Campaign Buzz February 22, 2012: CNN Arizona Republican Debate — 20th GOP Debate — Rick Santortum Center Stage, Under Fire, on the Defensive Takes a Beating from Debate Winner Mitt Romney

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By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

The candidates debate in Mesa, Ariz. | Jay Westcott/POLITICO

IN FOCUS: CNN ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE — 20TH GOP DEBATE — SANTORUM CENTER STAGE & UNDER FIRE — REMAINS ON DEFENSIVE FROM ROMNEY ATTACKS

  • Live Blog: Arizona Republican Presidential Debate: Rick Santorum is taking his turn as the principal opponent for Mitt Romney during a debate in Arizona Wednesday night hosted by CNN. Stay tuned for live updates, tweets and analysis of the best moments in real time…. – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Live blog: GOP candidates spar in Arizona debate: We’re live blogging the GOP presidential debate broadcast from Arizona, the final meeting of the candidates before Tuesday’s pivotal primaries in Arizona and Michigan…. – USA Today, 2-22-12Liveblogging CNN’s GOP debate in Arizona with Bloomberg Businessweek, Jeff Greenfield, Yahoo News & ABC News Yahoo, ABC News, 2-22-12
  • FACT CHECK: 20th GOP debate was a trip down memory lane, featuring familiar factual stretches: Twenty Republican presidential debates later, the head-scratching claims kept coming. Did Mitt Romney really cut taxes as Massachusetts governor, as he asserted yet again? Or did he raise them by hundreds of millions of dollars… – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • Arizona Republican Debate Fact Check: New York Times reporters take a closer look at some of the statements made by the Republican presidential candidates in Wednesday night’s debate…. – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Winners And Losers From Final GOP Debate: Maybe it was the fact that the candidates were forced to sit in an odd, uncomfortable configuration. Or, maybe it was that after twenty of these debates, these four candidates are just really tired of the routine…. – ABC News, 2-22-12
  • Republican debate in Arizona: 6 takeaways: Romney came out on top in the possible final debate of the primary season….
    That may have been all, folks.
    The 20th Republican debate came and went on CNN Wednesday night, a painfully long and often personally biting affair — and the last debate the four remaining GOP presidential hopefuls have committed to in the primary season….

    1. Rick Santorum didn’t get it done
    2. Mitt Romney won
    3. Santorum and Romney really don’t like each other
    4. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul were basically non-factors
    5. Some issues will last long after the debate
    6. The likely season finale went out with a whimper, not a bang

    Politico, 2-22-12

  • Republican debate: Mitt Romney v. Rick Santorum get personal in Arizona: Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum tore into each other’s records on government spending during Wednesday night’s GOP presidential forum, quickly turning the crucial Arizona debate into a flurry of bitter charges and counter-charges on the size of … – Politico, 2-22-12
  • 2 Seek to Claim Control of Field at GOP Debate: Mitt Romney assailed the Congressional voting record of Rick Santorum and raised pointed questions about his background as a fiscal conservative in a fiercely combative debate on Wednesday, taking urgent steps to try to regain his lead in … – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Romney, Seeking Traction, Duels With Santorum: Mitt Romney challenged Rick Santorum’s credentials as a fiscal conservative in a fiercely combative debate on Wednesday, trying to redefine Mr. Santorum as part of the problem in Washington and regain his footing in the fight for the Republican Presidential nomination…. – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Republican presidential candidates debate in Arizona: The debate, sponsored by CNN and held at the Mesa Arts Center, is the 20th of the GOP primary race and perhaps the final showdown. It came as Santorum has been eroding Romney’s lead in several key states, including Arizona and Michigan…. – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • Takeaways: A few notable moments from Wednesday’s GOP debate in Arizona: Notable moments from the GOP presidential debate Wednesday night in Mesa, Ariz. ___ SANTORUM UNDER FIRE = Rick Santorum’s first debate since surging to the top of polls might be one he’d like to forget. The former Pennsylvania senator took fire from all sides — even from an unsympathetic audience that twice booed him during answers…. – AP, Boston.com, 2-22-12
  • Santorum at center stage in Arizona Republican debate: Rivals heaped criticism on surprise front-runner Rick Santorum in a debate among US Republican presidential candidates on Wednesday, hoping to stall his surge at a pivotal period in the 2012 campaign…. – Reuters, 2-22-12
  • Arizona Republican debate review: Trying to stop the Santorum surge: For much of the time during Wednesday night’s CNN Republican debate, the candidates did their best to try and put the surging Rick Santorum on the defensive. Ron Paul called Santorum a “fake” when it comes to “being fiscally conservative … – Entertainment Weekly, 2-22-12
  • Santorum gets hit from all sides in debate: Nineteen debates later, it was finally Rick Santorum’s turn at center stage. His prize: Fire from both sides.
    Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney accused Santorum, the latest leader in national polls, of being a big spender who as a senator from Pennsylvania voted five times to raise the debt ceiling and to approve earmark spending. Texas Rep. Ron Paul called Santorum “a fake” and said he was running as a conservative after voting for big government programs like No Child Left Behind…. – USA Today, 2-22-12
  • Santorum May Be Winning By Not Losing: With the exception of Rep. Ron Paul, whose genial schtick about personal freedom seems beyond the reach, or maybe the comprehension, of his opponents, none of the Republican candidates in the CNN debate is particularly in their groove. Which may be good for Rick Santorum, who was due to take his turn as the night’s piñata in his first debate as a front-running candidate.
    Mitt Romney and CNN moderator John King have tried their best to shatter Santorum’s cool, and the former Pennsylvania senator has been roughed up on issues like earmarking and spending. But Romney looks tired, and defensive at times, and he is not giving Santorum the bruising that he gave Newt Gingrich in Florida.
    Santorum was helped by the focus, in the opening 45 minutes, on economic and fiscal issues. It allowed him to speak like a reasonable conservative, about debt and Social Security and the evil of the Wall St. bailout, without scaring independent voters with his pronounced views on faith, sex and reproductive freedom…. – National Journal, 2-22-12
  • Republican Debate: Newt Gingrich Rolls Over, Plays Dead: The three words to best capture Debate Number 20: Blah. Blah. Blah…. – Daily Beast, 2-22-12
  • Republican debate: Romney fights to win against surging Santorum: Mitt Romney used Wednesday’s Republican debate to go head-to-head with his leading challenger, Rick Santorum…. – AP, CS Monitor, 2-22-12
  • Santorum takes heavy fire in Arizona Republican debate: Rivals piled criticism on US presidential candidate Rick Santorum at a testy debate on Wednesday, attempting to blunt his surprise surge at a pivotal period in the Republican race. Looking to build on a late rise in polls…. – Reuters, 2-22-12
  • Republican candidates round on Santorum: Rick Santorum was attacked from all sides during a Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, weathering the onslaught that comes with being suddenly at the front of the pack in the tumultuous nomination contest…. – Financial Times, 2-22-12
  • Gingrich is winner for 1 night: Newt Gingrich didn’t have a game-changing moment in Wednesday night’s Arizona debate. But the former House speaker’s newest approach to the Republican presidential race — staying above the fray, avoiding attacks and focusing… – Politico, 2-22-12
  • Rick Santorum on the defensive over earmarks, contraception in Arizona debate: Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), riding a surge of momentum in the polls, found himself on the defensive Wednesday night as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) slammed his record on earmarking and his conservative credentials at a Mesa, Arizona debate…. – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • GOP debate: A blow to Santorum’s appeal: Wednesday’s Republican presidential primary debate looked like something of an ordeal for Rick Santorum, the sudden but perhaps tenuous front-runner in the national polls. Mitt Romney accused Santorum (accurately) of voting to fund Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere”… – LAT, 2-22-12
  • Santorum makes zero mention of jobs in CNN debate: In total, the four GOP contenders mentioned the word “jobs” only 10 times over the span of two hours — and former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) uttered the word a grand total of zero times. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) … – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • Romney quickly attacks Santorum on spending in GOP debate: Mitt Romney quickly targeted Rick Santorum’s Washington rap sheet in tonight’s CNN debate, a clear effort to blunt his momentum with conservatives in the fight for the Republican presidential nomination…. – LAT, 2-22-12
  • Debate reveals dangers of earmark bashing: Earmarks have been a favorite talking point for this crop of GOP presidential candidates, but a discussion of the topic during Wednesday night’s debate revealed none of the candidates is quite as pure as they’d like to seem…. – LAT, 2-22-12
  • Santorum fights charges he’s a “fake” conservative: Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Wednesday night fought back against charges from his GOP rivals that he’s a “fake” fiscal conservative, pointing to the ratings he received as a legislator from conservative groups and his plan to … – CBS News, 2-22-12
  • GOP debate: Romney says Obama undermined religious freedom: When the issue of contraception came up in tonight’s Republican debate, it offered the frontrunners an attempt to finesse their positions on social issues to address seeming weaknesses…. – Chicago Tribune, 2-22-12
  • Romney and Santorum trade barbs over Santorum’s support of former Senate colleague Specter: Republicans Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are sparring over Santorum’s support for his former Senate colleague, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Romney and Santorum traded barbs Wednesday night in a nationally televised debate in Arizona … – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • GOP candidates debate government loans to auto companies: Republican candidates for president had a spirited debate tonight over the government rescue of General Motors and Chrysler, with all four opposing it…. – Detroit Free Press, 2-22-12
  • Newt Gingrich Lost the Arizona Republican Debate: The two have sparred in past debates and many people expected that this debate would show Gingrich at his most pugnacious and aggressive…. – PolicyMic, 2-22-12
  • Republican Cast Returns From Hiatus, With No Encore Presentations on Horizon: After 20 debates, a long-running television series appears to be wrapping up…. – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Tonight’s GOP debate: Why are viewers suffering fatigue? Policy vs. personality: Even with more than a month since the last GOP presidential candidate debate, after nearly 20 debates, voters (and viewers) are still feeling a sense of fatigue coming into tonight’s Republican debate in Mesa, AZ–and there’s no … – WaPo, 2-22-12
  • Republican debate: What to watch for in Mesa: The Republican presidential contenders will square off in Mesa today in a high-stakes debate that promises to set the tone for a crucial stretch of the campaign through the Arizona and Michigan primaries and Super Tuesday…. – AZ Central.com, 2-21-12
  • Republican Cast Returns From Hiatus, With No Encore Presentations on Horizon: That was the position that political junkies found themselves in on Wednesday as CNN prepared to televise the 20th Republican presidential debate of the 2012 nomination race. There are no more debates on the conveyer belt – an abrupt change for a … – NYT, 2-22-12
  • Arizona Republican debate: What to watch for: It’s the last debate before Super Tuesday and perhaps the last debate of the 2012 GOP presidential race. And there’s a lot at stake…. – WaPo, 2-22-12
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Full Text Campaign Buzz February 22, 2012: CNN Arizona Republican Debate Transcript– 20th GOP Debate — Santorum vs. Romney

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CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

The candidates debate in Mesa, Ariz. | Jay Westcott/POLITICO

Source: CNN, 2-22-12

Full Transcript of CNN ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, 20:00-22:00

Aired February 22, 2012 – 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The presidential race has been won by Governor Ronald Reagan of California.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Governor Clinton is now President Bill Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Too close to call.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There it is, George W. Bush reelected. Barack Obama, president-elect of the United States.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, HOST, CNN’S JOHN KING, USA: Right now the Republican presidential candidates in their debate before a series of contests that could change everything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: In Arizona tonight, a grand showdown in a presidential contest that’s been all over the map.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You don’t like the state of the race right now, wait a couple of weeks.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This has been like riding Space Mountain at Disneyland.

ANNOUNCER: The Republican race could take another turn right now. With the GOP candidate return to the debate stage.

Rick Santorum. The late contender. Says it’s a two-man duel now. And he’ll be the one left standing.

SANTORUM: I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.

ANNOUNCER: Mitt Romney. The long-distance runner. Says every rival that’s threatened him has made him stronger.

ROMNEY: My conservatism is to the core.

ANNOUNCER: Newt Gingrich. The determined challenger. Vowing to compete, win or lose, until the last votes are cast.

GINGRICH: We intend to change Washington, not accommodate it.

ANNOUNCER: Ron Paul. The delegate hunter. Keeping his campaign going by picking and choosing his battles.

REP. RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have the message that America needs at this particular time.

ANNOUNCER: The final four. In Arizona. A state rich in presidential campaign history. A frontline in the immigration wars. And the fight to bounce back from recession.

GINGRICH: We know how to help the American people create jobs.

ROMNEY: It’s been tough for middle-income families in America.

ANNOUNCER: Here in the West, they know a thing or two about fight to the finish. And this debate could change the landscape once again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, DEBATE MODERATOR, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening from the Mesa, Arizona Arts Center just outside of Phoenix. This is the Arizona Republican presidential debate. Tonight, the four candidates in their final debate before 14 critical contests across the country, including the primary right here in Arizona on Tuesday. Welcome. I’m John King.

Arizona Republicans are here in our audience tonight. Some of them will have a chance to question the candidates. And crowds even gathering outside to watch it at a viewing party here in downtown Mesa. You can also take part in this debate. Send us your questions online on Twitter. Make sure to include the hashtag cnndebate on Facebook and Facebook.com/cnnpolitics, and of course on CNNpolitics.com.

It’s time now to meet the 2012 Republican presidential contenders. Joining us on stage, the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

(APPLAUSE)

The former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

(APPLAUSE)

And the former senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

(APPLAUSE) And the Texas congressman, Ron Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

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

Just before we came on the air tonight, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance. We want to ask everyone now here in the hall to rise and at home as well, as we have the national anthem performed. It’s our honor tonight to welcome the Arizona State University Symphonic Chorale.

(MUSIC)

KING: Thank you. Our thanks to the Arizona State University Symphonic Chorale. That was fabulous.

Gentlemen, I want to ask you to take your seats. I’ll take a moment now to explain to you how our debate will work.

I’ll question the candidates, as well as we’ll also take some questions from members of our audience. I’ll follow up and guide tonight’s discussion.

Candidates, we’re going to try to make sure each of you get your fair amount of questions. And you’ll have a minute to answer and 30 seconds for rebuttal and follow-ups. And if you’re singled out for a particular criticism, I’ll make sure you get a chance to respond.

Now we’re going to have each of the candidates introduce themselves. And so we have more time to debate tonight, we’re going to ask them to keep it short.

Here’s an example. I’m John King from CNN. I’m honored to be your moderator tonight and I’m thrilled to be in a state that reminds us baseball season is just around the corner.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, we begin with you, sir.

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Congressman Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas.

I am the defender of the Constitution. I’m the champion of liberty. This shows the roadmap to peace and prosperity.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Rick Santorum.

And we have a lot of troubles around the world, as you see, the Middle East in flames, and what’s going on in this country with gas prices and the economy. And I’m here to talk about a positive solutions that confront this country that include everybody from the bottom up.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Mitt Romney.

And there was a time in this country when you knew that if you worked hard and went to school, and if you learned the values of America in your home, that you could count on having a secure future and a prosperous life. That was an American promise and it’s been broken by this president.

I want to restore America’s promise, and I’m going to do that —

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: That’s good enough. As George Costanza would say, when they’re applauding, stop. Right?

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Newt Gingrich.

And I’ve developed a program for American energy so no future president will ever bow to a Saudi king again and so every American can look forward to $2.50 a gallon gasoline.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Gentlemen, it’s good to see you again.

Let’s get started on the important issues with a question from our audience.

Sir, please tell us who you are and state your question.

(UNKNOWN): My name is Gilbert Fidler (ph) from Gilbert, Arizona, and I’d like to ask this question to all the candidates if I could.

Since the first time in 65 years our national debt exceeds our gross national product, what are you going to do to bring down the debt?

KING: Thank you, sir.

Senator Santorum, let’s begin with you.

SANTORUM: Thank you, Gilbert.

I put together a specific plan that cuts $5 trillion over five years, that spends less money each year for the next four years that I’ll be president of the United States. So it’s not inflation- adjusted, it’s not baseline-budgeting. We’re actually going to shrink the actual size of the federal budget, and we’re going to do so by dealing with the real problem.

And here’s where I differentiate myself from everybody else, including, obviously, the president. I actually have experience on tackling the toughest problems that we have in this country, and that’s the growth of entitlement spending.

Obviously, the first thing we need to do is repeal Obamacare. That’s the one entitlement that we can get rid of.

(APPLAUSE)

And that’s a couple trillion dollars in spending over the next 10 years. But there’s bigger issues.

When I was born, less than 10 percent of the federal budget was entitlement spending. It’s now 60 percent of the budget.

Some people have suggested that defense spending is the problem. When I was born, defense spending was 60 percent of the budget. It’s now 17 percent. If you think defense spending is the problem, then you need a remedial math class to go back to.

Defense spending will not be cut under my administration, but we will go after all of the means-tested entitlement programs — Medicaid, food stamps, all of those programs — and do what we did with welfare.

We cut the welfare — we cut spending on welfare, froze it and then we block granted it to the states and gave them the flexibility to run that program they way they saw fit with two provisos. Number one, there would be a time limit on welfare and a work requirement. We were going to say that poverty is not a disability. That these programs need to be transitional in nature. We need to do the same thing with Medicaid. We need to do the same thing with — with food stamps. All of the other means tests of entitlement programs.

And unlike the Paul Ryan plan — I see I’m out of time, but unlike the Paul Ryan plan, we also will deal with Medicare and Social Security, not 10 years from now. But we need to start dealing with it now because our country is facing fiscal bankruptcy.

KING: Governor Romney, I’m wondering if that answer satisfied you? Just in recent days you said this, quote, “If you want a fiscal conservative, you can’t vote for Rick Santorum because he’s not.” Did he answer your questions there?

ROMNEY: Well I’m looking at his historic record, which voting for raising the debt ceiling five different times without voting for compensating cuts. Voting to keep in place Davis-Bacon, which cost about $100 billion over — over 10 years. A whole series of votes. Voting to fund Planned Parenthood, to expand the Department of Education. During his term in the Senate, spending grew by some 80 percent of the federal government. But I — but I want to respond to Gilbert’s question, which I think is a critical one.

And that is as you — as you look at this country, I’m a guy who has lived in the world of business. If you don’t balance your budget in business, you go out of business. So I’ve lived balancing budgets. I also served in the Olympics, balanced a budget there. And — and served in the states. And all four years I was governor, we balanced the budget. Here’s what I’d do at the federal level, I would divide all of the programs into three major places for opportunity to reduce costs.

Number one, I’m going to go through every single program and ask if we can afford it. And if not, I’m going to say, is this program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I’m going to get rid of it. Number two, I’m going to take programs…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …I’m going to take programs that are important, but that could be better run at the state level and send them back to the states as a block grant and that included Medicaid and — and housing vouchers and food stamps. These programs for the poor, to be run more efficiently and can be run with less fraud and abuse at the state level. And then finally number three, with what’s left of government, I’m going to cut the employment by 10 percent. And I’m going to link the pay of government workers with the pay in the private sector. Government servants shouldn’t get paid more than the people who are paying taxes.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator, the governor singled you out. Take a few seconds.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Well, the governor talks about raising the debt ceiling. There was a debt ceiling vote this summer and the governor was asked the question whether he would have voted to raise the debt ceiling ultimately and he said, yes. Because government has to pay their bills. We can’t default ultimately. What happened the — the 12 years I was in the United States Senate, we went from the debt to GDP ratio, which is now over 100 percent. When I came to the Senate it was 68 percent of GDP. When I left the Senate it was 64 percent of GDP.

So government as a size of the economy went down when I was in the United States Senate. Sure I had some votes. Look, I think we’ve all had votes that I look back on I — I wish I wouldn’t have voted — No Child Left Behind, you’re right, it lead to education spending. That’s why I’ve said that we need to cut and eliminate No Child Left Behind and — and education funding from the federal government, move it back to the local level where it belongs where parents and local communities can deal with that.

But if you look at my record on spending, on taking on entitlements, never having voted for an appropriation bill increase. You look at — at my record of never having raised taxes. Governor Romney raised $700 million in taxes and fees in Massachusetts. I never voted to raise taxes. Governor Romney even today suggested raising taxes on the top 1 percent, adopting the Occupy Wall Street rhetoric. I’m not going to adopt that rhetoric. I’m going to represent 100 percent of Americans. We’re not raising taxes on anybody.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor, please quickly I want to bring the congressman and the speaker into the conversation, but respond.

ROMNEY: There were so many misrepresentations there, it’s going to take me a little while. Number one, I said today that we’re going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1 percent. So that’s number one. Number two, I said yes we should increase the debt ceiling in this last vote, but only if we have a cut, cap and balance provision put in place. Only in that case. And, therefore, I did not agree with the deal that was done in Washington. That was the wrong way to go.

And finally, Senator during your term in Congress, the years you’ve been there, government has doubled in size. You voted to raise the debt ceiling five times without compensating cuts in spending. In my view, we should not raise the debt ceiling again until we get compensating cuts in spending. A cut, cap and balance approach must be taken.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Mr. Speaker…

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Mr. Speaker, join the conversation. Address Gilbert’s question and if you so choose, address some criticism you’ve received on this issue from this state’s senior Senator campaigning for governor Romney. He questioned your credentials on fiscal conservatism. He said when you were the speaker, earmarking became an art.

GINGRICH: Well when I was speaker, as I’m sure he remembers, we balanced the budget for four consecutive years, the only time in his lifetime. So I think that’s a good place to start with Gilbert’s question. We’re meeting tonight on the 280th anniversary of George Washington’s birth. You go back and look at the founding fathers, they’d have had very clear messages. Hamilton would have said you have to have jobs and economic growth to get back to a balanced budget. You’re never going to balance the budget on the back of a highly unemployed country. And so I would be committed, first of all, to a program of jobs and economic growth.

Second, the energy issue is enormous. The leading developer of North Dakota oil estimated recently that, if we would open up federal land and open up offshore, you would have $16 trillion to $18 trillion — not billion — trillion dollars in royalties to the federal government in the next generation, an enormous flow which would drive down prices to $2.50 a gallon, would help us balance the budget and would create millions of jobs.

Finally, I agree generally with the need to reform government. I think that, if we were prepared to repeal the 130-year-old civil service laws, go to a modern management system, we could save a minimum of $500 billion a year with a better system. And if we then applied the tenth amendment, as Governor Rick Perry has agreed to head up a project on, I think we can return to the states an enormous share of the power that’s currently in Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, you’ve questioned the conservative — fiscal conservative credentials of all these gentlemen but particularly this week Senator Santorum. You have a new television ad that labels him a fake. Why?

PAUL: Because he’s a fake.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

(BOOING)

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: I’m real, John. I’m real.

PAUL: Congratulations.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: No. I find it really fascinating that, when people are running for office, they’re really fiscally conservative. When they’re in office, they do something different. And then when they explain themselves, they say, “Oh, I want to repeal that.”

So the senator voted for No Child Left Behind, but now — he voted for it, but now he’s running on the effort to get rid of it. So I think the record is so bad, you know, with the politicians.

And, you know, nobody accuses me of not having voted for too much. They’re always accusing me for not voting for enough. And I’ve been running in office, in office off and on for a good many years, and over all those years, I’ve never voted for a budget deficit. I never voted to increase the national debt.

As a matter of fact, there’s only one appropriation bill I voted for, and that was for veterans. I assumed, from the 1970s on, that we were embarking on a very dangerous path, and we’re involved in that danger right now.

So this idea of being fiscally conservative now that we’re running for office and we’re going to repeal something that we did before, I mean, this — it loses credibility is what our problem is. So… (APPLAUSE) And — and the one thing that I think should annoy all Americans is the voting for foreign aid? I mean, just think there are foreign aid packages that are huge, and when the member votes for it, they don’t say, well, this money is going to A, B, C, because I love that country, but it’s the principle of the way the government works. You vote for foreign aid because, for some weird reason, it’s supposed to be good for America, but then it goes and helps all our enemies. That’s what I disapprove of.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator Santorum, respond quickly.

SANTORUM: Ron, The Weekly Standard just did a review, looking at the National Taxpayers Union, I think, Citizens Against Government Waste, and they measured me up against the other 50 senators who were serving when I did and they said that I was the most fiscally conservative senator in the Congress in the — in the 12 years that I was there.

My — my ratings with the National Taxpayers Union were As or Bs. They were very high from the Citizens Against Government Waste. I got a hero award.

I was a leader, as you know, on taking on tough issues, which is the entitlement programs, not just welfare reform, but I also worked on Medicare reform and Medicaid reform and also was a leader on trying to deal with Social Security.

And I did that not representing one of the most conservative districts in the state of Texas but in the state of Pennsylvania, with the second largest per capita population of seniors in the country.

And I can tell you those seniors really cared about Social Security. Why? Because all my rich seniors moved to Florida and Arizona. And…

(LAUGHTER)

… and what’s left — what’s left in Pennsylvania is folks who relied on Social Security. And I was out there as a Republican senator, a conservative voting record, over a 90 percent conservative voting record from the American Conservative Union.

By the way, Ron, you ranked 145th in the bottom half of Republicans this year in a conservative voting record from that same organization.

We had a strong record in a tough state to be a conservative. If I can stand up in the state of Pennsylvania, which hasn’t elected a Republican president since 1988, and have a strong principled voting record on issues that were tough in my state, senior issues, imagine now, as president of the United States, with a Tea Party movement and a conservative — a riled-up conservative base, what we can accomplish in Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman, quickly.

PAUL: You know, that’s always a cop-out when you compare yourself to the other members of Congress. The American people are sick and tired of the members of Congress. They get about a 9 percent rating.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: But this whole thing about comparison of conservative votes, I think you make a very important point. I don’t rate what, at the top. If it’s spending or on taxes I’m at the very top because I vote for the least amount of spending and the least amount of taxes, which means that some of the conservative ratings — you have to realize sometimes conservatives want to spend money, too.

When it comes to overseas spending, you vote for the foreign aid. Conservatives are quite pleased with spending money overseas. But if you’re a strict fiscal conservative and a constitutionalist you don’t vote for that kind of stuff and so you can’t just go by the ratings.

KING: As you can see, this is a — it’s an important issue to the people in the audience. I think it’s one of the reasons this race has been so volatile. Voters are looking and they say which of these candidates can I trust? And each of you are trying to make your case to them.

As you try to do so, Governor Romney, you said recently that as governor you’re a severely conservative governor of Massachusetts. What did you mean by that?

ROMNEY: Well, severe, strict. I was, without question, a conservative governor in my state. We balanced the budget all four years I was in office. We cut taxes 19 times.

I enabled our state police to enforce illegal immigration laws so that people could be taken out of our state that were illegally. We drove our schools to have —

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: — campaigned for and fought for English immersion in our school, and had that successfully implemented. My policies in Massachusetts were to — were conservative, and in a state, as Rick indicated, a state that was a relatively liberal state, I stood up and said I would stand on the side of life when the legislature passed a bill saying that life would not be defined not at conception but later.

I said no. When there was an effort to put in place embryo farming and cloning, I vetoed that. When the Catholic Church was attacked, saying, look we’re not going to allow you to continue to place children in homes where there’s a preference for a man and a woman being the mom and dad, I worked with the Catholic Church to put legislation in place to protect their right to exercise their religious conscience.

I have through my record as a governor demonstrated that kind of conservative belief. But also, look a step back and look at my record running the Olympics. Balanced the budget there, made it successful with the help of a terrific team.

Then look back into the business. You can’t be, I don’t believe, anything but a fiscal conservative and run a business, because if you don’t balance your budget, you go out of business.

KING: Mr. Speaker, as you know, often when deficit reduction —

(APPLAUSE)

KING: — when deficit reduction and economic growth are priorities at the same time, some people see a collision. Some people see a conflict. You’ve outlined your views on taxes. Governor Romney today outlined a tax plan that would cut the — put the top rate at 28 percent, eliminate capital gain taxes for incomes below $200,000, cut the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

Is that the right approach? And is it consistent — and it’s a tough one sometimes — with spurring economic growth at a time this state and other states are looking for jobs? But as you have Gilbert’s (ph) question, also looking to make sure the next president works on the deficit?

GINGRICH: Well, look, first of all, I think that Governor Romney today moved in the right direction, and I think that that’s a serious step towards trying to find — closer to supply side. I wouldn’t agree with him on capping capital gains cuts at $200,000, because I think that’s, frankly, economically destructive, and I don’t believe in class warfare.

And that’s a number below Obama’s class warfare number. So we can argue later about capital gains cuts.

But I think there’s a different question. Everybody talks about managing the current government. The current government is a disaster. I mean, we don’t — you know —

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: — this is — it is — the reason I started with the idea that came out of Strong America Now to repeal the 130-year-old civil service laws and go to a modern management system, is you change everything.

And the fact is, if we’re serious — and, in a funny kind of way, Ron and I are closer on the scale of change. We’d approach it slightly different, but I think you’ve got to start and say what would a modern system be like?

And a modern system would be — just take control of the border. It is utterly stupid to say that the United States government can’t control the border. It’s a failure of will, it’s a failure of enforcement.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: So let me just take that one example. Let’s assume you could, tomorrow morning, have a president who wanted to work with your governor, that instead of suing Arizona, helped Arizona, who actually worked with Arizona. Now —

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: — what’s the fiscal reality three years from now in your emergency rooms, in your schools, in your prisons, of controlling the border? It’s a lot less expensive. You just took a major step towards a less expensive future. So I think it is possible to modernize the federal government and cut taxes and develop energy simultaneously. And the three lead you to Gilbert’s concern. Let’s get back to a balanced budget.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: The Speaker raises an important point about looking forward, and I hope we spend most of the night doing that. But as you know, there’s a lot of anger in the base of the party about some of the things that have happened in the past, and the Tea Party, especially.

Now, earmarks, the pork barrel spending, it’s a tiny slice of the budget. I think we all know that. But if you talk to a Tea Party activist, they think — an example, a gateway to corruption.

Senator, you have said there are good earmarks and bad earmarks. And you have talked about your earmarks in the past. Any that you specifically regret? And why have you criticized — why do you think the money that went to Governor Romney for security at the Olympics, why was that a bad earmark?

SANTORUM: I didn’t suggest it was a bad earmark. I voted for it and about half the money — a little over half the money that went to the Salt Lake games.

But Governor Romney asked for that earmark. That’s really the point here. He’s out there on television ads right now, unfortunately, attacking me for saying that I’m this great earmarker, when he not only asked for earmarks for the Salt Lake Olympics in the order of tens of millions of dollars, sought those earmarks and used them, and he did as the governor of Massachusetts, $300 million or $400 million. He said, I would be foolish if I didn’t go out and try to get federal dollars.

So the idea that somehow earmarks during the time that I was in Congress were this thing that drove up spending in Washington, D.C., if you actually look at it, as I said before, as a percentage of GDP, actually the deficits — the debt went down. What happened is there was abuse.

When abuse happened, I said we should stop the earmarking process. But I did say there were good earmarks and bad earmarks.

We wouldn’t have the V-22 Osprey, which was the most essential air platform for our Marines in particular in the war against the radical Islamists. We wouldn’t have it if it wasn’t for an earmark. That program would have been killed under George Bush 41. Dick Cheney, the Defense Department, wanted to kill that program, and many of us, including myself, stood up and made sure that was there.

Congress has a role to play when it comes to appropriating money, and sometimes the president and the administration doesn’t get it right. What happened was an abuse of the process.

When that abuse occurred, I stepped forward, as Jim DeMint did, who, by the way, was an earmarker, as almost everybody else in Congress was. Why? Because Congress has a role of allocating resources when they think the administration has it wrong.

I defended that at the time. I’m proud I defended it at the time, because I think they did make mistakes. I do believe there was abuse, and I said we should stop it, and as president I would oppose earmarks.

KING: Governor?

ROMNEY: I didn’t follow all of that, but I can tell you this — I would put a ban on earmarks. I think it opens the door to excessive spending, spending on projects that don’t need to be done.

I think there are a lot of projects that have been voted for. You voted to the “Bridge to Nowhere.” I think these earmarks, we’ve had it with them.

SANTORUM: Yes.

ROMNEY: If Congress wants to vote in favor of a bill, they should take that bill, bring it forward with committees, have people say — vote it up or down on the floor of the House or the Senate, have the president say yes or no, and move forward. But the earmark process is broken. There are thousands and thousands of earmarks, money being used inappropriately.

And I’ll tell you this — he mentioned coming to the Olympics, coming to the United States Congress, asking for support. No question about it. That’s the nature of what it is when you lead an organization or a state.

You come to Congress and you say, these are the things we need. In the history of the Olympic movement, the federal government has always provided the transportation and security. So we came to the federal government asking for help on transportation and security.

I was fighting for those things. Our games were successful. But while I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

KING: Quickly. (APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: It’s really interesting, Governor, because the process you just described of an open process where members of Congress put forth their suggestions on how to spend money, have them voted on individually, is exactly how the process worked. So what you just suggested as to how earmarks should work in the future is exactly how they worked in the past. So I suspect you would have supported earmarks if you were in the United States Senate.

ROMNEY: I’m sorry. The 6,000 earmarks that were put in place under the Speaker’s term, for instance, were oftentimes tagged on to other bills —

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be critical.

That was the process. There were thousands — I mean, we’ve had thousands and thousands of earmarks. They are typically tagged on to — bundled on to other bills.

OK. Go ahead, Mr. Speaker. Go ahead.

SANTORUM: Wait a second. You’re entitled to your opinions, Mitt. You’re not entitled to —

ROMNEY: I’ve heard that line before. I’ve heard that before, yes.

SANTORUM: — misrepresent the facts, and you’re misrepresenting the facts. You don’t know what you’re taking about.

What happened in the earmark process — what happens in the earmark process was that members of Congress would ask, formally, publicly request these things, put them on paper, and have them allocated, and have them voted on a committee, have them voted on, on the floor of the Senate.

Congressman Paul — Congressman…

ROMNEY: Attached to a bill? Attached to a bill?

SANTORUM: As part of the bill. Congressman Paul…

ROMNEY: And the president can’t veto it?

SANTORUM: He can veto the bill.

ROMNEY: The whole bill, but he can’t veto the earmark?

SANTORUM: Well, we tried to do that, by the way. I supported a line-item veto.

ROMNEY: That’s what I support. That’s what I support.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Hold on. Hold on.

Mitt, I agree with you. I support — I support the line-item veto. I voted for a line-item veto so we could do just that. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court struck it down. I would like to go back, as president, again, and give the president the authority to line-item veto.

But that’s not the issue. The issue is were they transparent? And the bottom line was, when I was in the United States Senate, there was transparency, and Congressman Paul, who is one of the most prolific earmarkers in the Congress today, is — would tell you…

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (OFF-MIKE).

SANTORUM: And I’m not — I’m not criticizing; I’m just saying that’s a fact, that…

(LAUGHTER)

… that he — he…

(APPLAUSE)

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: I think you need a chance to say a word.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Mr. Speaker, you were referenced by the governor, you first, then Congressman Paul.

Don’t worry. We’ll get to you, Congressman. I promise.

(BOOING)

GINGRICH: Now, look, let me just say flatly all of you need to think about this because this is one of those easy demagogic fights that gets you into a lot of trouble. If you have Barack Obama as president and you have a Republican House, you may want the House imposing certain things on the president.

Now, when I was speaker, for example…

(APPLAUSE)

… and we had a liberal Democrat in the White House — I actually want to reinforce what the governor said. I helped the Atlanta Olympics get the support they needed from the U.S. government to be successful. I thought it was totally appropriate to help the Atlanta Olympics. And I actually went to — to your former governor and sat down with the people originally planning the Winter Olympics and said, look, this is what we did; this is what you need to do.

I think it was totally appropriate for you to ask for what you got. I just think it’s, kind of, silly for you to then turn around and run an ad attacking somebody else for getting what you got and then claiming what you got wasn’t what they got because what you got was right and what they got was wrong.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, answer Senator Santorum, please, sir.

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I followed that and I…

(LAUGHTER)

You know, there’s reason for the confusion, because…

(LAUGHTER)

… because it’s all Congress’s fault. They’re all messed up and they don’t know what they’re doing in Congress is the real reason.

(APPLAUSE)

But this whole idea of earmarking — earmarking is designating how the money’s spent. What a lot of people don’t understand is if — if the Congress doesn’t say the way the money should be spent, it goes to the executive branch, and that’s the bad part. If you were actually cutting, it would make a difference. But you don’t want to give more power to the executive branch.

Even if I’m president, I don’t want more power over that — over that funding. That should be with the people and — and with the Congress. But earmarking — the reason we get into trouble is — is the irresponsibility of Congress.

Take your highway funds. We’re supposed to pay a user fee. If we pay our gasoline tax, we should get our fair share back. But what do they do? They take the highway funds and other of these trust funds and they spend this money overseas in these wars that we shouldn’t be fighting. And then when the highways need building, then you have to go and fight the political system and know who to deal with and maneuver and try to get some of your money back.

But if you say you’re against — against the earmarking and fuss and fume over, the answer is vote against the bill. That is what I do. I argue for the case of the responsibility being on the Congress, but it’s the responsibility of us who believe in fiscal conservatism to vote against the bill. We need to vote against the spending is what we need to do.

(APPLAUSE) KING: Let’s take another important economic question. This one comes to us from CNNPolitics.com, and you can see it in the audience up on the board here.

“Why was George W. Bush wrong in his efforts to save the auto industry and why was Barack Obama wrong to continue the effort?”

Senator Santorum, I want to go to you first with this question. You, like your friends on the stage tonight, opposed the auto bailout. Michigan votes on Tuesday, along with Arizona. We assume folks are watching there tonight. Address your answer to an auto worker who may believe strongly that he or she has that job tonight because of the help — the bailout?

SANTORUM: I would just say to them that I in principle oppose government coming in and bailing out a sector of the economy or an industry with government dollars and — and with government manipulation of that market, which is exactly what happened twice, in 2008 and 2009.

The first time it happened was the Wall Street bailout. On principle, I opposed the Wall Street bailout, even though I understand people — reasonable people could disagree. I felt that having the government come in in such a major way and have a huge influence over the direction of that industry, that that would be damaging to what I believe is the best way to resolve these types of problems, which lets the market work, constructive capitalism, as Governor Romney was talking about in his days at Bain Capital, and destructive capitalism.

And that means pain. I understand that. But it also means limited government and allowing markets to work because we believe they’re more efficient over time. I held the same consistent position when it came to the auto bailouts. I can say that with respect to Governor Romney, that was not the case. He supported the folks on Wall Street and bailed out Wall Street, was all for it. And then when it came to the auto workers, the folks in Detroit, he said, no. That to me is not a consistent, principled position. I had one. I believe in markets, not just when they’re convenient for me.

KING: Governor?

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Nice — nice try, but now let’s look at the facts. All right, first of all — first of all let’s go back to the auto industry and — and go back to 2000, I think it was 2008, President Bush was still in office and the three chief executive officers of the three major auto companies got in their private planes and flew to Washington and said, please write us a check. I think they wanted $50 billion. And I wrote an Op-Ed in the paper and I said, absolutely not. Do not write a check for $50 billion.

These companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, just like airlines have, just like other industries have. Go through a managed bankruptcy…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …and — and if they go through that managed bankruptcy and shed the excessive cost that’s been put on them by the UAW and by their own mismanagement, then if they need help coming out of bankruptcy, the government can provided guarantees and get them back on their feet. No way would we allow the auto industry in America to totally implode and disappear. That was my view. Go through bankruptcy. When that happens, then the market can help lift them out. With regards to — to TARP it’s very simple, or — or the Wall Street. Look, I don’t want to save any Wall Street Banks.

I just don’t want (sic) make sure we lose all of our banks. And like — like President Bush at the time, I was concerned that if we didn’t do something, there were some pretty high risks that not just Wall Street banks, but all banks would collapse. And like many other people — many other economists, they were concerned that our entire currency system would go down. My view is this, we have to have industries that get in trouble, go through bankruptcy. Now, Senator you voted in favor of the bail out of the airline industry after 9/11.

