LIVE-BLOG: The first Republican presidential debatePolitico, 5-5-11
  • Republican Presidential debate in South Carolina: Romney, Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich won’t be there: Republicans are starting their engines for the first presidential debate in South Carolina Thursday — well, some Republicans, anyway. Many of the biggest names in the field won’t be there: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Oh, and Donald Trump.
    So who’s in? The most mainstream candidate attending the debate in Greenville, South Carolina – a key early primary state – will be former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He will be joined by Rep Ron Paul (R-Tex.), former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and former Godfather Pizza CEO and talk radio host Herman Cain.
    Romney, widely seen as the candidate to beat, will skip the debate “because it’s still early, the field is too unsettled and he’s not yet an announced candidate,” according to one of his advisers…. – NY Daily News, 5-5-11
  • GOP Contenders Look to Seize the Moment in First Presidential Debate: The five participants in the first Republican debate of the 2012 presidential race Thursday night are looking to prove themselves to be more than the party’s B-team, as they try to catapult their White House bids into the national spotlight. Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party are sponsoring the debate, which will feature former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former New Mexico Gov. Gary John and businessman Herman Cain. They are the only candidates who met the sponsors’ criteria to participate: forming a presidential exploratory committee, filing state GOP paperwork and paying $25,000 to get on the state primary ballot. The GOP field is still taking shape, with about a dozen Republicans considering a White House bid or taking initial steps toward full-fledged campaigns. Among the notable absences are Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich…. – Fox News, 5-5-11
  • First GOP debate likely to be a low-key affair: The one to beat in the GOP presidential field, Mitt Romney, won’t attend the first debate of the party’s 2012 nomination race. Neither will any other big-name Republicans weighing bids, like Sarah Palin, or celebrity hopefuls, like Donald Trump. And, with Osama bin Laden’s death commanding the public’s attention, the political spotlight will be turned hundreds of miles to the north as President Barack Obama visits New York’s ground zero days after American forces killed the terrorist behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
    Even so, the lead-off debate of the Republican presidential race is set to go on as planned Thursday night in Greenville, S.C. With only five candidates participating, it’s poised to be a low-key affair much like the sluggish early days of the Republican contest itself.
    “Without any of the front-runners, you really can’t call it a debate,” said Rick Beltram, a former Spartanburg County GOP chairman…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Herman Cain makes splash at first 2012 GOP debate: To get an idea of the strangeness of the first debate of the 2012 presidential cycle – the unofficial kickoff to the 2012 GOP race – consider this: Based on the Fox News focus group conducted immediately following the event, Herman Cain is about to run away with the GOP nomination. If you’re wondering who that is, you’re not alone: The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, who barely registers in national polls, has never held elected office. And he is seen as having virtually no chance to win the GOP nomination.
    \ But the vast majority of the people sitting in with Republican pollster Frank Luntz said Cain had won the debate with his directness and straightforward delivery. (This despite the fact that when asked about what he would do in Afghanistan, he replied that he would rely on “the experts and their advice and their input.” The Fox News debate moderators seemed incredulous that he did not offer a position.) Luntz appeared blown away by the response to Cain, which he cast as unprecedented. “Something very special happened this evening,” he said.
    Perhaps. But the debate was seen as such a non-event inside the beltway that House Speaker John Boehner spent his evening not watching it, opting instead to have a few drinks at a Washington steakhouse. “I’ll read about it tomorrow,” he told Hotsheet…. – CBS News, 5-5-11
  • What You Missed in the Primary Season’s First Republican Debate: The first debate of the Republican presidential primary campaign took place earlier tonight in South Carolina. Because many of the big names sat it out or were ineligible to participate, and the only candidates who showed up were Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Gary Johnson, you would be excused if, instead of watching, you were out downing as many margaritas as your body can physically allow. For you social, fun people, we’ve put together this easily digestible summary of what transpired.
    Nicest Thing Anyone Said About President Obama: “I do congratulate President Obama for the fine job he did …. He did a good job and I tip my cap to him in that moment.” — Tim Pawlenty on President Obama’s role in killing Osama bin Laden….