I think that was the right thing to do. It was an emergency. You also voted for the bail out of the steel industry. I don’t think I agree with that one, but I do believe that the right course for the auto industry was to go through a managed bankruptcy process and then to get help getting out.

KING: Governor let me ask you…

(APPLAUSE)

KING: …you — you mentioned — you mentioned President Bush’s position on the Wall Street bail out. If you talk to people in the Bush administration at the time, they say they would have preferred the structured bankruptcy route that you talked about, but that there was no private capital available. That nobody would give the auto companies money and that their choice they say at the time, was to either give the government money or have them liquidate.

ROMNEY: Yeah, it was really interesting. Because, you know, I wrote my piece and I said look, these companies need to go through managed bankruptcy. And the head of the UAW said, we can’t go through managed bankruptcy. The industry will disappear if that happens. And the politicians, Barack Obama’s people, oh no, we can’t go through managed bankruptcy. Six months they wrote, I think it was $17 billion in checks to the auto companies. Then they finally realized I was right. They finally put them through managed bankruptcy. That was the time they needed the help to get out of managed bankruptcy.

Those monies they put in beforehand were — it was wasted money. And number two, because they put that money in, the president gave the companies to the UAW, they were part of the reason the companies were in trouble. Giving these companies to the UAW was wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK) KING: Mr. Speaker — one second.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: As — as Governor Romney well knows, that the American government shut down the airline industry after 9/11. And the government by it’s action stopped the airline industry from functioning and yes, as a result of government action, which I thought it was appropriate for government since we shut down the industry…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: I agree with you.

SANTORUM: …after the events of 9/11.

ROMNEY: I agree.

SANTORUM: But government didn’t shut down the banks. They didn’t shut down the financial service industry. So when you compare those, it’s not apples to apples, Mitt and that’s not a fair comparison.

KING: Mr. Speaker, come in on the conversation. It’s a tough one. It’s a tough one. It’s a major American industry, in a time of trouble.

GINGRICH: That’s not a tough…

(CROSSTALK)

KING: That’s not tough, you say.

GINGRICH: It’s not tough. First of all, there’s a huge amount of the American auto industry that was just fine. BMW in South Carolina was terrific. Mercedes in Alabama was doing just fine. Honda in Ohio was just fine. So the — Toyota was just fine. What we have is the United Auto Workers and a management system that had grown very, I think incapable of tough decisions because they were used to selling out to the United Auto Workers. And so they came in and said, oh we can’t change. And this president on behalf of the United Auto Workers said, you’re exactly right.

Now, the fact is, Chrysler is now Fiat. So when we talk about saving the American auto industry, let’s be clear what they were doing. I think that they would have been much better off to have gone through a managed bankruptcy, I agree with Governor Romney. I think it would have happened. I think what would have happened is the UAW would have lost all of their advantages and the result was, what you had I thought was an unprecedented violation of 200 years of bankruptcy law by Barack Obama to pay off the UAW at the expense of every bondholder. (APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, as you join the conversation, the criticism of President Obama here, but I also want you to address the state’s current Republican governor, Rick Snyder, who supports Mitt Romney, but that’s irrelevant to this point. He says, “The bailout actually was something that really worked.”

Is that Republican governor wrong?

PAUL: Well, you know, it’s interesting when they argue that case.

First, I don’t like the idea that you have good bailouts and bad bailouts. If bailouts are bad, they’re bad, and we shouldn’t be doing it.

But this argument about maybe one that works, you know, well, now that the bankruptcy or the bailing out of GM worked, I said that’s sort of like if a criminal goes out and robs a bank, and he’s successful, therefore you endorse what he did, because he’s successful. But you have to rob people, you have to distort the law.

The government is supposed to protect contracts. They’re not supposed to regulate contracts and they’re not supposed to undermine contracts. And that’s what we’ve been doing.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: In the housing bubble, we undermined contracts. And this is what we’re doing here. So you want to respect the contracts.

A lot of people will accuse me of advocating a free market, that there’s no regulations. Actually, the regulations are tougher, because you have to go through bankruptcy and you have to face up to this.

And it isn’t like General Motors would be destroyed. Newt made that point there, that there were good parts of General Motors. But politicians can’t figure this out. Then they serve the special interests, and then you have labor fighting big business.

I opt for the free market in defense of liberty. That’s what we need in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: All right.

We’re off to a good start, Gentlemen. We’re going to take our first break of the evening.

In a moment, our Republican presidential debate here in Arizona continues. A lot more ground to cover, including two issues that are dominating the discussion here in Arizona in recent days, immigration and faith. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to the Mesa Arts Center and the Arizona Republican Presidential debate. Let’s get right back to questioning the four contenders for the Republican nomination. We take a question now from cnnpolitics.com. You can see it up on the screen here.

Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why? As you can see — it’s a — it’s a very popular question in the audience, as we can see. Look, we’re not going to spend a ton of time on this but it is — please.

GINGRICH: Can I just make a point?

KING: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These guys are giving you some feedback here, John.

KING: I see that. I see that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they’re making it very clear.

GINGRICH: No, I think — look, I think there’s — I want to make two — I want to make two quick point, John.

The first is there is a legitimate question about the power of the government to impose on religion activities which any religion opposes. That’s legitimate.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Sure is.

GINGRICH: But I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. OK? So let’s be clear here.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: If we’re going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion. It is not the Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: John, what’s happened — and you recall back in the debate that we had George Stephanopoulos talking out about birth control, we wondered why in the world did contraception — and it’s like, why is he going there? Well, we found out when Barack Obama continued his attack on religious conscience.

I don’t think we’ve seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we’ve seen under Barack Obama. Most recently, of course —

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: — most recently requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises health care insurance that would include birth control, sterilization and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable.

And he retried to retreat from that but he retreated in a way that was not appropriate, because these insurance companies now have to provide these same things and obviously the Catholic Church will end up paying for them.

But don’t forget the decision just before this, where he said the government — not a church, but the government should have the right to determine who a church’s ministers are for the purposes of determining whether they’re exempt from EEOC or from workforce laws or labor laws.

He said the government should make that choice. That went all the way to the Supreme Court. There are a few liberals on the Supreme Court. They voted 9-0 against President Obama. His position —

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: — his position — his position on religious tolerance, on religious conscience is clear, and it’s one of the reasons the people in this country are saying we want to have a president who will stand up and fight for the rights under our Constitution, our first right, which is for freedom of religion.

KING: So let’s focus the time — let’s focus the time we spend on this on the role of the president and your personal views and question the role of government.

And Senator Santorum, this has come up — yes, it has come up because of the president’s decision in the campaign. It’s also come up because of some of the things you have said on the campaign trail. When you were campaigning in Iowa, you told an evangelical blog, if elected, you will talk about what, quote, “no president has talked about before — the dangers of contraception.” Why?

SANTORUM: What I was talking about is we have a society — Charles Murray just wrote a book about this and it’s on the front page of “The New York Times” two days ago, which is the increasing number of children being born out of wedlock in America, teens who are sexually active.

What we’re seeing is a problem in our culture with respect to children being raised by children, children being raised out of wedlock, and the impact on society economically, the impact on society with respect to drug use and all — a host of other things when children have children.

And so, yes, I was talking about these very serious issues. And, in fact, as I mentioned before, two days ago on the front page of “The New York Times”, they’re talking about the same thing. The bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing.

Over 40 percent of children born in America are born out of wedlock. How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it’s so much harder to succeed economically? It’s five times the rate of poverty in single-parent households than it is in two-parent homes. We can have limited government, lower tax — we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything’s not going to be fine.

There are bigger problems at stake in America. And someone has got to go out there — I will — and talk about the things.

And you know what? Here’s the difference.

The left gets all upset. “Oh, look at him talking about these things.” You know, here’s the difference between me and the left, and they don’t get this. Just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want a government program to fix it.

That’s what they do. That’s not what we do.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: As an OB doctor, I’ve dealt with birth control pills and contraception for a long time. This is a consequences of the fact the government has control of medical care and medical insurance, and then we fight over how we dictate how this should be distributed, sort of like in schools. Once the government takes over the schools, especially at the federal level, then there’s no right position, and you have to argue which prayer, are you allowed to pray, and you get into all the details.

The problem is the government is getting involved in things they shouldn’t be involved in, especially at the federal level.

(APPLAUSE)

But sort of along the line of the pills creating immorality, I don’t see it that way. I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pills. So you don’t blame the pills.

I think it’s sort of like the argument — conservatives use the argument all the time about guns. Guns don’t kill, criminals kill.

(APPLAUSE)

So, in a way, it’s the morality of society that we have to deal with. The pill is there and, you know, it contributes, maybe, but the pills can’t be blamed for the immorality of our society.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor, please.

ROMNEY: John, you know, I think as Rick has just said, this isn’t an argument about contraceptives, this is a discussion about, are we going to have a nation which preserves the foundation of the nation, which is the family, or are we not? And Rick is absolutely right.

When you have 40 percent of kids being born out of wedlock, and among certain ethnic groups the vast majority being born out of wedlock, you ask yourself, how are we going to have a society in the future? Because these kids are raised in poverty in many cases, they’re in abusive settings. The likelihood of them being able to finish high school or college drops dramatically in single-family homes. And we haven’t been willing to talk about this.

And when we have programs that say we’re going to teach abstinence in schools, the liberals go crazy and try and stop us from doing that. We have to have a president who’s willing to say that the best opportunity an individual can give to their unborn child is an opportunity to be born in a home with a mother and a father. And I think —

(APPLAUSE)

KING: It’s an issue on which all of you have criticism on the Obama administration, it’s an issue on which some of you have also criticized each other.

Governor Romney, both Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich have said during your tenure as governor, you required Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.

And Mr. Speaker, you compared the president to President Obama, saying he infringed on Catholics’ rights.

Governor, did you do that?

ROMNEY: No, absolutely not. Of course not.

There was no requirement in Massachusetts for the Catholic Church to provide morning-after pills to rape victims. That was entirely voluntary on their report. There was no such requirement.

Likewise, in Massachusetts health care bill, there’s a provision in Massachusetts general laws that says people don’t have to have coverage for contraceptives or other type of medical devices which are contrary to their religious teachings. Churches also don’t have to provide that to entities which are either the church themselves or entities they control. So we have provisions that make sure that something of that nature does not occur.

That’s why when I worked closely with the leaders of the Catholic Church, I met with the cardinal a number of times, and with his emissaries. We talked about the issues we were concerned about.

We battled, for instance, to help the Catholic Church stay in the adoption business. The amazing thing was that while the Catholic Church was responsible for half the adoptions in my state — half the adoptions — they had to get out of that business because the legislature wouldn’t support me and give them an exemption from having to place children in homes where there was a mom and a dad on a preferential basis.

Absolutely extraordinary. We have to have individuals that will stand up for religious conscience, and I did and I will again as president.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Well, the reports we got were quite clear that the public health department was prepared to give a waiver to Catholic hospitals about a morning-after abortion pill, and that the governor’s office issued explicit instructions saying that they believed it wasn’t possible under Massachusetts law to give them that waiver. Now, that was the newspaper reports that came out. That’s something that both Senator Santorum and I have raised before. But I want to go a step further, because this makes a point that Ron Paul has been making for a generation and that people need to take very seriously.

When you have government as the central provider of services, you inevitably move towards tyranny, because the government has the power of force.

(APPLAUSE)

You inevitably — and I think this is true whether it’s Romneycare or Obamacare or any other government centralized system — you inevitably move towards the coercion of the state and the state saying, “If you don’t do what we, the politicians, have defined, you will be punished either financially or you will be punished in some other way like going to jail.”

And that’s why we are, I think, at an enormous crossroads in this country. And I think the fact is, for almost all of us who have been at this for any length of time, we’re now looking at an abyss that forces you to change what you may once have thought — and I suspect all four of us are much more worried today about the power of the state than we would have been — with the possible exception of Congressman Paul — than we would have been at any point in the last 25 years.

PAUL: John…

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman, please.

PAUL: … have a quick follow-up?

(APPLAUSE) You know, we talk about the morning-after pill. Actually, the morning-after pill is nothing more than a birth control pill, so if birth control pills are on the market, the morning-after pill — so if you’re going to legalize birth control pills, you really — you can’t separate the two. They’re all basically the same, hormonally.

But once again, the question is, if you voted for Planned Parenthood like the senator has, you voted for birth control pills. And you literally, because funds are fungible, you literally vote for abortions because Planned Parenthood gets the money — “Oh, I’ll buy birth control pills,” but then they have the money left over to do the abortion.

So that’s why you have to have a pretty strong resistance of voting for these bunches of bills put together. Planned Parenthood should get nothing, let alone designate how they spend.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator Santorum?

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: As Congressman Paul knows, I opposed Title X funding. I’ve always opposed Title X funding, but it’s included in a large appropriation bill that includes a whole host of other things, including…

(BOOING)

… the funding for the National Institutes of Health, the funding for Health and Human Services and a whole bunch of other departments. It’s a multi-billion-dollar bill.

What I did, because Title X was always pushed through, I did something that no one else did. Congressman Paul didn’t. I said, well, if you’re going to have Title X funding, then we’re going to create something called Title XX, which is going to provide funding for abstinence-based programs, so at least we’ll have an opportunity to provide programs that actually work in — in keeping children from being sexually active instead of facilitating children from being sexually active. And I pushed Title XX to — to accomplish that goal.

So while, yes, I — I admit I voted for large appropriation bills and there were things in there I didn’t like, things in there I did, but when it came to this issue, I proactively stepped forward and said that we need to do something at least to counterbalance it, A; B, I would say that I’ve always been very public that, as president of the United States, I will defund Planned Parenthood; I will not sign any appropriation bill that funds Planned Parenthood.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Senator (sic), go ahead. PAUL: John, this demonstrates the problem that I’m talking about. There’s always an excuse to do this. Now…

(APPLAUSE)

… Title XX — I don’t know whether you inferred that I would support Title XX for abstinence. No, it would cost money as a program. It’s not a program of the federal government to get involved in our lives this way. If you want laws like that, maybe the state, but…

(APPLAUSE)

… the federal government shouldn’t even be having — spending money on abstinence. That’s way too much more. I don’t see that in the Constitution any…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Just a — just a brief comment. Senator, I just saw a YouTube clip of you being interviewed where you said that you personally opposed contraceptives but that you — you said that you voted for Title X. You…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: But you used that as an argument, saying this is something I did proactively. You didn’t say this is something I was opposed to; it wasn’t something I would have done. You said this — you said this in a positive light, “I voted for Title X.”

(LAUGHTER)

SANTORUM: I think it’s — I think I was making it clear that, while I have a personal more objection to it; even though I don’t support it, that I voted for bills that included it. And I made it very clear in subsequent interviews that I don’t — I don’t support that…

(BOOING)

… I’ve never supported it, and — and have — and on an individual basis have voted against it. That’s why I proposed Title XX to counterbalance it.

So I — you know, Governor Romney, I can just say that — that, you know, we were talking about this issue before of, you know, religious conscience and protections. But this is — the whole reason this issue is alive is because of the bill that you drafted in Massachusetts, Romneycare, which was the model for Obamacare and the government takeover of health care.

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: Wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second.

SANTORUM: And there was a study…

ROMNEY: Wait a second.

SANTORUM: There was a study that just came out about 10 days ago, two weeks ago, that listed 15 ways in which Romneycare was the model for Obamacare, everything from individual mandates, everything from — from fines. Yours is different. You required businesses over 10 employees; Barack — President Obama’s is over 50 employees.

But there — there’s a — and even the drafter of your bill, when they were working on Obama’s bill, said in fact it was the model. So here we have, as Newt said, the real fundamental issue here is government coercion and government coercion when you give governments the right to be able to take your responsibility to provide for your own health and — and — and care, and give it to the government.

That’s what Governor Romney did in Massachusetts. It would be a very — very, let say it would be a difficult task for someone who had the model for Obama Care, which is the biggest issue in this race of government in control of your lives, to be the nominee of our party. It would take that issue completely off…

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Governor — Governor, take 30 seconds to respond and then I want to move the conversation on.

ROMNEY: Much longer than 30 seconds.

KING: I hope not.

ROMNEY: That’s a — that’s a long — that’s a long — that’s a long answer. First of all, let’s not forget that four years ago, well after Romney Care was put in place, four years ago, you not only endorsed me, you and Laura Ingram, and said and this is the guy who is really conservative and we can trust him. Let’s not forget you said, that number one.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Number two…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …number two, under the tenth amendment, states have the right to do things that they think are in their best interest. I know you — you agree with that. But let’s — let’s point this out, our bill was 70 pages. His bill is 2700 pages. There’s a lot in that 2,700 pages I don’t agree with and let me tell you, if I’m president of the United States, I will repeal Obama Care for a lot of reasons. One, I don’t want to spend another trillion dollars. We don’t have that kind of money, it’s the wrong way to go. Number two, I don’t believe the federal government should cut Medicare by some $500 billion.

Number three, I don’t think the federal government should raise taxes by $500 billion and, therefore, I will repeat Obama Care. And let me — let me — let me mention one more — the reason we have Obama Care — the reason we have Obama Care is because the Senator you supported over Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, the pro- choice Senator of Pennsylvania that you supported and endorsed in a race over Pat Toomey, he voted for Obama Care. If you had not supported him, if we had said, no to Arlen Specter, we would not have Obama Care. So don’t look at me. Take a look in the mirror.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator please, quickly?

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: So, okay Governor, let’s — let’s get this straight. First off number one, you funded Romney Care through federal tax dollars through Medicaid. I know it well, it’s called disproportionate share provider tax. About $400 million that you got from the federal taxpayers to underwrite Romney Care to make sure you didn’t have to raise taxes right away. But of course you had to. Ask your governor, of the $8 billion of tax increases he had to put in place.

Yes governor, you balanced the budget for four years. You have a constitutional requirement to balance the budget for four years. No great shakes. I’m all for — I’d like to see it federally. But don’t go around bragging about something you have to do. Michael Dukakis balanced the budget for 10 years, does that make him qualified to be president of the United States? I don’t think so.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: The bottom line is, what you did was you used federal dollars to fund the government takeover of health care in Massachusetts, used it as — and — and Barack Obama…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: …Arlen Specter.

SANTORUM: Well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: But — and then Barack Obama used it as a model for taking over this health care system in America. Why I supported Arlen Specter, number one because — because Arlen Specter was a — a Senator who was going to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee at a time when the most important issue that was coming up in the next session of Congress was two to three Supreme Court nominees that were going to be available. And one, and maybe two of them, or maybe all three were going to be out of the conservative block. And Arlen Specter as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, we had a conversation.

He asked me to support him. I said will you support the president’s nominees? We had a 51/49 majority in the Senate. He said I’ll support the president’s nominees as chairman. Every nominee Arlen Specter supported from the time he — he took on Judge Forks and saved Justice Thomas. Every nominee he supported, passed. Why? Because it gave Democrats cover to vote for it and it gave Republican moderates cover to vote for it.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: And just — no because he wouldn’t have been able to give the moderate Republicans and the conservative Democrats the — the leeway to then support that nominee, which is exactly what Arlen Specter did. He defended Roberts, defended Alito. We have a 5/4 majority on the court that struck down that case that you just talked about and is there as a guardian of liberty. And I did the right thing for our country.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …Arlen Specter…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …supporting Arlen Specter — supporting Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey, that was a — that was a very tortuous route…

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Just about as tortuous as…

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Let’s move the conversation along — let’s move the conversation along and take a question from a voter down here in our audience. All right, Sir identify yourself and ask your question please?

QUESTION: Gentleman my name is Jerry Lott (ph) and I’m from Key Man, Arizona. It seems that Arizona has come under federal attack just for wanting to secure its southern border. What will you and your administrations do to fix the situation? To secure our border and to protect the American people?

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, I want to go to you first on this one. You’re from a border state. As you answer Gary’s question, a recent federal analysis says the cost of secure fencing, which they have a good deal of the border along this state, would cost about $3 million per mile. Is that a good investment? Money well spent?

PAUL: Probably not, but we can do a better job, and the best way to do it is forget about the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and deal with our borders, put our resources on this border. This is what we need. But we need to change the rules. We reward illegal immigration. They get benefits, Texas hospitals, and, you know, schools are going bankrupt.

The restraints on the states, and Obama’s restraints on the states to deal with it. Why is it if an illegal comes across the border and they go on private property, why isn’t that trespassing? And why don’t you have the right to stop it? So but there should be no mandates from the federal government about what you must do under the 9th and 10th. There would be essentially none.

But the federal government does have a responsibility for these borders. And I just hate to see all these resources — I think that we should have much more immigration service on the border to make it easier — it’s hard to even get to visit this country. We’re losing a lot of visitors and workers that could come to this country because we have an inefficient immigration service.

And then that invites the illegal. We have to deal — we can’t endorse the illegal, but the program today endorses the illegal problems. And a weak economy is always detrimental, too, because of the welfare state. We have welfare at home and some jobs go begging, we have jobs going begging in this country in the midst of the recession, has to do with the economy.

You can’t ignore the economy. But also the welfare state, allowing immigrants to come over and then get the benefits — if you subsidize something, you get more of. So there’s a lot we can do and should do and certainly this president is not doing a very good job.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Mr. Speaker, the fence has been a point of contention in the race. And one of your high-profile supporters, a gentleman who’s been up here during this campaign, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, is here tonight. He said this: if you build a 30-foot wall from El Paso to Brownsville, the 35-foot ladder business gets really good.

You signed a pledge to construct a double fence. Why is Governor Perry wrong?

GINGRICH: He’s not wrong. They’d have to have two 35-foot ladders because it’s a double fence.

(LAUGHTER)

Look, the fact is I helped Duncan Hunter pass the first fence bill in San Diego when I was Speaker of the House. San Diego and Tijuana are the most densely populated border. It turned out it worked. It worked dramatically. Duncan and I would be glad to testify. He’s former chairman of the national — of the Defense Committee — how much it worked.

However, it stopped. It stopped in part because there was a wetlands. It turned out none of the illegal immigrants cared about wetlands policy. Then you had to go and build around the wetlands, which we did. The further we have gone with the fence, the fewer the people have broken into California.

Now, the thing that’s fascinating, though, John, is you quoted a government study of how much it would cost. That’s my earlier point. If you modernize the federal government so it’s competent, you could probably do it for 10 percent of the cost of that study.

The fact is —

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: — what I would do, I would — I have — I have a commitment at newt.org, I would — to finish the job by January 1, 2014, I would initiate a bill that would waive all federal regulations, requirement and studies.

I would ask Governor Brewer here, I would ask Governor Martinez, Governor Brown, and Governor Perry to become the co-leaders in their state. We would apply as many resources as are needed to be done by January 1 of 2014, including, if necessary — there are 23,000 Department of Homeland Security personnel in the D.C. area.

I’m prepared to move up to half of them to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. This is a doable thing.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor Romney, the border security is part of the equation, what to do about whether it’s 8 million or 11 million illegal immigrants in the country now is another part of the equation. And Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s with us tonight from Maricopa County — he’s in the audience — he told me —

(APPLAUSE)

KING: — he told me this week here in Mesa — these are his words — “it’s called political garbage, if you will, to not arrest illegals already in this country.”

You’ve talked to the governor about self-deportation, if businesses do their job, asking for the right documents, the people will leave. What about arresting? Should there be aggressive, seek them out, find them and arrest them as the Sheriff Arpaio advocates?

ROMNEY: You know, I think you see a model in Arizona. They passed a law here that says — that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on e- verify. This e-verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who’s here legally and who’s not here legally.

And as a result of e-verify being put in place, the number of people in Arizona that are here illegally has dropped by some 14 percent, where the national average has only gone down 7 percent. So going back to the question that was asked, the right course for America is to drop these lawsuits against Arizona and other states that are trying to do the job Barack Obama isn’t doing.

(APPLAUSE)

And I will drop those lawsuits on day one. I’ll also complete the fence. I’ll make sure we have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence. And I will make sure we have an E-Verify system and require employers to check the documents of workers, and to check E- Verify. And if an employer hires someone that has not gone through E- Verify, they’re going to get sanctioned just like they do for not paying their taxes.

You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration. It’s time we finally did it.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator Santorum, we had the conversation about the border and the fence. Governor Romney talks about E-Verify, making sure business is doing their part of the equation.

What about the individual? You said in our last debate employers should be sanctioned, as Governor Romney just said, if they hire illegal immigrants. About a quarter of all workers in private households are undocumented.

What about the homeowner who hires somebody as a household cleaning worker, as a nanny, perhaps? Does that person — if you’re going to be consistent, have enforcement across the board, should that person be sanctioned?

SANTORUM: I’m not going to require homeowners to do E-Verify. I think that’s one step too far. But I think what we need to do is to give law enforcement the opportunity to do what they’re doing here in Arizona and what Sheriff Arpaio was doing before he ran into some issues with the federal government, which is to allow folks to enforce the law here in this country, to allow people who are breaking the law or suspicious of breaking the law to be able to be detained and deported if they’re found here in this country illegally, as well as those who are trying to seek employment.

This is enforcing not just upon the employer, but on those who are here illegally and trying to do things that are against the law, like seeking employment here.

KING: It’s a tough policy question, obviously, and this state has been part of the driving force. It also becomes — especially for four gentlemen who would like to be the next president of the United States, it’s a difficult political question in the sense that the Latino population is the fastest-growing demographic in our country.

And some Republicans — some Republicans — Marco Rubio, for example, the senator from Florida that all of you have complimented, said — could be a leading force in your administration if you’re elected — he said this recently. He says he worries that some of the rhetoric used by Republican politicians on this issue has been harsh, intolerable, inexcusable.

Mr. Speaker, is he right? GINGRICH: I don’t know who he’s referring to, so I’m not going to comment in general on a statement. Is there somebody somewhere who’s done that? Sure.

Was it also intolerable for President Obama to go to El Paso and make a totally demagogic speech in which he fundamentally — no.

(APPLAUSE)

The great failure here — I voted in 1986 for the bill which was supposed to solve all this, which Ronald Reagan solved — signed. And in Reagan’s diary, he says, I signed this bill because we have to get control of the border and we have to have an employer-sanctioned program with a guest worker program.

Now, all of us who voted for that bill got shortchanged on everything we were supposed to get. President Bush couldn’t get it through. President Obama can’t get it through.

I believe you cannot pass a single large comprehensive bill, the 2,700-page kind of bill you described. I think you’ve got to go one step at a time.

The first step is to control the border. I don’t believe anybody who’s here illegally — and I talked last night, for example, with folks who are of Hispanic background from Nogales who are in the import-export business dealing with Mexico every day. They don’t want a border that’s closed, they want a border that’s controlled, that has easy access for legality and impossible access for illegality. And that’s the model that I think you can talk about in my community of any ethnic background in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: All right, Gentlemen. We’re going to take another quick break.

Our Arizona Republican presidential debate will continue in a moment, but here’s a question. One of these men could be president just 11 months from now. How would they deal with threats from Iran and North Korea?

Plus, a great question sent to us at CNNPolitics.com. Define yourself using one word, Gentlemen, and one word only.

Can the candidates keep it that short? Stick around and find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: That was a good exercise. Let’s move our conversation now —

(UNKNOWN): It is.

KING: Let’s move our conversation now to the important responsibilities one of you gentlemen could have in just 11 months as the commander-in-chief of the United States.

And Governor Romney, I want to ask you first, 11 months from now, if you’re successful, you would be our commander-in-chief. The Pentagon recently announced plans to open up 14,000 new jobs to women, putting them closer and close to the front lines of combat. Senator Santorum says he sees a lot of things wrong with this.

What do you think?

ROMNEY: I would look to the people who are serving in the military to give the best assessment of where women can serve. We’ve had over 100 women lose their lives in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I was with Governor Bob McDonnell. His daughter has served as a platoon leader in Afghanistan. He said that she doesn’t get emotional when she faces risk, he’s the one that gets emotional as she faces that kind of risk. And I believe women have the capacity to serve in our military in positions of significance and responsibility, as we do throughout our society.

(APPLAUSE)

I do think that the key decisions that are being made by this administration, by President Obama, however, related to our military are seriously awry. This is a president who is shrinking our Navy, shrinking our Air Force, wants to shrink our active-duty personnel by 50,000 to 100,000, is cutting our military budget by roughly a trillion dollars.

The world is more dangerous. It is not safer.

North Korea is going through transition. The Arab Spring has become the Arab Winter.

Syria is in flux. And, of course, Pakistan, with 100 nuclear weapons or more, represents a potential threat. Northern Mexico is a real danger area.

I mean, looking around the world, you have Hezbollah in Latin America and Mexico. I mean, we face a very dangerous world. The right course is to add ships to our Navy, to modernize and add aircraft to our Air Force, to add 100,000 troops to our active-duty personnel, and to strengthen America’s military.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: I want to get to some of those hotspots Governor Romney just mentioned, but Speaker Gingrich, on the question of a more prominent role for women, good idea or bad idea?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think it’s a misleading question in the modern era. You live in a world of total warfare. Anybody serving our country in uniform virtually anywhere in the world could be in danger at virtually any minute. A truck driver can get blown up by a bomb as readily as the infantrymen. So I would say that you ought to ask the combat leaders what they think is an appropriate step, as opposed to the social engineers of the Obama administration.

(APPLAUSE)

But everybody needs to understand — and by the way, we live in an age when we have to genuinely worry about nuclear weapons going off in our own cities. So everybody who serves in the fire department, in the police department, not just the first responders, but our National Guard, whoever is going to respond, all of us are more at risk today, men and women, boys and girls, than at any time in the history of this country. And we need to understand that’s the context in which we’re going to have to move forward in understanding the nature of modern combat.

I think this is a very sober period, and I believe this is the most dangerous president on national security grounds in American history.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: The problem is the character of our wars. And I don’t like to think of people in groups. Individuals have rights, not groups. You don’t have women’s rights or men’s rights.

And we still have draft legislation. What I fear is the draft coming back because we’re getting way over-involved. And the draft — we keep registering our 18-year-olds. So when the draft comes, we’re going to be registering young women, and because of this they’re going to be equal.

Now, the wars we fight aren’t defensive wars, they’re offensive wars. We’re involved in way too much.

They’re undeclared, they’re not declared by the Congress, and so we’re in wars that shouldn’t be involved. So I don’t want even the men to be over there. I don’t want women being killed, but I don’t want the men being killed in these wars.

(APPLAUSE)

But because now we have accepted now for 10 years that we’re allowed to start war, we call pre-emptive war, preventive war. Well, that’s an aggressive war.

I believe in the Christian just war theory that you have to morally justify the wars in defense. Now, if we’re defending our country — and we need to defend, believe me — with men and women will be in combat and defending our country, and that’s the way it should be. But when it’s an offensive war, going where we shouldn’t be, that’s quite a bit different. So it’s the foreign policy that needs to be examined.

KING: Senator?

SANTORUM: I actually agree with the comments made by the two gentlemen to my left, that there are different roles of women in combat. They are on the front line right now. Their combat zone is, as Newt said, everywhere, unfortunately, in that environment.

My concern that I expressed, I didn’t say it was wrong. I said I had concerns about certain roles with respect to — and particularly in infantry.

I still have those concerns, but I would defer to at least hearing the recommendations of those involved. But I think we have civilian control of the military, and these are things that should be decided not just by the generals, but we should not have social engineering, as I think we’ve seen from this president. We should have sober minds looking at what is in fact the best proper — proper roles for everybody in combat.

KING: Let’s continue the conversation about the commander in chief question. We have a question from our audience, Sir?

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Ken Taylor (ph) from Wickenberg, Arizona and my question to all the candidates is, how do you plan on dealing with the growing nuclear threat in Iran?

KING: It’s a pressing question at the moment. Mr. Speaker, let’s go to you first on this one. I want to ask you in the context of the president’s and this country’s highest ranking military officer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey told CNN this last week, quote, “A strike at this time would be destabilizing and would not achieve Israel’s long term objectives.” If you win this election, General Dempsey would still be — would then be your chairman of the joint chiefs.

If the prime minister of Israel called you, said he wanted to go forward and questioned, Sir do you agree — Mr. President do you agree with your chairman of the joint chiefs? Would you say, yes, Mr. Prime Minister, please stand down? Or would you give Israel the green light?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all this is two different questions. General Dempsey went on to say that he thought Iran was a rational actor. I can’t imagine why he would say that. And I just cannot imagine why he would have said it. The fact is, this is a dictator, Ahmadinejad, who has said he doesn’t believe the Holocaust existed. This is a dictator who said he wants to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. This is a dictator who said he wants to drive the United States out of the Middle East. I’m inclined to believe dictators. Now I — I think that it’s dangerous not to.

(APPLAUSE) GINGRICH: If — if an Israeli prime minister, haunted by the history of the Holocaust, recognizing that three nuclear weapons is a holocaust in Israel, if an Israeli prime minister calls me and says, I believe in the defense of my country. This goes back to a point that Congressman Paul raised that we probably disagree on. I do believe there are moments when you preempt. If you think a madman is about to have nuclear weapons and you think that madman is going to use those nuclear weapons, then you have an absolute moral obligation to defend the lives of your people by eliminating the capacity to get nuclear weapons.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: But often…

(APPLAUSE)

KING: The American people often don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the world until they have to, but this is an issue, this confrontation with Iran that is partly responsible for what we have seen daily at the gas pump. Prices going up and going up and going up. So I want — Governor Romney come into the conversation, we’ll continue it with everyone at the table. As we have this showdown, confrontation, call it what you will with Iran. Should our leadership, including the current president of the United States and the four gentleman here with me tonight, be prepared to look the American people in the eye and say — and I want to hear everybody’s plans, over the long run I think I can bring down the price of gasoline, or I can’t if that’s your plan.

But at the moment, we need to have a conversation about how as long as this continues, the prices are likely to keep going up.

ROMNEY: Look, the — the price of gasoline pales in comparison to the idea of Ahmadinejad with nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad having fissile material that he can give to Hezbollah and Hamas and that they can bring into Latin America and potentially bring across the border into the United States to let off dirty bombs here. I mean — or — or more sophisticated bombs here, this — we simply cannot allow Iran to have nuclear weaponry. And — and — and this president has a lot of failures. It’s hard — it’s hard to think of — economically his failures, his — his policies in a whole host of areas have been troubling.

But nothing in my view is as serious a failure as his failure to deal with Iran appropriately. This president — this president should have put in place crippling sanctions against Iran, he did not. He decided to give Russia — he decided to give Russia their number one foreign policy objective, removal of our missile defense sites from Eastern Europe and got nothing in return. He could have gotten crippling sanctions against Iran. He did not. When dissident voices took to the street in Iran to protest a stolen election there, instead of standing with them, he bowed to the election. This is a president…

(APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: …who has made it clear through his administration in almost every communication we’ve had so far, that he does not want Israel to take action. That he opposes military action. This is a president who should have instead communicated to Iran that we are prepared, that we are considering military options. They’re not just on the table. They are in our hand. We must now allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. If they do, the world changes. America will be at risk. And some day, nuclear weaponry will be used. If I am president, that will not happen. If we reelect Barack Obama, it will happen.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator Santorum, please?

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: I agree with Governor Romney’s comment. I think they are absolutely right on and well spoken. I would say that if you’re looking for a president to be elected in this country that will send that very clear message to Iran as to the seriousness of the American public to stop them from getting a nuclear weapon, there would be no better candidate than me because I have been on the trail of Iran and trying to advocate for stopping them getting a nuclear weapon for about eight years now.

I was the author of a bill back in 2008 that talked about sanctions on a nuclear program that our intelligence community said didn’t exist and had the President of the United States, president bush oppose me for two years.

And, by the way, so did Joe Biden on the floor of the Senate, and Barack Obama. I always say if you want to know what foreign policy position to take, find out what Joe Biden’s position is and take the opposite opinion and you’ll be right 100 percent of the time.

But they opposed me. He actively opposed me. We did pass that bill eventually at the end of 2006, and it was to fund the pro- democracy movement, $100 million a year. Here’s what I said — we need to get this — these pro-American Iranians who are there, who want freedom, want democracy, and want somebody to help them and support them.

Well, we put — we put some money out there and guess what? Barack Obama cut it when he came into office. And when the Green Revolution rose, the pro-democracy prose, we had nothing. We had no connection, no correlation and we did absolutely nothing to help them.

In the meantime, when the radicals in Egypt and the radicals in Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood, when they rise against either a feckless leader or a friend of ours in Egypt, the president is more than happy to help them out.

When they’re going up against a dangerous theocratic regime that wants to wipe out the state of Israel, that wants to dominate the radical Islamic world and take on the great Satan, the United States, we do nothing. That is a president that must go. And you want a leader who will take them on? I’ll do that.

KING: Congressman Paul, all three of your rivals here make a passionate case that — all three of them make a passionate case that this is a vital U.S. national security interest. But you disagree.

PAUL: I disagree because we don’t know if they have a weapon. As a matter of fact, there’s no evidence that they have it. There is no evidence. Israel claims they do not have it and our government doesn’t. I don’t want them to get a weapon. But I think what we’re doing is encouraging them to have a weapon because they feel threatened. If you look at a map of — if you look at a map of Iran, we have 45 bases around their country, plus our submarines.

The Iranians can’t possibly attack anybody. And we’re worrying about the possibility of one nuclear weapon. Now, just think about the Cold War. The Soviets had 30,000 of them. And we talked to them. The Soviets killed 100 million people and the Chinese, and we worked our way out of it.

And if you want to worry about nuclear weapons, worry about the nuclear weapons that were left over from the Soviet Union. They’re still floating around. They don’t have them all detailed. So we’re ready to go to war. I say going to war rapidly like this is risky and it’s reckless.

Now, if they are so determined to go to war, the only thing I plead with you for, if this is the case, is do it properly. Ask the people and ask the Congress for a declaration of war. This is war and people are going to die. And you have got to get a declaration of war.

And just to go and start fighting — but the sanctions are already backfiring. And all that we do is literally doing the opposite. When we’ve been — were attacked, we all came together. When we attacked the — when we — when we put them under attack, they get together and it neutralizes that. They rally around their leaders.

So what we’re doing is literally enhancing their power. Think of the sanctions we dealt with Castro. Fifty years and Castro is still there. It doesn’t work. So I would say a different approach. We need to at least — we talked — we talked to the Soviets during the Cuban crisis. We at least can talk to somebody who does not — we do not have proof that he has a weapon. Why go to war so carelessly?

KING: Let’s stay on this theme. We have a question from cnnpolitics.com, a question — you can see it up on the screen here. In regards to Syria, should the United States intervene and should we arm the rebellion?

Senator Santorum, let me start with you on this one. The American people have watched these videos that started months ago and has accelerated in recent days. What is the role for the United States today?

SANTORUM: Syria is a puppet state of Iran. They are a threat not just to Israel, but they have been a complete destabilizing force within Lebanon, which is another problem for Israel and Hezbollah. They are a country that we can do no worse than the leadership in Syria today, which is not the case, and some of the other countries that we readily got ourselves involved in.

So it’s sort of remarkable to me we would have — here again, it’s — I think it’s the timidness (sic) of this president in dealing with the Iranian threat, because Syria and Iran is an axis. And the president — while he couldn’t reach out deliberately to Iran but did reach out immediately to Syria and established an embassy there. And the only reason he removed that embassy was because it was threatened of being — of being overtaken, not because he was objecting to what was going on in Syria.

This president has — has obviously a very big problem in standing up to the Iranians in any form. If this would have been any other country, given what was going on and the mass murders that we’re seeing there, this president would have quickly and — joined the international community, which is calling for his ouster and the stop of this, but he’s not. He’s not. Because he’s afraid to stand up to Iran.

He opposed the sanctions in Iran against the — against the central banks until his own party finally said, “You’re killing us. Please support these sanctions.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a president who isn’t going to stop them. He isn’t going to stop them from getting a nuclear weapon. We need a new president or we are going to have a cataclysmic situation with a — a power that is the most prolific proliferator of terror in the world that will be able to do so with impunity because they will have a nuclear weapon to protect — protect them for whatever they do. It has to be stopped, and this president is not in a position to do that.

KING: And the question of Syria…

(APPLAUSE)

… Mr. Speaker, then Governor Romney, if you were president today, what would you do differently from this president tomorrow?

GINGRICH: Well, the first thing I’d do, across the board for the entire region, is create a very dramatic American energy policy of opening up federal lands and opening up offshore drilling, replacing the EPA.

(APPLAUSE)

We — the Iranians have been practicing closing the Straits of Hormuz, which has one out of every five barrels of oil in the world going through it. We have enough energy in the United States that we would be the largest producer of oil in the world by the end of this decade. We would be capable of saying to the Middle East, “We frankly don’t care what you do. The Chinese have a big problem because you ain’t going to have any oil.”

(APPLAUSE)

But we would not have to be directly engaged. That’s a very different question.

But, first of all, you’ve got to set the stage, I think, here to not be afraid of what might happen in the region.

Second, we clearly should have our allies — this is an old- fashioned word — we have have our allies covertly helping destroy the Assad regime. There are plenty of Arab-speaking groups that would be quite happy. There are lots of weapons available in the Middle East.

And I agree with — with Senator Santorum’s point. This is an administration which, as long as you’re America’s enemy, you’re safe.

You know, the only people you’ve got to worry about is if you’re an American ally.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor?

ROMNEY: I agree with both these gentlemen. It’s very interesting that you’re seeing, on the Republican platform, a very strong commitment to say we’re going to say no to Iran. It’s unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

And — and Rick is absolutely right. Syria is their key ally. It’s their only ally in the Arab world. It is also their route to the sea. Syria provides a — a shadow over Lebanon. Syria is providing the armament of Hezbollah in Lebanon that, of course, threatens Israel, our friend and ally.

We have very bad news that’s come from the Middle East over the past several months, a lot of it in part because of the feckless leadership of our president.

But one little piece of good news, and that is the key ally of Iran, Syria, is — has a leader that’s in real trouble. And we ought to grab a hold of that like it’s the best thing we’ve ever seen.

There’s things that are — we’re having a hard time getting our hands around, like, what’s happening in Egypt. But in Syria, with Assad in trouble, we need to communicate to the Alawites, his friends, his ethnic group, to say, look, you have a future if you’ll abandon that guy Assad.

We need to work with — with Saudi Arabia and with Turkey to say, you guys provide the kind of weaponry that’s needed to help the rebels inside Syria. This is a critical time for us.

If we can turn Syria and Lebanon away from Iran, we finally have the capacity to get Iran to pull back. And we could, at that point, with crippling sanctions and a very clear statement that military action is an action that will be taken if they pursue nuclear weaponry, that could change the course of world history.

KING: Let’s try to get another question.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: John? KING: Congressman, quickly, please?

PAUL: No, I get a minute to go quickly.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, I — I’ve tried the moral argument. I’ve tried the constitutional argument on these issues. And they don’t — they don’t go so well. But there — there’s an economic argument, as well.

As a matter of fact, Al Qaida has had a plan to bog us down in the Middle East and bankrupt this country. That’s exactly what they’re doing. We’ve spent $4 trillion of debt in the last 10 years being bogged down in the Middle East.

The neoconservatives who now want us to be in Syria, want us to go to Iran, have another war, and we don’t have the money. We’re already — today gasoline hit $6 a gallon in Florida. And we don’t have the money.

So I don’t believe I’m going to get the conversion on the moral and the constitutional arguments in the near future. But I’ll tell you what, I’m going to win this argument for economic reasons. Just remember, when the Soviets left, they left not because we had to fight them. They left because they bankrupted this country and we better wake up, because that is what we’re doing here. We’re destroying our currency and we have a financial crisis on our hands.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Let’s take another question from our audience, please.

Identify yourself and ask your question.

(UNKNOWN): I’m Marsha Crossen (ph) from Scottsdale, Arizona.

What is your stand on education reform and the No Child Left Behind Act?

KING: This came up a bit earlier in the debate. Some of you mentioned it in a general way.

Senator Santorum, to you first. Specifically, what do you do about No Child Left Behind today if you’re president?

SANTORUM: Well, you know what? I supported No Child Left Behind. I supported it. It was the principal priority of President Bush to try to take on a failing education system and try to impose some sort of testing regime that would be able to quantify how well we’re doing with respect to education.

I have to admit, I voted for that. It was against the principles I believed in, but, you know, when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake.

(BOOING) You know, politics is a team sport, folks. And sometimes you’ve got to rally together and do something. And in this case, you know, I thought testing was — and finding out how bad the problem was wasn’t a bad idea.

What was a bad idea was all the money that was put out there, and that, in fact, was a huge problem. I admit the mistake and I will not make that mistake again. You have someone who is committed.

Look, I’m a home schooling father of seven. I know the importance of customized education for our children. I know the importance of parental control of education.

(APPLAUSE)

I know the importance of local control of education. And having gone through that experience of the federal government involvement, not only do I believe the federal government should get out of the education business, I think the state government should start to get out of the education business and put it back to the state — to the local and into the community.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor Romney, when you were governor, you had to deal with this law. So weigh in. And as you do, it’s designed, like it or not, to help the public school system, which has struggled. Senator Santorum, just the other day, called public schools in this country factories.

ROMNEY: Well, I’m not going to comment on that unless you’d like to.

With regards to your question, I came into a state where Republicans and Democrats had worked to — before I got there to make some very important changes. They said that they were going to test our kids every year.

They said to graduate from high school, you’re going to have to pass an exam in English and math. I was the first governor that had to enforce that provision.

There were a lot of people that said, oh, no, no, no. Let people graduate even if they can’t pass that exam. I enforced it. We fought it. It was hard to do.

We added more school choice. My legislature tried to say no more charter schools. I vetoed that, we overturned that.

With school choice, testing our kids, giving our best teachers opportunities for advancement, these kinds of principles drove our schools to be pretty successful. As a matter of fact, there are four measures on which the federal government looks at schools state by state, and my state’s number one of all 50 stays in all four of those measures, fourth-and-eighth-graders in English and math. Those principles, testing our kids, excellent curriculum, superb teachers, and school choice, those are the answers to help our schools.

And with regards to No Child Left Behind, the right answer there — President Bush stood up and said, you know what? The teachers unions don’t want school choice, I want school choice to see who’s succeeding and failing.

He was right to fight for that. There are things that should be changed in the law, but we have to stand up to the federal teachers unions and put the kids first and the unions behind.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Mr. Speaker, on that point, this is a conversation about what is the proper role of the federal government in the education issue? To the point the governor just raised about teachers unions, you have complimented President Obama to a degree on that issue, saying he had some courage to stand up to the teachers union. You went on tour with Al Sharpton and this president’s education secretary in support of the multibillion-dollar Race to the Top program that essentially — I think they used stimulus money for it, but incentives to states, to schools that perform, and that enact reforms.

GINGRICH: What we did is we went around, including Tucson, in this state, and we talked about the importance of charter schools, which was the one area where I thought the president did in fact show some courage, being willing to go into Philadelphia or into Baltimore or in a variety of places and advocate — we were in Montgomery, Alabama, for example — and say charter schools are an important step in the right direction.

There are two things wrong with the president’s approach. And the reason I would, frankly, dramatically shrink the Federal Department of Education down to doing nothing but research, return all the power under the Tenth Amendment back to the states.

And I agree with Rick’s point. I would urge the states, then, to return most of that power back to the local communities, and I’d urge the local communities the turn most of the power back to the parents. And I think the fact is —

(APPLAUSE)

We have bought — we bought over the last 50 years three huge mistakes. We bought the mistake that the teachers unions actually cared about the kids. It’s increasingly clear they care about protecting bad teachers.

And if you look at L.A. Unified, it is almost criminal what we do to the poorest children in America, entrapping them into places. No Nation Left Behind said if a foreign power did this to our children, we’d declare it an act of war because they’re doing so much damage. The second thing we bought into was the — the whole school of education theory that you don’t have to learn, you have to learn about how you would learn.

So when you finish learning about how you would learn, you have self esteem because you’re told you have self esteem, even if you can’t read the words self esteem. And the…

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: …and the third thing we bought, which Rick eluded to, which is really important. We bought this notion that you could have Carnegie units and you could have state standards and you could have a curriculum everybody — every child is unique. Every teach is unique. Teaching is a missionary vocation. When you bureaucratize it, you kill it. We need a fundamental re-thinking from the ground up.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul?

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: Newt — Newt’s going in the right direction, but not far enough.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: The Constitution is very, very clear. There is no authority for the federal government to be involved in education.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: There’s no — no prohibition in the Constitution for the states to be involved in education. That’s not a bad position and we can sort things out. But once — once again the Senators for — was for No Child Left Behind, but now he’s running for president, now he’s running to repeal No Child Left Behind once again. But — and he calls it a team sport. He has to go along to get along and that’s the way the team plays. But that’s what the problem is with Washington. That’s what’s been going on for so long.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: So, I don’t accept that form of government. I understand it. That is the way it works. You were with the majority. You were the Whip and you organized and got these votes all passed. But I think the obligation of all of us should be the oath of office. We should take — and it shouldn’t be the oath to the party. I’m sorry about that, but it isn’t the oath to the party, it’s the oath to our office.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: To obey the law and the law is the Constitution.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Gentleman, thank you. One more break. When we come back, the final question of what could be the final Republican debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Welcome back to the Mesa Art Center, our Arizona Republican presidential debate, the four contenders on stage tonight.

Gentlemen, our time is short, so one last question.

Nine states have voted so far. We talked a bit earlier about the volatility in the race. The people of Arizona vote Tuesday. Michigan, on Tuesday. Wyoming and Washington State, then Super Tuesday, beyond that. Fourteen states over the next 10 days or so.

Republican voters are clearly having a hard time.

I want to close with this question: Help the voters who still have questions about you. What is the biggest misconception about you in the public debate right now?

Congressman Paul, we’ll start with you, sir.

PAUL: I would say the perpetuation of the myth by the media that I can’t win.

(APPLAUSE)

And the total ignoring some statistics that show it to be the opposite. Just recently, there was a poll in Iowa, and it matched all the four of us up against Obama. And guess what? I did the very best.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: So I would say that is been the biggest myth. But let me tell you, though, public perception is one thing, but when you go around and talk to the American people and we have our rallies, that misconception isn’t there. And I think that’s the biggest misconception that I have to deal with.

KING: Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: I think that the fact is that the American public are really desperate to find somebody who can solve real problems. I think that’s why it’s been going up and down and why you have got all sorts of different folks as front-runners.

And all I can say is that my background of having actually worked with President Reagan, then having been Speaker, if there was one thing I wish the American people could know about me, it would be the amount of work it took to get to welfare reform, a balanced budget, a 4.2 percent unemployment rate, and that you’ve got to have somebody who can actually get it done in Washington, not just describe it on the campaign trail.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: We’ve got to restore America’s promise in this country where people know that with hard work and education, that they’re going to be secure and prosperous and that their kids will have a brighter future than they’ve had. For that to happen, we’re going to have to have dramatic fundamental change in Washington, D.C., we’re going to have to create more jobs, have less debt, and shrink the size of the government.

I’m the only person in this race —

KING: Is there a misconception about you? The question is a misconception.

ROMNEY: You know, you get to ask the questions want, I get to give the answers I want. Fair enough?

(APPLAUSE)

And I believe that there’s a whole question about, what do we need as the person that should be president? What is their position on this issue? Who can be the toughest going after Obama?

What we really need, in my opinion, is to say who can lead the country through the kind of fundamental change we have in front of us? And we have people here who all different backgrounds.

I spent 25 years in the private sector. I worked in business. I worked in helping turn around the Olympics. I worked in helping lead a state.

I believe that kind of background and skill is what is essential to restore the American promise. If people think there’s something else in my background that that is more important, they don’t want to vote for me, that’s their right, but I believe I have the passion, the commitment and the skill to turn America around, and I believe that’s what’s needed.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: I think the thing I hear I have heard from the very beginning, can you defeat Barack Obama? And if you want to look at the people on the stage, we’re going to be running against the president who is going to have the national media behind him, he’s going to have more money, a lot more money, because he isn’t having to spend a penny in the primary. So he’s going to outspend whoever it is. He’s going to have the national media on his side.

Maybe you want a candidate who is not going to be able to win an election by beating the tar out of his opponent, spending four or five to one in order to win an election in a state, but actually can run a campaign based on issues and ideas and a vision that’s positive for America, to be able to be outspent and yet cut through because you have a strong vision, you have principles and convictions that is going to convince the American public that you’re on their side in making a big difference in our country and keeping us safe and prosperous. So we’re looking for someone — I think people, they’re looking for someone who can do a lot with a little — run a campaign on a shoestring and win a bunch of states and rise in the polls. You’re looking for someone who can take what’s going on in Washington and look at what went on in my campaign and see someone who can do a lot with a little.

That’s what we need in Washington, not just after the election, but we’re going to need to have that before the election, and I’m the best person, from a state which is a key swing state, from a region of the country which is going to decide this election, right across the Rust Belt of America. We’ve got the programs; we’ve got the plan, and we can win and defeat Barack Obama and govern this country conservatively.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Gentlemen, I want to thank you. I want to thank all of our candidates tonight. We also want to thank our partner tonight, the Republican Party of Arizona, and we’d like to thank our hosts here at the Mesa Arts Center, a beautiful venue here.

Campaign Buzz January 18, 2012: Romney Skips Personhood USA Presidential Pro-Life Forum — Anti-Abortion Republican Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

IN FOCUS: PERSONHOOD USA PRESIDENTIAL PRO-LIFE FORUM — ANTI-ABORTION REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

“I’ve been around this business long enough to understand the horse-trading that goes on but there’s some principles that you don’t trade on…. It is clear to most of us that this was a choice for convenience.” — Rick Perry

“The president interprets the Constitution as president. If the court makes a fundamentally wrong decision, president can in fact ignore the courts.” — Newt Gingrich

“Every child has dignity and value. I’m the blessed father of a special needs child which is the greatest gift I’ve been given in my life.” — Rick Santorum

“It repeals Roe v. Wade immediately. It would’ve saved a lot of lives a lot sooner.” — Ron Paul

Romney is only no-show at Republican abortion debate: Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney was conspicuous by his absence evening at a debate organized by an anti-abortion group in South Carolina.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, Texas Governor Rick Perry, ultraconservative former Senator Rick Santorum and Texas Representative Ron Paul all responded to the invitation to speak at Personhood USA’s Presidential Pro-Life Forum ahead of Saturday’s key primary vote.
All four of the candidates repeated their opposition to abortion, a subject on which Romney’s position has varied over the years…. – AFP, 1-18-12

  • Mitt Romney is punching bag on abortion: Mitt Romney’s GOP rivals hit him for being insufficiently pro-life at a Personhood USA forum here Wednesday night. Romney wasn’t there to defend his record on the issue, which has always caused problems for him. … – Politico, 1-18-12
  • Romney the focus of questions at anti-abortion forum, despite absence: Four of the five remaining presidential candidates appeared in Greenville, South Carolina Wednesday night at an anti-abortion forum sponsored by Personhood USA. But the missing candidate – Mitt Romney – … CNN, 1-18-12
  • While Romney skips ‘personhood’ forum, his rivals tout their antiabortion pledge: GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney was the only candidate who did not take part in a “personhood” forum put on by antiabortion activists, but he was an undeniable presence at the gathering taking place just days before South Carolina primary…. – LAT, 1-18-12
  • GOP candidates slam Romney at pro-life forum: Planned Parenthood, the courts and Mitt Romney all came under attack on Wednesday from four GOP presidential contenders that spoke at a forum organized by Personhood USA, a national anti-abortion group…. – CBS News, 1-18-12
  • Romney absence an opportunity at pro-life forum: As they quizzed four candidates on their positions on abortion, the moderators of a pro-life forum here gave each presidential hopeful an opportunity to take a jab at the one candidate who did not participate in … msnbc.com, 1-18-12
  • In SC, Perry says Romney switched abortion view out of ‘political convenience’: Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that Mitt Romney changed his position on legalized abortion out of political convenience, one of the sharpest allegations leveled yet in the South Carolina GOP presidential primary. … – WaPo, 1-18-12
  • South Carolina: Up close and in personhood: Mitt didn’t make it. All the other would-be Republican presidential hopefuls turned up, having already signed the Personhood pledge. Well, Ron Paul appeared on a video link from Washington. The event in a Greenville hotel … – BBC News, 1-19-12
  • Defying calls to quit, Perry keeps going in S.C.: Texas Gov. Rick Perry soldiered on in South Carolina on Wednesday despite modest crowds…. – Houston Chronicle, 1-18-12

Campaign Buzz January 8, 2012: NBC News Meet the Press / Facebook New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate — 16th GOP Debate — Candidates’ Attacks Target Romney

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Republican presidential candidates Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry listen to a question from NBC Meet the Press moderator David Gregory. (Charles Krupa – AP)

IN FOCUS: NBC NEWS MEET THE PRESS / FACEBOOK NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Fact Checking the Concord Debate: Reporters take a closer look at some of the candidates’ responses to debate questions…. – NYT, 1-8-12

Romney Is the Main Target in a Caustic G.O.P. Debate: One by one, his Republican rivals lined up against Mitt Romney, the established front-runner, engaging him in some of the most pointed exchanges of the campaign so far during Sunday’s debate…. – NYT, 1-8-12

NH LIVE: “Pious Baloney” Time At GOP Debate: Republican rivals shed their inhibitions toward frontrunner Mitt Romney Sunday, accusing him of “pious baloney” in hyping … – New York Daily News, 1-8-12

“We want someone when the time gets tough — and it will in this election — who will stand up for conservative principles.” — Rick Santorum

“How can you believe in America when you’re not willing to serve America? That’s just phony.” — Jon Huntsman

“I’m very proud of the conservative record I have.” — Mitt Romney

“We want everyday, normal people to run for office. Not just millionaires.” — Newt Gingrich

  • With 2 days to go before NH primary, GOP rivals go after Romney: Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential rivals piled on the criticism Sunday, two days before New Hampshire’s primary, with a combative Newt Gingrich leading the aggression by accusing the GOP front-runner of “pious baloney” and charging him with hiding behind inaccurate attack ads aired by allies.
    In the increasingly acerbic nomination fight, Romney fired back at Gingrich during a morning debate: “This ain’t beanbag … we’re going to describe the differences between us.” By evening, he also had taken shots from Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry…. – AP, 1-8-12
  • Romney sails through soft Republican debate: Republican Mitt Romney fended off a few attacks on his business record on Saturday and sailed through a high-stakes debate that his rivals used to jockey for position as his conservative alternative in the race for … – Reuters, 1-8-12
  • No Sunday day of rest: Gingrich goes after Romney, gets tough response in New … : A combative Newt Gingrich accused Mitt Romney of “pious baloney” Sunday and charged him with hiding behind inaccurate attack ads aired by allies in the increasingly rancorous race for the Republican presidential nomination. … – WaPo, 1-18-12
  • Romney Targeted by Rivals In Round Two NH Debates: In a debate that started off with few differences from the night before, Mitt Romney’s rivals pounded him once more on Sunday, looking for a chance to bruise the front-runner for the Republican presidential nominee. … – Fox News, 1-8-12
  • Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum don’t pass on second-chance shot at Mitt Romney: Maybe they were testy from a lack of sleep. Maybe they felt urgency from the dwindling number of days until the New Hampshire primary. Or maybe they were simply sick and tired of 2012 Republican presidential … – Boston.com, 1-8-12
  • A new New Hampshire Republican debate: If it’s Sunday, it must be ‘baloney’!: The second Republican debate within 12 hours was held Sunday morning during an expanded version of Meet The Press. Having laid back last night and given Mitt Romney an opportunity to speak at greater length than he has during any previous … – Entertainment Weekly, 1-8-12
  • Romney, Santorum challenged on gay rights: In a Sunday morning debate, Republican presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, the top finishers in the Iowa caucuses last week, were questioned about gay rights – for very different reasons. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, … – CBS News, 1-8-12
  • Slipping Romney barraged with questions of electability: Support for former Massachusetts governor and front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination has slipped 8 percentage points in the past five days in New Hampshire, whose first-in-the-nation primary is only two days away. … – Globe & Mail, 1-8-12
  • Republican Debate Sunday Serves Up More Fireworks But No Game-Changers: The Republican presidential candidates came alive Sunday morning during their second debate in 12 hours, trading verbal blows and taking on frontrunner Mitt Romney in a way that had been expected the previous evening…. – Huff Post, 1-8-12
  • GOP presidential candidates offer views on entitlement cuts: The Republicans met for a nationally televised debate Sunday. Debate moderator David Gregory of NBC News asked candidates to name three areas they would cut that would cause pain for Americans…. – WaPo, 1-8-12

Full Text Campaign Buzz January 8, 2012: NBC News Meet the Press / Facebook New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate — 16th GOP Debate –Candidates’ Attacks Target Romney

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CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

New Hampshire debate: Meet the Press / Facebook debate transcript

Source: WaPo, 1-8-12

Full transcript of the New Hampshire Republican presidential debate sponsored by Meet the Press and Facebook, Jan. 8, 2011:

Republican presidential candidates Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry listen to a question from NBC Meet the Press moderator David Gregory. (Charles Krupa – AP)

GREGORY: This Sunday, a special edition of “Meet the Press,” live from New Hampshire, the last debate before the first-in-the- nation Republican presidential primary. Voting here is just 48 hours away. We come to the Granite State, where nearly 1 in 5 voters remains undecided, despite seeing these candidates face-to-face in town halls, coffee shops, and even in their living rooms, a small state that will have a big impact on the race. Their motto: Live free or die.

The issues: jobs and the economy, America’s role in the world, and which of these candidates is best suited to take on President Obama. This morning, a debate, in partnership with Facebook, the world’s number-one social platform, and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

The candidates, the issues, and your questions.

ANNOUNCER: This is the NBC News-Facebook Republican candidates debate. From the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire, here now, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” David Gregory.

(APPLAUSE)

GREGORY: And good morning and welcome to this special edition of “Meet the Press,” the final debate before New Hampshire voting begins. All six candidates are here. And before we begin, you know the drill. We quickly go through the rules.

Each candidate will have one minute, 60 seconds, to make their statement, to respond to questions, and at my discretion, 30 seconds for follow-ups or rebuttals. We’re on a pretty tight schedule, so I will ask the candidates to stay within their allotted time, and we’ll see how that goes.

We’ve partnered with Facebook, so some of the questions will come from me and some, of course, will come from you. We encourage you to weigh in on the debate in real time, our online app at mtp.msnbc.com. You can monitor the conversation there, and we’ll see some of your feedback during that debate — over the course of this debate.

Candidates, good morning. I just want to say, on behalf of all Americans, that I thank you for being willing to debate each other every 10 hours, whether you feel you need it or not.

(LAUGHTER)

This is an important moment. Elections are about choices. They’re about distinguishing one from the other. There’s a political element to that, and of course, it has to do with policy, as well.

Governor Romney has won the Iowa caucuses, although narrowly. He’s up in the polls here in New Hampshire. He’s also up in the polls down in South Carolina. Speaker Gingrich, why shouldn’t Governor Romney be the nominee of this party? What about his record concerns you most or makes him disqualified to be the nominee?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think what Republicans have to ask is, who’s most likely in the long run to survive against the kind of billion-dollar campaign the Obama team is going to run? And I think that a bold Reagan conservative, with a very strong economic plan, is a lot more likely to succeed in that campaign than a relatively timid, Massachusetts moderate who even the Wall Street Journal said had an economic plan so timid it resembled Obama.

So I think you’ve got to look at — you know, Massachusetts was fourth from the bottom in job creation under Governor Romney. We created 11 million jobs while I was speaker, and I worked with Governor — with President Reagan in the entire recovery of the 1980s. So I just there’s a huge difference between a Reagan conservative and somebody who comes out of the Massachusetts culture with an essentially moderate record who I think will have a very hard time in a debate with President Obama. It’s that simple.

GREGORY: Speaker Gingrich, bottom line, you believe that Governor Romney is unelectable?

GINGRICH: No, I don’t believe he’s unelectable, but I think he has a — look, against Obama’s record, I think, you know, the fact is, President Obama is going to have a very hard re-election effort. But I do think the bigger the contrast, the bolder ideas, the clearer the choice, the harder it is for that billion-dollar campaign to smear his way back into office.

GREGORY: Speaker, this is your flyer that you’re circulating here in New Hampshire. It says very clearly, “Romney is not electable”?

GINGRICH: I think he will have a very hard time getting re- elected — getting elected.

GREGORY: Governor?

ROMNEY: David, I’m very proud of the record that I have, and I think the one thing you can’t fool the people about New Hampshire about is the record of a governor next door. And people have watched me over my term as governor and saw that I was a solid conservative and that I brought important change to Massachusetts.

They recognized that I cut taxes 19 times, balanced the budget every one of the four years I was governor, put in place a $2 billion rainy day fund by the time I’d gone. We had — we’d seen job losses in the months leading up to my becoming the governor, and then we began to finally create jobs.

By the way, we created more jobs in Massachusetts than Barack Obama’s created in the entire country.

ROMNEY: We also got our state police to enforce illegal immigration laws, put in place English immersion in our schools. I’m very proud of the conservative record I have, and I think that’s why some of the leading conservatives in today’s world, who are fighting the conservative battles of today, that don’t have any axe to grind, have gotten behind my campaign.

Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, right here, the great senator of New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte. These are conservatives who looked at my record, looked at my plan to get this economy going.

I happen to believe that if we want to replace a lifetime politician like Barack Obama, who had no experience leading anything, you have to choose someone who’s not been a lifelong politician, who has not spent his entire career in Washington, and instead has proven time and again he can lead, in the private sector twice, in the Olympics, and as a governor. We’ve got to nominate a leader if we’re going to replace someone who is not a leader.

GREGORY: Well, Senator Santorum, had you not lost re-election in 2006, you would have been in Washington even longer than you were. It would have been 21 years. So you’ve got a long Washington record. How do you address this question? Why shouldn’t Governor Romney be the nominee? What is disqualifying, in your judgment?

SANTORUM: Well, if his record was so great as governor of Massachusetts, why didn’t he run for re-election? I mean, if you didn’t want to even stand before the people of Massachusetts and run on your record, if it was that great, why didn’t — why did you bail out?

I mean, the bottom — the bottom line is, you know, I go and fight the fight. If it was that important to the people of Massachusetts that you were going to go and fight for them, at least you can stand up and — and make the battle that you did a good job.

I did that. I ran for re-election a couple of times, and I won a couple of times, and — and in a 71 percent Democratic district, when I ran for re-election, I was redistricted. And I was in a 71 percent Democratic district, had a 90 percent conservative voting record. It was a hard thing to do. My district was more Democrat than the state of Massachusetts that I ran in. It was the steel valley of Pittsburgh.

And I stood up and fought for the conservative principles. I didn’t do what Governor Romney did in 1994. I was running the same year he ran, in 1994. I ran in a tough state of Pennsylvania against an incumbent. Governor Romney lost by almost 20 points. Why? Because at the end of that campaign, he wouldn’t stand for conservative principles. He ran from Ronald Reagan. And he said he was going to be to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights, on abortion, a whole host of other issues.

We want someone, when the time gets tough — and it will in this election — we want someone who’s going to stand up and fight for the conservative principles, not bail out and not run, and not run to the left of Ted Kennedy.

GREGORY: Well, you did say when you endorsed him four years ago, just those words, that he would stand up for conservative principles, Senator.

SANTORUM: Vis-a-vis John McCain.

GREGORY: Vis-a-vis John McCain. Governor, your response?

ROMNEY: Well, a lot of things were inaccurate in that, and I’m not going to go through them one by one. But I can tell you this: I think it’s unusual and perhaps understandable that people who spend their life in politics imagine that if you get in politics, that that’s all you want to do, that if you’ve been elected to something, well, you get — want to get re-elected and re-elected.

I went to Massachusetts to make a difference. I didn’t go there to begin a political career, running time and time again. I — I made a difference. I put in place the things I wanted to do. I listed out the accomplishments we wanted to pursue in our administration. There were 100 things we wanted to do. Those things I pursued aggressively. Some we won; some we didn’t.

Run again? That would be about me. I was trying to help get the state into the best shape as I possibly could, left the world of politics, went back into business. Now I have the opportunity, I believe, to use the experience I have — you’ve got a surprised look on your face.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: It’s still — it’s still my time.

SANTORUM: Are you going — are you going to tell people you’re not going to run for re-election for president if you win?

ROMNEY: Rick, Rick, it’s still my time.

SANTORUM: I’m just asking.

ROMNEY: OK.

GREGORY: Go ahead. Governor Romney — Governor Romney, take 30 seconds there. ROMNEY: Yeah. What I’m going to tell you is, this — this for me, politics is not a career. For me, my career was being in business and starting a business and making it successful. My — my life’s passion has been my family, my faith, and my country.

I believe, by virtue of the experiences I’ve had, that I’m in a good position to make a contribution to Washington. I long for a day when instead of having people who go to Washington for 20 and 30 years, who get elected, and then when they lose office, they stay there and make money as lobbyists or connecting to businesses, I think it stinks.

I think when people go to Washington and serve Washington and — and serve as — as their — the people of their — of their nation and go home. I’d love to see term limits in Washington.

SANTORUM: So one — so one term?

ROMNEY: And so — no, as the president of the United States, as the president of the United States, if I’m elected, of course I’ll fight for a second term. There’s a lot of work to be done.

GREGORY: Speaker Gingrich, take 30 seconds here to get in.

GINGRICH: Well, yeah. Mitt, I realize the red light doesn’t mean anything to you, because you’re the frontrunner.

(APPLAUSE)

But — but can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney? The fact is, you ran in ‘94 and lost. That’s why you weren’t serving in the Senate with Rick Santorum. The fact is, you had a very bad re- election rating, you dropped out of office, you had been out of state for something like 200 days preparing to run for president. You didn’t have this interlude of citizenship while you thought about what you do. You were running for president while you were governor. You were going all over the country. You were — you were out of state consistently.

You then promptly re-entered politics. You happened to lose to McCain as you had lost to Kennedy.

Now you’re back running. You have been running consistently for years and years and years. So this idea that suddenly citizenship showed up in your mind, just level with the American people. You’ve been running for — at least since the 1990’s.

(APPLAUSE)

GREGORY: Governor, please.

ROMNEY: Mr. Speaker, citizenship has always been on my mind and — and I happened to see my dad run for governor when he was 54-years- old. He had good advice to me. He said, Mitt, never get involved in politics if you have to win an election to pay a mortgage. If you find yourself in a position where you can serve, well you ought to have a responsibility to do so, if you think you can make a difference.

He said also don’t get involved in politics if your kids are still young because it may turn their heads. I never thought I’d get involved with politics. When I saw Ted Kennedy running virtually unopposed in 1994, a man who I thought by virtue of the policies of the liberal welfare state, had created a permanent underclass in America, I said someone’s got to run against him. And I happened to have been wise enough to realize, I didn’t have a ghost of a chance at — at beating him.

This — this guy from — Republican from Massachusetts was not going to beat Ted Kennedy. And I told my partners at my firm, I’ll be back in six months, don’t take my chair. And I — I went in and gave it a real battle and went after it. It was — I was happy that he had to take a mortgage out on his house to ultimately defeat me. And I’m — I’m very proud of the fact that I have stood up as a citizen to battle when I felt it was best for the nation. And — and we’re talking about running for president.

I am in this race because I care about the country. I believe my background and experience are …

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: Let me bring Dr. Paul into this, because there is a question about who is the true conservative in the race. And Governor Romney said only nine years ago during an interview with New England Cable News, he said the following, “I think people recognize that I’m not a partisan republican, that I’m someone who is moderate and my views are progressive.” Do you believe Governor Romney now when he says he is a man of constancy and that he’ll stand up for conservative principles?

PAUL: You know, I think this whole discussion so far has been very superficial. And I think the question in the way that you ask it is superficial and you’re talking about character, which is very important. But I feel we should deal with the issues as well. And I don’t see how we can do well against Obama if we have any candidate that, you know, endorsed, you know, single payer systems and TARP bailouts and don’t challenge the Federal Reserve’s $15 trillion of injection bailing out their friends.

I don’t see how we can have anybody really compete with Obama who doesn’t challenge this huge empire we have overseas and the overseas spending. I mean this is how nations come down. You see they extend themselves too far overseas. That’s how the Soviets came down. We — we really have to talk about real cuts. We haven’t gotten around to this yet.

So if we want to change things, this is what we have to talk about. Character is important and motivation is important, our history is important. But I really consider that, in the debate format, to be less significant than what we really believe in.

GREGORY: You read my mind, Dr. Paul. And we’re going to get to…

(APPLAUSE)

GREGORY: …some of the touch choices, not just on politics, but on policy. First Governor Perry, I do want to ask you to flat out — your staking your campaign going down to South Carolina, is Governor Romney unelectable in your judgment?

PERRY: Well I think you have to ask the question of, who is it that can beat Obama. Who is it that can invigorate the — the Tea Party? Who is it that can take the message of — of smaller, outsider government that’s truly going to change that places (sic). I look from here down to Rick Santorum I see insiders. Individuals who have been the big spending Republicans in — in Washington, D.C.

And lets be honest with ourselves, I mean the fact of the matter is that Obama has thrown gasoline on the fire. But the bonfire was burning well before Obama got there. It was policies and spending, both from Wall Street and from the insiders in Washington, D.C., that got us in this problem. And we need a candidate that can not only draw that stark contrast between themselves and Barack Obama, but also stand up and lead the Tea Party movement back.

2010 was about the Tea Party standing up and understanding that Republicans, big spending Republicans that caused the — as much of this problem as anything, and it was their power that brought together — that brought Washington, D.C., and the House to Republican control. And that’s the kind of individual we’ve got to have to — to lead this election.

GREGORY: Before I get to Governor Huntsman, I’d be remiss, Governor Romney if I did not allow you to respond to the quote that I read from you nine years ago. What would you say to conservatives so that they’ll trust that you will stand up for conservative principles?

ROMNEY: They’ve got my record as governor. That — that’s the great thing of people here in New Hampshire is they see what I did as governor of Massachusetts. I also had the occasion after my last failed attempt to run for president, a learning experience, to sit down and write a book. And I wrote a book and described my view for the country. And people can describe it in differing ways but I — but my view is that — that the principles that I’ve learned in business and the principles as governor, frankly, it made me more conservative as time has gone on.

I’ve seen a lot of government trying to solve problems, and it didn’t work. And — and my view is, the right course for America is to have somebody who understands how the economy works, who will passionately get America back on track.

GREGORY: All right. We’re going to come back to the question of obstacles to the nomination, but let me get to policy, Governor Huntsman. This is, by all accounts, an age of austerity for this country, a jobs crisis, also a spending crisis in Washington. I wonder what specifically you would do to say to Americans, “These are cuts I’m going to make in federal spending that will cause pain, that will require sacrifice”?

HUNTSMAN: Let me say — let me say, first are all, with respect to Governor Romney, you know, there are a lot of people who are tuning in this morning, and I’m sure they’re terribly confused after watching all of this political spin up here.

I was criticized last night by Governor Romney for putting my country first. And I just want to remind the people here in New Hampshire and throughout the United States that I think…

(APPLAUSE)

He criticized me while he was out raising money for serving my country in China, yes, under a Democrat, like my two sons are doing in the United States Navy. They’re not asking who — what political affiliation the president is.

I want to be very clear with the people here in New Hampshire and this country: I will always put my country first. And I think that’s important to them.

GREGORY: All right. Well, why don’t you get a response, Governor Romney? And then I’ll come back to you on the austerity question. ROMNEY: I think we serve our country first by standing for people who believe in conservative principles and doing everything in our power to promote an agenda that does not include President Obama’s agenda. I think the decision to go and work for President Obama is one which you took. I don’t disrespect your decision to do that. I just think it’s most likely that the person who should represent our party running against President Obama is not someone who called him a remarkable leader and went to be his ambassador in China.

HUNTSMAN: This nation is divided, David, because of attitudes like that.

(APPLAUSE)

The American people are tired of the partisan division. They have had enough. There is no trust left among the American people and the institutions of power and among the American people and our elected officials. And I say, we’ve had enough, and we have to change our direction in terms of coming together as Americans first and foremost and finding solutions to our problems.

GREGORY: Dr. Paul said let’s not be superficial. Let’s talk substance. So, Governor Huntsman, name three areas where Americans will feel real pain in order to balance the budget.

HUNTSMAN: Well, I would have to say that I agree with the Ryan plan. I think I’m the only one standing up here who has embraced the Ryan plan. It’s a very aggressive approach to taking about $6.2 trillion out of the budget over 10 years. And it looks at everything.

And what I like about it is it says there will be no sacred cows. Medicare won’t be a sacred cow. Department of Defense won’t be a sacred cow. As president of the United States, I’m going to stand up and I’m going to say, we are where we are, 24 percent spending as a percentage of GDP. We’ve got to move to 19 percent…

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: Three programs that will make Americans feel pain, sir.

HUNTSMAN: Well, let me just say on — on entitlements, across the board, I will tell the upper-income category in this country that there will be means testing. There are a lot of people in this nation who don’t need…

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: Social Security and Medicare?

HUNTSMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. And also, I’m not going to tie Department of Defense spending to some percentage of GDP. I’m going to tie it to a strategy that protects the American people. And if we think that we can’t find efficiencies and cuts in the Department of Defense budget, then we are crazy.

GREGORY: Senator Santorum, same question. Three programs that would make — would have to be cut to make Americans feel pain, to sacrifice if we’re going to balance the budget?

SANTORUM: I would agree with Governor Huntsman that means testing — I talked about that in Hollis yesterday. We had about 1,200 people, and I walked through and talked about how we have to make sure that we’re not going to burden future generations with a Social Security program that’s underfunded. It’s already unfunded right now.

And we have to take those who have — who have been successful, who are seniors, who have a tremendous amount of wealth, and we’ve got to reduce benefits. It makes no sense for folks who are struggling right now to pay their payroll tax, which is the biggest tax. It’s tax on labor, makes us uncompetitive. And the idea that someone on the left would have to raise those taxes, to make labor even more uncompetitive for those working people who are trying to get a job to subsidize high-income seniors doesn’t make any sense to me.

Food stamps is another place. We’ve got to block grant it, send it back to the states, just like I did on welfare reform, do the same thing with Medicaid. Those three programs. We’ve got to — and including housing programs, block grant them, send them back to the states, require work, and put a time limit. You do those three things, we will help take these programs, which are now dependency programs, which people are continually dependent upon, and you take them into transitional programs to help people move out of poverty.

GREGORY: Speaker Gingrich, on the issue of Medicare, when you were on “Meet the Press” earlier in the year, you had talked about what Paul Ryan was talking about as a step too far, which is moving seniors onto a premium support or a voucher program, depending on how you phrase it.

As you know, Senator Santorum thinks that current seniors should be moved off of that program into premium support or a voucher program.

Do you agree with doing it that quickly and making current seniors bear the brunt of that?

GINGRICH: Well, the fact is that the Ryan-Wyden bill, which was just introduced recently, actually incorporates allowing people to choose and allows them to stay in traditional Medicare with the premium support model or go to new methods. And I think it’s a substantial improvement, because it allows for a transition in Medicare in a way that makes sense.

But, David, you know, I — I find it fascinating that very, very highly paid Washington commentators and Washington analysts love the idea of pain.

What — who’s going to be in pain?

The duty of the president is to find a way to manage the federal government so the primary pain is on changing the bureaucracy. On — on theft alone, we could save $100 billion a year in Medicaid and Medicare if the federal government were competent. That’s a trillion dollars over 10 years. And the only people in pain would be crooks.

So I think a sound approach is…

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: — to actually improve the government, not punish the American people because of the failure of the political class to have any sense of cleverness.