    Most Crowd-Pleasing One-Liner: Herman Cain, in defending his lack of any political experience, notes that Washington is full of people with political experience, and “how’s that working for you?”… – NY Mag, 5-5-11
  • Bin Laden’s death upends agenda for first Republican presidential debate: Polls show that Americans’ top concern is the economy, but the killing of Osama bin Laden put foreign policy at the top of the agenda in the first Republican candidates debate of the 2012 presidential campaign. In the forum, broadcast by Fox News from Greenville, S.C., a quintet of lesser-known candidates offered their views on the operation that killed the Al Qaeda leader and how it might affect America’s mission in Afghanistan.
    Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, praised President Obama for “being decisive” in launching the raid on Bin Laden’s compound, but attacked his broader foreign policy outlook. “He’s made a number of other decisions relating to our security here and around the world that I don’t agree with,” he said. “If it turns out that many of the techniques that he criticized during the campaign led to Osama bin Laden’s being identified and killed, he should be asked to explain whether he does or does not support those techniques.”
    Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who just announced the formation of an exploratory committee a day earlier, downplayed what he said was simply a “tactical decision” by Obama. “If you look at what President Obama has done right in foreign policy, it has always been a continuation of the Bush policies,” he said. “The issues that have come up while he is president, he’s gotten it wrong strategically every single time.”… – LAT, 5-5-11
  • GOP debate proves an awkward start in the fight against Obama: The opening act in the contest to pick a challenger for President Obama in 2012 proved to be an awkward moment for the Republican Party. Thursday night’s candidate debate did as much to highlight divisions within the party as it did to offer a brief for why the president should be denied a second term. With many of the party’s potentially strongest candidates either choosing not to participate — or still making up their minds about whether to run — the 90-minute debate offered a platform for second-tier candidates to make their case. They took full advantage of the spotlight, but in the process they offered dissonance in the GOP message along with moments of comedic relief to the audience.
    That made for a sometimes-entertaining evening for the audience in the hall and those watching on television. But it probably did little to help Republican voters figure out who has the stature and the strength to take on the president in 2012. The debate, sponsored by Fox News, came at a moment when Obama’s approval ratings are spiking because of the successful mission that killed Osama bin Laden, though there has been no movement in the public’s view of his handling of the economy. The bin Laden death changed the equation for Thursday’s debate, forcing the candidates onto foreign policy turf, rather than being able to focus on the economy and government spending…. – WaPo, 5-5-11
  • 5 G.O.P. Hopefuls (Who?) Flock to First Debate of ’12 Race: A quorum may be needed to follow parliamentary procedure, but not to put on a presidential debate. Five Republican contenders presented themselves here Thursday evening at the first debate of the 2012 presidential campaign, a televised session that may have only amplified the fretting among some Republican leaders that the party needs to recruit more candidates to find a credible challenger to President Obama.
    While candidates in presidential debates often need no introduction, the participants who filed onto the stage at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts offered an exception to that rule. There were two former governors, a member of Congress, a former senator and the former chief executive of a chain of pizza restaurants — all of whom round out the lower rung of an unsettled Republican field.
    The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, sought to allay the worries of party activists who believe Republicans are missing an opportunity to start defining Mr. Obama in their quest to win back the White House. “As we all know, there are numerous other candidates that are looking at it — and thank God,” Mr. Priebus said before the proceedings began. “Quite frankly, I think Americans are sick and tired of two-year, knock-out drag-out contests with a zillion debates and forums.”… – NYT, 5-5-11
  • First GOP presidential debate: Was Pawlenty too ‘Minnesota nice’?: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, considered a top-tier GOP candidate for president, didn’t go after the absent Mitt Romney over health care during a GOP debate Thursday night in South Carolina, but he did condemn the Obama reform…. – CS Monitor, 5-6-11
  • Herman Cain Turns Heads at First Republican Presidential Debate | Hannity: HERMAN CAIN, FORMER RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The immigration issue in America is not one problem. It’s four problems. It’s securing the border, enforcing the laws that are there, promoting the path to citizenship that we already have. We don’t need a new path. We’ve got to clean up the bureaucracy in the process. And then number four, this is where I believe you empower the states to do what the federal government cannot and is not doing. So, no, Arizona did not go too far. They were simply trying to protect themselves. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)
    SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And that was radio talk show host Herman Cain speaking at tonight’s GOP primary debate. Welcome back to the special post-debate edition of “Hannity.” And joining me now is Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain…. – Fox News, 5-5-11
  • Eyes were on Pawlenty at GOP presidential debate: The reviews are coming in about the first GOP presidential debate of the 2012 election season, and there’s a school of thought that Tim Pawlenty did just fine — all things considered. The debate on Thursday night in South Carolina was just as notable for who was missing as for who did appear in Greenville and got precious face time on Fox News, which sponsored the event. Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, was among the better-known of the five candidates on the stage, and said going in that he was hoping to introduce himself to a wider audience…. – USA Today, 5-6-11
  • Herman Cain answers Rick Santorum’s slight: Herman Cain’s camp is firing back at Rick Santorum after the former Pennsylvania senator challenged Cain’s electoral viability while on the stump in South Carolina. Slate reported that Santorum, chatting ahead of the question-and-answer portion of an Aiken, S.C. luncheon, challenged the notion that Cain was a viable candidate.