GREGORY: Governor Perry, from Facebook, a lot of question, as we mentioned, have been submitted. And this from Martin Montalvo, because we do have a spending crisis, but also, a lot of people hurting. He writes this: “With more Americans on government assistance than ever before, is it un-American for Americans to feel relieved when the government helps them?” PERRY: Well, let me answer the question that you asked earlier, what are the three areas that you would make some reductions that people would feel some pain. And I will tell you, it would be those bureaucrats at the Department of Commerce and — and Energy and Education that we’re going to do away with.

(APPLAUSE)

GREGORY: And that’s your final answer?

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: You know, the fact of the matter is that Americans want to have a job. That’s — that’s the issue here. And the idea that — that there are people clamoring for government to come and to give them assistance is just wrong-headed. And — and that’s what he needs to be focusing on as a people, is how do we create the environment in this country where the entrepreneurs know that they can risk their capital, have a chance to have a return on the investment and create the — the jobs out there so people can have the dignity to take care of their families.

That’s what Americans are looking for.

I’ve done that for the last 11 years in the state of Texas and have the executive governing experience that no one else up here on this stage has.

GREGORY: All right, I’m going to leave it there.

We’re going to take a quick break.

We are going to come back live from New Hampshire with many more questions for the candidates and feedback from you. So please participate online at mtp.msnbc.com.

We’re coming right back to New Hampshire.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GREGORY: And we are — we are back on this special edition of MEET THE PRESS from here in New Hampshire.

We want to get right back to the questions here with our candidates.

And before the break, we were talking about Medicare. Paul Ryan, Senator Santorum, had a plan where he’d like to move seniors off, give them a voucher or premium support and then they would take care of their health care from there.

There’s a lot of debate about that. And I mentioned, you said seniors should be affected right now, 55 plus, have them affected right now, which has been somewhat controversial.

You wanted to respond to that? SANTORUM: Well, you know, I hear this all the time when I was — I’ve been campaigning around the state, you know, we should have the same kind of health care that members of Congress have.

Well, that’s pretty much what Paul Ryan’s plan is. It’s a — the members of Congress have a premium support model. So does every other federal employee.

I mean it works very well as, you know, the federal government has a liability. They put — put money out there and then if you want, you — you have about this thick, if you’re an employee in Washington, DC, have got a whole bunch of different plans to choose from. And you have all sorts of options available to you. If you want a more expensive plan, you pay more of a coinsurance. If you want a less expensive plan, you don’t.

But here’s the fundamental difference between Barack Obama and — and everybody up here. It’s whether you believe people can be free to make choices or whether you have to make decisions for them.

And I believe seniors, just like every other Americans, should be free to make the choices in their health care plan that’s best for them.

GREGORY: Governor Romney, there’s a lot of discussion…

(APPLAUSE)

GREGORY: — a lot of discussion this morning on Facebook about taxes. And as we talk about taxes and spending, of course, what about economic security and economic growth.

There’s been a debate in Washington and beyond, as you well know, between Warren Buffet and Grover Norquist. Grover Norquist, the anti- tax crusader, who says no tax increases under any circumstances. Warren Buffet says, hey, the wealthier in this country can pay more and they should pay more. Indeed, balancing the budget is a way for more economic growth down the line.

Who knows more about the American economy, Grover Norquist or Warren Buffet?

ROMNEY: Well, who knows more about tax policy?

I’m not sure that we’re going to choose from the two of them. But I can tell you this, the right course for America is not to raise taxes on Americans. I understand that President Obama and people of his political persuasion would like to take more money from the American people. And they want to do that so that they can continue to grow government.

But the answer for America is not to grow government, it is to shrink government. We’ve been going — over the last 20, 30, 40 years, government keeps growing at a faster rate relative to inflation. We’ve got to stop the extraordinary spending in this country. That’s why I put out a — a plan that reduces government spending…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: — I cut — I cut programs, a whole series of programs, by — by the way, the number one to cut is ObamaCare. That saves $95 billion a year.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Return this — as Rick indicated — return to states a whole series of programs — food stamps, housing vouchers, Medicaid. And then set how much goes to them.

And, finally, with regards to entitlements, in the entitlement reform area, I do not want to change Medicare and Social Security for current retirees. But for younger people coming up, they have to recognize that, in the future, higher income people will receive less payments of the premium support program.

GREGORY: Governor Huntsman, who knows more about the American economy?

You — you — and this is an odd question (ph), you seem to be a little bit uncomfortable with a moment from earlier in this debate cycle when everybody said that they would reject even a 10 to one ratio of cuts to new taxes.

HUNTSMAN: It was — it was a silly format. I mean it was an important question they asked us to raise our hands. I mean for heaven’s sake, we didn’t get a chance to talk about it. I put a tax reform proposal on the table endorsed by the Wall Street Journal that goes farther than anybody elses on this stage. It calls for what absolutely needs to be done. And everybody knows about it.

We are so chock full of loopholes and deductions, it weighs down our tax code to the tune of $1 trillion, $100 billion. You can’t compete that way. It gives rise to lobbying on Capitol Hill that needs to clean up. We’ve got to phase out loopholes and deductions in total. And we’ve got to say, so long to corporate welfare and to subsidies. Because this country can no longer afford it. And we’ve got to prepare for competition in the twenty first century.

GREGORY: Speaker Gingrich, if you become President Gingrich and the leader of the Democrats, Harry Reed says he’s going to promise to make you a one term president, how would you propose to work with someone like that in order to achieve results in Washington?

GINGRICH: I think every president who works with the leader of every opposition knows they’re working with someone who wants to make them a one term president. I mean you know that — that’s the American process. I worked with Ronald Reagan in the early 1990’s. Tip O’Neil was speaker. He wanted to make Reagan a one term president. We had to get one-third of the Democrats to vote for the Reagan tax cuts and we did.

As speaker I was negotiating with Bill Clinton. He knew I wanted him to be a one term president. And we got a lot of things done, including welfare reform. Because you have to reach — I agree with what Governor Huntsman said earlier, you have to at some point say, the country comes first. How are we going to get things done? We’ll fight later. Lets sit down in a room, lets talk it through. I’ll tell you what I need and I’ll tell you what I can’t do.

You tell me what you need and you tell me what you can’t do and it sometimes takes 20 or 30 days. But if people of goodwill, even if their partisans, come together, talk it out, you know, we’ve got welfare reform, the first tax cut in 16 years, 4.2 percent unemployment and four straight years of a balanced budget, with a Republican speaker and a Democratic president. So it can be done with real leadership.

GREGORY: Anybody else have a point of view about how you would actually work with the other side when they’ve committed to working against you? Governor?

ROMNEY: Yeah I was governor of a state that had a slightly democratic leaning House and Senate.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: My legislature was 85 percent Democrat. And I went around at the very beginning of having been elected and met with the Speaker of the House and the Senate president. The Senate president said something I won’t forget, he said, Mitt the campaign is over. The people expect us to now govern for them. And we did. We met every week. We rotated in offices. We got to know each other personally. We developed a relationship of respect and rapport, even though we disagreed on a lot of issues.

And when crises arose, as they did time and again — we had a severe budget crisis. I went to them and said, will you give me unilateral power to cut spending? Without even a vote of the legislature, they had enough confidence in me and decided to do that. And — and I was able to cut the spending on an emergency basis, not just slow down its rate of growth. We can work together, Republicans and Democrats are able to go across the aisle because we have common — we really do have areas of — of common interest.

Even though there are dramatically different perspectives on how the world works and what’s right, we can find common ground. And I have proven in a state that is very Democrat that I’m able to work with people. Nineteen tax cuts, protected charter schools, drove our schools to be number one in the nation — kept them there rather. I — I — that — that record can work with Republicans and Democrats who are willing to work together.

GREGORY: Dr. Paul, there’s this question of argument versus accomplishment. The question again comes from Facebook. Health Treat (ph) writes, I want to — Paul Treat (ph) rather — I want to know what Ron Paul’s plan of action will be to achieve getting the House and Senate to help him do all he has promised. And here’s the record Dr. Paul. You have actually sponsored 620 measures. Only four made it to a vote on the House floor. And only one has been signed into law.

PAUL: You know that demonstrates how out of touch the U.S. government and the U.S. Congress is with the American people. Because I’m supporting things that help the American people.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: That’s the disgust that people have. Is because they keep growing government. Whether it’s the Republicans in charge or the Democrats in — in charge. But as far as working with other groups, I think my record is about as good as anybody’s because I work on the principle that freedom and the Constitution bring people together, for different reasons. People use freedom in different ways like it does. It invites variations in our religious beliefs and economic beliefs.

PAUL: We tell people that they’re allowed to, you know, spend their money as they choose. On civil liberties, that’s a different segment. Republican conservatives aren’t all that well known for protecting privacy and personal liberties. When it comes to this spending overseas, I can work a coalition. Matter of fact, my trillion dollar proposal to cut spending, doesn’t immediately deal with Social Security, it’s to try to work our way out of Social Security.

I’m cutting a trillion dollars by attacking overseas spending and going back to ‘06 budget. And I do not believe that you have to have — people who have gotten special privileges and bailouts from the government, they may get the pain, but the American people, they get their freedom back and get no income back, they don’t suffer any pain.

GREGORY: Senator Santorum, here’s the reality. Two previous presidents, President Bush talked about being a united and not a divider, President Obama talked about transforming Washington, and it hasn’t worked. Washington is polarized, the country is polarized, and the American people are pretty sick of the fact that nothing gets done in Washington. Specifically, how do you change that?

SANTORUM: Well, let me first address Congressman Paul, because the — the serious issue with Congressman Paul here is you’re right. He’s never really passed anything of any — any import.

And one of the — one of the reasons people like Congressman Paul is his economic plan. He’s never been able to accomplish any of that. He has no track record of being able to work together. He’s been out there on the — on the margins and has really been unsuccessful in — in working together with anybody to do anything.

The problem is that what Congressman Paul can do as commander-in- chief is he can on day one do what he says he wants to do, which is pull all our troops back out of seas, overseas, put them here in America, leave us in a — in a — in a situation where the world is now going to be created — huge amounts of vacuums all over the place, and have folks like China and Iran and others. Look at the Straits of Hormuz, as I said last night. We wouldn’t even have the Fifth Fleet there.

The problem with Congressman Paul is, all the things that Republicans like about him he can’t accomplish and all the things they’re worried about, he’ll do day one. And — and that’s the problem.

(APPLAUSE)

And so what we — what we need to do is have someone who has a plan and has experience to do all the things Republicans and conservatives would like to do.

GREGORY: Let me get Dr. Paul to respond…

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: And then I’d like my opportunity to come back and answer the question.

GREGORY: Well…

PAUL: It’s not exactly a simple task to repeal approximately 100 years of us sliding away from our republic and still running a foreign policy of Woodrow Wilson, trying to make the world safe for democracy. And, look, we have elections overseas and we don’t even accept the elections.

No, changing foreign policy is significant, but that’s where a nation will come down if they keep doing this. We can’t stay in 130 countries, get involved in nation-building. We cannot have 900 bases overseas. We have to change policy.

What about changing monetary policy? Yes, we do. But we’ve had that for 100 years. And right now, we’re winning that battle. The American people now agree. About 75 percent of the American people now say we ought to audit the Federal Reserve, find out what they’re doing, and who are their friends that they’re bailing out constantly?

(APPLAUSE)

GREGORY: Senator Santorum, come back to this point. It’s easy to say, boy, I’m going to change the culture in Washington, hasn’t worked for the past two presidents.

SANTORUM: Well, it — it worked in my case. Look at welfare reform. In a federal entitlement that — I remember standing next to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Ted Kennedy, who were out there just talking about how this was going to be the end of civilization as we know it, there’d be bread lines, the horrific consequences of removing federal income support from basically mothers with children.

And we stood up and said, no, that creating dependency and creating that dependency upon — upon federal dollars is more harmful than — and in not believing in people and their ability to work is more harmful. And so we stood up and fought and went out to the American public — Bill Clinton vetoed this bill twice. We had hard opposition. But I was able to — to work together and paint a vision.

We made compromises, but not on our core principles. The core principles were this was going to end the federal program, we were going to require work, and we were going to put time limits on welfare. I stuck to those principles, and we were able to compromise on some things like transportation funding, and some daycare funding, all in order to get a consensus that poverty is not a disability…

GREGORY: All right.

SANTORUM: … and that programs that we need to put in place should help transition people, not make them dependent, and we were able to get 70 votes in the United States Senate, including 17 Democrats.

GREGORY: Governor Huntsman, this question of — if the leader of the Democrats promised to make you a one-term president, how would you go about dealing with them in a more effective way than you think the man you serve, President Obama, did?

HUNTSMAN: I think it comes down to one word, David, and I think the one word is trust. When the American people look at the political process play out, they hear all the spinning and all the doctrinaire language, and they still walk away with the belief that they’re not being represented in Congress, that there’s no trust in the executive branch. And the Simpson-Bowles bipartisan proposal lands right on the desk of Barack Obama, and it lands in the garbage can.

The first press conference I had when I ran for governor in 2004 was on ethics in government service. I talked about term limits. I talked about campaign finance reform. I talked about the role of lobbyists and knew I wouldn’t make a lot of friends. I had one member of the legislature who supported me in that run. We won, because we had the will of the people. And I believe the next president — and if that is to be me, I want to roam around this country and I want to generate the level of excitement and enthusiasm that I know exists among the American people to bring term limits to Congress, to close the revolving door…

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTSMAN: — on members going right on out and become a lobbyist. We’ve got to start with the structural problems. There is no trust…

GREGORY: All right.

Governor Perry, I want to continue on the theme of leadership.

PERRY: Good. We need to.

GREGORY: This is…

(LAUGHTER)

GREGORY: As you well know, New Hampshire is an independent place. And I wonder where, besides criticizing the previous administration for running up the debt, I wonder where you would buck your party.

What would you say or do to make Republicans uncomfortable?

PERRY: I hope I’m making Republicans uncomfortable right now by talking about the spending that they’ve done back in the 2000s, when we had control of both parties. I mean that…

GREGORY: But aside from that, I just…

PERRY: — that is…

GREGORY: — I just mentioned that.

PERRY: Well, listen, Dr. Paul says that the biggest problem facing this country is — is our work overseas. I disagree with that. The biggest problem facing this country today is a Congress that is out of control with their spending. And we’ve got to have someone, an outsider, that will walk in, not part of the insider group that you see here, people who have voted for raising the — the debt limit, people who have been part of the problem that is facing America.

I will tell you two things that can occur that a president can lead the charge on. And it will put term limits into place. One of those is a part-time Congress to tell those members of Congress, we’re going to cut your pay, we’re going to cut the amount of time that you spend in Washington, DC, send you back to your districts so you can have a job, like everybody else in your district has, and live under the laws of which you pass…

GREGORY: But Governor…

PERRY: — and then a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution.

GREGORY: Governor, my question…

PERRY: You do those two things…

GREGORY: — but my question, sir was…

PERRY: — and that will make them uncomfortable.

GREGORY: You think telling conservatives a balanced budget amendment is something I’m going to do and I’m going to cut spending, that’s going to make them uncomfortable?

PERRY: You’re darned right, because there’s a bunch of people standing up here that say they’re conservatives, but the records don’t follow up on that.

GREGORY: All right, I’ve got to take another break here.

We’ll come back — we’ll come back on this point.

Another quick break here.

We’ll return with much more. And, of course, please share your thoughts with us online via Facebook at mtp.msnbc.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GREGORY: And we are back in New Hampshire.

I’m happy to be joined now by our local partners for the debate, for the — from the “New Hampshire Union Leader,” senior political reporter, John DiStasos is — is with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, David.

GREGORY: Good go have you here, John.

And from WHT — WHDC — we had this problem yesterday — TV in Boston, Channel 7 in Boston, political editor Andy Hiller.

Welcome to you, as well.

Good to have you both.

John, get it started.

JOHN DISTASOS, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, “NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER”: All right, Governor Huntsman, it’s winter in New Hampshire. It’s a little mild, but it’s still winter. Home heating oil is nearly $4 a gallon. Yet President Obama and Congress have cut by 25 percent the program that helps — helps low income people heat their homes. About a million households that were helped last year won’t be helped this year.

Is this an example of pain that must be suffered?

Should this — should this program funding be restored?

Should it be cut more?

So does this program be eliminated, perhaps?

Where does this fit in?

This is a practical problem in this area of the country.

HUNTSMAN: No. We have people in need. We have people suffering. And this is a challenge that we need to address.

But I believe we’re not going to be able to effectively confront it head-on until such time as this nation begins to move more toward greater energy diversity and energy independence.

One of the first things I would do as president is I would take a look at that one product distribution bias that always favors one product, and that’s oil. And I’d say, if we’re going to do what this nation needs to be done, in terms of using a multiplicity of products that we have in such diversity and abundance and get them to the customers, we’re going to have to break up that one product distribution monopoly.

And I want to do to that oil distribution monopoly what we did to broadcast communication in the — in the early 1970s. We blew it apart. And we went to the Federal Trade Commission and said we need more. We need diverse sources to draw from. We need — we need to service the consumers.

I believe if we’re going to do what needs to be done from an energy independence standpoint, all products — getting the products to the customer, we’ve got to disrupt that one product monopoly that does not serve this country well nor its consumers.

GREGORY: Congressman Paul, Congressman Paul…

(APPLAUSE)

GREGORY: — how do you feel about…

(APPLAUSE)

DISTASOS: How do you — how do you feel about subsidies in — in general for — for specific energy and…

(CROSSTALK)

DISTASOS: — and also, though, more — more specifically right now, more immediately, this low income program, heating assistance program.

PAUL: Right.

DISTASOS: Is this something that fits in un — under your view of — of what government does do or should not do?

PAUL: Well, subsidies per se are — it’s bad economic policy. It’s bad moral policy, because it’s using government force to transfer money from one group to another. And economically, it does a lot of harm.

But when it — when it comes to energy, we should, you know, deregulate it, like others talk about.

But we need to talk — you know supply and demand — everybody knows about supply and demand. They talk about oil and if we had more alternative sources, that we — we always hope the prices will go down.

But everybody forgets that there’s another 50 percent of a transaction is the monetary unit and you don’t deal, very few people talk about the supply and demand of money.

And when you create a lot of money, prices go up. So it goes up in the areas where government most gets involved, you know, in education and medical care, housing and in energy.

So prices go up much faster than in any other place. So if you subsidize somebody and you print money to do it, you compound the problem.

It’s good politics. Yes, I’m going to subsidize you and take care of you. But it’s bad economic policy and it — it’s not a good way to find — find any answers.

DISTASOS: Gov — Governor Romney, this is such an important topic, because beyond the — the regional implication, there’s also a larger question about the social safety net. You think all the time about opportunity for Americans.

But what about Americans left behind?

In this age of austerity, what do Americans have to learn to live with less of?

ROMNEY: Well, what we don’t need is to have a — a federal government saying we’re going to solve all of the problems of poverty across the entire country, because the — what it means to be poor in Massachusetts is different than Montana and Mississippi and other places in the country.

And that’s why these programs, all these federal programs that are bundled to help people and make sure we have a safety net need to be brought together and sent back to the states. And let states that are closest to the needs of their own people craft the programs that are de — able to deal with their — the needs of those folks.

So you — you — whether it’s food stamps and housing vouchers, they’re certainly on the list. But certainly Medicaid, home — home heating oil support.

ROMNEY: What — what unfortunately happens is with all the multiplicity of federal programs, you have massive overhead with government bureaucrats in Washington administering all these programs, very little of the money that’s actually needed by those that really need help, those that can’t care for themselves, actually reaches them.

These — they — government — folks in Washington keep building program after program. It’s time to say enough of that. Let’s get the money back to the states, the way the constitution intended.

DISTASO: OK.

ROMNEY: And let states care for their own people in the way they feel best.

(APPLAUSE)

GREGORY: Andy Hiller.

HILLER: Governor Romney, I’d like to remind you of something you said in Bay Windows, which is a gay newspaper in Massachusetts in 1994, when you were running against Senator Kennedy. These are your words: “I think the gay community needs more support from the Republican Party, and I would be a voice in the Republican Party to foster anti-discrimination efforts.” How have you stood up for gay rights? And when have you used your voice to influence Republicans on this issue?

ROMNEY: Andy, as you know, I don’t discriminate, and in the appointments that I made when I was governor of Massachusetts, a member of my cabinet was gay. I appointed people to the bench regardless of their sexual orientation, made it very clear that, in my view, we should not discriminate in hiring policies and legal policies.

At the same time, from the very beginning in 1994, I said to the gay community: I do not favor same-sex marriage. I oppose same-sex marriage, and that has been my — my view.

But — but if people are looking for someone who — who will discriminate against gays or will in any way try and suggest that people — that have different sexual orientation don’t have full rights in this country, they won’t find that in me.

HILLER: When’s the last time you stood up and spoke out for increasing gay rights?

ROMNEY: Right now.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

HILLER: Senator Santorum, would you be a voice for increasing gay rights in the party?

(LAUGHTER)

SANTORUM: Surprised he’s coming to me. What? What was your question?

HILLER: Would you be a voice for speaking out for gay rights in your party? And if not, why not?

SANTORUM: I would be a voice in speaking out for making sure that every person in America, gay or straight, is treated with respect and dignity and has equality of opportunity. That does not mean that I would agree with certain things that the gay community would like to do to change laws, with respect to marriage or respect to adoption, and things like that.

So you can be respectful. This is the beautiful thing about this country. James Madison called the First Amendment — he called it the perfect remedy. And that is, people of all different backgrounds — diversity, opinions, faith — can come into the public square and can be heard and can be heard in a way that’s respectful of everybody else.

But just because you don’t agree with someone’s desire to change the law doesn’t mean you don’t like them or you hate them or you want to discriminate against them, but you’re trying to promote — excuse me, promote things that you think are best for society.

And I do so, and I think if you — if you watch the town hall meetings that I’ve been doing all over New Hampshire, I do so in a respectful tone. I listen to the other side. I let them make their arguments. And then we do so in a very — very respectful way. And you know what? We may not agree. That’s why we leave it open to the public to be able to elect members of Congress and the Senate and the president who will support their ideas.

HILLER: What if you had a son who came to you and said he was gay?

SANTORUM: I would love him as much as I did the second before he said it. And I would try to do everything I can to be as good a father to him as possible.

(APPLAUSE)

DISTASO: Governor Perry, we’re going to move on. Right-to-work, which outlaws mandatory union membership, as you know, continues to be a major issue in the state of New Hampshire. You’ve spoken about promoting, having states pass state laws. What about on the federal level? Do you see this as a federal issue and one that you would promote as president or is it a state-by-state…

PERRY: Actually, it is a federal issue, and it’s a federal issue because of the law that was passed that forces the states to make a decision about whether or not they’re going to be right-to-work. So Jim DeMint’s legislation, I would support that, of repealing that legislation that forces states to make that decision to be a right-to- work, rather than all of this country being right-to-work.

Listen, I’m not anti-union. I’m pro-job. And the way you promote this country’s rehabilitation from the Obama administration’s attack on — on job creation is by taxes and regulation, particularly the regulatory side, and — and pulling those regulations that have gone forward over the course of the last — since ‘08 and test them all for — do they create jobs or do they kill jobs? And if they kill jobs, you throw them out.

That will make more difference in this country from the standpoint — I’m a right-to-work guy. I come from a right-to-work state. And I will tell you, if New Hampshire wants to become the magnet for job creation in the Northeast, you pass that right-to-work legislation in this state.

(APPLAUSE)

DISTASO: I’d like to — I’d like to ask both Governor Romney, quickly, and Senator Santorum, quickly, do — what positive contributions do labor unions provide in this country at this — this point in the 21st century?

ROMNEY: Well, the carpenters union, for instance, trains their workers to be more effective on the job. And when they compete against nonunion workers, while they do that on a fair basis, if that happens, that’s a positive contribution.

But let me just say this with regards to unions. I agree with Governor Perry. Right-to-work legislation makes a lot of sense for New Hampshire and for the nation.

But — but, also, let’s not forget the government unions and the impact they’re having. If we’re going to finally pull back the extraordinary political power government unions are exerting in this country, we’re going to have to say that people who work for the government, government workers, should have their compensation tied to that which exists in the private sector. People who are government servants, public servants, should not be paid more than the taxpayers who are paying for it.

GREGORY: Governor, can I just — very quickly, Senator, because we’re about to hit a hard break, a quick comment on this?

SANTORUM: Yeah, I will. I’ve signed a — a pledge that I would support a national right to work. When I was in — I mentioned this last night. When I was a senator for Pennsylvania, I didn’t vote for it because Pennsylvania’s not a right-to-work state and I didn’t want to vote for a law that would change the law in Pennsylvania, number one.

Number two, what can unions do? As — as Mitt mentioned, they can do training. They also do a lot in the community. I work with a lot of labor unions in Philadelphia and other places to do a lot of community involvement work. And they — they try to participate as good members of the community, like a business does.

GREGORY: I’ve got to cut you off. I apologize. We have a mandatory break. We’ll be back with more questions in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: The NBC News-Facebook Republican presidential candidates debate continues from New Hampshire. Now, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” David Gregory.

(APPLAUSE)

GREGORY: And we are back for our final half-hour. So much discussion, Speaker Gingrich, on Facebook in the course of this debate about jobs. And you can understand why. And we’ve talked about spending; we’ve talked about economic growth.

It was Governor Romney who made the point to a young person who approached him that if he were president, and when this person got out of college, he or she’d have a job. If President Obama has a second term, he or she will not have a job. Isn’t that the kind of thing that makes people angry, the politicians, easy answers like that?

GINGRICH: Well, I don’t think that’s an easy answer. I think that’s a statement of fact.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

You know, but let me — let me take — I want to go back to what John DiStaso said, because it’s exactly the same question. The long- term answer to $4 heating oil is to open up offshore development of oil and gas, open up federal lines to oil and gas, flood the market, as — as Dr. Paul said, make supply and demand work for us, not against us. The price will come down.

Under Obama, 2011 was the highest price of gasoline in history. It is a direct result of his policies, which kill jobs, raise the price of heating oil and gasoline, weaken the United States, increase our dependence on foreign countries, and weaken our national security in the face of Iran trying to close the Straits of Hormuz.

So the right president opening up in a Reagan tradition and using the massive development of American energy, there’s 3.2 percent unemployment in North Dakota. There’s a hint here. You can actually have jobs, lower price heating oil, which by the way means less LIHEAP spending, so you get more revenue from the federal government from royalties, less spending on — on LIHEAP subsidy, lower price, people are happier all the way around. That’s what supply-side economics was originally all about in the 1970s.

GREGORY: But, Governor Romney, on this economic question, you blame President Obama for the jobs crisis, but when you look at the data and a positive trend line, he still only gets the blame and none of the credit. How come? ROMNEY: Actually, I don’t blame him for the recession and for the decline. What I blame him for is having it go on so long and going so deep and having a recovery that’s been so tepid.

Businesses I talked to all over the country that would normally be hiring people are not hiring. And I asked them why. And they say because they look at the policies of this administration and they feel they’re under attack.

When you have an administration that tries to raise taxes — and has on businesses — when it puts in place Obamacare that’s going to raise the cost of health care for businesses, when they stack the National Labor Relations Board with labor stooges, which means that the policies relating to — to labor are now going to change dramatically in a direction they find uncomfortable, when you have Obamacare that — that places more mandates on them, when you — when you have Dodd-Frank, which makes it harder for community banks to make loans, all these things collectively create the — a reality of a president who has been anti-investment, anti-jobs, anti-business, and people feel that.

And if you want to get this country going again, you have to recognize that the role of government is not just to catch the bad guys, important as that is. It’s also to encourage the good guys…

GREGORY: All right.

ROMNEY: … and to return America to a land of opportunity.

GREGORY: Back to John and Andy.

John, go ahead.

HILLER: Governor Romney, I’m going to stay with you for one moment here on the — talking about regulation. One of your prime New Hampshire supporters, Senator Kelly Ayotte, has said, quote, “New Hampshire should not be the tailpipe for pollutants from out-of-state power plants.”

Many Senate Republicans attacked an EPA rule limiting air pollution that affects downwind states, but she and others, including Scott Brown, joined with the president and Senate Democrats to block a repeal effort.

Now, is this an example, this cross-state air pollution rule, of fair regulation, something that we in the Northeast are very concerned about in terms of pollution? Or is this overregulation, job-killing overregulation?

ROMNEY: Well, I’m not — I’m not familiar with the specific regulation as it — as it applies to — to New Hampshire. But I do believe that we have a responsibility to keep the air clean, and we have to find ways to assure that we don’t have the pollution of one state overwhelming the — the ability of another state to have clean air.

I know, in my state of Massachusetts, we — we received a lot of air from the rest of the country, obviously, given the winds coming from the west of the country to the east. And so the responsibility in our state was to get the cost — get the — the emissions from our power plants down. That’s one of the reasons why we moved to natural gas.

And, really, by the way, this discussion about energy and security, and getting the cost of gasoline down, the big opportunity here is not just a new oil distribution system, but it’s natural gas. We have massive new natural gas reserves that have been found in Pennsylvania, in — in North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, natural gas cheap, a fraction of the cost for BTU of oil.

If we want to help people in New England have not only homes and businesses that emit less pollutant into the air — and therefore would have cleaner air — and also have lower cost of energy, it’s let’s build out this natural gas system so that we can take advantage of that new, enormous source of American economic strength.

DISTASO: Speaker Gingrich, what exactly is an Environmental Solutions Agency? I don’t — I think a lot of people might not know or understand that — why you want to disband the EPA and set up — set up something that kind of looks like the EPA?

GINGRICH: If you look at the EPA’s record, it is increasingly radical. It’s increasingly imperious. It doesn’t cooperate, it doesn’t collaborate and it doesn’t take into account economics. The city of Nashville recently had a dump that was cited by EPA. They went down to find out, what was it being cited for? And they told them, frankly we don’t know. We can’t find the records that lead to this citation and we’re not exactly sure what it referenced. But it must be bad or we wouldn’t have sent it out.

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: In Iowa they had a dust regulation underway because they control particulate matter. I do agree on clean air. There are things they should do that are right. But dust in Iowa is — is an absurdity. And they were worried that the plowing of a cornfield would leave dust to go to another farmer’s cornfield. And they were going to — they were planning to issue a regulation. In Arizona they went in on the dust regulation and suggested to them that maybe if they watered down the earth, they wouldn’t have these dust storms in the middle of the year. And people said to them, you know the reason it’s called a desert…

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: …is there’s no water. Now this is an agency out of touch with reality which I believe is incorrigible and you need a new agency that is practical, has commonsense, uses economic factors and in the case of — of pollution actually incentives change, doesn’t just punish it.

DISTASO: All right, Andy?

HILLER: Governor Perry, your party’s last nominee, John McCain wrote in the Washington Post in an op-ed about a year ago, his words, “I disagree with many of the president’s policies but I believe he is a patriot, sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country’s cause. I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America, or opposed to it’s founding ideals.” Agree?

PERRY: I make a very proud statement and, in fact that we have a president that’s a socialist. I don’t think our founding fathers wanted America to be a socialist country. So I disagree with that premise that somehow or another that President Obama reflects our founding fathers. He doesn’t. He talks about having a more powerful, more centralized, more consuming and costly federal government.

I am a Tenth Amendment believing governor. I truly believe that we need a president that respects the Tenth Amendment, that pushes back to the states. Whether it’s how to deliver education, how to deliver health care, how to do our environmental regulations. The states will considerably do a better job than a one-size-fits-all Washington, D.C. lead by this president.

GREGORY (?): Can I just jump in? Senator Santorum, Governor Perry — he called the president a socialist. I wonder Senator Santorum, when you voted for a new prescription drug benefit that did not have a funding mechanism, were you advancing socialism?

SANTORUM: Why — I said repeatedly that we should have had a funding mechanism and it’s one of those things that I had a very tough vote, as you know. In that bill we had health savings accounts. Something I’ve been fighting for, for 15 years to transform the private sector health care system into a more consumer, bottom-up way of doing it. We also had Medicare Advantage to transform the entire Medicare system into — Medicare Advantage is basically a premium support type model.

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: …socialism though. That’s the… (CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: I — I think I’m just answering your question. Maybe I’m — maybe we’re not communicating well, but I just talked about the — the medical — it’s a health savings accounts is an anti- socialistic idea to try to build a bottom-up, consumer based economy in — in health care. The same thing with Medicare Advantage. And we also structured the Medicare Part-D benefit to be a premium support model as a way of trying to transition Medicare. So there were a lot of good things in that bill. There was one really bad thing. We didn’t pay for it. We should have paid for it. And that was a mistake.

GREGORY: You want to have a follow up on that?

HILLER: No, I’m going to switch to Congressman Paul and I’m going to say, many Americans, particularly Democrats, think that health care is a right. In your opinion, what services are all Americans entitled to expect to get from government?

PAUL: Entitlements are not rights. Right mean you have a right…

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: …rights mean you have a right to your life. You have a right to — to your liberty and you should have a right to keep the fruits of your labor. And this is quite a bit different, but earlier on there was a little discussion here about gay rights. I in a way don’t like to use those terms, gay rights, woman’s rights, minority rights, religious rights. There’s only one type of right. It’s the right to your liberty. And I think this causes divisiveness when we see people in groups, because for too long we punish groups. So the answer then was, let’s — let’s relieve them by giving them affirmative action.

So I think both are wrong. If you think in terms of individuals and protect every single individuals, no, they’re not entitled. One group isn’t entitled to take something from somebody else. And the basic problem here is, there’s a lot of good intention to help poor people, but guess who gets the entitlements in Washington? The big guys get — the rich people. They run the entitlement system, the military industrial complex, the banking system. Those are the entitlements we should be dealing with.

GREGORY: Dr. Paul, thanks.

In our remaining moment here, back to you, John.

DISTASO: OK. Well, Governor Huntsman, Andy and I are about to wrap up our role in this debate. And as we do, I’d like to ask you, as someone who’s been here in New Hampshire a while, what does our state motto, “Live Free or Die,” mean to you personally? And how would it guide you in the White House?

HUNTSMAN: It is the fulfillment of a citizenry being able to live out the meaning of our founding documents: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And everywhere I’ve gone in this great state — and we’ve done 160-plus public events… (APPLAUSE)

… I feel it, and I sense it, and people take that very seriously. You know what else they take seriously? They take seriously the idea of real leadership.

I’ve heard a lot of obfuscating up here, the blame game, talking about gays, talking about unions. Everybody’s got something nasty to say. You know what the people of this country are waiting for and the people of — they want a leader who is going to unify, who’s going to bring us together. Because at the end of the day, that’s what leadership is all about.

It’s not about taking on different groups and vilifying them for whatever reason. It’s about projecting a vision for a more hopeful tomorrow. That’s why there is no trust in this country today. And that’s why, as president, I’m going to attack that trust deficit just as aggressively as I attack that economic deficit. Because with no trust, I can’t think of anything more corrosive longer term to the people of this nation.

GREGORY: All right. We’re going — we’re going to leave it there.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, John, thank you, Andy, both. We’re going to take another quick break here. I’ll be back with a final round of questions, including your questions from our “Meet the Press” Facebook page. We’re back with our final moments in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GREGORY: We are back.

Gentlemen, candidates, we have just a few minutes left. And I’d like to try something, because I do want to get to as much substance and pin you down on views as best I can.

I know this could be hard for you, but you are spending a lot of money getting your message out in 30 second increments, based on what I’ve been watching in the hotel room here in New Hampshire. So I know you know how to do this.

Let’s try having 30 second answers to some of these questions and we might have some response along the way.

Senator Santorum, I want to ask you about Iran. It’s been a big issue in the course of this campaign so far.

I wonder why it is, if America has lived with a nuclear Soviet Union, we have come to live with a nuclear North Korea, why is it that we cannot live with a nuclear Iran?

And if we can’t, are you prepared to take the country to war to disarm that country?

SANTORUM: They’re a — they’re a theocracy. They’re a theocracy that has deeply embedded beliefs that — that the afterlife is better than this life. President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said the principle virtue of the Islamic Republic of Iran is martyrdom.

So when your principle virtue is to die for your — for Allah, then it’s not a deterrent to have a nuclear threat, if they would use a nuclear weapon. It is, in fact, an encouragement for them to use their nuclear weapon. And that’s why there’s a difference between the Soviet Union and China and others and Iran. GREGORY: What about Pakistan?

They are an indifferent ally, at best. They have nuclear weapons.

Are you also prepared, as president, to say they must disarm or else?

SANTORUM: They are not a theocracy. And we’re very hopeful of — of maintaining a — a more secular state than — than is in place today.

But there is a serious threat. And this administration has bungled it about as badly as they can in trying to con — continue those positive relationships. We’ve had some real serious problems with the — with the Pakistani military, obviously, with respect to Osama bin Laden and with respect to North Waziristan.

But you have a — the reason is we have a president who’s just very weak in — in that region of the world and is not respected…

GREGORY: All right.

SANTORUM: — and — and therefore, he’s not a — he’s not been able to have that strong hand in working with Pakistan that they’re used to.

GREGORY: Speaker Gingrich, how about tone of this campaign?

I was in Iowa. I heard you on the stump. You complained bitterly about the super PAC, the outside groups that were lodging charges against you, bringing up some old issues against you.

And now you have a former campaign spokesman who is preparing attacks against Governor Romney, calling him, quote, “a predator” for his involvement at the investment company, Bain.

You agreed with someone who said that Governor Romney was a liar when he didn’t take account for those attacks against you.

Are you consistent now, as you’re preparing to launch against Governor Romney?

GINGRICH: Sure.

GREGORY: How so?

GINGRICH: I’m consistent because I think you ought to have fact- based campaigns to talk about the records.

GREGORY: Calling him a predator is not over the line?

GINGRICH: Well, I think you have to look at the film, which I haven’t seen. But if you look at “The New York Times” article, I think it was on Thursday, you would clearly have to say that Bain, at times, engaged in behavior where they looted a company, leaving behind 1,700 unemployed people. That’s “The New York Times.” That’s not me.

So I think, you know, the — I mean one of the ads I complained about got four Pinocchios from “The Wall Street” — from “The Washington Post.” Now, to get four Pinocchios in a 30 second ad means there’s virtually nothing accurate…

GREGORY: All right.

GINGRICH: — in 30 seconds.

GREGORY: Speaker, you — you — you decry the Washington establishment and you just talked about “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post.” You have agreed with the characterization that Governor Romney is a liar.

Look at him now.

Do you stand by that claim?

GINGRICH: Well, sure. Governor, I wish you would calmly and directly state it is your former staff running the PAC. It is your millionaire friends giving to the PAC. And you know some of the ads are — aren’t true. Just say that. It’s straightforward.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Well, of course it’s former staff of mine. And, of course they’re people who support me. They wouldn’t be putting money into a PAC that supports me if they weren’t people who support me.

And with regards to their ads, I haven’t seen them. And, as you know, under the law, I can’t direct their ads.

Speaker…

GINGRICH: Yes, but…

ROMNEY: Hold on a second. I — I can’t direct their ads. If there’s anything in them that’s wrong, I hope they take it out. I hope everything that’s wrong…

GINGRICH: Good.

ROMNEY: — is taken out.

But let me tell you this. The — the ad I saw said that — that you’d been forced out of the speakership. That was correct.

GINGRICH: (INAUDIBLE).

ROMNEY: It said that — that you had sat down with Nancy Pelosi and — and argued for — for a climate change bill. That was correct. It said that you called the — the Ron Paul’s — Ron Paul — Paul Ryan’s plan to bu — to provide Medicare reform…

(LAUGHTER) ROMNEY: — a — a — a right-wing social engineering plan. It said that — that as part of an investigation, an ethics investigation, that you had to reimburse some $300,000. Those things were all true.

If there was something related to abortion that it said that was wrong, I hope they pulled it out. Anything wrong, I’m opposed to.