    “He’s never won an election,” Santorum said. “And it’s not that he hasn’t tried. He’s run twice and lost.” Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael, responding to Santorum’s comments, said Republicans shouldn’t attack each other in the run-up to the 2012 primaries.
    “We are disappointed to see Senator Santorum violating President Ronald Reagan’s ‘Eleventh Commandment:’ ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans,’ Carmichael said in a statement emailed to POLITICO Friday night. “As conservatives, our mission should be to beat President Obama in 2012, not beat each other up in the process.”
    “We are certain that President Ronald Reagan would be proud of the man that Herman Cain is and the class act he remains,” she said…. – Politico, 5-6-11
  • Pawlenty Hopes ‘I’m Sorry’ Is Enough: It’s a question every candidate faces: how to deal with political liabilities. Do you face them head-on and try to get them out of the way, or try to work around them in the hope that voters will lose interest? Thursday night, at the first Republican presidential debate, broadcast live on Fox News, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, decided on the former. The moderator turned the room’s attention to a old radio ad for an environmental group in which Mr. Pawlenty heartily endorses a cap-and-trade policy — practically apostasy in his party.
    “Do we have to?” Mr. Pawlenty said awkwardly. His voice soon echoed through the auditorium, saying, “Cap greenhouse gas pollution now!”
    “I’ve said I was wrong. It was a mistake, and I’m sorry,” Mr. Pawlenty told the Fox television audience, presumably filled with potential Republican primary voters. “You’re going to have a few clunkers in your record, and we all do, and that’s one of mine. I just admit it. I don’t try to duck it, bob it, weave it, try to explain it away. I’m just telling you, I made a mistake.”… – NYT, 5-6-11
  • Cain: ‘American People Are Anxious for Solutions’ | Your World Cavuto With: Neil Cavuto Special Guests | Herman Cain: This is a rush transcript from “Your World,” May 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
    NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Remember, you can watch all five candidates face off in the first presidential primary debate here on Fox News Channel at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow night. My next guest is one of those participating in the debate and what’s at stake in that debate. Herman Cain will be joining us shortly. But think of what Carl just said about who is there, but, more importantly, who is not there, and whether people in that state, Republicans particularly in that state, will feel slighted by those who don’t attend. Well, they needn’t worry with the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, Herman Cain, because he will be there.
    Herman, are you going to make hay of the fact that some of your better-known Republican colleagues are not going to be there?
    HERMAN CAIN, CEO, THE NEW VOICE: Well, Neil, as you know, HermanCain.com is here, as I tell people.
    (LAUGHTER) CAIN: I think that — I think that they’re making a mistake, but, hey, they have to make their own decisions. I wanted to be here primarily because I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, which is what it is, to share my common sense solutions with a very large audience. And I appreciate Fox doing this. And we are happy to be here. And we’re delighted….. – Fox News, 5-4-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Rudy Giuliani: ‘I can probably be talked into’ 2012 run: Rudy Giuliani called for a return to American exceptionalism Friday, telling a group of GOP lawyers gathered in the nation’s capital that Ronald Reagan fundamentally changed how Americans felt about themselves. Before Reagan was elected, Giuliani said, much had been written about America’s decline and how it was a country of “limited possibilities” that had run its course.