But, you know, this ain’t — this ain’t beanbag. We’re going to come into a campaign, and we’re going to describe the differences between us. But…

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: Go ahead, Speaker. Go ahead, Speaker.

ROMNEY: But I do think — but I do think the rhetoric, Mr. Speaker, I think was a little over-the-top.

GINGRICH: You think my rhetoric was over-the-top, but your ads were totally reasonable? That’s what I don’t understand. Look…

ROMNEY: Again — again…

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: I’ve taken the governor’s advice.

ROMNEY: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, the — the super PACs that are out there running ads with Ron Paul’s, mine, yours, as you know, that is not my ad. I don’t write that ad. I can’t tell them how to.

GREGORY: Well, how about this? Would you both — would both agree to take these super PAC ads down?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: But, Mr. Speaker, but, Mr. Speaker, I wouldn’t call someone the things you’ve called me public. I think that’s just over- the-top.

GREGORY: Would you both agree that — to — to request that these super PAC ads be taken down?

GINGRICH: David, wait a second. Come on. Come on. I’m glad finally on this stage, weeks later, he has said, gee, if they’re wrong, they should take them down. They would have course — we’ve sent a letter in South Carolina saying — warning the stations to just fact-check them before they start running them.

But I’m taking his advice. You know, we started to run his commercial from 1994 attacking Teddy Kennedy for running negative ads. We thought, no, that would be wrong.

So, instead, I — I agree with him. It takes broad shoulders to run. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. When the 27-and-a-half-minute movie comes out, I hope it’s accurate.

I — I — I can say publicly I hope that the super PAC runs an accurate movie about Bain. It will be based on establishment newspapers, like the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Barron’s, Bloomberg News. And I hope that it’s totally accurate and then people can watch the 27-and-a-half minutes of his career at Bain and decide for themselves.

GREGORY: All right. Let me ask you, Senator Santorum, we’ve talked some about the role of government, but the presidency is often called the bully pulpit. I wonder as president how you’d use the bully pulpit to try to shape American culture and values?

SANTORUM: I haven’t written a lot of books. I’ve written one. And it was in response to a book written by Hillary Clinton called “It Takes a Village.” I didn’t agree with that. I believe it takes a family, and that’s what I wrote.

And I believe that there’s one thing that is undermining this country, and it is the breakdown of the American family. It’s undermining our economy. You see the rates of poverty among single- parent families, which are — moms are doing heroic things, but it’s harder. It’s five times higher in a single-parent family.

We — we know there’s certain things that work in America. The Brookings Institute came out with a study just a few — couple of years ago that said, if you graduate from high school, and if you work, and if you’re a man, if you marry, if you’re a woman, if you marry before you have children, you have a 2 percent chance of being in poverty in America. And to be above the median income, if you do those three things, 77 percent chance of being above the median income.

Why isn’t the president of the United States or why aren’t leaders in this country talking about that and trying to formulate, not necessarily federal government policy, but local policy and state policy and community policy, to help people do those things that we know work and we know are good for society? This president doesn’t.

In fact, he has required programs not to talk about marriage, not to talk about abstinence, if — in order to get federal funds. He’s working exactly against the things…

GREGORY: Dr. Paul…

SANTORUM: … he knows works because he has a secular ideology that is against the traditions of our country and what works.

GREGORY: Dr. Paul, quickly, how would you use the bully pulpit?

PAUL: I would continue to do what I’m doing now, preaching the gospel of liberty. I think that the most important ingredients in this country that made us great was our founders understood what liberty meant. And that is what we need. We have deserted that. We have drifted a long way. It involves our right to our life, right to our liberty. We ought to be able to keep the fruits of our labor. We ought to understand property rights. We ought to understand contract rights. We ought to understand what sound money is all about, and we ought to understand what national defense means. That means defending this country. That is the bully pulpit we need. We need to defend liberty.

GREGORY: All right. Defend liberty and…

(APPLAUSE)

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: And liberty.

(LAUGHTER)

GREGORY: Thank you. We’re going to take another break here. We’ll be back with some closing moments right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GREGORY: I would like to thank the candidates for joining us. I’d also like to thank our debate partners, Facebook, the New Hampshire Union Leader, and our hosts here, of course, in Concord, the Capitol Center for the Arts. Thank you, of course, for watching and participating in this debate online.

Post-debate analysis will continue on MSNBC. Be sure to watch complete coverage of the New Hampshire primary returns. That’s Tuesday night on NBC News, MSNBC, and online at nbcpolitics.com. We’ll be back next week from Washington. If it’s Sunday, it’s “Meet the Press.”

END

Campaign Buzz January 7, 2012: ABC News / Yahoo!/ WMUR-TV New Hampshire Republican Primary Debate — 15th GOP Debate — Mitt Romney Retains Frontrunner Status

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

PHOTO: GOP debate
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry take their positons before a Republican presidential candidate debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. on Jan. 7, 2012. (Elise Amendola/AP Photo)

IN FOCUS: ABC NEWS / YAHOO!/ WMUR-TV NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY DEBATE

New Hampshire Debate in 2 Minutes: Highlights from the GOP presidential debate in Manchester, N.H…. – ABC News, 1-7-12

ABC News New Hampshire Republican Debate Video ABC News, 1-7-12

Republican Debate: Live Blog of ABC News, Yahoo News and WMUR Presidential Debate: ABC News, Yahoo News and WMUR are sponsoring the first debate of the remaining Republican presidential candidates. The debate is being held at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire ahead of next Tuesday’s all-important New Hampshire primary … – ABC News, 1-7-12

New Hampshire Debate Live Blog: The Republican candidates for president have gathered at St. Anselm’s College for the first of two back- to-back debates that could serve as a televised confrontation of Mitt Romney, who has a large lead… – NYT, 1-6-12

New Hampshire ABC debate: The live blog!: The six major Republican presidential candidates will take the debate stage for the first time in almost a month tonight in New Hampshire — and the Fix will bring every minute of it to you live. The debate, which is being sponsored by ABC and WMUR…. – WaPo, 1-7-12

Recommended: Live-tweeting the debate: The NBC political team will be live-tweeting the debate, which is sponsored by ABC News, Yahoo and WMUR, in this post beginning at 9 pm ET. … – msnbc.com, 1-7-12

Live blog of tonight’s Republican presidential debate in Goffstown, NH: The Republican presidential campaign entered a potentially formative 12-hour span tonight, as the candidates began back-to-back debates just three days before the New Hampshire primary. … – Boston.com, 1-7-12

“I was not ever for an individual mandate. I wasn’t for a top-down, government-run health care system. I wasn’t for the big bank of Wall Street bailout, as Governor Romney was. We’re looking for someone who can win this race, who can win this race on the economy and on the core issues of this election.” — Rick Santorum

“Business experience doesn’t necessarily match up with being the commander-in-chief of this country. The commander-in-chief of this country isn’t a CEO.” — Rick Santorum

“I think people who spend their life in Washington don’t understand what happens out in the real economy. The people in the private sector. They’re not successful because they’re managers. They’re successful primarily because they are leaders.” — Mitt Romney

“As far as substance, I agree with Speaker [Newt] Gingrich. I don’t think Governor Romney’s plan is particularly bold, or is particularly focused on where the problems are in this country… there are no classes in America. We are a country that don’t allow for titles. We don’t put people in classes. There may be middle income people, but the idea that somehow or another we’re going to buy into the class warfare arguments of Barack Obama is something that should not be part of the Republican lexicon. That’s their job, divide, separate, put one group against another. I’ll use the language of bringing people together.” — Rick Santorum

“I mean, he became a high-powered lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and he has done quite well. We checked out Newt, on his income. I think we ought to find out how much money he has made from the lobbyists as well.” — Ron Paul

“I’m not nearly as enamored of a Wall Street model where you can flip companies, you can go in and have leveraged buyouts, you can basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers.” — Newt Gingrich

“We understand that in the free economy, in the private sector, that sometimes investments don’t work and you’re not successful. It always pains you if you have to be in a situation of downsizing a business in order to try and make it more successful, turn it around and try and grow it again.” — Mitt Romney

Ron Paul: “You’re a big-government conservative. To say you’re a conservative, I think it’s a stretch, but you’ve convinced a lot of people of it.”

Rick Santorum: “If you haven’t been sued by CREW, you are not a conservative. It’s a ridiculous charge and you should know better than to cite George Soros-like organizations.”
I think I’ve convinced a lot of people of it because I think my record is pretty good. I’m not a libertarian, Ron, I agree with you. You vote against everything; I don’t vote against everything.”

Ron Paul: “I think people who don’t serve when they could and get three or four or even five deferments have no right to send our kids off to war and be even against the wars we have. I’m trying to stop the wars but at least I went when they called me up.”

Newt Gingrich: “Dr. Paul has a long history of saying things that are inaccurate and false. The fact is I never asked for a deferment. I was married with a child. It was never a question. I personally resent the kind of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information and then just slurs people.”

Ron Paul: “When I was drafted I was married with two kids and I went.”

Newt Gingrich: “I wasn’t eligible for the draft. I wasn’t eligible for the draft.”

Rick Perry: “I would send troops back into Iraq. The idea that we allow the Iranians to come back into Iraq and take over that country, with all of the treasure, both in blood and money that we have spent in Iraq, because this president wants to kowtow to his liberal leftist base and move out those men and women. … I think it is a huge error for us.”

Mitt Romney: “There’s every right for people in this country to form long-term relationships with each other, that doesn’t mean they need to call it marriage.”

Newt Gingrich: “It’s a huge jump from being understanding, considerate, concerned [for same-sex couples], which we should be, to saying we’re therefore going to institute the sacrament of marriage as though it has no basis. The sacrament of marriage is based on a man and a woman, has been for 3,000 years, is at the core of our civilization and is worth protecting and upholding. I think protecting and upholding that doesn’t mean you need to make life miserable for others.”

Rick Santorum: “I believe the issue of marriage itself is a federal issue. Marriage is… a foundational institution in our country and we have to have a singular law with respect to that.”

Newt Gingrich: “You don’t hear the opposite question asked: should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won’t adopt to same-sex couples? The bigotry question goes both ways. And there’s a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is on the other side and none of it gets covered by the media.”

Mitt Romney: “People in this room think Speaker Gingrich is right, and I do too.”

“I don’t intend to do it. And somebody pushed me a little bit hard and said why don’t you plan to do it? I just — I don’t want to. So I have no intention. But I don’t know why a person can’t reserve a judgment and see how things turn out? You know, in many ways I see the other candidates as very honorable people, but I sometimes disagree with their approach to government.” — Ron Paul

Mitt Romney: “I’m going to tell the Chinese, it’s time to stop. I’m not going to let you kill American jobs.”

Jon Huntsman responded in Chinese: “He doesn’t understand the situation.”

“The president is trying to take responsibility for the economy. It’s like the rooster taking responsibility for the sunrise — he didn’t do it.” — Mitt Romney

  • Debate Fact Check: Net Jobs and Obama on Iran: Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, a private equity firm, came under scrutiny at Saturday night’s Republican debate, leading him to claim that he helped create 100000 jobs, even when layoffs from downsized firms were factored … – NYT, 1-8-12
  • FACT CHECK: Romney, in debate, offers an iffy accounting of his claim of job: After months of getting a pass on the subject from his rivals, Mitt Romney was challenged in the Republican presidential debate Saturday night on his frequent claims that he created great numbers of jobs in the private sector. .. – AP, 1-7-12
  • Fact Checking the New Hampshire Debate: Newt Gingrich raced out of the gate in tonight’s debate by being skeptical of Mitt Romney’s claim that Bain was responsible for creating 100000 jobs, and he pointed to scrutiny of the firm in a recent New York Times article and a documentary. … – ABC News, 1-7-12
  • Romney Unruffled in GOP Debate as Rivals Attack Each Other: Mitt Romney was unruffled in the New Hampshire Republican debate Saturday night that saw heated exchanges between Ron Paul and his rivals but relatively little criticism leveled against the frontrunner.
    Rick Santorum, who is riding high after his number two finish in the Iowa caucus, was one of the few candidates to go aggressively after the former Massachusetts governor, taking on his economic plan and health care record.
    The former senator, who has portrayed Romney as a cold, calculating, chief executive and not an inspirational leader, continued that line of attack tonight…. – ABC News, 1-7-12
  • Romney Eludes Rivals’ Attacks at Republican Debate in N.H.: A relaxed and self-assured Mitt Romney sailed above the fray at a crucial debate on Saturday night as his Republican rivals engaged in a spirited fight to determine which of them would emerge as his most formidable opponent when the party’s nominating contest moves past New Hampshire….. – NYT, 1-7-12
  • GOP debate: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul spar over military service: One thing you don’t do in Republican debates (or really, any US debate) is accuse another candidate of dishonoring military service…. – LAT, 1-7-12
  • Republican debate turns testy: Romney noted that Huntsman had been serving the Obama administration in Beijing while others on the debate stage were trying to elect Republican candidates in the 2010 election. Huntsman, whose personal rivalry with Romney is deep-rooted… – LAT, 1-7-12
  • Rivals hit Mitt Romney on business record: Mitt Romney’s carefully honed message focuses on his experience at Bain Capital, the buyout firm he founded with William Bain Jr. and other Bain & Co. partners. But that experience is under fire from other candidates. … – The Boston Globe, 1-8-12
  • Republican debate: Newt Gingrich warms up Mitt Romney attacks for debates: Gearing up for the first debate since he dropped from the top of the polls, Newt Gingrich stood in front of a large tank here and previewed the assaults he’s preparing against Mitt Romney at this weekend’s two debates…. – Politico, 1-7-12
  • Newt says Bain is fair game: The questions about Mitt Romney’s private sector work turned to Newt Gingrich and the blistering ads about Bain Capital that a super PAC supporting him is set to air in South Carolina. “I haven’t seen the film. … – Politico, 1-7-12
  • Romney raps Huntsman for Obama administration service: Mitt Romney, after getting hit by Jon Huntsman for his jobs record in Massachusetts, turned the tables by saying to his opponent, “Governor, for the last two years you were implementing the policies of this administration in China. … – Politico, 1-7-12
  • Huntsman criticizes Romney in Mandarin over China policy: Republican presidential contender Jon Huntsman says his opponents’ policies would start a trade war with China. Huntsman, the former ambassador to China, says tough talk and new tariffs aren’t the answer. And during Saturday’s debate…. – WaPo, 1-7-12
  • Huntsman, Out of Options, Bets It All on New Hampshire: And he was only a secondary presence at Saturday’s night Republican debate in New Hampshire, barely attacking his rivals…. – NYT, 1-8-12
  • Perry: “I would send troops back into Iraq”: Rick Perry said he would send US troops back to Iraq at a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire on Saturday… – CBS News, 1-8-12
  • Mitt Romney under attack from other GOP candidates ahead of NH debate: Republican front-runner Mitt Romney warned his supporters Saturday against complacency as his rivals prepared to gang up on him in a nationally televised nighttime debate with the goal of breaking his stride toward the GOP nomination. … – WaPo, 1-7-12
  • New Hampshire debates: Will Romney’s rivals try to slow him down?: If anyone is going to take it to Mitt Romney, it might as well be now. The slowly diminishing field of GOP presidential candidates, as odd as it may seem, has two debates that will begin within 12 hours of each other… – LAT, 1-7-12
  • In Republican debate tonight, Romney, Santorum have targets on backs: GOP rivals to Iowa caucus winners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are expected to take off the gloves in Republican debate tonight and follow-up one Sunday in New Hampshire…. – CS Monitor, 1-7-12
  • Santorum telegraphs punches at Romney before GOP debate: If Rick Santorum’s blistering remarks about Mitt Romney on Saturday are any indication, this evening’s televised debate will be the most acrimonious of the Republican presidential campaign. Following his success in the Iowa caucuses…. – LAT, 1-7-12

Full Text Campaign Buzz January 7, 2012: ABC News / Yahoo!/ WMUR-TV New Hampshire Republican Primary Debate Transcript — 15th GOP Debate — Mitt Romney Retains Frontrunner Status

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

 

Richard Perry/The New York Times

The debate was the first of two back-to-back forums this weekend as candidates make their case to New Hampshire voters. Mitt Romney emerged largely unscathed and glided with ease on questions surrounding same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion. More Photos »

2012 ABC / Yahoo!/ WMUR New Hampshire GOP primary debate — Transcript

Source: WaPo, 1-7-12

Below is a transcript of Saturday night’s ABC News /Yahoo!/WMUR-TV New Hampshire Republican primary debate, courtesy of FDCH Transcripts:

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PARTICIPATE IN A DEBATE SPONSORED BY ABC NEWS

JANUARY 7, 2011

SPEAKERS: FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA.,

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA.,

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS,

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS.,

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS,

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN JR., R-UTAH,

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

DIANE SAWYER,

ABC NEWS

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS,

ABC NEWS

JOSH MCELVEEN,

WMUR

[*]

SAWYER: And good evening to all of you. Welcome to Saint Anselm College and the first debate of the year, 2012. The voting is underway. And, George, those eight votes in Iowa reminded us on Tuesday every vote counts.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about it, we are off and running. Great to be here with you, Josh. And now let’s introduce the candidates: former Governor Jon Huntsman; Texas Congressman Ron Paul; former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney; former Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum; the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich; and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

SAWYER: And it is time to remind everyone again of the rules, which are pretty straightforward, and we remind you again, they were negotiated and agreed to by the candidates themselves. So let’s take you through them.

One-minute responses to the question, with 30 seconds for rebuttal. And we’re showing everybody at home that the candidates will see green, and then when there’s 15 seconds left, it will turn yellow and red when the time is up.

SAWYER: Our audience was chosen by Saint Anselm College and WMUR. And all of you at home can watch on abcnews.com and yahoo.com. You can even join the discussion by downloading Yahoo’s IntoNow app on your iPhone. You can pitch in your opinions during the debate.

SAWYER: So lets the — let the debate begin.

And, Governor Romney, we’ll begin with you. We just saw 200,000 new jobs created last month, and there are optimists who say this is the signal that this economy is finally turning around. Are you with those optimists?

ROMNEY: I’m an optimist, and I certainly hope it turns around. We have millions of people who’ve been suffering too long, 25 million people that are out of work or have stopped looking for work, and also a lot of people who’ve got part-time jobs and need full-time employment. So it’s very good news. I hope we continue to see good news.

But it’s not thanks to President Obama. His policies have made the recession deeper, and his policies have made the recovery more tepid. As a result of everything from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to a stimulus plan that was not as well directed as it should have been to a whole host of new regulations that have been put on American businesses, he’s made it harder for small entrepreneurs and big businesses to decide to invest in America and to grow jobs here.

And so the president is going to try and take responsibility for things getting better. You know, it’s like the rooster taking responsibility for the sunrise. He didn’t do it. In fact, what he did was make things harder for America to get going again.

SAWYER: I want to turn now to Senator Santorum. Senator Santorum, you have said we don’t need a CEO, we don’t need a manager as president. What did you mean by that?

SANTORUM: Well, we need a leader, someone who can paint a positive vision for this country, someone who, you know, has the experience to go out and be the commander-in-chief. I’ve experienced in eight years on the Armed Services Committee, I managed major pieces of legislation through the House and through the Senate on national security issues, like Iran, which is the most — you want to talk about the most pressing issue that we’re dealing with today? It’s Iran.

And as Newt’s talked about many times, there’s no one that has more experience in dealing with that country than I do. And that means that we need — we need someone who can — who can go out and paint a vision of what America’s strength is about, let our allies know that they can trust us, let our enemies know that they have to respect us, and if they cross us, they should fear us.

SAWYER: It has been written you were talking about Governor Romney. Were you?

SANTORUM: Well, I was — I’m talking about — yeah, in the case of — well, in a manager — as you’re talking about, as far as commander-in-chief or the manager part?

SAWYER: The manager part.

SANTORUM: The manager part. Yeah, well, of course I was talking about Governor Romney. I was talking about someone who — who — who’s bring to the table — he says I’m going to be, you know, I’ve got business experience. Well, business experience doesn’t necessarily match up with being the commander-in-chief of this country.

The commander-in-chief of this country isn’t a CEO. It’s someone who has to — has to lead, and it’s also — being the president is not a CEO. You can’t direct, you know, members of Congress and — and members of the Senate as to how you do things. You’ve got to lead and inspire.

And that’s what — that’s what I think the people here in — in Iowa and in New Hampshire were looking for, someone who can inspire and paint a positive vision for this country.

And I’ve been the one that’s been able to do that and that’s the reason I think we’re doing well in the polls.

SAWYER: Governor Romney, your response?

ROMNEY: You know, I — I think people who spend their life in Washington don’t understand what happens out in the real economy. They think that people who start businesses are just managers. People who start a — as entrepreneurs that start a business from the ground up and — and get customers and get investors and hire people to join them, those people are leaders.

And the chance to — to lead in — in free enterprise is extraordinarily critical to also being able to lead a state, like I led in Massachusetts, and, by the way, lead the Olympics.

My experience is in leadership. The people in the private sector, who are, every day, making this country a stronger nation and hiring people, they’re not successful because they’re managers, they’re successful primarily because they are leaders.

I wish people in Washington had the experience of going out and working in the real economy first, before they went there, and they’d understand some of the real lessons of leadership.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring Speaker Gingrich in on this discussion, because, Mr. Speaker, a group supporting you run — one run by one of your closest long-time advisers just put out a very scathing attack, just today, on Governor Romney, on his tenure as the CEO of that investment firm, Bain Capital.

It calls that tenure “a story of greed,” that’s a quote, saying that Bain made spectacular profits by, again, quote, “stripping American businesses of assets, selling everything to the highest bidder and often killing jobs for big financial rewards.”

Do you agree with that characterization?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I — I haven’t seen the film, but it does reflect “The New York Times” story two days ago about one particular company. And I think people should look at the film and decide. If it’s factually accurate, it raises questions.

I’m very much for free enterprise. I’m very much for exactly what the Governor just described, create a business, grow jobs, provide leadership.

I’m not nearly as enamored of a Wall Street model where you can flip companies, you can go in and have leveraged buyouts, you can basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers. And I think most…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that the Bain model?

GINGRICH: Well, I — I think you have to look at the film. You have to look at “The New York Times” coverage of one particular company. And you have to ask yourself some questions.

The Governor has every right to defend that. And I think — but I think it’s a legitimate part of the debate to say, OK, on balance, were people better off or were people worse off by this particular style of investment?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Back in December, you said that Governor Romney made money at Bain by, quote, “bankrupting companies and laying off employees.”

GINGRICH: That was, I think, “The New York Times” story two days ago. They took one specific company. They walked through in detail. They showed what they bought it for, how much they took out of it and the 1,700 people they left unemployed. Now that’s — check “The New York Times” story, but that’s their story.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, your response?

ROMNEY: Well, I — I’m not surprised to have “The New York Times” try and put free enterprise on trial. I’m not surprised to have the Obama administration do that, either. It’s a little surprising from my colleagues on this stage. We understand that in the free economy, in the private sector, that — that sometimes investments don’t work and you’re not successful. It always pains you if you have to be in a situation of — of downsizing a business in order to try and make it more successful, turn it around and try and grow it again.

And I’m very proud of the fact that the two enterprises I led were quite successful and the Olympics were successful. And my state was successful, the state of Massachusetts.

But in the business I had, we invested in over 100 different businesses and net-net, taking out the ones where we lost jobs and those that we added, those businesses have now added over 100,000 jobs.

I have a record of learning how to create jobs…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, there have been questions about that — that — that calculation of a hundred thousand jobs. So if you could explain it a little more. I — I’ve read some analysts who look at it and say that you’re counting the jobs that were created but not counting the jobs that were taken away.

Is that accurate?

ROMNEY: No, it’s not accurate. It includes the net of both. I’m a good enough numbers guy to make sure I got both sides of that.

But — but the — the simple ones, some of the biggest, for instance, there’s a steel company called Steel Dynamics in Indiana, thousands of jobs there. Bright Horizons Children’s Centers, about 15,000 jobs there; Sports Authority, about 15,000 jobs there. Staples alone, 90,000 employed. That’s a business that we helped start from the ground up.

But there were some…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that includes jobs that were created even after you left, right?

ROMNEY: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Those — those are businesses we started that continue to grow. And — and we’re only a small part of that, by the way. We were investors to help get them going. But in some cases, businesses shrunk. We tried to help turn them around, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

But let’s not forget, this is a free enterprise system. We don’t need government to come in and tell us how to make businesses work. We need people with passion, willing to take risk and help turn things around. And where that works, you create jobs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring Governor Huntsman in on this, because supporters of yours have also taken aim at this tenure, Governor Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. And, you know the Democrats are preparing to do it, as well.

So on balance, should Republicans worry about this attack?

Is — is Governor Romney’s record at Bain a weakness or a strength?

HUNTSMAN: Well, it’s — part of his record, and therefore, it’s going to be talked about. And I think it’s fair for the people of this nation to have a conversation about one’s record. And Governor Romney can say whatever he wishes to say about it.

I also have private sector experience. I combine a little bit of what Rick Santorum talked about and what Governor Romney has. I think it’s a good balance. I come from manufacturing. People will find something in my record. But you know what, it’s important for the people to look at our records, because everybody up here has a record that ought to be scrutinized.

But it goes beyond the private sector. You know, I served as a governor. Mitt served as a governor. Others up here have had positions of responsibility. Take a look at what we did as governor. I think that is probably more telling in terms of what I would do or what Mitt would do as president of the United States.

I put bold proposals forward. I delivered a flat tax for my state. I took my state to number one in job creation, with all due respect to what Rick Perry has said about Texas, we did a little bit better. We reformed health care without a mandate. We took our state to number one as the most business-friendly state in America.

Now, in a time in our nation’s history when we so desperately need jobs, I think that’s going to be a very material part of the discussion.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, 30 seconds.

ROMNEY: I congratulate Governor Huntsman on the success in his governorship to make the state more attractive for business. That has got to happen. But what — I actually think it’s helpful to have people who had a job in the private sector, if you want to create jobs in the private sector. We’ve had a lot of presidents over the years who had wonderful experience. And right now we have people whose backgrounds are in the governmental sector as well as the private sector. I think now, given what America is facing globally, given an economy that has changed its dynamics dramatically over the last 10 years, you need to have someone who understands how that economy works at a very close level if we’re going to be able to post up against President Obama and establish a record that says this is different than a president who does not understand job creation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Paul, let’s stay on the issue of records. You’ve got a new ad up in South Carolina taking direct aim at Senator Santorum. You call him a corrupt — a corporate lobbyist, a Washington insider with a record of betrayal. You also call him corrupt in that ad.

Senator Santorum is standing right here. Are you willing to stand by those charges and explain them?

PAUL: Well, it was a quote — somebody did make a survey and I think he came out as one of the top corrupt individuals because he took so much money from the lobbyists. But really what the whole — there it goes again.

SANTORUM: They caught you not telling the truth, Ron.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: But really — what really counts is his record. I mean, he’s a big government, big spending individual. Because, you know, he preached to the fact he wanted a balanced budget amendment but voted to raise the debt to five times. So he is a big government person.

And we as Republicans know something about right to work. He supported — he voted against right to work. He voted along with No Child Left Behind, to double, you know, the size of the Department of Education. And he also voted to — for the prescription drug program. So he’s a big government person, along with him being very — associated with the lobbyists and taking a lot of funds.

And also where did he get — make his living afterwards? I mean, he became a high-powered lobbyist on — in Washington, D.C. And he has done quite well.

We checked out Newt, on his income. I think we ought to find out how much money he has made from the lobbyists as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of charges there, Senator.

SANTORUM: Yes, I was going to say, do I have 20 minutes to answer these?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Take your time.

SANTORUM: Let’s talk about the corruption issue. The person who — the group that called me corrupt was a group called CREW. If you haven’t been sued by CREW, you’re not a conservative. CREW is this left-wing organization that puts out a list every election of the top Republicans who have tough races and calls them all corrupt because they take contributions from PACs.

It’s a ridiculous charge. And you should know better than to cite George Soros-like organizations to say that they’re corrupt. So that’s number one.

Ron, I’m a conservative. I’m not a libertarian. I believe in some government. I do believe that government has — that as a senator from Pennsylvania that I had a responsibility to go out there and represent the interests of my state.

And that’s what I did to make sure that Pennsylvania was able, in formulas and other things, to get its fair share of money back. I don’t apologize for that any more than you did when you earmarked things and did things when you were a congressman in Texas.

As far as the money that I received, you know, I think I’m known in this race and I was known in Washington, D.C., as a cause guy. I am a cause guy. I care deeply about this country and about the causes that make me — that I think are at the core of this country.

And when I left the United States Senate, I got involved in causes that I believe in. I went and worked at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and wrote on the cause of Iran, and wrote and lectured all over this country. I got involved with a health care company. Why? Because I was afraid of what was going to happen, and I was asked by a health care company to be on their board of directors.

Now, I don’t know whether you think board of directors are lobbyists. They’re not. That’s the private-sector experience that I’m sure that Mitt would — would approve of.

You — you also — I also worked for a coal company. As I mentioned the other day, my grandfather was a coal miner. I grew up in — in — in the coal region. And when I left the United States Senate, one of the big issues on the table was cap-and-trade, global warming, and I wanted to stay involved in the fray.

So I contacted a local coal company from my area who — and I asked — I said, look, I want to join you in that fight. I want to work together with you. I want to help you in any way I can to make sure we defeat cap-and-trade. And so I engaged in that battle. And I’m very proud to have engaged in that battle.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Paul, do you accept it?

PAUL: Well, you know, it is true — I believe Congress should designate how the money should be spent. I agree with that. But the big difference between the way I voted and the senator voted is I always voted against the spending. I voted against all the spending. It’s only been a couple appropriations bills I voted for in the past, what, 24, 26 years I’ve been in Washington.

So you’re a big spender; that’s all there is to it. You’re a big-government conservative. And you don’t vote for, you know, right to work and these very important things. And that’s what weakens the economy. So to say you’re a conservative, I think, is a stretch. But you’ve convinced a lot of people of it, so somebody has to point out your record.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: No, I think I have an opportunity to respond here. I’ve convinced a lot of people of it because my record is actually pretty darn good. I — I supported and voted for a balanced budget amendment, the line-item veto. I voted — in fact, I used to keep track when I was in the United States Senate of all the Democratic amendments and all amendments that increased spending. I — I put on the board — something called a spend-o-meter.

If you look at my spending record and you — and you take all the, quote, “spending groups,” I was rated at the top or near the top every single year.

I — I go back to the point. I am not a libertarian, Ron. I agree with — you vote against everything. I don’t vote against everything. I do vote for some spending. I do think government has a role to play…

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: … particularly in defense…

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ll let everybody get in here, but first I wanted to bring in Governor — Governor Perry on this. We’ll stay on this subject, don’t worry about it.

PERRY: And I’ll let you — I’ll — I’ll let you back in here, Ron.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve called Senator Santorum the…

PERRY: Yeah. I think you’ve just seen a great example of why I got in this race, because I happen to think that I’m the only outsider, with the possible exception of Jon Huntsman, who has not been part of the problem in Washington, D.C., the insiders in Washington, D.C.

We — we have to — we have to nominate someone that can beat Barack Obama, that can get the Tea Party behind them, that can go to Washington, D.C., and stop the corrupt spending that has been going on. And it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re an insider from Washington, D.C., or you’re an insider from Wall Street.

That is what Americans rightfully see is the real problem in America today. They want someone who has a record of executive governing experience, like I have in Texas. I’ve been the commander- in-chief of 20,000-plus troops that get deployed. I have been the governor of a state that has created a million net new jobs. That is a record that American people are looking for. That is what Americans are looking for, an outsider that is not corrupted by the process.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Governor, you’re saying Congressman Paul is an insider?

PERRY: I am telling you, anybody that has had as many — I mean, here’s what frustrates me, is that you go get the earmarks and then you vote against the bill? Now, I don’t know what they call that in other places, but, Congressman Paul, in Texas, we call that hypocrisy.

PAUL: Well, I call it being a constitutionalist, because I believe we should earmark, or designate, every penny. You designate weapons systems. You designate money to go to spend $1 billion on an embassy in Iraq. That’s — that’s an earmark, too. I say the Congress has more responsibility.

But this thing, back — back to Senator Santorum, you know, he ducks behind this — he’s for this balanced budget amendment, but voted five times to increase the national debt by trillions of dollars. This is what the whole Tea Party movement’s about.

When — I mean, government’s practically stopped over increasing the national debt. You did it five times. So what’s your excuse for that? That’s trillions of dollars. You kept this thing going. You didn’t do very much to slow it up when you had a chance.

SANTORUM: As a matter of fact, I did slow — do a lot to slow it up when I had a chance. I was the author of the only bill that actually repealed a federal entitlement, welfare reform. I — I — I actually promoted and talked — and tried to pass Social Security reform. I worked on Medicare and Medicaid.

I was one of the only guys out there in a time, Ron, when we were running surpluses that was out there talking about the need for long- term entitlement reform, which is where the real problem is. When the government runs up a tab and you don’t have the money no — no longer to pay, then you have to increase the debt ceiling. But every time we tried to — we tried to tie it with reducing spending.

We’re in a point right now where we have blown the doors off of it. And as you know, back in the last — in the last go round, I stood up and said, no we shouldn’t increase the debt ceiling because we’ve gone too far. But, you know, routine debt ceiling increases have happened throughout the — the course of this country for 200 years.

SAWYER: If I can, I’d like to pivot and go to another topic here, which is the issue of commander-in-chief and national security. And Governor Huntsman, you have already said for us that — that the Iranians have made the decision to go nuclear. You think they want a nuclear weapon. Tell us why you would be better as commander-in-chief than the other candidates on this stage?

HUNTSMAN: Because being commander-in-chief is less about having the discussions we just heard a moment ago. A lot of insider gobbledygook, a lot of political spin. It’s about leading organizations. It’s about leading people. It’s about creating a vision. And I have done that my entire career. I did that as governor. I took my state to the best managed state in America.

I took that economy to the number one position, number one in job creation. As compared and contrasted with Massachusetts, which was number 47 during a time when, I think, leadership matters to the American people. But more than anything else, I believe that this nation is looking for, not only leadership, but leadership that can be trusted.

Because let’s face it, we have a serious trust deficit in this nation. The American people now longer trust our institutions of power. And they no longer trust our elected officials. And I’m here to tell you that we must find, not just a commander-in-chief, not just a president, not just a visionary, but we’ve got to find somebody who can reform Congress and do what needs to be done with respect to leading the charge on term limits.

Everybody knows that Congress needs term limits. Everybody knows that we’ve got to close the revolving door that has corrupted Washington. And everybody knows as well, that we’ve got to have someone who can deliver trust back to Wall Street, which has also lost the American people’s trust.

SAWYER: Do you want to speak specifically about anyone on this stage?

HUNTSMAN: They can all speak for themselves, but I can tell you, having served as governor successfully, the only person on this stage as well to have lived overseas four times, I’ve run two American embassies, including the largest and most complicated we have in the world, the United States embassy in China. I think I understand better than anyone on this stage, the complex national security implications that we will face going forward with what is, we all know, the most complex and challenging relationship of the twenty- first century, that of China.

SAWYER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Do you have a question or shall I just…

SAWYER: My question is the — the governor has just said that he thinks he can speak better than anyone else to these…

ROMNEY: Well he can do a lot better than Barack Obama, lets put it that way. We — we have a president who had no experience in leadership. He never led a — a business, never led a — a city, never led a — a state. And as a result, he learned on the job being president of the United States and he has made one error after another related to foreign policy, the most serious of which relates to Iran.

We have a nation, which is intent on becoming nuclear. Iran has pursued their — their ambition without having crippling sanctions against them. The president was silent when over a million voices took to the streets in Iran. Voices he should have stood up for and said, we’re supporting you. And he’s — and he’s failed to put together a plan to show Iran that we have the capacity to remove them militarily from their plans to have nuclear weaponry.

Look, this is a failed presidency. And the issue in dealing with the responsibility of commander-in-chief, is the issue of saying, who has the capacity to lead? Who is someone who has demonstrated leadership capacity? Who has character, shown that character over their career? Who has integrity and — and I hope — I — each of these people — I don’t — I don’t want to be critical of the people on this stage. Any one of these people would do a better — a better job in many respects than our president.

And I will endorse our — our nominee. I believe in the principles that made America such a great nation. This is a time when we’re faced, not with a nation that is — that is extraordinarily secure in a very, very calm world. We’re facing a very dangerous world. And we have a president now who unbelievably has decided to shrink the size of the — of the military. Who unbelievably has said, for the first time since FDR, we’re going to no longer have the capacity to fight two wars at a time.

SAWYER: I want…

ROMNEY: This president must be replaced.

SAWYER: I want to bring in Josh now.

MCELVEEN: I want to stay on the topic of commander-in-chief as well. Obviously that puts you in charge of the most powerful armed forces in the world. Only two of you on stage have served in the military. Dr. Paul was a flight surgeon, Governor Perry a pilot. There are 25 million veterans in this country, three million currently serving active duty so this question is very relevant to a large number of voters out there.

My question goes to you, Governor Perry. Do you believe having worn a uniform, being part of a unit, better prepares you for the job of commander-in-chief than those on the state who haven’t served?

PERRY: I think it brings a very clear knowledge about what it requires for those that are on the front lines, but also having been the governor of the state of Texas and been the commander-in-chief for 11 years there and 20,000-plus troops that we’ve deployed to multiple theaters of operation.

But I want to go back to this issue that we just brought up earlier when we talked about one of the biggest problems facing this country, and Iran’s a big problem, Senator, without a doubt. But let me tell you what this president is doing with our military budget is going to put our country’s freedom in jeopardy.

You cannot cut $1 trillion from the Department of Defense budget and expect that America’s freedoms are not going to be jeopardized. That, to me, is the biggest problem that America faces, is a president that doesn’t understand the military and a president who is allowing the reduction of the DOD budget so that he can spend money in other places, and it will put America’s freedom in jeopardy.

MCELVEEN: Talk about the understanding of the military. And let’s go to you, Speaker Gingrich. Recently, Dr. Paul referred to you as a chicken hawk because you didn’t serve. Given what you just heard Governor Perry say about understanding the military and Dr. Paul’s comments. How do you respond?

GINGRICH: Well, Dr. Paul makes a lot of comments. It’s part of his style.

My father served 27 years in the Army in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. I grew up in a military family, moving around the world. Since 1979, I have spent 32 years working, starting with the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. I was the longest-serving teacher in the senior military for 23 years. I served on the Defense Policy Board. But let me say something about veterans, because as an Army brat whose family was deeply engaged, I feel for veterans. We had a great meeting today in Wolfeboro with veterans. And I made a commitment in New Hampshire that we would reopen the hospital in Manchester, we would develop a new clinic in the north country using telecommunications, and we would provide a system where veterans could go to their local doctor or their local hospital.

The idea that a veteran in the north country in midwinter has to go all the way to Boston is absolutely, totally, fundamentally wrong. And I would say, as an Army brat who watched his mother, his sisters, and his father for 27 years, I have a pretty good sense of what military families and veterans’ families need.

SAWYER: Congressman Paul, would you say that again? Would you — would you use that phrase again?

PAUL: Yeah. I — I think people who don’t serve when they could and they get three or four or even five deferments aren’t — they — they have no right to send our kids off to war, and — and not be even against the wars that we have. I’m trying to stop the wars, but at least, you know, I went when they called me up.

But, you know, the — the veterans’ problem is a big one. We have hundreds of thousands coming back from these wars that were undeclared, they were unnecessary, they haven’t been won, they’re unwinnable, and we have hundreds of thousands looking for care. And we have an epidemic of suicide coming back. And so many have — I mean, if you add up all the contractors and all the wars going on, Afghanistan and in Iraq, we’ve lost 8,500 Americans, and severe injuries, over 40,000. And these are undeclared war.

So, Rick keeps say we — you don’t want this libertarian stuff, but what I’m talking about, I don’t bring up the word. You do. But I talk about the Constitution. Constitution has rules. And I don’t like it when we send our kids off to fight these wars, and when those individuals didn’t go themselves, and then come up and when they’re asked, they say, oh, I don’t think I could — one person could have made a difference.

I have a pet peeve that annoys me to a great deal, because when I see these young men coming back, my heart weeps for them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, Dr. Paul has a long history of saying things that are inaccurate and false. The fact is, I never asked for deferment. I was married with a child. It was never a question. My father was, in fact, serving in Vietnam in the Mekong Delta at the time he’s referring to.

I think I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like as a family to worry about your father getting killed. And I personally resent the kind of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information and then just slurs people with.

PAUL: I need one quick follow-up. When I was drafted, I was married and had two kids, and I went.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I wasn’t eligible for the draft. I wasn’t eligible for the draft.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Paul, while — while we’re on the subject, the speaker said that you’ve had a history of inaccurate statements. There has been quite a bit controversy over this newsletter that went out under your name, a number of comments that were perceived as racist, as inaccurate. You’ve said that even though they were written under your name, that you’re not necessarily — that you didn’t necessarily know they were written, you don’t necessarily stand by them. Can you really take the time now and explain to everybody what happened there, how it was possible that those kind of comments went out under your name without you knowing about it?

PAUL: Well, it’s been explained many times, and everything’s written 20 years ago, approximately, that I did not write. So concentrating on something that was written 20 years ago that I didn’t write, you know, is diverting the attention from most of the important issues.

But the inference is obvious that — and you even bring up the word racial overtones. More importantly, you ought to ask me what my relationship is for racial relationships. And one of my heroes is Martin Luther King because he practiced the libertarian principle of peaceful resistance and peaceful civil disobedience, as did Rosa Parks did.

But, also, I’m the only one up here and the only one in the Democratic Party that understands true racism in this country is in the judicial system. And it has to do with enforcing the drug laws.

Look at the percentages. The percentage of people who use drugs are about the same with blacks and whites. And yet the blacks are arrested way disproportionately. They’re — they’re prosecuted and imprisoned way disproportionately. They get — they get the death penalty way disproportionately.

How many times have you seen a white rich person get the electric chair or get, you know, execution?

But poor minorities have an injustice. And they have an injustice in war, as well, because minorities suffer more. Even with a draft — with a draft, they suffered definitely more. And without a draft, they’re suffering disproportionately.

If we truly want to be concerned about racism, you ought to look at a few of those issues and look at the drug laws, which are being so unfairly enforced.

SAWYER: We want to thank you for the first round of this debate.

And we want to take a break right now.

And when we come back, there are so many family issues, the issues of gay rights, that have been front and center in this campaign.

We’d love to have you address some of those.

Again, thank you for being with us.

This is the 2012 debate at St. Anselm.

We’ll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve got a new ad up in South Carolina taking direct aim at Senator Santorum. You call him a corrupt — a corporate lobbyist, a Washington insider with a record of betrayal. You also call him corrupt in that ad.

Senator Santorum is standing right here.

Are you willing to stand by those charges and explain them?

PAUL: Well, it was a quote. Somebody did make a survey and I think he came out as one of the top corrupt individuals, because he took so much money from the lobbyists. But, really, what the whole…

(FEEDBACK NOISE)

PAUL: There it goes again.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: But — but…

SANTORUM: They — they’ve caught you not telling the truth, Ron (INAUDIBLE).

PAUL: But what real — really…

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: What really counts is — is his record. I mean he’s a big government, big spending individual.

SANTORUM: The group that called me corrupt was a group called CREW. If you haven’t been sued by CREW, you’re not a conservative. It’s — it’s a ridiculous charge. It’s — and — and you should know better.

ANNOUNCER: Back live from Manchester, New Hampshire, in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Back in Manchester. Governor Romney, I want to go straight to you.

Senator Santorum has been very clear in his belief that the Supreme Court was wrong when it decided that a right to privacy was embedded in the Constitution. And following from that, he believes that states have the right to ban contraception. Now I should add that he said he’s not recommending that states do that…

SANTORUM: No, I said — let’s be clear.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Absolutely. I’m giving you your due…

SANTORUM: I’m talking about — we’re talking about the 10th Amendment and the right of states to act.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But I do want to get to that core question.

SANTORUM: OK.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception? Or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?

ROMNEY: George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising. States have a right to ban contraception? I can’t imagine a state banning contraception. I can’t imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so, and if I were a governor of a state or…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the Supreme Court has ruled —

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: … or a — or a legislature of a state — I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you’re asking — given the fact that there’s no state that wants to do so, and I don’t know of any candidate that wants to do so, you’re asking could it constitutionally be done? We can ask our constitutionalist here.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m sure Congressman Paul…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: OK, come on — come on back…

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: … asking you, do you believe that states have that right or not?

ROMNEY: George, I — I don’t know whether a state has a right to ban contraception. No state wants to. I mean, the idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no — no state wants to do and asking me whether they could do it or not is kind of a silly thing, I think.

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on a second. Governor, you went to Harvard Law School. You know very well this is based on…

ROMNEY: Has the Supreme Court — has the Supreme Court decided that states do not have the right to provide contraception? I…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, they have. In 1965, Griswold v. Connecticut.

ROMNEY: The — I believe in the — that the law of the land is as spoken by the Supreme Court, and that if we disagree with the Supreme Court — and occasionally I do — then we have a process under the Constitution to change that decision. And it’s — it’s known as the amendment process.

And — and where we have — for instance, right now we’re having issues that relate to same-sex marriage. My view is, we should have a federal amendment of the Constitution defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. But I know of — of no reason to talk about contraception in this regard.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’ve got the Supreme Court decision finding a right to privacy in the Constitution.

ROMNEY: I don’t believe they decided that correctly. In my view, Roe v. Wade was improperly decided. It was based upon that same principle. And in my view, if we had justices like Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia, and more justices like that, they might well decide to return this issue to states as opposed to saying it’s in the federal Constitution.

And by the way, if the people say it should be in the federal Constitution, then instead of having unelected judges stuff it in there when it’s not there, we should allow the people to express their own views through amendment and add it to the Constitution. But this idea that justice…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But should that be done in this case?

ROMNEY: Pardon?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should that be done in this case?

ROMNEY: Should this be done in the case — this case to allow states to ban contraception? No. States don’t want to ban contraception. So why would we try and put it in the Constitution?

With regards to gay marriage, I’ve told you, that’s when I would amend the Constitution. Contraception, it’s working just fine, just leave it alone.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE) STEPHANOPOULOS: I understand that. But you’ve given two answers to the question. Do you believe that the Supreme Court should overturn it or not?

ROMNEY: Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn…

(SOMEONE IN AUDIENCE YELLING)

ROMNEY: Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes, I do.

PAUL: He mentioned my name.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Go ahead then.

PAUL: I didn’t know whether I got time when it was favorable or not. But thank you. No, I think the Fourth Amendment is very clear. It is explicit in our privacy. You can’t go into anybody’s house and look at what they have or their papers or any private things without a search warrant.

This is why the Patriot Act is wrong, because you have a right of privacy by the Fourth Amendment. As far as selling contraceptives, the Interstate Commerce Clause protects this because the Interstate Commerce Clause was originally written not to impede trade between the states, but it was written to facilitate trade between the states. So if it’s not illegal to import birth control pills from one state to the next, it would be legal to sell birth control pills in that state.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: What’s the question?

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: On the right to privacy and the response to Congressman Paul.

SANTORUM: Well, Congressman Paul is talking about privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment, which I agree with him in, I don’t necessarily agree that the Patriot Act violates that. But I do agree with — obviously we have a right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment. But that’s not what the Griswold decision nor the Roe v. Wade decision were about.

They created through a penumbra of rights a new right to privacy that was not in the Constitution. And what I’ve — and that’s, again, I sort of agree with Governor Romney’s assessment — legal assessment, it created a right through boot-strapping, through creating something that wasn’t there. I believe it should be overturned.

I am for overturning Roe versus Wade. I do not believe that we have a right in this country, in the Constitution, to take a human life. I don’t think that’s — I don’t think our founders envisioned that. I don’t think the writing of the Constitution anywhere enables that. SAWYER: I want to turn now, if I can, from the Constitutional and the elevated here, to something closer to home and to maybe families sitting in their living rooms all across this country.

Yahoo! sends us questions, as you know. We have them from real viewers. And I’d like to post one, because it is about gay marriage. But at the level — and I would really love to be able to ask you what you would say personally, sitting in your living rooms, to the people who ask questions like this.

This is from Phil in Virginia. “Given that you oppose gay marriage, what do you want gay people to do who want to form loving, committed, long-term relationships? What is your solution?” And, Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, I think what I would say is that we want to make it possible to have those things that are most intimately human between friends occur. For example, you’re in a hospital. If there are visitation hours, should you be allowed to stay there? There ought to be ways to designate that.

You want to have somebody in your will. There ought to be ways to designate that. But it is a huge jump from being understanding and considerate and concerned, which we should be, to saying we therefore are going to institute the sacrament of marriage as though it has no basis.

The sacrament of marriage was based on a man and woman, has been for 3,000 years. Is at the core of our civilization. And it’s something worth protecting and upholding. And I think protecting and upholding that doesn’t mean you have to go out and make life miserable for others, but it does mean you make a distinction between a historic sacrament of enormous importance in our civilization and simply deciding it applies everywhere and it’s just a civil right.

It’s not. It is a part of how we define ourselves. And I think that a marriage between a man and a woman is part of that definition.

SAWYER: Governor Huntsman, you’ve talked about civil unions. How do you disagree with the others on this stage?

HUNTSMAN: Well, personally, I think civil unions are fair. I support them. I think there’s such a thing as equality under the law.

I’m a married man. I’ve been married for 28 years. I have seven kids. Glad we’re off the contraception discussion.

(LAUGHTER)

Fifteen minutes’ worth, by the way. And I don’t feel that my relationship is at all threatened by civil unions. On — on marriage, I’m a traditionalist. I think that ought to be saved for one man and one woman, but I believe that civil unions are fair. And I think it brings a level of dignity to relationships. And I believe in reciprocal beneficiary rights. I think they should be part of civil unions, as well. And states ought to be able to talk about this. I think it’s very — I think it’s absolutely appropriate.

MCELVEEN: I’d like to go to Senator Santorum with a similar topic. We’re in a state where it is legal for same-sex couples to marry. Eighteen hundred, in fact, couples have married since it became law here in New Hampshire. The legislature passed it a couple of years ago. And they’re trying to start families, some of them.

Your position on same-sex adoption, obviously, you are in favor of traditional families, but are you going to tell someone they belong in — as a ward of the state or in foster care, rather than have two parents who want them?

SANTORUM: Well, this isn’t a federal issue. It’s a state issue, number one. The states can make that determination, in New Hampshire.

My — my feeling is that this is an issue that should be — I believe the issue of marriage itself is a federal issue, that we can’t have different laws with respect to marriage. We have to have one law. Marriage is, as Newt said, a foundational institution of our country, and we have to have a singular law with respect to that. We can’t have somebody married in one state and not married in another.

Once we — if we were successful in establishing that, then this issue becomes moot. If we don’t have a — a federal law, I’m certainly not going to have a federal law that bans adoption for gay couples when there are only gay couples in certain states. So this is a state issue, not a federal issue. MCELVEEN: Well, let me ask you to follow up on that, if you don’t mind, Senator. With those 1,800 — if you — we have a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, what happens to the 1,800 families who have married here? Are their marriages basically illegitimate at this point?

SANTORUM: If we have a — if the Constitution says marriage is between a man and a woman, then marriage is between a man and a woman. And — and, therefore, that’s what marriage is and — and would be in this country. And those who are not men and women who are married are — would not be married. That’s what the Constitution would say.

SAWYER: If I could come back to the living room question again, Governor Romney, would you weigh in on the Yahoo question about what you would say sitting down in your living room to a gay couple who say, “We simply want to have the right to,” as the — as the person who wrote the e-mail said — “we want gay people to form loving, committed, long-term relationships.” In human terms, what would you say to them?

ROMNEY: Well, the answer is, is that’s a wonderful thing to do, and that there’s every right for people in this country to form long- term committed relationships with one another. That doesn’t mean that they have to call it marriage or they have to receive the — the approval of the state and a marriage license and so forth for that to occur.

There can be domestic partnership benefits or — or a contractual relationship between two people, which would include, as — as Speaker Gingrich indicated, hospital visitation rights and the like. We can decide what kinds of benefits we might associate with people who form those kind of relationships, state by state.

But — but to say that — that marriage is something other than the relationship between a man — a man and a woman, I think, is a mistake. And the reason for that is not that we want to discriminate against people or to suggest that — that gay couples are not just as loving and can’t also raise children well.

But it’s instead a recognition that, for society as a whole, that the nation presumably will — would be better off if — if children are raised in a setting where there’s a male and a female. And there are many cases where there’s not possible: divorce, death, single parents, gay parents, and so forth.

But — but for a society to say we want to encourage, through the benefits that we associate with marriage, people to form partnerships between men and women and then raise children, which we think will — that will be the ideal setting for them to be raised.

SAWYER: Speaker Gingrich has to weigh in.

GINGRICH: I just want to raise — since we’ve spent this much time on these issues — I just want to raise a point about the news media bias. You don’t hear the opposite question asked. Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won’t accept gay couples, which is exactly what the state has done? Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won’t give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration?

The bigotry question goes both ways. And there’s a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concerning the other side. And none of it gets covered by the news media.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: As you can tell, the people in this room feel that Speaker Gingrich is absolutely right and I do too. And — and I was in a state where the Supreme Court stepped in and said, marriage is a relationship required under the Constitution for — for people of the same sex to be able to marry. And John Adams, who wrote the Constitution, would be surprised.

And — and it did exactly as Speaker Gingrich indicated, what happened was Catholic charities that placed almost half of all of the adoptive children in our state, was forced to step out of being able to provide adoptive services. And the state tried to find other places to help children that we — we have to recognize that — that this decision about what we call marriage, has consequence which goes far beyond a loving couple wanting to form a long-term relationship.

That they can do within the law now. Calling it a marriage, creates a whole host of problems for — for families, for the law, for — for — for the practice of — of religion, for education. Let me — let me say this, 3,000 years of human history shouldn’t be discarded so quickly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Paul — Congressman Paul, let me bring this to you. You’re running here in the Republican primary, but you haven’t promised to support the party’s nominee in November. And you refuse to rule out running as a third party candidate if you fail to get the nomination. Why not rule that out?

PAUL: Well I essentially have. It’s just that I don’t like absolutes like, I will never do something. But no…

SANTORUM: You’ve never done it for a debt ceiling.

PAUL: Please don’t interrupt me.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: So, I have said it in the last go-around, I said — they asked me that about 30 times. I think maybe you’ve asked me four or five already. And the answer is always the same. You know, no, I have no plans to do it. I don’t intend to do it. And somebody pushed me a little bit harder and said why don’t you plan to do it? I just — I don’t want to. So I have no intention. But I don’t know why a person can’t reserve a judgment and see how things turn out? You know, in many ways I see the other candidates as very honorable people, but I sometimes disagree with their approach to government.

And I’d like to see some changes. I — I want to see changes. When they’re talking about a — a little bit of a difference in foreign policy and — and interest in the Federal Reserve, a change in the monetary policy. We haven’t heard one talk — minute of talk about cutting any spending. we’ve talked previously about cutting the military spending. That’s cutting proposed increases. This is why I have proposed that we cut a whole trillion dollars that first year.

If we’re serious as Republicans and conservatives, we have to cut. So I want to put as much pressure on them as I can. But besides, I’m doing pretty well, you know? Third wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t too far behind. And doing pretty well. Catching up on Mitt every single day.

(LAUGHTER)

SAWYER: Governor Perry, do you think everyone on this stage should rule out third party candidacy?

PERRY: I think anyone on this stage is better than what we’ve got in place. And — and — and let me just address this — this issue of — of gay marriage just very quickly. And — and it’s a bigger issue frankly. I am for a constitutional amendment that says that marriage is between a man and a woman at the federal level.

But this administration’s war on religion is what bothers me greatly. When we see an administration that will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act, that gives their Justice Department clear instructions to go take the ministerial exception away from our churches where that’s never happened before. When we see this administration not giving money to Catholic charities for sexually trafficked individuals because they don’t agree with the Catholic church on abortion, that is a war against religion. And it’s going to stop under a Perry administration.

(APPLAUSE)

SAWYER: I would like to turn now if I can back to foreign policy and, Governor Huntsman. Afghanistan, 90,000 troops tonight and we salute them all serving in Afghanistan. What is the earliest you think they should be brought home?

HUNTSMAN: You know we’ve been at the war on terror for 10 years now, we’ve been in Afghanistan. And I say we’ve got a lot to show for our efforts and I, as president, would like to square with the American people on what we have to show for it. The Taliban is no longer in power. We’ve run out al Qaeda, they’re now in sanctuaries. We’ve had free elections. Osama bin Laden is no longer around.

We have strengthened civil society. We’ve helped the military. We’ve helped the police. I believe it’s time to come home. And I would say within the first year of my administration, which is to say the end of 2013, I would want to draw them down. And I want to recognize Afghanistan for what it is. It is not a counter insurgency. I don’t want to be nation building in Southwest Asia when this nation is in such need of repair.

But we do have a counter-terror mission in Southwest Asia. And that would suppose leaving behind maybe 10,000 troops for intelligence gathering, for Special Forces rapid response capability and training.

SAWYER: Governor Romney, time to come home?

ROMNEY: Well, we want to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can. And Governor Huntsman says at the end of 2013 the — the — the president and the — the commanders are saying they think 2014 is a better date. We’ll get a chance to see what happens over the coming year.

We want to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can. And — and I will, if I’m president, I will inform myself based upon the experience of the people on the ground that are leading our effort there. I want to make sure that we hand off the responsibility to an Afghan security force that is capable of maintaining the sovereignty of their nation from — from the Taliban.

But — but I can — but I can tell you this, I don’t want to do something that would put in jeopardy much of the — the hard earned success which we’ve had there. And I would bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, of course, based upon my own experience there, going there, informing myself of what’s happening there and listening to the commanders on the ground.

SAWYER: Governor Huntsman, you have a disagreement?

HUNTSMAN: Yes. I would have to tell Mitt that the president of the United States is the commander-in-chief. Of course you get input and — and advice from a lot of different corners of Washington, including the commanders on the ground.

But we also deferred to the commanders on the ground in about 1967, during the Vietnam War, and we didn’t get very good advice then.

Here’s what I think is around the corner in Afghanistan. I think civil war is around the corner in Afghanistan. And I don’t want to be the president who invests another penny in a civil war. And I don’t want to be the president who sends another man or woman into harm’s way that we don’t — we’re not able to bring back alive.

I say we’ve got something to show for our mission. Let’s recognize that and let’s move on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich, do you have any quarrel with that?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Well, I — I think, look, I think we’re asking the wrong questions. Afghanistan is a tiny piece of a gigantic mess that is very dangerous. Pakistan is unstable and they probably have between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons. Iran is actively trying to get nuclear weapons. I mean they go out and practice closing the Strait of Hormuz, where one out of every six barrels of oil goes through every day.

And if they close the Straits of Hormuz, you have an industrial depression across the planet within 48 hours. You have the Muslim Brotherhood winning the elections in Egypt. The truth is, we don’t know who’s in charge in Libya.

You have a — you have a region-wide crisis, which we have been mismanaging and underestimating, which is not primarily a military problem. We’re not going to go in and solve Pakistan militarily. We’re not going to go in and solve all these other things.

Look at the rate at which Iraq is decaying. I mean they began decaying within 24 hours of our last troops leaving.

And I think we need a fundamentally new strategy for the region comparable to what we developed to fight the cold war. And I think it’s a very big, hard, long-term problem, but it’s not primarily a military problem.

SAWYER: Senator Santorum, would you send troops back into Iraq right now?

SANTORUM: Well, I wouldn’t right now, but I did…

SAWYER: If you were president…

SANTORUM: But what I would say is that — that Newt is right, we need someone who has a — a strong vision for the region and we have not had that with this president. He has been making mistakes at every turn in Iran, in Egypt, I would argue, Libya, Syria, Israel. All of these places, he has made mistakes on the ground that have shown the people in that region that we are the weak horse. That is something that cannot happen because it will cause events like you’re seeing in the Straits of Hormuz. There will be push, push. America is soft and so they can be pushed around.

That’s what this administration has done. They did it by withdrawing from Iraq, and as Newt just said, you want to see what’s going to happen, Jon, if we take — if we get — get out of Afghanistan. Let’s just wait the next few weeks and months and see how things turn out when the United States isn’t there and see how consequential our — our — our efforts are — were for the stability of that region…

HUNTSMAN: So how long do you want to wait, Rick?

How long do you want to wait?

SANTORUM: Until the security of our country is ensured. That’s what the job of the commander-in-chief is. And you make that decision — not the generals — you make that decision based on an analysis of understanding how virulent the threat of radical Islam is. And you confront that threat not just militarily, and importantly not just militarily. You confront it first by being honest with the American public about what this threat is. This president has sanitized every defense document, everything. There’s no — the — the word radical Islam doesn’t appear anywhere.

Why?

Because we are fighting political correct — we’re trying to fight this politically correct war and not being honest with the American public as to who the enemy is, how virulent they are and why they hate us and what we must do to stop them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Perry, we know you have differences with President Obama, but who’s got the better of this argument right here between Senator Santorum and Governor Huntsman?

PERRY: Well, I think that you have to — I would send troops back into Iraq, because I will tell you…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now?

PERRY: I — I think we start talking with the Iraqi individuals there. The idea that we allow the Iranians to come back into Iraq and take over that country, with all of the treasure, both in blood and money, that we have spent in Iraq, because this president wants to kowtow to his liberal, leftist base and move out those men and women. He could have renegotiated that timeframe.

I think it is a huge error for us. We’re going to see Iran, in my opinion, move back in at literally the speed of light. They’re going to move back in, and all of the work that we’ve done, every young man that has lost his life in that country will have been for nothing because we’ve got a president that does not understand what’s going on in that region.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Speaker, do you agree, send back troops into Iraq right now?

GINGRICH: Well, no. But let me put it in context.

I was very honored today to have Bud McFarlane come to introduce me at our veterans rally. Bud was for five years Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser, and I worked with him in the ‘80s on the strategy to defeat the Soviet empire.

Here’s the key thing to remember. If you’re — if you’re worried about the Iranians in Iraq, develop a strategy to replace the Iranian dictatorship and Iraq will be fine. If you want to stop Wahhabism, get an American energy policy so no American president ever again bows to a Saudi king, and then you can put pressure on the Saudis, because you have enough American energy. Stop…

(APPLAUSE)

SAWYER: Governor Romney — Governor Romney, you’ve said that you would not send troops in right now, but give us a sense of the trigger. What would it take for you to send troops back in?

ROMNEY: It’s a very high hurdle. The decision to send our men and women into harm’s way is one which would made — be made with great seriousness and sobriety and…

(CROSSTALK)

SAWYER: What kind of things?

ROMNEY: Well, you can’t begin to say what the specific circumstances would be, but it would have to require significant, dramatic American interests. You’d have to have a president that explained those interests to the American people, that also indicated how we’re going in. We’d go in with — with exceptional force. We would indicate what — how success would be defined, how we would define, also, when we’re completed, how we’d get our troops out, and what would be left behind.

The president didn’t do that in Libya. The president hasn’t done that anywhere. I find it amazing that we have troops in harm’s way around the world — and in Afghanistan right now, in Iraq in the first three years of this president’s term — he doesn’t go on TV and talk to the American people every month about the sacrifice being made by these men and women.

I find it extraordinary that — that a very few number of families are paying the price of freedom in America. So the — the hurdle to actually putting our troops in harm’s way is very, very high. And the — the test is America’s interests, our security interests. And they have to be involved in a very significant way to deploy our troops.

MCELVEEN: I want to give Congressman Paul a chance to weigh in here, because foreign policy is something that a lot of people think is your Achilles’ heel when it comes to getting elected. You have said that you wouldn’t have authorized the raid to get Osama bin Laden. You think that a nuclear Iran is really none of our business. How do you reconcile that, when part of your job as president would be to…

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: Well, I think — I think that’s a misquote. I don’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon. I voted to go after bin Laden, so that, you know, takes care of that.

But, you know, this business about when to go in, I don’t think it’s that complicated. I think we’ve made it much more complicated than it should be. Yes, the president is the commander-in-chief, but he’s not the king. And that’s why we fought a revolution, not to have a king and decide when we go to war.

We would have saved ourselves a lot of grief if we only had gone to war in a proper manner, and the proper manner is the people elect congressmen and senators to make a declaration of war, and then we become the commander-in-chief, and we make these decisions.

But we went into Afghanistan. We went into Iraq. And now we’re in Pakistan. We’re involved in so many countries. Now they want to move on to Syria. And they can’t — there’s some in Washington now can’t wait until they start bombing Iran. We have to change this whole nature. You know, something happened this week I thought was so encouraging. And it reminds me of how we finally talked to the Chinese. I mean, they had killed 100 million of their own people, but we finally broke the ice by playing ping-pong.

But today, the — the American Navy picked up a bunch of fishermen, Iranian fishermen, that had been held by — by the pirates, and released them. And they were so welcome, it was just a wonderful thing to happen. This is the kind of stuff we should deal with, not putting on sanctions. Sanctions themselves are — always leads up to war. And that’s what we’re doing.

Eastern Europe is going to be destabilized if they don’t have this oil. And this just pushes Iran right into the hands of the Chinese. So our policy may be well intended, but it has a lot of downside, a lot of unintended consequences, and, unfortunately, blowback.

SAWYER: A final word on this from Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: Well, Ron, if we had your foreign policy, there wouldn’t have been a fleet there to pick up the Iranian fishermen. And the fact is, we did have a beneficial relationship with picking them up, and we have a very great relationship, and which should be much better, with the Iranian people.

The Iranian people have come to the streets — have taken to the streets repeatedly and still do, in trying to overthrow their government. And we had a president of the United States who stood silently by as thousands were killed on the streets, and did nothing. Did nothing.

In fact, he tacitly supported the results of the election. Now Ahmadinejad announced right after the election polls were closed that he won with 60-some percent of the vote and the president of the United States said, well, that sounds like a legitimate election. Obviously a Chicago politician.

(LAUGHTER)

And but that’s not what a president of the United States does. He doesn’t get up and condone this behavior and turn his back on the folks in the street. When I was in the United States Senate, I pushed to help those revolutionaries before the revolution, to give them resources, to make sure that we had the relationships so — because I knew and if you take polls, they do in Iran.

The Iranian people love America because we stand up for the truth and say — and call evil, which is what Ahmadinejad and the mullahs are, we call evil what it is. That’s why they admire us, because we tell the truth.

Now we just have to have a president that helps them to do what is necessary, which is to turn that regime out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We have got to go to break. Much more to come, we’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: So you’re asking could it constitutionally be done? We can ask our constitutionalist here. (LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you believe states have that right or not?

ROMNEY: George, I don’t know whether the state has a right to ban contraception. No state wants to.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve given two answers to the question. Do you believe that the Supreme Court should overturn it or not?

ROMNEY: Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn…

(YELLING)

ROMNEY: Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes, I do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Go ahead.

PAUL: I didn’t know whether — I didn’t know whether I got time when it was favorable or not. But thank you. No, I think the Fourth Amendment is very clear. It is explicit in our privacy. You can’t go into anybody’s house and look at what they have or their papers or any private things without a search warrant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Back live from Manchester, New Hampshire, in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAWYER: And we welcome you back. We want to tackle more on jobs right now, and specifically the ideas the candidates have, individual unique ideas for creating more American jobs, and specifically, Josh, asking about what we think created the age of American energy, which was infrastructure.

MCELVEEN: Infrastructure. And we have an example of that here in New Hampshire. If you traveled up I-93 from Boston, I-93 North, you probably went over what was a widening project that’s going on. We’re about $350 million away from getting this project completed. And a lot of people here think that this is a very important project to get done in terms of our regional economy.

So the question is, again, infrastructure. With the increasing demands on our roads and bridges, and the aging roads and bridges, how committed would you be — and we’ll start with you, Governor Romney — to invest — not so much as a stimulus package, but a true economic growth package on our infrastructure?

ROMNEY: Well, there are certain things that government can do to encourage an economy. And rebuilding an infrastructure that’s aging is — is — is one of those. We had in my state 550 structurally deficient bridges. We’ve got to improve our bridges, improve our roads, improve our rail beds, improve our air transportation system in order to be competitive.

But fundamentally, what happens in America that creates jobs is not government. It has its role. But by and large, it gets in the way of creating jobs. It’s taxed too much. It’s regulates too much. It has energy policies that keep us from using our own energy. It has trade policies which too often favor people who are taking jobs away from us. And so we’re going to have to have government change its orientation to be encouraging the private sector.

And fundamentally, what makes America the most productive and the — and the wealthiest nation of the major nations of the world, our GDP per capita. Our income per person in America is 50 percent higher than that of the average person in Europe. Why is that? It’s because of the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, of the ability of Americans to innovate, to create.

We have a nation which is based upon opportunity and merit. We draw people here who seek freedom, and these people have built enterprises that employ and that make America stronger.

We have a president who has an entirely different view. He wants us to turn into a European-style welfare state and have government take from some to give to others. That will kill the ability of America to provide for a prosperous future, to secure our freedom, and to give us the — the rights which have been in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. I believe in an America that’s based upon opportunity and freedom, not President Obama’s social welfare state.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich, I know you agree with Governor Romney again on his views on President Obama, but how would your plans on job creation distinguish you from Governor Romney?

GINGRICH: Well, you’re talking about infrastructure?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Infrastructure. And more broadly, job creation.

GINGRICH: But — but — but let’s stick with infrastructure then, because I think it’s a very big, very important topic. You cannot compete with China in the long run if you have an inferior infrastructure. You’ve got to move to a twenty first century model. That means you’ve got to be — you’ve got to be technologically smart and you have to make investments.

So for example here, the Northern Pass project ought to be buried and should be along the states right of way. Which means you’d need these modern techniques to bring electricity from Quebec all the way down to Boston in a way that also preserves the beauty of northern New Hampshire. I would have an energy program designed to get us free from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, two-thirds of the government revenue from that would go to debt reduction and to paying off the debt.

One-third would go to infrastructure, which would give you the ability to have an infrastructure investment program that would actually get us back on track and you look at places like the highways you’re describing, the bridges the governor just described. If you don’t have some systematic investment program, then you are not going to be able, I think, to compete with China and India.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Huntsman, where is the money going to come from?

HUNTSMAN: We’ve got to earn our way forward. There’s no question about it. Governors learn how to pay the bills. In order to pay the bills, you’ve got to expand your economic base. And that’s a problem we have in the United States right now. We read about the jobs that have ticked upward in this country and we’re all very happy about that. We’re providing people more in the way of real opportunity.

But think of where this country would be, if during the first two years of Barack Obama you had — if you would have had a different president. I would have ripped open the tax code and I would have done what Simpson-Bowles recommended. I would have cleaned out all of the loopholes and the deductions that weigh down this country to the tune of $1 trillion, 100 billion dollars. We’ve got a corrupt tax code.

So you’ve got to say, how are we going to pay for it? We’ve got to stimulate some confidence in the — in the creative class in this country. Right now they’re sitting on their hands. And they’re not going to have a more optimistic view of our direction…

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: …the same amount of revenue as Simpson-Bowles — the Simpson-Bowles plan that — that was the commission appointed by President Obama. Would anybody else — anybody else on this stage agree with that?

SANTORUM: I’m sorry?

STEPHANOPOULOS: To raise the kind of revenues called for in the Simpson-Bowles Commission?

SANTORUM: No. No I wouldn’t. In fact our plan puts together a package that focuses on simplifying the tax code and I agree with Governor Huntsman on that. Five deductions. Health care, housing, pensions, children and charities. Everything else goes. We focus on the pillars that have — have broad consensus of this country in the important sectors of our economy, including our children.

The other side is the corporate side. Cut it in half, 17.5 percent. But I do something different than anybody else. I’m very worried about a sector of our economy that has been under fire. I come from southwestern Pennsylvania, the heart of the steel country, the heart of manufacturing. And it’s been devastated because we are uncompetitive. Thirty years ago we were devastated because business and labor didn’t understand global competitiveness and they made a lot of mistakes. They did — they weren’t prepared for it and we lost a lot of jobs.

That’s not what’s happening now. Our productivity gains, our labor force, their doing their job, they’re being competitive. But they’re running into a stiff headwind called government. And it’s government taxation, 35 percent corporate tax which is high — the highest in the world. It’s a tax that doesn’t easily offset when we try to export, which makes it even more difficult…

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Everyone on this stage is for lowering the corporate tax.

SANTORUM: No one — no one wants to zero it out for manufacturers and processors, which is what I do because we are at 20 percent cost differential with our — with our nine top trading partners on average. And that 20 percent cost differential, that is excluding labor costs. So it is government taxation. Eliminating the corporate tax gets rid of a big chunk of that. It’s regulation. This administration is on track — we — I — I think it’s the Congressional Research Service, they look at regulations and they price the highest cost ones, ones that are over $100 billion. And Bush and Clinton, they were 60 on average per year under those two administrations. Last year under President Obama, there was 150 of those types of regulations.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: …what’s wrong with the Santorum approach…

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: …repeal every one of them and replace them with ones that are less costly or not replace them at all.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not go to zero?

ROMNEY: Why not go to zero? I — there’s no question it would be great not to have any taxes, but unfortunately we have to have taxes to pay for our military, to pay for the programs that care for those that can’t care for themselves, but our taxes are too high. Government at all levels during the days of John F. Kennedy consumed 27 percent of our economy, about a quarter. Today it consumes 37 percent of our economy.

ROMNEY: We’re only inches away from no longer being a free economy. And our Democrat friends want us to just keep raising taxes just a little more. Just give us a little more. Government is already too big. We have to reign in the scale of the federal government. And so we do need to have our employer tax rates brought down to be competitive with other nations. That’s about 25 percent. We also have to make sure that we give relief to people who need it most.

The people that have been hurt in the Obama economy are the people in the middle-class. And so I put in place a significant savings incentive, tax reduction. I eliminate any tax on savings from middle income Americans. No tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. But I look long term to do just what Jon indicated, which is to take Bowles-Simpson and to reduce the rates in our tax code, to reduce the number of exemptions and — and limit the amount of exceptions that can occur. At the same time, I don’t want to raise capital gains tax rates, as they do in Bowles– Simpson. But simplifying the code, broadening the base is the right way to go for our tax code long term. And immediately, let’s get some relief for middle-income Americans.

SAWYER: And, Congressman Paul, we hear over and over again people are hoping for a great vision for America once again, America on the move once again. Give us the great vision that is realistic given the financial situation, a realistic great vision for America.

PAUL: Well, it’s to restore America to our freedoms, restore America to our principles, and that is individual liberty and our Constitution and sound money. But in doing that, you have to understand economics. You can’t solve any of this economic crisis unless you know where the business cycle comes from and why you have bubbles and why — why — why they break. You have to understand that we’ve had a financial bubble that’s been going on for 40 years. It’s collapsing. Nobody quite recognizes it, but we’re in the midst of a real big correction.

And the only way you can get back to growth is you have to liquidate the debt. But instead of liquidating debt, what we’ve done is the people who built up the debt on Wall Street and the banks, we’ve had the American taxpayer bail them out. We — we bought it through the Federal Reserve and through the Treasury, dumped it on the American people. The middle class is now shrinking. And we don’t have jobs. But if you’re an individual or a businessman, if you’re consuming everything you’re earning just to finance your debt, you can’t have growth. So we have to liquidate debt. This is the reason I call for cutting spending, the only one that’s calling for real cuts. You have to have real cuts. That’s what the Republican Party used to stand for, but you can’t liquidate debt. You can’t — you can’t keep bailing out the debt. That’s what Japan has done for 20 years. And they’re still in their doldrums. We did it in the depression. We’re into this now for five years, and it has to end. It’s only going to end until after we understand the business cycle.

PERRY: There is a vision. I mean, Dr. Paul, there is a vision out there, and it’s to get America back working again. I mean, the — the idea that Americans have lost confidence in Washington, D.C., and lost confidence in Wall Street is a great example of where they want to go.

They want Washington out of their hair. They want less taxation, less regulation, less litigation. There’s a model for that in the state of Texas over the course of the last decade.

And if we will put those types of — of — of policies into place, we’re sitting on 300 years of energy in this country. Allow our federal lands and waters to be opened up so that we are the people who are developing domestic energy and we are not being held hostage by companies — countries that are hostile to America.

We can put this country back to work again in the energy industry, whether it’s — you know, any of the energy industry side, whether it’s solar or wind or oil and gas or coal. Use it all. Put the American people to work. Allow those resources off our federal lands, Dr. Paul, to be used to pay down the debt.

And I’ll tell you one of the things that can turn this economy in New Hampshire around is to pass the right-to-work law. And it will make New Hampshire a powerful magnet for jobs in the Northeast.

(APPLAUSE)

SAWYER: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: Diane, you hit right on it, and that is, what is the vision for getting this country moving? We all have records, those of us who were governors, very specific job-creation record. I delivered a flat tax in my state. We became the top job-creator in the country. You can look at what Mitt did in Massachusetts. He was number 47.

But more to the point, I went to Lindy’s Diner in Keane and had a conversation with a guy named Jamie, who has a small motorcycle repair shop. And he said, when he grew up in Keane, it was bustling with activity. He said he had 30 different jobs growing up. He said there were four machine tool operations in that town. He said, I remember the excitement, the enthusiasm, and all of the opportunity.

And we had this conversation. I said, you know what? We are once again on the cusp of a manufacturing renaissance in this country, if we do it right. China is going down in terms of GDP growth from 8 percent, 9 percent, 10 percent to 4 percent or 5 percent, 6 percent. And as they go down in growth, unemployment goes up.

We have an opportunity to win back that manufacturing investment, if we are smart enough, with the right kind of leadership to fix our taxes. No one up here is calling for the complete elimination of all the loopholes and the deductions, where the Wall Street Journal came out and endorsed my tax plan. That’s what needs to be done, not tinkering around the edges.

If we can fix our taxes, if we can move toward a friendlier regulatory environment, this country can get back in the game again. We can rebuild our manufacturing muscle, and we can rebuild some of the job-training opportunities that we have lost over recent years.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, why not close all the loopholes, as Governor Huntsman is saying?

ROMNEY: George, let me step back from that. I know you want to ask that question. Nothing wrong with it. And I don’t want to be critical of the questions that — that you ask and the other interviewers ask.

But — but I think the — the real issue is the vision for this country. And I — I think people have to recognize that what’s at stake in this election is jobs, yes; and balancing the budget, yes; and dealing with our — our extraordinary overhang from our — our entitlements. We have to make sure they’re preserved, our entitlements, that is, so we don’t kill the future of the country. We’ve got a lot of issues what about.

But, really, this election is about the soul of America.

The question is, what is America going to be?

And we have in Washington today a president who has put America on a road to decline, militarily, internationally and, domestically, he’s making us into something we wouldn’t recognize.

We’re increasingly becoming like Europe. Europe isn’t working in Europe. It will never work here.

The right course for America is to return to the principles that were written down in first words in the Declaration of Independence, we were endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have the right in this country to pursue happiness as we choose and as people pursue education and work hard and take risks and build enterprises of all kinds, they lift themselves and don’t make us poorer, they make us better off.

The question is, are we going to remain an exceptional nation, a unique nation in the history of the earth?

That’s what’s at stake in this election.

We have a president that does not understand, in his heart, in his bones, the nature of American entrepreneurialism, innovation and work. And — and that is something which we’re fighting for in this election. I hope the people on the stage share that vision. But we must return America to the principles about — upon which it was founded if we’re ever going to have a strong balance sheet, a strong income statement, create jobs, but have a bright future for our kids.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich, you just heard Governor Romney…

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: — make his case. He’s…

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve made the case on several occasions that he’s not the man to carry that message for the Republican Party.