    “Sounds familiar, right? There are people who believe that today in America. In fact, some of them are running America,” Giuliani said in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association, where he appeared to received the group’s highest honor, the Ed Meese Award. “The idea that we’re either no better than anyone else, we’re just another country with our set of problems or our set of assets, or maybe we’re not even as good as others. Ronald Reagan found that to be totally wrong, not a correct view of this country and he changed in a very short period of times how we felt about ourselves.” “That’s the most important thing a leader does,” he added.
    Ticking off a list of his accomplishments while serving as New York’s mayor, Giuliani said he was most proud of making the city a place where people wanted to live, a factor that later helped New York rebuild following the Sept. 11 terror attacks. “I often think that a New York City with the depressed attitude that we had in the early ’90s would have had a much harder time overcoming as quickly the tremendous damage that was done to us by the attacks of September 11,” he said. “It helped New York City that when we were attacked we were a strong city, a confident city, and optimistic city, a city that believed our best days were ahead of us. So the attack was a temporary interruption of that feeling and the city was able to get back on track very, very quickly.”…. – Politico, 5-8-11
  • 3rd Conn. Democrat announces run for US Senate: A third Democrat has announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. State Rep. William Tong of Stamford said Sunday he wants to prove that Americans have better opportunities than previous generations despite a prevailing belief that the American dream is in jeopardy…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Iowa GOP donors court NJ’s Christie: Some of Iowa’s top Republican campaign contributors, unhappy with their choices in the developing presidential field, are venturing to New Jersey in hopes they can persuade first-term Gov. Chris Christie to run. The entreaty is the latest sign of dissatisfaction within the GOP over the crop of candidates competing for the chance to run against President Barack Obama in 2012. Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa energy company executive, and a half-dozen other prominent Iowa GOP donors sought the meeting with Christie, the governor’s chief political adviser, Mike DuHaime, told The Associated Press. The get-together is set for the governor’s mansion in Princeton, N.J., on May 31…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Huntsman addresses his Obama role in SC speech: Republican Jon Huntsman, weighing a White House bid, used his first formal event after stepping down as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China to confront the line on his resume that conservatives were most likely to declare a deal-breaker. In a high-profile speech to the University of South Carolina, the former Utah governor said patriotism should trump partisanship and defended his two years in Beijing as the Democratic administration’s top diplomat.
    “Work to keep America great. Serve her if asked. I was — by a president of a different political party,” Huntsman said, directly addressing the job that his rivals and critics hope to make disqualifier among the conservatives who hold great sway in the nominating process.
    “But in the end, while we might not all be of one party, we are all part of one nation — a nation that needs your generational gift, energy and confidence,” he told graduates, pitching himself as an above-politics figure and appealing to voters who have grown weary of political bickering…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Largest US labor union poised to back Obama 2012: The nation’s largest labor union is poised to back President Barack Obama in his bid for a second term. The National Education Association represents 3.2 million schoolteachers, administrators and educators. President Dennis Van Roekel (ROH’-kul) says Obama has proven his commitment to funding public education and keeping Social Security and Medicare intact…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • GOP candidates want to see photo of bin Laden body: Several Republican presidential hopefuls want President Barack Obama to release photos that prove U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden during a covert raid in Pakistan, criticizing the Democrat’s decision-making just days after many praised him for getting the world’s most-wanted terrorist.
    Texas Rep. Ron Paul said Thursday that he sides with transparency when there is public doubt. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said “it would have been OK to release the photos.” And former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accused Obama of “pussy-footing” on making the photos public. It was a contrast to the initial words of commendation that came from many of Obama’s potential GOP rivals just hours after he announced that American forces had tracked down and shot to death the al-Qaida leader behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • A foreign policy void in GOP 2012 field: The daring nighttime raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan draws a sharp contrast between President Barack Obama and a field of potential Republican challengers who have comparatively scant foreign policy experience. That field includes at least six current or former governors, and three current or former House members. The Senate, an incubator for international affairs expertise, doesn’t have a single member running for president, although one former senator has taken steps toward a run.