Why not?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think that’s a good message and I agree with him. A — a little bit harsh on President Obama, who, I’m sure in his desperate efforts to create a radical European socialist model, is sincere.

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: But, you know, I think “The Wall Street Journal” captured it the other day in their dialogue, when their editorial board met and they said I had a very aggressive pro-jobs program, zero capital gains, 12.5 percent corporate tax rate, 100 percent expensing for all new equipment to dramatically modernize the system, abolish the death tax.

And they said that, by contrast — this is their words, not mine — that Governor Romney’s program was timid and more like Obama. Now, I would think those are fighting words. And, frankly, if he wants to fight with “The Wall Street Journal” on that, I wouldn’t blame him.

But I do think there’s a difference between a bold Reagan conservative model and a more establishment model that is a little more cautious about taking the kind of changes we need.

SAWYER: And, Josh?

MCELVEEN: Senator Santorum, you just heard from the — both people on either side of you.

Enough substance there for you?

SANTORUM: Well, look, I — I like the vision. As far as — as far as substance, I agree with Speaker Gingrich. I don’t think Governor Romney’s plan is particularly bold, it — or is particularly focused on where the problems are in this country. And the governor used a term earlier that — that I shrink from. And — and it’s one that I don’t think we should be using as Republicans, middle class. There are no classes in America. We are a country that don’t allow for titles. We don’t put people in classes. There may be middle income people, but the idea that somehow or another we’re going to buy into the class warfare arguments of Barack Obama is something that should not be part of the Republican lexicon. That’s their job, divide, separate, put one group against another.

That’s not the — that’s not the language that I’ll use as president. I’ll use the language of bringing people together.

And I’ll also be able to show you that unlike some of the folks up here, that we have a consistent record of being the person to contrast ourselves on health care, for example. We’re looking for someone who can win this race, who can win this race on the economy and on the core issues of this — of this election.

And I was not ever for an individual mandate. I wasn’t for a top down, government-run health care system. I wasn’t for the big bank of Wall Street bailout, as Governor Romney was. And I — and I stood firm on those and worked, actually, in the coal fields, if you will, against this idea that we needed a cap and trade program.

So if you want someone that’s a clear contrast, that has a strong record, has a vision for this country that’s going to get this country growing and appeal to blue collar workers in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, in Michigan, in Indiana and deliver that message, that we care about you, too, not just about Wall Street and bailing them out, then I’m the guy that you want to put in the — in the nomination.

MCELVEEN: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: My plan is a lot broader than just tax policy. The tax poli — policy I’ve described is — is entitled to help people in this country that desperately need help right now.

ROMNEY: There’s more to it than that. We have to open up markets for America’s goods, as the most productive people in the world, more output per person from an American than anywhere else in the world. We have to open up markets for our goods. We haven’t done that under this president.

Europe — European nations and China over the last three years have opened up 44 different trade relationships with various nations in the world. This president has opened up none.

We have to open up trade. We have to take advantage of our extraordinary energy resources. At the same time, we’re going to have to do something about the regulations in this country.

As a party, we talk about deregulation, what we’re really shorthanding is that we want to change old regulations that are crushing enterprise and put in place those that encourage enterprise. I understand how the economy works, because I’ve lived in it.

There are a lot of guys who have spent their life in Washington, have a very valid and important experience, but they have not been on the front line competing with businesses around the world. I have.

I know what regulations kill and which regulations help enterprise. And I want to use the expertise to get America working again. And I’ll come back to the point I made at the beginning. This is bigger than that issue.

This is really an issue — a campaign about the direction of this country. This is a choice. And by the way, if we don’t make the right choice this time, we may not be able to for a very, very long time. This is a critical time in the history of this country.

SAWYER: Governor Huntsman, vision for dealing with China, competing around the world?

HUNTSMAN: Listen, we have the most important relationship of the 21st Century with China. We’ve got to make it work. Of course we have challenges with them. We’ve had challenges for 40 years. It’s nonsense to think you can slap a tariff on China the first day that you’re in office, as Governor Romney would like to do.

You’ve got to sit down and sort through the issues of trade like you do with North Korea, like you do with Iran, like you do with Burma, and Pakistan, and the South China Sea. They’re all interrelated. And to have a president who actually understands how that relationship works would serve the interests of the people in this country, from an economics standpoint and from a security standpoint.

ROMNEY: I’m sorry, Governor, you were, the last two years, implementing the policies of this administration in China. The rest of us on this stage were doing our best to get Republicans elected across the country and stop the policies of this president from being put forward.

My own view on the relationship with China is this, which is that China is stealing our intellectual property, our patents, our designs, our know-how, our brand names. They’re hacking into our computers, stealing information from not only corporate computers but from government computers. And they’re manipulating their currency.

And for those who don’t understand the impact of that, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. And that is, if you hold down the value of your currency artificially, you make your products artificially low-priced and kill American jobs. That has happened here in this country.

And if I’m president of the United States, I’m not going to continue to talk about how important China is and how we have to get along. And I believe those things. They’re very important. And we do have to get along. But I’m also going to tell the Chinese it’s time to stop. You have to play by the rules. I will not let you kill American jobs any longer.

(APPLAUSE)

SAWYER: Under the rules, Governor Huntsman.

HUNTSMAN: I think it’s important to note, as they would say in China, that (speaking mandarin)…

(CROSSTALK)

HUNTSMAN: … he doesn’t quite understand this situation. What he is calling for would lead to a trade war. It makes for easy talk and a nice applause line but it’s far different from the reality in the U.S.-China relationship.

You slap on tariffs, you talk tough like that. Of course you have, that has got to be part of it as well. But in the end, we get a tariff in return if we don’t sit down and have a logical, sensible conversation. And who does that hurt most? It hurts the small businesses and the small exporters are who trying to get back on their feet in this country in a time when this nation can least afford a trade war.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The last thing China wants is a trade war. We don’t want one either.

(CROSSTALK) ROMNEY: But they sell us this much stuff. We sell them this much stuff. Tell me, who doesn’t want the trade war? They don’t want it real bad. And we’ve been listening for 10 years from people talking about how we can’t hold China to the rules of free and fair trade and if I=’m president I will hold them to those rules. And we’ll respect each other but we are not going to let them just run all over us and steal our jobs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ve got to take a break. We’ll be right back with a final word.

(APPLAUSE)

ANNOUNCER: You’re watching live coverage from Manchester, New Hampshire, of the ABC News Republican Party Debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: We’re in the midst of a real big correction. And the only way you can get back to growth is you have to liquidate the debt, but instead of liquidating debt, what we’ve done is the people who build up the debt on Wall Street and the banks, we’ve had the American taxpayer bail them out.

ROMNEY: We have a nation which is based upon opportunity and merit. We draw people here who seek freedom, and these people have built enterprises that employ and that make American stronger. We have a president who has an entirely different view. He wants us to turn into a European-style welfare state.

GINGRICH: You cannot compete with China in the long run if you have an inferior infrastructure. You’ve got to move to a 21st-century model. That means you’ve got to be — you’ve got to be technologically smart, and you have to make investments.

HUNTSMAN: We’ve got to earn our way forward. There’s no question about it. Governors learn how to pay the bills. In order to pay the bills, you’ve got to expand your economic base.

ANNOUNCER: Back live from Manchester, New Hampshire, in a moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAWYER: We are back and so grateful for this debate tonight. And we thought we might just end on something personal. It’s Saturday night, again, as we meet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you weren’t here running for president, Governor Perry, what would you be doing on a Saturday night? PERRY: I’d probably be at the shooting range.

(LAUGHTER)

SANTORUM: Instead of being shot at.

PERRY: Yeah.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: I’d be watching the college championship basketball game.

(UNKNOWN): Football game.

GINGRICH: I mean, football game.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you.

SANTORUM: I’d be doing the same thing with my family. We’d be huddled around, and we’d be watching the championship game.

ROMNEY: I’m afraid it’s football. I love it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Football?

ROMNEY: Yeah.

PAUL: I’d be home with my family. But if they all went to bed, I’d probably read an economic textbook.

(LAUGHTER)

HUNTSMAN: I’d be on the phone with my two boys in the United States Navy, because they’re a constant reminder of what is great about this nation and awesome about the emerging generation in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

SAWYER: And on that note, once again, we thank you all. Tuesday, the big primary in New Hampshire. And that is it for us here at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. And we want to thank all of you in the audience. And your families, once again, your families are here. And we salute all of you who have spent your Saturday night here with us, too. And we thank everybody here in New Hampshire for joining us.

And stay with ABC News. We have full coverage coming up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to all the candidates, again. Stick with us, everyone at home. We’re going to have full analysis coming up in just a couple minutes. We’ll be right back.

END

 

Full Text Campaign Buzz December 10, 2011: ABC News Yahoo Iowa Republican Presidential Debate Full Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidates stand together prior to their Republican debate, Dec. 10, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Republican presidential candidates stand together prior to their Republican debate, Dec. 10, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. (ABC)

Source: ABC News, 12-10-11
The following is a full transcript of the ABC News Iowa Republican debate, with Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, anchored by ABC News’ Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos.

DIANE SAWYER: And a good evening to all of you welcome to Iowa, welcome to Drake University as the presidential voting draws near, the time is coming. And the political team of ABC News has been out in force throughout this state. And we just wanna say to the people of Iowa, we are endlessly struck by how seriously you take your role as first in line for the vote.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Every four years first.

DIANE SAWYER: That is true. And it’s 24 days now and counting until the voting begins in the caucuses. And– and it’s at the time for closing arguments, so let us introduce the presidential candidates from the Republican party for the United States of America here at the debate tonight.

Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts (AUDIENCE WHOOP), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Georgia (AUDIENCE WHOOP), Texas Congressman Ron Paul, (APPLAUSE) and Congresswoman from Minnesota, Michele Bachmann. (APPLAUSE) Thank you all.

Before we begin if we can just one note, because George and I have been talking and all of us have been talking to many of you about what it takes to run for the presidency in this country right now. And we are talking about the determination, the physical stamina, the road you travel, the miles you travel and the sacrifices your families make as you do it. So we thought maybe at the end of this year– the– the end of this road does approach, we could all just salute your commitment to the presidential race and to democracy in this country. We salute you.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The rules of the debate are pretty straightforward, the candidates have negotiated them, agreed to them. They’re gonna forgo opening statements and then they will give, they’ve agreed, one minute responses to questions from Diane and me, 30 seconds for rebuttal to those. And we wanna show everybody at home that the candidates can see as well, this clock right here. And we’ll shift from green to yellow to red over the course of the allotted time.

The audience here at Drake was chosen by the Iowa Republican Party, and all of you at home can follow on ABCNews.com and Yahoo.com. You can even join the discussion by downloading Yahoo’s Enter Now app on your iPhone, and with that you can actually pitch in with opinions during this debate.

DIANE SAWYER: So it is time to begin. And people are telling us that they do feel it’s time to choose. And the number one issue on which they’re going to choose, jobs in America. And we would like to hear from all of you in this opening round. And the question is this: what is your distinguishing idea, distinguishing, from all of the others on this stage, about how to create jobs in this create, how to bring jobs back from overseas. And if you will, how many jobs do you think you can create and how long will that take? And Speaker Gingrich, will you lead us off?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I think that there’s a clear record, I worked with Ronald Reagan in the early ’80s and his recovery program translated into today’s population of about 25 million new jobs in a seven-year period. As Speaker of the House, I worked with– President Clinton and he followed with a very similar plan.

And we ended up with about 11 million new jobs in a four-year period. Went down to 4.2% unemployment. Starts very simply, taxes, lower taxes, less regulation, an American energy plan, and actually be positive with our people to create jobs. The opposite of the Obama plan, which is higher taxes, more regulation, no American energy, and attack people who create jobs with class warfare.

So I think there are a number of steps you can take. I would start with zero capital gains, hundreds of billions of dollars would pour into the country, I’d go to 12.5% corporate tax rate, that would bring in at least $700 billion in repatriated money back from overseas. I would then go to 100% expensing for all new equipment– abolish the (UNINTEL) news– write it off in one year, and I’d abolish the death tax penalty. Those steps would begin to dramatically create jobs.

DIANE SAWYER: And I want to turn to Governor Romney, if I can. Because you’ve given a number and you’ve given a time frame, 11.5 million jobs in four years, aiming for six percent– unemployment rate at the end of the first time. What is the distinguishing idea to do that?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, having spent my life in the private sector, I understand where jobs are created. They’re not created in government, they’re not created in Washington. They’re created on Main Streets and streets all over America. And to help make America the most attractive place in the world for investment, for new enterprise, for entrepreneurs and for job growth, there’s seven things you have to do. There’s not just one, there’s seven.

One, make sure that our employer tax rates are competitive with other nations. They’re not now. We’re the highest in the world. Number two, get regulators and regulations to recognize their job is not to burden the– the private enterprise system, but to encourage it. Number three, to have trade policies that make sense for America, not just for the people with whom we trade.

This president has not done that. And China, that’s been cheating, has to be cracked down on. Number four, we have to have energy policies that take advantage of our extraordinary energy resources. Number five, the rule of law, and the Boeing– effort on the part of the N.L.R.B. violated that. Number six, grade institutions to create human capital, and number seven, finally a government that doesn’t spend more money than it takes in.

DIANE SAWYER: And Congressman Paul, a number as a time frame and an idea.

RON PAUL: My — approach is slightly different. Where I think all for less taxes and less regulations, we recognize this. But I emphasize the fact that you have to know why we have a recession, and why we have unemployment before you can solve the problem. And the re– the financial bubbles are created by excessive credit and stimulation by the Federal Reserve. And then you have bubbles and you have to have a correction.

The– this stimulus creates es– excessive debt and malinvestment. As long as you don’t correct that and you maintain the debt and the malinvestment, you can’t get back to economic growth again. Unfortunately, so far what we have done, is we have not liquidated the debt, we have dumped the debt on the American people through TARP funding and– and as well as the Federal Reserve.

So the debt is dumped on the people. And what did we do? We bailed out the people that were benefiting during the formation of the bubble. So as long as we do that, we’re not gonna have economic growth. We– you did the same thing in the Depression, the Japanese are doing it right now, so it’s time we liquidate the debt and look at monetary policy. And then, of course, lower taxes. And I would like to– do in the first year, cut $1 trillion, ’cause that is the culprit, big spending and big government.

DIANE SAWYER: I wanna come back to those of you with another direct question of whether there is a number of jobs that can be created and a time frame you can tell the American people you can do it in. But I want to turn to Governor Perry for your distinguishing idea.

RICK PERRY: Yeah, the distinguishing mark is– a tax policy that puts a flat tax in place of– 20%. And you– as they’ve said, you get rid of the regulatory burden that’s killing people. And I have a record of doing that as the governor of the state of Texas over the last 11 years. We created over a million jobs in that state while America lost over two million jobs.

So there’s a very clear blueprint of how to make this work. But I wanna talk about one other issue, and– and Congressman Paul touched on it. And it’s this idea, I can– I can on a map diagram the problem that we’ve got in America today. And it d– it’s this direct line between Washington D.C. and Wall Street. And it’s the corruption that’s gone on. It’s the idea of TARP. It’s the idea of $7.7 trillion that we didn’t even know was being put into these peoples and these banks.

That’s what Americans are really upset with. And it’s gonna take an outsider who can come in to put in the model of taxes and regulation. And– and be able to balance that budget by the year 2020 with 18% of G.D.P. That’s what the American people want, and an outsider like Rick Perry is gonna do that.

DIANE SAWYER: All right, Congresswoman Bachmann?

MICHELE BACHMANN: Well– one of our former competitors was Herman Cain and he always reminded us of the 9-9-9 plan. And what I would like to do is have the Win-Win-Win plan. And the way that we can do that is first addressing the tax code. I’m a former federal tax lawyer. And that literally, we will create millions of dollars if we abolish the tax code and embrace a pro-growth policy not only by lowering the rates for businesses, but by individuals as well.

And making it a tax code that applies fairly and the same to all Americans. That’s very important. And something else I wanna do with my tax code policy is make sure that everyone pays something. Because today, 47% of the American people pay nothing in federal income tax. Everyone benefits by the country, they need to pay. But also, one of my “Win” points is with American energy production.

If we legalize American energy, we’ll create 1.4 million jobs in just a few years’ time. And here’s something we– else that we can do under the “Win” plan. We can cut government bureaucracy, which is ObamaCare. N.F.I.B. tells us, that’s the small business agency, that we will lose 1.6 million jobs over five years if we keep ObamaCare. I wanna– I am committed to repealing ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, cutting out the E.P.A., and we’ll save millions of jobs if we do that.

DIANE SAWYER: Senator Santorum?

RICK SANTORUM: Well, I was just down in Fremont County, which is down in the far southwest corner of the state, and they just lost about, a couple hundred jobs at a ConAgra plant down there. And Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds understand, that’s why they asked us to have a forum here in Pella a few weeks ago on manufacturing.

They understand that the heartland of America is suffering because the manufacturing economy of this country continues to go down. We used to have 21% of people employed in this country in manufacturing, it’s now nine. And it hurts disproportionately small town and rural America. So what I learned from traveling around Iowa is we had to get a plan together that’ll revitalized manufacturing.

So I took the corporate tax, not the 12%. I zeroed it out for all manufacturers. We want manufacture, we want “Made in the U.S.A.” to be the moniker under my administration. We want an administra– we want– to put a platform together that’s gonna repeal regulations that are crushing our– our b– manufacturers and businesses. I’ll repeal, one thing a president can do, he can’t pass a law, but he can repeal regulations.

And Barack Obama has given us– a bevy of regulations that need to be repealed, starting with a lot of our energy regulations that driving up our energy costs. That’s another part of d– of the plan, is to– to make sure we have lower electricity rates, that we have oil and gas drilling going on here, so manufacturing can afford to be here. You put together that plan, we will get– not only revitalize the economy, we’ll– we’ll take care of an area of the ec– of this country that has suffered in– in recent times. And that’s rural and small-town America.

DIANE SAWYER: I just wanna point out, I think that Governor Romney is the only one who actually gave a four-year, first-term number, which was again, 11.5 million jobs. Wondered if anyone else wanted to come in with a four-year, first-term promise for the American people.

RICK SANTORUM: I’m not–

MALE VOICE #2: Well–

RICK SANTORUM: –I– I– I– I’m not gonna make a promise, because I don’t believe you s– I don’t believe that government can sit there and– and– and from the top down dictate how many jobs are here. What we can do is we can create an atmosphere for businesses to thrive. And we know what that means. Less regulation, where– a regulation that works for– for– for businesses, taxation that makes us competitive, a litigation environment that makes us competitive.

You create the platform. You create the– you create that petri dish, you’ll get lots of things growing there. And I don’t need– some government bean counter to tell us we’ve got a right– right program to be able to c– create jobs in this country.

DIANE SAWYER: I wanna move on if I can, to another question which represents some of the urgent and tough choices presidents have to make, because this one is coming up soon, December 31st. And it is the payroll tax cut. And as we know, the payroll tax cut, which funds the Social Security– fund in this country is part of the argument, part of the debate, part of the consideration about the economy in this country right now.

And– by some estimates, if this tax cut expires on December 31st, it could add as much as $1,000 to the tax burden of American working families. And I know you are divided down the middle, if I can turn to you, Congresswoman Bachmann, and we know that you are a tax attorney, and– you’re familiar with these issues. Should this tax cut go?

MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, I– this tax shouldn’t– cut shouldn’t have been put in the first place, the payroll tax extension, because last December, I fought against this. And I encouraged my colleagues not to go down this road. This is President Obama’s plan, a temporary gimmick, not permanent solution. That’s what the business community is looking for.

That’s where real jobs will be created. The reason why this is so detrimental to the economy as well is that this blew a hole, in other words, it took away $111 billion away from the Social Security Trust Fund. This is a very real issue for senior citizens, because we have to pay the Social Security checks that are going out.

I’m completely different from b– Barack Obama on this issue. I don’t agree with Barack Obama. We have candidates on this stage that are standing with Barack Obama on this issue. But this year alone, it– this will also cost the Social Security Trust Fund another $112 billion. And we don’t have enough money this year in the Social Security Trust Fund to put out those checks.

Which means, we have to go to the General Treasury to get the money. And trust me, when you open the door to the General Treasury, the only thing that comes out are moths and feathers. There’s nothing in there. So we have to recognize, we can’t spend money that we don’t have. And that’s what Barack Obama’s trying to do. Temporary gimmicks, not permanent solutions–

DIANE SAWYER: But (UNINTEL) is a decision that does have to be made in three weeks. And Governor Romney, you have said it’s a “temporary Band-Aid,” but you have indicated that you are in favor of keeping it. So how do you differ from Congresswoman Bachmann? Is it worth it?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I don’t wanna raise taxes on people– particularly people in the middle class that are suffering right now under the Obama economy. It’s a temporary tax– cut, and it’ll help people in a d– very difficult time. But– but let’s– let’s recognize, this is just a Band-Aid.

The extraordinary thing is, we have a president who’s been in office three years with a fiscal crisis and a jobs crisis. The– these unemployment numbers we’re seeing, they’re not just statistics, they’re real people. They’re young people that can’t start their lives, can’t go to college, they’re people in their 50s that ex– expected to be in their big earning years, and they’re not gonna be able to– to have the– the kind of future they hope for.

And– and this is a president who has not, at this stage, put forward a plan to get this economy going again. All he does is talk about little Band-Aids here and there throwing gasoline on a fire, on a few embers. The right thing to do is to talk about how he’s gonna make America competitive again. I spoke with businesspeople all over the country and have been one myself for 25 years.

People aren’t investing in America because this president has made America a less attractive place for investing and hiring than other places in the world. That’s got to change. And it’s a shame that we’ve got a president who thinks that being hands-on in the economy means working on his golf cred. You know, the– the– the right course for America is to have a president who understands the economy and will make that his– his focus and put in place a plan to get this economy going.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanna grab that– this conversation, but– but very quickly, I believe Speaker Gingrich is also for extending the payroll taxes and so is Congressman Paul, Governor Perry, I believe you’re against it– some are so tur–

RICK PERRY: Very much so.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, you’re the only one I– what is your position on it?

RICK PERRY: Is there a Social Security Trust Fund and– or not? And is the Social Security system gonna be funded by payroll taxes or not? And the President of the United States runs around and talks about how Republicans don’t care about Social Security and how they’re gonna– they’re gonna rip apart the Social Security system, and he’s the one defunding the Social Security system.

We’re either gonna have a serious debate on how to fix Social Security, and we’re not gonna do it by taking resources away from Social Security to pay benefits. So I’m– I’m all for tax cuts, I– I mean, I’ll welcome the president to sit down with– Republicans in Congress to work on a tax cut that’s gonna create growth in the economy. But to– to take the Social Security Trust Fund that is– that is so sacrosanct to the Democrats when it comes for election time.

And then to use that as a tax and then try to beat up Republicans for– for not supporting the tax cut is– is absurd. You either care about Social Security and you wanna fund it, or you don’t.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So it’s very divided. Three and three, Congressman Paul, 30 seconds rebuttal, Senate–

RON PAUL: Well– well I want to– extend the tax cut, because if you don’t, you raise the taxes. But I wanna pay for it. And it’s not that difficult. In my proposal, in my budget, I wanna cut hundreds of billions of dollars from overseas. The trust fund is gone. But how are we gonna restore it? We have to quit the spending. We have to quit this being the policemen of the world.

We don’t need another war in Syria and another war in Iran. Just get rid of the embassy in Baghdad. We’re pretending we’re comin’ home from Baghdad. We built an embassy there that cost a billion dollars and we’re putting 17,000 contractors in there, pretending our troops are coming home. I could save–

(GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: UNINTEL)

RON PAUL: –and we don’t have to raise taxes on Social Security– on the– on the– on the– on the tax–

(OVERTALK)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: As I said, I do wanna broaden this out, and all of you have been debating for the past several months– two big questions for this nomination fight. Who has the most consistent conservative candidate among you, and which of you is best able to defeat President Obama? And Governor Romney, Speaker Gingrich crystallized his argument a couple of weeks ago. He said, and I quote, “I’m a lot more conservative than Mitt Romney, and a lot more electable than anyone else.” (LAUGH) I know you don’t agree with that thought. (LAUGH)

MITT ROMNEY: Well, of course I don’t agree with that. (LAUGHTER) I don’t think most people agree with that. Speaker Gingrich has been in government for a long time and we can look at his record, we can look at my record. But really, this is more about– about us talking about what we believe. And w– and whether we can lead the country at a time when– when we need to restore the kind of values that make America the greatest nation on Earth.

We have in Washington a president who believes in a fundamental transformation of America into an entitlement society. Where the government takes for some from some and gives to everybody else. And the only people that do real well in that setting are the people in the government. This nation was founded on the principle of being a merit society, where education, hard work, risk taking, have lifted certain individual, and they have helped lift– lift the entire nation.

That’s what’s going on today. And the reason I oughta be the nominee of our party is I believe I can take that message to our president and to the American people. And they’ll say, “Mitt Romney understands the economy ’cause he’s lived in it.” I understand a merit-based society, I believe in the principles that made America the greatest nation on Earth. And Speaker Gingrich and I have a lot of places where we disagree, we’ll talk about those–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Why don’t you name them?

MITT ROMNEY: What, places where we disagree? Let’s see– we can start with– with his idea to– to have– a lunar colony that would mine– minerals from the– from the moon, I’m not in favor of spendin’ that kinda money– to do that. (LAUGHTER) He said that he would– he would like to– eliminate in some cases the child labor laws so that kids could clean schools. I don’t agree with that– that idea.

His plan in capital gains, to remove capital gains for people– at the very highest level of income is different than mine. I’d– I’d– eliminate capital gains, interest, and dividends for people in middle income. So– we have differences of viewpoint on– on some issues. But– but the real difference, I believe, is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector.

I– I understand how the economy works. And I believe that for Americans to– to say goodbye to President Obama and elect a Republican, they need to have confidence that the person they’re electing knows how to make this economy work again and create jobs for the American middle class.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response?

NEWT GINGRICH: (THROAT CLEAR) Just a second. You had four allegations, do I get four responses?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Take your time. (LAUGHTER)

NEWT GINGRICH: Okay. Let’s start with the last one, let– let’s be candid. The only reason you didn’t become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994. (LAUGHTER)

MITT ROMNEY: Now– now wait a second, that– (AUDIENCE BOOING) I mean you’ll– Okay, go ahead.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –you’ll get another response, go ahead.

MITT ROMNEY: Okay. (LAUGH)

NEWT GINGRICH: Do I– do I get to– continue–

MITT ROMNEY: Please, please.

NEWT GINGRICH: No, and I’m just saying, I’ve– I looked at it, I thought, you know, I’m a citizen, I’ve served the country in many ways, you’re a citizen, you served the country in many ways. But it’s a bit much, you’da been a 17-year career politician by now, if you’d won. That’s– that’s all I’m saying on that one.

Now number two, I’m proud of trying to find things that give young people a reason to study science and math and technology and telling them that some day in their lifetime, they could dream of going to the moon, they could dream of going to Mars. I grew up in a generation where the space program was real, where it was important, and where frankly it is tragic that NASA has been so bureaucratized, aims at you– Iowa– Iowa State’s a perfect example.

Iowa State’s doing brilliant things, attracting brilliant students. I wanna give them places to go and things to do. And I’m happy to defend the idea that America should be in space and should be there in an aggressive, entrepreneurial way. Third, as to schools, I think virtually every person up here worked at a young age. What I suggested was, kids oughta be allowed to work part-time in school, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods, both because they could use the money.

If you take one-half of the New York janitors who are unionized and paid more than the teachers, an entry-level janitor gets paid twice as much as an entry-level teacher. You take half of those janitors, you could give virtually– you could give lots of poor kids a work experience in the cafeteria and the school library and– and front office, and a lot of different things.

I’ll stand by the idea, young people oughta learn how to work. Middle class kids do it routinely. We should give poor kids the same chance to pursue happiness. Finally (APPLAUSE) on– finally on capital gains taxes I asked you about this at Dartmouth (?). I’m astonished, you’re a businessman. You wanna create jobs. A $200,000 cap on or capital gains tax cut is lower than Obama.

Now you know if you really wanna create jobs, you wanna– you wanna encourage the people who make more than $200,000 who actually have capital to invest the capital in the U.S. I’ll stick with zero capital gains will create vastly more jobs than your proposal–

(OVERTALK)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, your response, then I wanna bring in the others.

MITT ROMNEY: Yeah, yeah. My proposal actually does create 11.5 million jobs, and it does so by a higher– a G.D.P. growth rate than we’ve seen over these last Obama years. And– and in my view, the place that we could spend our precious tax dollars for a tax cut is on the middle class, that’s been most hurt by the Obama economy. That’s where I wanna eliminate taxes on interest dividends and capital gains.

And with regards to the idea that if I’da beaten Ted Kennedy I coulda been a career politician, that’s probably true. If I would’ve been able to get in the NFL liked I hope when I was a kid, why, I woulda been a football star all my life too, (LAUGHTER) but– but I– but I– (APPLAUSE) I spent– I spent my life in the private sector. Losing to pl– Teddy Kennedy was probably the best thing I coulda done for– for preparing me for the job I’m seeking, because it– it put me back in the private sector. I worked in the private sector, I learned lessons that are desperately needed in Washington.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanna bring–

MITT ROMNEY: We don’t need– we don’t need folks who are lifetime– lifetime Washington people to– to– to get this country out of the mess it’s in. We need people from outside Washington, outside K Street. And by the way, one more thing, to have kids work in the– in the library and to– and to help out in school and to clean the blackboards does not require changing our– our– our child labor laws in this country. We of course should encourage more kids to–

(OVERTALK)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We will– we will come back to that, I wanna bring Congressman Paul in on this, because– Congressman, you’ve been running ads that are quite tough–

RON PAUL: Quite what?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Quite tough on Speaker Gingrich here in Iowa this week, accusing him of quote, and this is a quote from your ad, “serial hypocrisy.” Why do you think Speaker Gingrich is a hypocrite?

RON PAUL: Well, he’s been on different positions, you know, on so many issues. You know, single payer– he’s taken some positions that are not conservative. He– he supported the TARP funds. And– the other– really annoy– should’ve (LAUGH) annoyed a lot of people, he received a lot of money from Freddie Mac. Now, Freddie Mac is essentially a government organization.

While he was earning a lot of money from Freddie Mac, I was fighting over a decade to try to explain to people where the housing bubble was coming from. So Freddie Mac is bailed out by the tax payers. So in a way, Newt, I think you probably (LAUGH) got some of our tax payer’s money. They g– they got taxed, and they got money on, and they’re still getting bailed out.

But– you’re a spokesman for ’em and you received money for ’em, so I think– I think this is– something that– the people oughta know about. But there’s been many positions, and you have admitted many of the positions where you have changed positions. But– you know, if you were lookin’ for a consistent position, you know, I– I think there’s gonna be a little bit of trouble anybody competing with me on consistency. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE)

(OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, first of all, as you say in your own, normally in your own speeches, the housing bubble came from the Federal Reserve inflating the money supply. Now, that’s the core of the housing bubble and I happen to be with you on auditing the Fed and on fund– and frankly on firing Bernanke. Second, I was never a spokesman for any agency, I never did any lobbying for any agency. I offered strategic advice. I was in the private sector. And I was doing things (LAUGHTER) in the private sector.

RON PAUL: Oh come– okay, okay. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE)

(OVERTALK)

RON PAUL: –private sector. (LAUGH)

NEWT GINGRICH: And– and when you’re in the private sector, and you have a company and you offer advice like McKinsey does, like a bunch of other companies do, you’re allowed to charge money for it.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: All right–

NEWT GINGRICH: Ca– ca– it’s called free enterprise.

RON PAUL: It’s the tax payer’s money though, we had to bail these people out–

NEWT GINGRICH: Well I was– I’m not for bailing them out, in fact, I’m for breaking them up.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring Congresswoman Bachmann in on this, because you make similar accusations against Speaker Gingrich. You called him a “poster boy of crony capitalism.” Did he answer your concerns?

MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, when you’re talking about taking over $100 million, and when your office is on the Rodeo Drive of Washington D.C., which is K Street, and you’re taking money to influence the outcome of legislation in Washington, that’s the epitome of the establishment, that’s the epitome of a consummate insider. But your question was, who’s the proven con– constitutional conservative in this race, and that would be me.

I’m 55 years old, I’ve spent 50 years in the real world as a private business woman living real life and– and building a real business. But you have to take a look at the candidates that– that are on the stage. You started out with Mitt Romney with Newt Gan– Gingrich, asking them about whether or not they’re the conservative in this race.

But you have to take a look. You– when you look at Newt Gingrich, for 20 years, he’s been advocating for the individual mandate in healthcare. That’s– that’s longer than Barack Obama. Or if you look at Mitt Romney as the governor of Massachusetts, he’s the only governor that put into place socialized medicine. No other governor did. Our nominee has to stand on a stage and debate Barack Obama and be completely different.

I led 40,000 Americans to Washington D.C., to the Capitol, to fight ObamaCare. I didn’t advocate for it. If you look at– at– at Newt/Romney, they were for ObamaCare principles. If you look at Newt/Romney, they were for cap and trade. If you look at Newt/Romney, they were for the illegal immigration problem. And if you look at (LAUGH) Newt/Romney, they were for the $700 billion bailout. And you just heard Newt/Romney is also with Obama on the issue of the payroll extension.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay.

MICHELE BACHMANN: So if you want a difference, Michele Bachmann is the proven conservative. It’s not Newt/Romney.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You threw– you threw a lot out there. (APPLAUSE) So let’s get both– both of them a chance to respond, Speaker Gingrich, you go first, because you were in there twice– also on r– on– Romney, and then–

NEWT GINGRICH: Okay– those four points–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –Senator Romney, right go ahead.

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, Michele, you know, a lot of what you say just isn’t true, period. I have never– I have– I oppose cap and trade, I testified against it, the same day that Al Gore testified for it. I helped defeat it in the Senate through American solutions. It is simply untrue. I fought against ObamaCare at every step of the way. I did it with– the Center for Health Transformation was actively opposed, we actively campaigned against it.

You know, I think it’s important for you, and the– this is fair game, and everybody gets to– to– to pick fights. It’s important that you be accurate when you say these things. Those are not true. And most of the money I made, frankly, I made in ways that are totally– had nothing to do with anything you’ve described. I did no lobbying, no representation. And frankly, my– my speech– my– my speech money and other things I did, they had nothing to do with that.

It was a lot larger source of income. So, you know, I’ve had 24 books and I’ve had 13 New York Times best-sellers. Now– that was not people who wanted influence running around buying my books. I know that doesn’t fit your model, it happens to be true.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Can I respond? (APPLAUSE)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Thirty seconds, then Governor Romney.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Well you’d have to go back to 1993 when Newt first advocated for the individual mandate in healthcare, and as recently as May of this year, he was still advocating for the individual mandate in healthcare. And Governor Romney sent his team to the White House to meet with President Obama to teach them how to spread the RomneyCare model across the nation. That’s why I say, Newt/Romney, you’ve got to have our nominee as someone who is a stark, distinct difference with President Obama.

Who can go toe to toe and hold him accountable. President Obama knows me in Washington D.C. I’ve taken him on on issue after issue. Our nominee has to be willing to not agree with Barack Obama the– on these issues, but stand 180° opposite of all the candidates on this stage I’ve been fighting President Obama for every year that I’ve been there, and I’ve taken him on. And I will take him on in the debate and defeat him.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney. (APPLAUSE)

MITT ROMNEY: I know Newt Gingrich. And Newt Gingrich is a friend of mine. But, he and I are not clones, I promise. (LAUGH) That– that is not the case. So this Newt Gingrich thing, we gotta get that out of our mind altogether– Newt and Romney thing, sorry. Let– let me say this about– about health care. One, I didn’t send a team of anybody to meet with Barack Obama. I wish he’d have given me a call. I wish when he was putting together his health care plan, he’d have had the courtesy and– and perhaps the judgment to say, “Let me– let me talk to a governor. Let’s talk to somebody who’s dealt with a real problem that– that understands this topic,” and get on the phone.

I’d have said (BACKGROUND VOICE), “Mr. President, you’re going down a very, very bad path. Do not continue going down that path because what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna raise taxes on the American people. You’re gonna cut Medicare. Let’s not forget, only one president has ever cut Medicare for seniors in this country, and it’s Barack Obama. We’re gonna remind him of that time and time again.

And finally, the plan we put in place in Massachusetts, it deals with the 8% of our people who didn’t have insurance. The 92% of people who did have insurance, nothing changes for them. If I’m President of the United States, we’re gonna get rid of ObamaCare and return, under our constitution, the 10th Amendment, the responsibility and care of health care to the people in the states.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanna bring Governor Perry– (APPLAUSE) you’ve heard this argument, I wonder which side you come down on.

RICK PERRY: Yeah, well, I– I’m– I’m stunned, ’cause– the fact of the matter is, you know, Michele kinda hit the nail on the head when we talked about the individual mandate. Both of these gentlemen have been for the– individual mandate. And I’m even more stunned, Mitt, that you said you wished you could’ve talked to Obama and said– “You’re goin’ down the wrong path,” because that is exactly the path that you’ve taken Massachusetts. The Beacon Hill study itself said that there’s been 18,000 jobs lost because of that individual mandate.

The study continued to say that there’ve been over $8 billion of additional cost. I wish you coulda had the conversation with the people of Massachusetts a long time before that phone call would’ve been with– the– President Obama, ’cause the fact of the matter is, you’re for individual mandate. And you can get up and stand– up and talk about, you know, “I’m against it now. And I’m gonna– rescind ObamaCare. I’m gonna repeal ObamaCare.” But the record is very clear. You and Newt were for individual mandates. And that is the problem. And the question is then, “Who can stand on the stage, look Obama in the eye, and say, ‘ObamaCare is an abomination for this country,’?” And I’m gonna do that. And I can take that fight to him and win that fight.

DIANE SAWYER: Governor Romney, (INAUDIBLE). (APPLAUSE)

MITT ROMNEY: A good deal of what you said was right. Some was wrong. Speaker Gingrich said that he was for a federal individual mandate. That’s something I’ve always opposed. What we did in our state was designed by the people in our state for the needs of our state. You believe in the 10th Amendment. I believe in the 10th Amendment. The people of Massachusetts favor our plan three to one. They don’t like it, they can get rid of it. (COUGH) That’s the great thing about (COUGH) a democracy, where individuals under the 10th Amendment have the power to craft their own solutions.

By the way, the– the problem with President Obama’s plan is it does three things we didn’t in my opinion, among others. I understand we disagree on this. But among others, one, it raises taxes by $500 billion. We (NOISE) didn’t raise taxes. Two, it cuts Medicare by $500 billion. We didn’t do that, either. And three, it doesn’t just deal with the people that don’t have insurance. It’s a 2,000-page bill that takes over health care for all the American people. It is wrong for health care. It’s wrong for the American people. It’s unconstitutional. And I’m absolutely adamantly opposed to ObamaCare.

And if I’m the President of the United States, I will return to the people and the states the power they have under the constitution and they can craft the solutions they think are best for them. And my view– you had a mandate in your state. You mandate that girls at 12 years old had to get a vaccination for– for a sexually-transmitted disease. So it’s not like we have this big difference on mandates. We had different things we mandated over. I– I wanted to give people health insurance. You want to get young girls– a vaccine. There are differences.

DIANE SAWYER: Governor, if we could ask Speaker Gingrich to respond.