    The stunning news of bin Laden’s death has temporarily focused attention on foreign policy over domestic issues, and highlighted the lack of international experience in the prospective GOP field compared with the president, a Democrat who has spent more than two years overseeing two wars and, more recently, military action in Libya…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • A Potential Candidate in No Rush for a Race: Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana called the leisurely pace of the 2012 presidential campaign “a blessing” for voters. Whether he plans to take advantage of it is another question, which he did not answer as he paid a visit here Wednesday. For weeks, the clamor about Mr. Daniels has swelled among Republicans. And for weeks, he has dropped only cursory clues about his intentions, sending mixed signals about whether he was looking for a way out of — or into — the party’s presidential nominating contest…. – NYT, 5-5-11
  • Wasserman Schultz elected chairwoman of the DNC: Democrats have elected Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the new chair of the Democratic National Committee. President Barack Obama picked the four-term lawmaker from South Florida last month to succeed former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is seeking a Senate seat in his home state…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Daniels wants piece of 2012 policy debate: Make no mistake: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wants a role in the 2012 presidential campaign. Less clear: Whether that means as a candidate or a commentator.
    Daniels, in a brief interview with The Associated Press, said Wednesday he hadn’t envisioned running for president. “It’s certainly not the way I planned to spend the rest of my working life. … On the other hand, there’s my sincere concern about the condition and direction of the country. I promise you this, if I thought the country was in good shape or even reasonable shape, I wouldn’t give this a thought.”
    Daniels said he was “alarmed about where we are. I hope I’m wrong, but I do want to see the nation make decisions that can guarantee a great future as opposed to risk of a serious setback to the American way of life.” Asked whether he considered President Barack Obama beatable in 2012, Daniels said he sometimes tells people “he’s either unbeatable or unelectable. I just don’t know which it is.” “I think there are things that ought to be said and ideas that ought to be presented to the American people. I think there are answers that can assure us a great future but there are dangers that will have a blighted future if we don’t act. I can’t see what would be at the end of a campaign.”
    “If I decide to do it, I’ll just try to be as straight as I can be and persuasive as I can be and hope that at least if it doesn’t work out, public understanding was improved,” Daniels said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Santorum, Huntsman take next steps toward run: Republican presidential contenders Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman on Tuesday took steps toward formally joining a still-forming GOP field. Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, established a presidential exploratory committee and announced he would participate in Thursday’s debate in South Carolina. Huntsman, a former governor of Utah who last week stepped down as the U.S. ambassador to China, filed paperwork that lets him start building a national profile as he weighs a presidential campaign. Meanwhile, two of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s advisers left her side. Foreign policy hands Randy Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb — who both worked with Palin when she was Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential pick — stepped aside over the weekend. Peter Schweizer, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is set to advise Palin on foreign policy.
    The early moves from potential candidates come as the Republican field is coming together. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is preparing to formally join the race in the coming weeks, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is planning an announcement tour and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has scheduled fundraisers in the coming weeks. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is more seriously considering a bid as polls show him competitive despite laying none of the traditional groundwork for a campaign. And Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is weighing a bid now that his Legislature has completed its session…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Bin Laden death not changing GOP hopefuls’ plans: Republicans hoping to unseat President Barack Obama say they see al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s death as a welcome development but no reason to change political strategy. While Obama almost surely will get a boost in his poll numbers, advisers for the still-forming field of GOP candidates expect that it will be temporary and that voters will select a president based on how the economy recovers — or doesn’t — over the next 18 months.
    “This is a major event. I know I woke up the next morning feeling my children are safer, and that’s a key issue,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who no longer is aligned with a presidential candidate now that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has opted out. “The question is whether voters feel safer economically. The focus will return to that fairly quickly. I don’t know that this affects the bottom line except in the short term.”… – AP, 5-3-11
  • Huntsman sets up federal PAC to raise money: Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, seen as a potential presidential candidate, is taking the first steps toward building a national political profile by setting up a committee that will let him raise money, hire staff and travel around the country…. – AP, 5-3-11

QUOTES

President Obama praises those Americans who carried out the  operation to kill Os
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 5/1/11
  • “We and the Entire Nation Are So Proud Of All Of You”: Mother’s Day with the First Lady and Dr. Biden:
    Dr. Jill Biden: Last summer, I traveled to Iraq with my husband, Joe, to visit our troops during the Fourth of July. I had lunch with several female soldiers, many of whom were mothers. These women were managing all the challenges of parenting — arranging health care, childcare, and education — thousands and thousands of miles away from their homes and loved ones.
    One woman across the table fought back tears as she told me that she was missing out on taking her youngest daughter to college. I was at a loss for words. All I could do at that moment was just reach across that table and grab her hand.
    Michelle and I have both been struck by these women fiercely proud to serve their country and never complaining, but still struggling with some of the everyday challenges we all face in managing a home and a family.
    You here today, and all the women we have met in our travels, are doing your part. The government is working hard to do its part. And each American also has the ability to make a difference in the life of a military family. That’s what our Joining Forces initiative is all about.
    Michelle Obama: We’re joining forces across this country, and we’re calling on all Americans to ask themselves just one simple question: How can I give back to these families who have given me so much?
    We’re joining forces across the federal government, building on over 50 commitments that departments and agencies have made for how they can better serve military families. We’re going to be joining forces with cities and states, encouraging them to adopt policies that will help you all.
    We’re joining forces with organizations like the national PTA and the Military Child Education Coalition, to improve school outreach to military kids. We’re joining forces with businesses and nonprofits, getting commitments from companies like Walmart and Sears to help military spouses find and keep jobs.
    And we’re joining forces with families and communities. We’re urging people to do whatever they can as neighbors, colleagues, and classmates to lend a hand to military families.
    We believe that this is what you deserve from us, because showing our gratitude to those who serve our nation whether it’s on the battlefield or at home, is something that every single American can do. And it’s something that every single American should do. – WH, 5-8-11Transcript
  • Tina Fey as Sarah Palin: “It’s just so great to be back on Fox News, a network that both pays me and shows me the questions ahead of time. And I just hope that tonight, the lamestream media won’t twist my words by repeating them verbatim…. This week we finally vanquished one of the world’s great villains, and I for one am thrilled to say good riddance to Katie Couric.”
  • Former Vice President Dick Cheney: “Well, I think you’ve got to give him a lot of credit for making the decision to have Seal Team Six conduct the raid that got Bin Laden. There is no question that was his responsibility. And I think he handled it well. I give him high marks for it, for making that decision. I still am concerned about the fact that I think a lot of the techniques that we had used to keep the country safe for more than seven years are no longer available. That they’ve been sort of taken off the table, if you will.”
  • Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former governor of Utah: “Work to keep America great. Serve her, if asked. I was — by a president of a different political party. But in the end, while we might not all be of one party, we are all part of one nation, a nation that needs your generational gift of energy and confidence.”
  • President Obama: There were big chunks of time in which all we were doing was just waiting. And it was the longest 40 minutes of my life with the possible exception of when Sasha got meningitis when she was three months old and I was waiting for the doctor to tell me that she was all right. You think about Black Hawk Down. You think about what happened with the Iranian rescue. And I am very sympathetic to the situation for other presidents where you make a decision, you’re making your best call, your best shot, and something goes wrong.”
  • Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser to Mr. Obama: Divided counsel, people recommending different options…. And I’ve served three presidents, as you know. And you watch the president take this in. He chaired five National Security Council meetings in six weeks. Take all that in, say, I’m not going to make my decision now, I’ll tell you my decision tomorrow, stand up, walk out of the Situation Room, go down that colonnade that you know so well by the Rose Garden to his residence, and make that decision. And this is what we ask of our president. And I think in this case the president was well served by the process, and we’re well served by his decision.”
  • Weekly Address: Clean Energy to Out-Innovate the Rest of the World
    Weekly Address: Clean Energy Will Help Us Out-Compete and Out-Innovate the Rest of the World:

    I’m speaking with you today from the Allison Transmissions plant in Indianapolis, Indiana. I came here because this is a place where American workers are doing some big and impressive things.
    The hybrid technology they manufacture here already powers nearly 4,000 buses all over the world – buses that have already saved 15 million gallons of fuel. Soon, they’ll expand this new technology to trucks as well. That means more vehicles using less oil, and that means jobs – more than 200 new workers at this plant alone.
    That’s important because even as the economy is growing after one of the worst recessions in our history; even as we’ve added more than 2 million new private sector jobs over the past 14 months; I still meet and hear from Americans struggling to get out of their own personal recessions.
    A lot of folks are still looking for work. And many folks who do have jobs are finding that their paychecks aren’t keeping up with the rising costs for everything from tuition to groceries to gas. In fact, in a lot of places across the country, like Indiana, gas is reaching all-time highs.
    So although our economy hasn’t been the focus of the news this week, not a day that goes by that I’m not focused on your jobs, your hopes and your dreams. And that’s why I came here to Allison Transmissions.
    The clean energy jobs at this plant are the jobs of the future – jobs that pay well right here in America. And in the years ahead, it’s clean energy companies like this one that will keep our economy growing, create new jobs, and make sure America remains the most prosperous nation in the world.
    Allison Transmissions is also part of the ultimate solution to high gas prices. We know there are no quick fixes to this problem. In the short term, we’re doing everything we can to boost safe and responsible oil production here at home – in fact, last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003.
    But over the long term, the only way we can avoid being held hostage to the ups and downs of oil prices is if we reduce our dependence on oil. That means investing in clean, alternative sources of energy, like advanced biofuels and natural gas. And that means making cars and trucks and buses that use less oil. Other countries know this, and they’re going all in to invest in clean energy technologies and clean energy jobs. But I don’t want other countries to win the competition for these technologies and these jobs. I want America to win that competition. I want America to win the future.
    Now, I know that in a difficult fiscal climate like the one we’re in, it’s tempting for some to try and cut back our investments in clean energy. And I absolutely agree that the only way we’ll be able to afford the things we need is by cutting the things we don’t and living within our means. But I refuse to cut investments like clean energy that will help us out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. I refuse to cut investments that are making it possible for plants like this one to grow and add jobs across America.
    We can do this. I don’t just believe that because I see it happening in plants like this. I believe that because I believe in the Americans making it happen in places like this. I’m optimistic about our economic future, because for all the challenges we face, America is still home to the most entrepreneurial, most industrious, most determined people on Earth. There’s nothing we can’t accomplish when we set our minds to it. And that’s what we’ll keep doing as long as I have the privilege of being your President. – WH, 5-7-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • The President & Vice President at Fort Campbell: “Gratitude”: They’re America’s “quiet professionals” — because success demands secrecy. But I will say this. Like all of you, they could have chosen a life of ease. But like you, they volunteered. They chose to serve in a time of war, knowing they could be sent into harm’s way. They trained for years. They’re battle-hardened. They practiced tirelessly for this mission. And when I gave the order, they were ready.
    Now, in recent days, the whole world has learned just how ready they were. These Americans deserve credit for one of the greatest intelligence military operations in our nation’s history. But so does every person who wears America’s uniform, the finest military the world has ever known. (Applause.) And that includes all of you men and women of 101st. (Applause.)
    You have been on the frontlines of this fight for nearly 10 years. You were there in those early days, driving the Taliban from power, pushing al Qaeda out of its safe havens. Over time, as the insurgency grew, you went back for, in some cases, a second time, a third time, a fourth time.
    When the decision was made to go into Iraq, you were there, too, making the longest air assault in history, defeating a vicious insurgency, ultimately giving Iraqis the chance to secure their democracy. And you’ve been at the forefront of our new strategy in Afghanistan.
    Sending you — more of you — into harm’s way is the toughest decision that I’ve made as Commander-in-Chief. I don’t make it lightly. Every time I visit Walter Reed, every time I visit Bethesda, I’m reminded of the wages of war. But I made that decision because I know that this mission was vital to the security of the nation that we all love. – WH, 5-6-11
  • President Obama Welcomes Outstanding Teachers to the White House: But even after all this time, I still remember the special teachers that touched my life. And we all do. We remember the way they challenged us, the way they made us feel, how they pushed us, the encouragement that they gave us, the values that they taught us, the way they helped us to understand the world and analyze it and ask questions. They helped us become the people that we are today.
    For me, one of those people was my fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Mabel Hefty. When I walked into Ms. Hefty’s classroom for the first time, I was a new kid who had been living overseas for a few years, had a funny name nobody could pronounce. But she didn’t let me withdraw into myself. She helped me believe that I had something special to say. She made me feel special. She reinforced the sense of empathy and thoughtfulness that my mother and my grandparents had tried hard to instill in me — and that’s a lesson that I still carry with me as President.
    Ms. Hefty is no longer with us, but I often think about her and how much of a difference she made in my life. And everybody has got a story like that, about that teacher who made the extra effort to shape our lives in important ways…. – WH, 5-3-11Transcript
  • “Together As An American Family”: A Bipartisan Congressional Dinner at the White House: Obviously we’ve all had disagreements and differences in the past. I suspect we’ll have them again in the future. But last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden, we — (applause) — you know, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for, and what we can achieve, that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics.
    I want to again recognize the heroes who carried out this incredibly dangerous mission, as well as all the military and counter-terrorism professionals who made the mission possible. I also want to thank the members of Congress from both parties who have given extraordinary support to our military and our intelligence officials. Without your support, they could not do what they do…. – WH, 5-3-11
  • President Obama Presents Medal of Honor: “We’re Reminded That We Are Fortunate to Have Americans Who Dedicate Their Lives to Protecting Ours”: I think we can all agree this is a good day for America. Our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done. The world is safer; it is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.
    Today, we are reminded that, as a nation, there’s nothing we can’t do —- when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we work together, when we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans. And we’ve seen that spirit -— that patriotism -— in the crowds that have gathered, here outside the White House, at Ground Zero in New York, and across the country — people holding candles, waving the flag, singing the National Anthem — people proud to live in the United States of America.
    And we’re reminded that we are fortunate to have Americans who dedicate their lives to protecting ours. They volunteer. They train. They endure separation from their families. They take extraordinary risks so that we can be safe. They get the job done. We may not always know their names. We may not always know their stories. But they are there, every day, on the front lines of freedom, and we are truly blessed. – WH, 5-2-11Transcript

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Michael Bowen: Questions linger after death of Osama bin Laden: For the Obama administration, bin Laden’s death represents a significant foreign policy trophy, if not the only one, said Michael Bowen, a visiting professor in the history department at UF. Other instances, such as the Nuclear Arms Reduction Pact signed by the United States and Russia in April 2010 and promises to lessen troop presence in Iraq, have been muddled in controversy. This episode, he said, represents a unequivocal win. Bowen agrees that jobs, not a dead body, will dominate election discussion.
    “We can kill 100 al-Qaida members, but if our employment is still above 9 percent, then it’s still going to be about the economy,” he said…. – The Independent Florida Alligator, 5-10-11
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP finding it hard to make progress: Republicans struggle to appease the right and appeal to the center, resulting in fits and starts in the party’s agenda. Their retreat on Medicare is a prime example.
    “It is true that they are struggling to unite a big tent. That said, it is a common problem for any majority,” said Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer. While noting the House majority had put Obama on the defensive on spending issues, Zelizer said Medicare had backfired on Republicans…. – LAT, 5-8-11
  • Obama’s ‘Gangster Politics’: The president is about to order companies that do business with the federal government to disclose their political donations…. – WSJ, 5-6-11
  • Tevi Troy Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute; Former Deputy HHS secretary Should Bush have gone to ground zero?: Even though President Bush’s efforts in pursuing Bin Laden and the War on Terror earned him the invitation to the ground zero ceremony, Bush is right to stick to his admirable policy of staying out of the limelight. – Arena, Politico, 5-5-11
  • Using History to Mold Ideas on the Right: In an unmarked office building in this ranching town, among thousands of Revolution-era documents and two muskets with bayonets, David Barton might seem like a quirky history buff. But the true ambition of this slender man in cowboy boots is to use America’s past to remake its future, and he has the ear of several would-be presidents. Mr. Barton is a self-taught historian who is described by several conservative presidential aspirants as a valued adviser and a source of historical and biblical justification for their policies. He is so popular that evangelical pastors travel across states to hear his rapid-fire presentations on how the United States was founded as a Christian nation and is on the road to ruin, thanks to secularists and the Supreme Court, or on the lost political power of the clergy…. – NYT, 5-5-11

    First Lady Michelle Obama dances during a Flash Mob Dance at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

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