NEWT GINGRICH: Yeah, I– I just wanna make one point that’s historical. (CLEARS THROAT) In 1993, in fighting HillaryCare, virtually every conservative saw the mandate as a less-dangerous future than what Hillary was trying to do. The Heritage Foundation was a major advocate of it. After HillaryCare disappeared it became more and more obvious that mandates have all sorts of problems built into them. People gradually tried to find other techniques. I frankly was floundering, trying to find a way to make sure that people who could afford it were paying their hospital bills while still leaving an out so libertarians to not buy insurance. And that’s what we’re wrestling with. It’s now clear that the mandate, I think, is clearly unconstitutional. But, it started as a conservative effort to stop HillaryCare in the 1990s.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Perry.

RICK PERRY: I’m– I’m– (THROAT CLEARING) I’m listenin’ to you, Mitt, and I’m hearin’ you say all the right things. But I read your first book and it said in there that your mandate in Massachusetts which should be the model for the country. And I know it came out of– of the– the reprint of the book. But, you know, I’m just sayin’, you were for individual mandates, my friend.

MITT ROMNEY: You know what? You’ve raised that before, Rick. And– you’re simply wrong.

RICK PERRY: It– it– it was true then. (CHUCKLE) It’s true now.

MITT ROMNEY: That– now, this– Rick, I’ll– I’ll tell you what. (CHUCKLE) 10,000 bucks– (APPLAUSE) $10,000 bet?

RICK PERRY: I’m not in the bettin’ business, but, okay.

MITT ROMNEY: Oh, I– I’ll–

RICK PERRY: I’ll show you the– I’ll– I’ll– I’ll show you the book.

MITT ROMNEY: I wrote– I’ve got the book. And–

RICK PERRY: And we’ll show– (LAUGH)

MITT ROMNEY: And I– and I– and I wrote the book. And I haven’t– and chapter seven is a section called The Massachusetts Model. And I say as close as I can quote, I say, “In my view, each state should be able to– to fashion their own program for the specific needs of their distinct citizens.” And then I go on to talk about the states being the laboratories of democracy. And we could learn from one another. I have not said, in that book, first edition or the latest edition, anything about our plan being a national mo– model imposed on the nation.

The right course for America, and I said this durin’ the debates the last time around, I’ll say it now and time again, is to let individual states– this is a remarkable nation. This idea of federalism is so extraordinary. Let states craft their own solutions. Don’t have ObamaCare put on us by the federal government.

MICHELE BACHMANN: George and Diane–

(OVERTALK)

MICHELE BACHMANN: George and Diane, can I just say something? This is such an important issue. We have one shot to get rid of ObamaCare, that’s it. It is 2012. Do we honestly believe that two men who’ve just stood on this stage and defended RomneyCare when it was put in place in Massachusetts and the individual mandate when he proposed it in 1993, are they honestly going to get rid of it in 2012?

MITT ROMNEY/NEWT GINGRICH: Yes.

MICHELE BACHMANN: This is going to be a very– (LAUGH) but, I don’t think so. (CHEERING) It’s gonna be a very heavy lift.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I gotta get Senator Santorum in here.

MICHELE BACHMANN: It’s gonna be a very heavy lift.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator.

RICK SANTORUM: This is not about what you say at a debate or what you say in a campaign when you’re talking to audiences that you wanna get– that you– that you know what you wanna hear. Back in 1994 when they would– I was running for the United States Senate and I did not support an individual mandate and I was a conservative, I supported something called Medical Savings Accounts that I drafted with John Kasich when I was in the House because I believe in bottom-up solving the problems in America, not top-down government solutions.

That’s what I learned– I actually learned it, some of it, in listening to some of your GOPAC tapes. But, you’ve strayed on that issue, as you have on others. The record is important. But what the question was about a consistent conservative, well, you can’t talk about whether someone’s consistent unless you look at their record. And I’d agree with Michele. I mean, I think Michele has been consistent in– as– as a consistent conservative. But, she’s been fighting and losing. I fought and won. I was in the United States Senate and I fought and– and passed Welfare Reform. It– I was the principal author when I was in the United States House and was– and– and managed the bill on the floor of the United States Senate.

I was the– leader on– on pro-life issues and pro-family issues. And I fought those issues and endured tough debates and won. I went out and fought on na– national security issues, conservative things like putting sanctions on Iran. And again, the consistent track record of being there in good times and in bad, and I think you heard the difference– you’re not gonna hear them talk about all the positions I took and flip-flopped on. I was there. I led. And I won.

And if you’re lookin’ for someone who can be a consistent conservative, and there’s others on this platform, but who can lead the fight, win the issues, and plus, win in states that are important for us to win elections like Pennsylvania and–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I– I– I’m tryin’ to be– we’ve tried to– I’ll– I’ll– I’ll risk using the word, we’ve tried to be liberal with the time. But, the time (LAUGH)– (UNINTEL)close as we can. We– and we are running up against a commercial break, but it did invoke you kinda swimming backwards, so 30 seconds to respond.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, you know, I think the important thing to know is that you fight and that you lead. And I led when I– I was– when I was in the United States Congress, we were in the minority. Nancy Pelosi wasn’t interested in my pro– pro– pro– growth policy on health care. But, I didn’t sit on my hands. I saw what was happening to this country. Our country was going to lose because of socialized medicine.

And so I did everything I could, including bringing and leading 40,000 people to the Capitol to get the attention of the– of the Congress to get rid of ObamaCare. As President of the United States, my proven consistent record will be that I will take on every special interest. I will take on K Street. And I will pre-lobby. And I’ll make sure that I help elect 13 more Republican U.S. Senators so we have 60 senators in the Senate, a full complement in the House. And I won’t rest until we repeal ObamaCare. You can take it to the bank.

RICK SANTORUM: But, if I can– if I can res– if I can respond to that, because she referenced that– she referenced there (BACKGROUND VOICE) are differences between the two of us, I was in the minority in the House of Representatives, too. And along with Jim Nussle from here in Iowa, I– we formed a– a group called the Gang of Seven and we won. We exposed the House banking scandal. We overturned a huge scandal. We– we sent the– eventually sent the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Dan Rostenkowski ended up in jail, because, no, we didn’t just fight. But we fight and we figured out a way to win, even in the minority.

DIANE SAWYER: And we wanna thank all of you. And again, these are the rules that you set up. We wanna be fair. And we wanna hear everything you have to say. These issues are so important. But, it really does help if you stick to the rules that were agreed on. And we appreciate that. And if– we could, when we come back, we’re gonna tackle some other very big issues, immigration, big questions about foreign policy, and also one about states and family values. And that will be when we come back. (MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER: You’re watching live ABC News coverage of the Iowa Republican Party debate. (MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MITT ROMNEY: (MUSIC) The real difference, I believe, is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector. I understand how the economy works. And I believe that for Americans to– to say goodbye to President Obama and elect a Republican, they need to have confidence that the person they’re electing knows how to make this economy work again and create jobs for the American middle class.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response?

NEWT GINGRICH: (CLEARS THROAT) Just a second. We had four allegations. Do I get four responses?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Take your time. (THROAT CLEARING) (CHUCKLE)

NEWT GINGRICH: Okay. Let’s– let’s start with the last one. Let’s be candid. The only reason you didn’t become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994. (BOOS)

MITT ROMNEY: Now– now wait a second, now wait a second. That’s– that was– that was–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: That was– you’ll– you’ll get another response, go ahead.

NEWT GINGRICH: Do– do I get to go ahead and continue?

MITT ROMNEY: Please, please.

NEWT GINGRICH: No, and I’m just saying–

MICHELE BACHMANN: You want a difference, Michele Bachmann is a proven conservative. It’s not Newt Romney.

MALE VOICE: You threw– you threw a lot out there. (APPLAUSE)

ANNOUNCER: Back live from Des Moines, Iowa (INAUDIBLE).

(OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

ANNOUNCER: Live from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, once again, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We are back. It has been a rocking debate so far. And we want to get to another issue that you all talked about extensively in this campaign, and that is values, family, and faith. Governor Romney and Governor Perry, you both made it a feature of ads you ran in Iowa this week, which leads to this question from our partners at the Des Moines Register. And we’re gonna show it up on the screen. “Should voters consider marital fidelity in making their choices for president?” And– and Governor Perry, in South Carolina this week you said this is an important issue. Why?

RICK PERRY: Well– it– I said that– not only did I make a vow to my wife, but I made a vow to God. And– that’s pretty heavy liftin’ in my book. When I make a vow to God– then– I would suggest to you that’s– even stronger than a handshake in Texas. (APPLAUSE)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The question is– is about its relevance to the presidential race. So, let me just follow up quickly. Do you think a candidate who breaks his marital vows is more likely to break faith with voters?

RICK PERRY: Well, you know, I– I think the voters are wise enough to figure that one out. I’ve always kind of been of the opinion that– if you cheat on your wife, you’ll cheat on your business partner. So– I think that– issue of fidelity is– important. I mean, it’s– it– it’s a characteristic of which people look at– individuals, whether it’s in their business lives or whether it’s in their personal lives, or whether it’s pickin’ someone that– served– in public office for them.

Individuals who have been– fidelit– in– in fidelity with– with their spouse– I think that sends a very powerful message. If you will cheat on your wife, if you will cheat on your spouse, then why wouldn’t you cheat on your business partner or why wouldn’t you cheat on anybody for that matter?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Santorum, you ran this week, last Sunday, and you– summed up your position of character counts. You said this is relevant as well.

RICK SANTORUM: I– I think character issues do count. And I think– all– all of– all of your record– personal as well as political record is there– for the public to look at. I would not say it’s a disqualifier. I wouldn’t go that far. I think people make mistakes and– you are held accountable to those mistakes and– the public can listen to– the circumstances and– and make their decision.

But certainly, it’s a factor. And it– and it should be a factor. You’re electing a leader. You’re electing someone that trust is everything, and particularly in this election. This election, the people of this– of Iowa– I hear this all the time. Who can we trust? And I– I go out and talk about my record. I talk about the fact that I’ve been married 21 years and have seven children.

I talk about the fact that I’m– I have a record of consistent– and– and conservative politics. I talk about– you know, my past. I think that’s important, and for the people to go and determine whether they’re trustworthy enough to earn their support.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Paul, what’s your view on this?

RON PAUL: You know, I think character is, obviously– very important. I– I don’t think it should be necessary to have to talk about it. I think it should show through in the way we live. And I think it should show through in– in a marriage. And I happen to have been married for 54 years and family person. But, I don’t think we should have to talk about it. But, you know what? (UNINTEL) is– every bit as important. It– if your marriage vows are important, what about our oath of office? That’s what really gets to me.

That’s where you’re really on the line as a public figure. And that’s where I think a lot of people come up real short. Because there’s many times that I have been forced to Congress because I take my oath very seriously. I am up sometimes, believe it or not, voting all by myself (CHUCKLE) thinking that, “Why aren’t there people paying att– why don’t they read Article One, Section Eight?” You know, if– if we took that oath of office seriously in Washington, we’d get rid of 80% of the government.

The budget would be balanced. We’d have sound money. And we would have prosperity. And we wouldn’t be the policemen of the world. We wouldn’t have a Federal Reserve System, and we wouldn’t be invading the privacy of every single individual in this country with bills like the Patriot Act. We’d have a free society and a prosperous society. (APPLAUSE)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, you– you chose to make your family and your faith– the feature of your first ad here in Iowa this week. Why?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, actually– the president, President Obama’s PAC– came out with an ad attacking me– and said that I’m– I’m not a person of core values, I’m not– I don’t have a core. And we said– you know in my prior campaigns I’ve come out with ads that show who I am and why I’ve gotten in this race. And that relates to my family and my kids. I’m really concerned about America. I think the issue people have to concentrate on is– is, “Who can lead America to a place where we– we don’t become a Greece or an Italy?”

Because, frankly, that’s the path we’re on. That’s where we’re going. Who can make sure that America’s values, our merit-based society, continues to be the– the hallmark of what allows our economy to create jobs? Who can make sure that it’s good to be middle class in America again? Who can make sure that America is the job-creating engine it once w– once was? Who can make sure that the kids going to school know that when they get outta school, they’re gonna have a job waiting for them that meets the– the– the kinda skills that they’ve created?

I– I believe I’m that person. And– and part of my motivation for doing those things is I love this country, I love the values of this country, a– and I wanna make sure that– that my kids and my grandkids, and I have quite a few of them, 16, that they have an America that’s as prosperous as the America that I’ve enjoyed and just as free.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanna get– Congressman– Congresswoman Bachmann and then Speaker Gingrich, you wrap this up.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, the founders spoke about this. And the question was asked, “What is it that we need to have in the president?” And they wrote in the Federalist Papers. They didn’t look at wealth. They didn’t look at education. They didn’t look at position. (COUGH) They looked at just one issue. And it was, “What’s the measure of a man? Or, what’s the measure of a woman, in our case, for being the next president of the United States. Will they keep their word? Will they be a man or woman of integrity?” That’s what they cared about.

That was more important than anything else. And I think– here in Iowa, that’s what I’ve seen. That is also what people care about. Who are you, really? What is your center? What’s your core? What’s your world view? What drives you? And so people want to know, “What’s your faith?” I’m– I’m a Christian. I’m– I’m unashamed and unapologetic about that. I have a strong faith. I made a proclamation of my faith in Christ when I was 16. And I don’t mind if people ask me those questions or ask me about my husband or our family. I’m happy to talk about that, because after all, people (COUGH) need to take the measure of the man or the measure of the woman when they make that decision.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich, what do voters need to know about this issue from your perspective?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, (CLEARS THROAT) first of all, I think it is a real issue. And people have to look at the person whom they’re gonna loan the presidency. And they have the– they have the right to ask every single question. They have to have a feeling that this is a person that they can trust with the level of power we give to the presidency. And I think it’s a very, very important issue. And I think people have to render judgment. In my case, I’ve said up-front openly I’ve made mistakes at times. I’ve had to go to God for forgiveness. I’ve had to seek reconciliation. But I’m also a 68-year-old grandfather. And I think people have to measure who I am now and whether I’m a person they can trust. And all I can tell you is that, you know, I am– delighted at the way people have been willing to look at who I am, to look at what my record has been, and the amount of support we’re getting from the American people and from all across the State of Iowa, the number of people who have supported– the candidacy of real change and a record of real change.

DIANE SAWYER: And I’d like to turn now, if we can, to the issue of immigration. And so many people talk about it in their living room, talk about it around their dinner tables at night– if I can. And can we just do one thing for the interest of time? Can we stipulate that every single person on this stage tonight has said the number one thing to do is secure the borders, secure the borders, secure the borders, secure the borders. You may have slightly different prescriptions to do it. But, we stipulate that, that that’s what you all want to do first.

I’d like to turn, now, the question, the 11 million undocumented people in this country. And Speaker Gingrich, I’m gonna come back to you because you have talked about citizen review boards to review individual cases, that treated them in individual basis. You– you’ve– you mentioned the fact that someone who’s been here 25 years, served the community, should get special consideration under this board. How many years is the threshold for your– is it five years– has served the community under the criteria that you’ve set out before, five years also a candidate?

NEWT GINGRICH: I think, first of all, that anybody you would apply to a– the citizen review board idea came out of a selective service model. It was used as draft boards in World War II. We relied on the local citizens to render judgment about who oughta be deferred, who oughta be drafted. Did they have local knowledge? That’s the starting point.

Second, I started wi– with– with cases that I think are very hard to– to argue about. Someone who’s been here 25 years, somebody who has been a good local citizen, may well belong to your church, has children and grandchildren in the United States, and I will just say flatly, I do not believe the people of the United States are gonna send the police in to rip that kinda person out and ship them outta this country, (COUGH) particularly because those are precisely the people that end up in churches as sanctuaries.

And I think we oughta be honest about that. I think most of the workers who are here who have no ties to us should go home immediately. I think we should make deportation dramatically easier. This is, I think frankly we oughta make English the official language of government. And we oughta have an effective guest worker program with very severe penalties for those employers who hire people illegally.

DIANE SAWYER: But, the Pew Center for Hispanic Center, as you know, has said that maybe 3.5 million people could come under the criteria that you laid out.

NEWT GINGRICH: I– I don’t think there’s 3.5 million people who’ve been here 25 years.

DIANE SAWYER: But they’re talking about people who have been here 15 years. 15 years.

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I wasn’t. They were. You used a number that doesn’t relate to my proposal.

DIANE SAWYER: But, under the criteria that you have set out, do you have a threshold on the number of people you would consider before the review board?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I– that’s why you have the citizen review panel. The per– the person has to have been here 25 years, have genuine ties to the community, be a good citizen, and have an American family sponsor them. And they still don’t get citizenship. This is not amnesty. They get residency. And they pay a penalty in order to get residency.

DIANE SAWYER: Okay, I’m gonna turn it to k– to Governor Romney because we heard Speaker Gingrich say we’re not gonna round people up and deport them. And I think at one point– you said something similar in a meeting at Bloomberg that– that they’re not going to be tracking everybody down and moving them out. And yet, to our colleague David Muir– wanna try to clarify something. You said, “You seem to indicate that people should go back home to their country.” And in some cases it may mean as much as five years if they get at the back of the line or more. Are you saying– how many people should be sent back home to their countries? Should they be tracked down to establish who they are, sent back home to their country?

MITT ROMNEY: I– I believe that any time that we start talking about a– a form of amnesty, whether it’s technically amnesty or not, when we start talking about how people have been able to come here and stay illegally for some period of time, that they’re gonna be able to stay here permanently and become a permanent resident of the United States with– with rights to our education system, our health care system, and so forth, we will then create another magnet that draws people into our country illegally.

So, the right course for us is to, once again, talk about what you described. Secure the border. Once we do that, we can start talking about the 11 million or whatever number that may be that are in the country illegally. My own view is those 11– 11 million people should register the fact that they’re here in the country. They should be given some transition period of time to allow them to– settle their affairs and then return home and get in the– in line at the back of the line with everybody else that wants to come here.

Don’t forget, when we talk about– about– the difficulty of people going home, there are millions of people who– many of whom have relatives here in this country who are in line, who want to come here. I want to bring people into this country who have skill, experience, family here who want to draw them in. I do not want to do something. (NOISE) I do not want to do something which encourages another wave of illegal immigration. So, from my view– viewpoint, the key– the key measure is this: No favoritism for permanent residency or citizenship for those that have come here illegally.

DIANE SAWYER: So, you’ve said all 11 million. If I could Governor Perry– there is a case or there are a number of these cases of– of people who have signed up for the military, the U.S. military, who have been undocumented but nonetheless go and sign up. What should happen with them?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Well, let me– address the issue that you asked from the start, and obviously securing that border is the– is the key. And any of these conversations that we’re having now are nothing more than intellectual– discussions until you secure that border.

But if this country would simply enforce the laws that are already on the book, you think about all of the laws that we have that are already out there, laws that clearly saw– that– that, “Here are punishments,” and, “Here’s what will happen.” If this country would simply enforce the laws that we have on the book– I will tell you one thing: As the president of the United States, you will not see me sending my Justice Department to sue states like Arizona that are havin’ to sovereign rights, I think, put in jeopardy by our Justice Department.

You will not see a catch and release program like this administration has today th– where people who are caught who are illegally in this country, and because they haven’t been (RUSTLING) caught in a violent situation, they’re released. Released into the general population. That’s the problem that we’ve got in this country.

I would suggest to you we spend time with the laws that we’ve got on the book being enforced, we’ll have a substantial smaller number of people of which we’re gonna have to make decisions about at that particular point in time. And then we can have a legitimate conversation about immigration reform.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanna change subjects now because– (APPLAUSE) foreign policy was– Speaker Gingrich caused something of a stir overnight in the Middle East with comments he made in interview with the Jewish channel in which he called the Palestinians an invented people. And– I just wondered– G– Congressman Paul, if I can start with you: Do you agree with that characterization, that the Palestinians are an invented people?

CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL: N– no, I don’t agree with that. And that’s just stirrin’ up trouble. And I– I believe in a non-interventionist foreign policy. I don’t think we should get in the middle of these squabbles. But to go out of our way and say that so-and-so is not a real people? Technically and historically, yes– you know, under the Ottoman Empire, the Palestinians didn’t have a state, but neither did Israel have a state then too.

But this is how we get involved in so many messes. And I think it just fails on the side of– practicing a little bit of diplomacy, getting ourselves (LAUGH) into trouble mentioning things that are unnecessary. The people in those regions should be dealing with these problems; we shouldn’t be dealing with these things.

But– historically, it– it– you know, under the Ottoman Empire, that i– that is– technically– correct. But to make these decisions in deciding what the settlement’s going to be should be the people that are involved. This idea that we can be the policemen of the world and settle all these disputes, I mean, soon we’ll have to quit because we’re flat out broke. But we– we cannot continue to get into these issues like this and– and– and– and getting ourselves into more trouble.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich, as I’ve said, this has caused quite a reaction in– in the Middle East. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Sa– Saeb Erekat, said, “Mark my words: These statements of Gingrich will be the ammunition and weapons of the bin Ladens and the extremists for a long, long time.”

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: How would he know the difference? Look from historic, George, simply. Is– is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes. Are we in a situation where every day, rockets are fired into Israel while the United States, the current administration, tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process?

Hamas does not admit the– the right of Israel to exist, and says publicly, “Not a single Jew will remain.” The Palestinian Authority ambassador to India said last month, “There is no difference between Fatah and Hamas. We both agree Israel has no right to exist.”

Somebody oughta have the courage to tell the truth: These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, “If there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?” We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. It’s fundamentally– time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, “Enough lying about the Middle East.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, (APPLAUSE) you just heard the Speaker say he was just telling the truth. Do you take any issue with that characterization of the Palestinians as an invented people?

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: I– I happen to agree with– with most of what the speaker said, except by going down and saying the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker’s part. I– I think– you– you– I think the speaker would probably suggest that as well. I– I don’t think we want to–

(SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: UNINTEL)

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: Maybe not. I– (LAUGHTER) I think we’re very wise to stand with our friends, Israel, and not get out ahead of them. This president decided he was gonna try and negotiate for Israel by sayin’, “Let’s go back to the ’67 borders.” That’s not what Israel wanted to h– hear.

They– Israel does not want us to make it more difficult for them to sit down with the Palestinians. Ultimately, the Palestinians and the Israelis are gonna have to agree on how they’re gonna settle the– the differences between them. And the United States–

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: –and the– and the United States of America should not jump ahead of Bibi Netanyahu and say something that makes it more difficult for him to– to do his job. My view is this: We stand with the Israeli people. We link arms with them. If we disagree with them, like this president has time and time again, we don’t do it in public like he’s done it, we do it in private.

And we let the Israeli leadership describe what they believe the right course is going forward. We don’t negotiate for the Israeli people. We stand with the Israeli people, stand with our friends, and make it very clear: We are gonna t– we’re gonna tell the truth, but we’re not gonna throw incendiary words into a– a place which is– a boiling pot when our friends the Israelis would probably say, “What in the world are you doin’?”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So there you have it, Mr. Speaker. He says this is gonna make life more difficult for the Israelis.

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: The Israelis are getting rocketed every day. The– we’re not making life more difficult. The Obama administration’s making life more difficult. The fact is, the Palestinian claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story. Somebody oughta have the courage to go all the way back to the 1921 League of Nations mandate for a Jewish homeland, point out the context in which Israel came into existence, and “Palestinian” did not become a common term until after 1977. This is a propaganda war in which our side refuses to engage. And we refuse to tell the truth when the other side lies. And you’re not gonna win the long run if you’re afraid to stand firm and stand for the truth.

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: Of course you s– of course you stand firm, and stand for the truth. But you don’t speak for Israel.

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: I didn’t.

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: If– if– if– if Bibi Netanyahu wants to say what you said, let him say it. But our ally, b– the– the people of Israel, should be able to take their own positions and not have us negotiate for them.

DIANE SAWYER: I want to turn, if I can, to–

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: But can– can I just say one last thing? Because I didn’t speak for the people of Israel. I spoke as a historian who’s looked at the world stage for a very long time. I’ve known Bibi since 1984. I feel quite confident an amazing number of Israelis found it nice to have an American tell the truth about the war they are in the middle of and the casualties they’re taking and the people who surround them who say, “You do not have the right to exist, and we want to destroy you.”

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: I– I’ve known– I’ve– (APPLAUSE) I’ve also known Bibi Netanyahu for a long time. We worked together at– at Boston Consulting Group. And the last thing Bibi Netanyahu needs to have is not just a person who’s an historian, but somebody who is also running for president of the United States, stand up and say things that create extraordinary tumult in– in his neighborhood.

DIANE SAWYER: Congresswoman–

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: And I’m president of the United States, I will exercise sobriety, care, stability. And make sure that in a setting like this, anything I say that can affect a place with– with rockets going in, with people dying, I don’t do anything that would harm that– that process.

And therefore, before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say, “Would it help if I said this? What would you like me to do? Let’s work together, because we’re partners.” I’m not a bomb thrower, rhetorically or literally.

DIANE SAWYER: Under the rules, we need– your response. (APPLAUSE)

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: I think sometimes it is helpful to have a president of the United States with the courage to tell the truth, just as was Ronald Reagan who went around his entire national security apparatus to call the Soviet Union an evil empire and who overruled his entire State Department in order to say, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Reagan believed the power of truth restated the world and reframed the world. I am a Reaganite, I’m proud to be a Reaganite. I will tell the truth, even if it’s at the risk of causing some confusion sometimes with the timid.

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: I think it’s important (APPLAUSE)–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Who’s got the better of this argument, Congresswoman Bachmann? Who’s got the better of this argument?

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN: Who has the better of this argument?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah. (LAUGHTER)

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN: In 1974, I went to Israel for the first time and I worked on a kibbutz for the summer. And I saw a brand new nation that had begun in 1948 and was making its way into the modernization that we know today. They’re a first world nation. I was able to return as a member of Congress multiple times, and I also met with Fayad in Ramallah in the very room that Arafat used as his conference room. When I was in there, I– I had asked Fayad about the issue that we were very concerned about, and that’s how the Palestinians teach their children to hate the Jews and call them pigs and swine and descendants from Hades.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, but do you think–

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN: And I– and let me finish–

(OVERTALK)

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN: And I have asked him about this very important issues, because how do you find peace when you continue to teach your children hatred? And asked Fayad about this issue, and he said, “Oh, tha– we don’t do that anymore. Our textbooks aren’t filled with that.”

And I said, “Oh really?” I pulled out a manila envelope that I’d brought with me, and I pulled out the pages that I’d photocopied out of current books that were being used that clearly showed that. And he said, “Oh, but these are old textbooks.” And he said– I said, “Really? Well, then why don’t you send me the new textbooks that no longer say that and compare them with the old?” And I checked my mailbox today; he still hasn’t me those textbooks. That’s what needs to change.

DIANE SAWYER: Senator Santorum, let me put to you George’s question. Who’s got the better of the argument?

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM: Well, I– I think you have to speak the truth– but you have to do so with prudence. I mean, it’s– it’s a combination. Th– and, you know, I– I– I sat there and I listened to both of ’em; I thought they both had– made excellent points.

But we’re in a real-life situation. This isn’t an academic exercise. We’ve got– we have a– we have an ally, and the policy of this country should be to stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally. And– we– we didn’t have an ally in the Soviet Union. The only allies we had were sitting in gulags, and they desperately needed to hear the truth. And Ronald Reagan provided that truth.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So– so do we–

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM: Here, we have–

(OVERTALK)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –with prudence, would that be saying (NOISE) Palestinians are invented or not?

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM: If I can finish my s– comment, I’ll get to that, George. (LAUGHTER) That– that we– we have an ally here that we have to work closely with. And I think Mitt’s point was– was the correct one. We need to be working with the Israelis to find out, you know what? Is this a wise thing for us to do, to step forward and to engage this issue? Maybe it is.

My guess is, at this point in time, it’s not. Not that we shouldn’t tell the truth, but we should be talking to our allies. It’s their fight. We are to be their ally, we’re to be– supporting them. And I’m– I– I’ve been out here very publicly– that the Israelis have the right to determine what happens in their land. And all of Israel, including the quote– you know, West Bank, is Israeli land. And we need to work with them as to the solution that works best for our ally.

DIANE SAWYER: Governor Perry, close this–

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Let me–

DIANE SAWYER: –please.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: –just say that I think this is a minor issue– that the media is blowing– way out of proportion. We have a president of the United States who has put the most muddled foreign policy in place that is causing the problems in the Middle East. Whether it goes back to two thousand and– and– nine when we had an opportunity to impact Iran, whether it has been the way that– he stood back in Egypt and did not try to negotiate people who would come in that w– could work with us, and now we have radical Islamists as the head of Egypt, whether it was leading from the rear, if you will, in– in Libya.

The idea that this president now, with Iran getting one of our predator drones in their possession, and he had two opportunities– well, he didn’t have two opportunities, he had two choices– actually, he had three. And he chose the worst.

And those two opportunities he had was to either retrieve that drone, or to destroy it, and he did the worst of the three and he did absolutely nothing. And the Russians and the Chinese will have our highly technical equipment now. This president is the problem, not something that Newt Gingrich said. (APPLAUSE)

DIANE SAWYER: We have to take a break right now, and I just want to say that we have a partner in all of this, which of course is Yahoo. I want to put up a question which we want to address when we come back about the struggles of the middle class in this country. And we have a question on Yahoo about the last time those of you had a personal financial strain that forced you to cut back on a necessity, as so many people in the middle class say they do. What were the consequences you fa– you faced, and will you weigh in on that? And that’s when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (MUSIC)

(REVIEW CLIPS NOT TRANSCRIBED)

ANNOUNCER: Live from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, once again, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos.

DIANE SAWYER: And we welcome all of you back and, again, we thank the Republican candidates for president of the United States for debating here tonight. I’m gonna return to the Yahoo question, which brings the struggles of the middle class down to something personal for everyone who is behind a podium up there.

And here’s what it said: “Many of us are forced to make cuts to continue necessities such as mortgage payments, groceries, transportation to work, and health care.” And then the question continues, they want to know, “When is the last time you had a personal financial strain that forced you, not only to give up a luxury, but also to cut back on necessity? And what were the consequences you faced?” This is from Andrew in Texas. And I’d like to start, Governor Perry, with you.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Well, obviously– growin’ up where I grew up– there were some people that probably said– as a matter of fact, I was on– radio station here, WHO– yesterday and– and talked about my upbringing. And– growin’ up in a house that didn’t have– running water until I was five or six years old and– and my mother– sewin’ my own clothes for me till I went off to college.

And– the idea that– luxury really wasn’t in my lexicon. But as I grew and as I– went off and flew in the United States Air Force and I came back home, and as a 27-year-old boy– well, I was a m– grown man by then– but I didn’t have anything– I– my social security– has a zero in 1978. So I’m sure I was givin’ up some things that other people would consider to be luxuries.

But the fact is– I’ve never had a time in my life when I felt like that I gave anything up that I didn’t have everything I needed. And– I know there are people that are– that are suffering in America today, and that’s the reason we need to get this country back working and having people so that they can have a job. And the policies that I’ve laid out, and the record that I’ve had in the State of Texas for the last decade, clearly gives that record to the people of this country.

DIANE SAWYER: Again, we just want to remind you that, when the red comes up, you– the rules that were agreed on here. I’ll do the two governors; Governor Romney grew up in very different circumstances. What about this question?

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: I didn’t grow up poor. And if somebody is looking for someone who’s grown up with that background, I’m– I’m not the person. But I– but I grew up with a dad who’d been poor, and my dad wanted to make sure I understood the lessons of hard work. And my mom and dad wanted to make sure that I understood the principles that made America the greatest nation on earth.

And so they made sure we had jobs as we were growing up. They made sure we didn’t spend money foolishly. And they made sure that I had– a care and concern for other people. I was able to serve my church overseas, and to– to meet people there that had very difficult circumstances in their life. I also spent time in this country, serving as a pastor in my– in my church, and again, having the occasion to work with people that were really struggling. I saw marriages under great stress.

You see, when– when people lose jobs, marriages get strained, people’s health gets affected– people become depressed. And– and I’m in this race, not– not because I grew up without means, but because I understand what it takes to get America working again. And I love this country enormously and understand the principles and understand the specifics that it takes to get America creating jobs again. That’s why I’m in the race.

DIANE SAWYER: And Congressman Paul, what does this question evoke? How much does it matter to have personal experience?

CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL: Well– I feel very fortunate because– although I was raised in– in a system that– in a family that was rather poor, but we– (LAUGH) I didn’t even know it. You know, it was durin’ the Depression and World War II, and we didn’t have very much, and I worked my way through college, and that was a natural instinct because that’s what you were supposed to do. But– I– I– I finally– did a little bit better in medical school because I had my wife work our way through cool– (LAUGH) medical school. (LAUGHTER) So that worked out a little bit better.

But middle class is suffering, but not only because we bale out the rich and dump on the poor and they lose their jobs and they lose their houses, but there’s a characteristic about monetary policy. When a country destroys its currency, it transfers wealth from the middle class to the wealthy, and this is what you’re seeing today: the elimination of the middle class. And going to get a lot worse unless we address the subject overspending, over-borrowing, and printing too much money, and understanding the business cycle.

DIANE SAWYER: Senator Santorum. (APPLAUSE)

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM: I c– I can say that I grew up in a very modest home and was very blessed to have– all my basic needs met. And one of the most basic needs and the most important one that I’ve learned was that I was blessed to have a mother and a father. That was the most important gift that I was given, that I had two parents who were together, who loved me, who supported me and made me feel safe. And made the– the– the little things that no one would consider luxuries today feel like luxuries because I had that sense of security.

Unfortunately, America, we see the family continuing to break down. And with that, the economic status of those families. Single-parent households in America now have poverty levels approaching 40%. So– you not only have the lack of security and stability in so many cases, because moms are doin’ heroic work tryin’ to hold things together, but it’s hard.

And so what we can do as a federal government, we can do more importantly as the leader of this country, to try to promote this institution of marriage. Try to promote the family and try to nurture this environment that we have to– to make sure that families are elevated and supported and fathers and mothers are there to take care of their families and– and– and– and be there for their children. That’s the most important luxury, is a mom and a dad.

DIANE SAWYER: And Congresswoman Bachmann, someone said recently that troubled banks got a bailout, troubled homeowners got evicted. Your response on this question and the struggle for the middle class.

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, I opposed the $700 bailout for Wall Street because Wall Street rolled the dice and they made some very foolish decisions. They were only too happy to pocket profits when times were good, but when times went south and things got sour then they decided to socialize their losses. And the– American taxpayer was only too good to bail them out.

There’s people on this stage that– supported that bailout; I didn’t. Behind closed doors, I took on the Treasury secretary, Hank Paulson; I took on my own president because I knew this was going to be a very bad deal.

You’d asked the question about luxuries and where we come from. I was born here in Iowa to a middle-class family, but my family went through a tragedy that millions of families go through: My folks got divorced. And when it happened, my mom found herself a single mom who’d been a full-time homemaker, she had four kids. We went to below poverty overnight. And when I was 13, I had to start getting a job to help out the family.

I know what the– it’s like for single moms to struggle. And throughout most of our marriage, we’re still coupon clippers today. We still go to consignment stores today. We get what that feels like. And I think it’s important for the next president of the United States to be in touch with what real people struggle with across the country, and I have.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich? (APPLAUSE)

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: Well, let me say first of all, the– that– when I was young, we lived– in an apartment above a gas station on the square in Holmestown (PH), Pennsylvania. I had relatives who were steel workers, others who were delivery men, some who worked in department stores. My dad was in the Army and we’d moved around, and he lived on the pay of a junior officer. By the time– it was fairly frugal, but you– you didn’t feel desperate.

Today, I’ve had several relatives in the last three years who’ve been out of work, who’ve had to go through very difficult times. My wife Callista runs Gingrich Productions as a company. It’s a very small company, does basically movies and books and things like that. We have to meet a payroll. We have to find markets. We have to find– you know– d– well, do– do everything that small businesses go through. And I know how difficult this economy is at a practical level if you’re a small business.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanna stick with Yahoo because as you– we said at the start, we’re getting real-time feedback from our Yahoo audience. Over 12,000 people have already weighed in on Yahoo and ABCNews.com. An– and this is directed at– at Speaker Gingrich and– and– and Governor Romney, because more than 72% say right now they want to hear more from you about your past support for health care mandates.

That’s something that they’re still not fully satisfied with what they’ve heard– (NOISE) from you. And– and Speaker Gingrich– I mean, Governor Romney, let me begin with you because– you were clear. You’ve said you’ve always been against a federal mandate; you supported it in the State of Massachusetts. Where there has been some ambiguity, at least in the past, is whether you think that other states should try the mandate. Back in 2007, you said that you thought it would be good for most states to try it; now you say you wouldn’t encourage other states to try. Can you explain that?

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: States can do whatever the heck they want to do; that’s the great thing about– (APPLAUSE) about our system. I– I think there’s a good deal that we did that people can look at and find as a model, that could–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The mandate?

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: –help other state– if some– if they want to, sure. They could try what they think is best. I– that’s– it’s up to other states to try what works for them. Some will like that; some will think it’s a terrible idea. We had this idea of exchanges where people could buy insurance– from companies, private companies– we have no government insurance, by the way, in our state. It’s all– other than the federal Medicare/Medic– Medicaid programs. It’s all private pay. So people can learn from one another.

But– but my– (LAUGH) my plan– was designed for our state, and other states should have the right to create plans that work for them. And if they come up with something better than we did, then we can learn from them. But the idea of a federal government or a federal mandate, as you see with Obamacare, flies in the face of the Constitution, violates the tenth amendment. I think the Supreme Court will strike it down. If they don’t, I will.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich– Congresswoman Bachmann pointed out that as– as late as May of this year, you supported some form of the mandate when everyone else had– had come out against it. What finally tipped you over and convinced you that it was unconstitutional?

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I think first of all for the federal government to do it is unconstitutional because it means the Congress– the Congress, which could compel you to purchase this item, could compel you to purchase any item. And so the question of freedom would be d– would be missed. And any (MIC NOISE) majority could then decide to make you do virtually anything. I think that’s part of why you’re seeing a dramatic shift back towards limiting the federal government and towards imposing the tenth amendment as a very serious barrier.

I– I’ve been working on health issues since 1974. And I’ve been t– and– and I tried to find a way to break out of where we are, because the fact is the whole third-party payment model, whether public or private, has grown more and more expensive, more and more difficult to sustain. And helped found the Center for Health Transformation that– for that reason, wrote a book called Saving Lives and Saving Money back in 2002.

We need to fundamentally rethink the entire health system to move back towards a doctor-patient relationship, and back toward something like what Rick Santorum talked about with health savings accounts where people are directly engaged in their own health and in taking care of themselves to a much greater degree than they are in the current insurance system.

DIANE SAWYER: If I can switch to this question, and– and it is about health care, because a number of people– in fact, I was just at a pharmacy here– I– have a cough. But I was (LAUGH) at the pharmacy here in Iowa, and the pharmacists were talking about a big– driver of health care costs. And they specifically mentioned habits, unhealthy habits that we all need to learn to be better on at a young age. They talked about obesity, they talked about exercise. If I can ask you, Congressman Paul: Anything government should do on these fronts?

CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL: On– on medical? Or?

DIANE SAWYER: On these fronts, specifically, of healthy behavior at very young– ages for– it’s–

CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL: No, essentially not, but they have to be– a referee. If people are doing things that hurt other people, yes. But if you embark on instituting a society where government protects you from yourself, you’re in big trouble, and that’s what they’re doing. (APPLAUSE)

I think– I think what we’ve had here is a demonstration of– why should we have a candidate that’s gonna have to explain themselves? 70% of the people want further explanations on what your positions are. So I think that it is endless. But you talk about the– the Obamacare using force, but that’s all government is, is force.

I mean, do you have a choice about paying Medicare taxes? So there’s not a whole of different– you’re forced to buy insurance. That’s one step further. But you have to stop with force. Once government uses force to mold behavior or mold the economy, they’ve overstepped the bounds and they’ve violated the whole concept of our revolution and our Constitution. (APPLAUSE)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We– we are running short on time. I just want to ask quickly, does anyone disagree with the first part of Congressman Paul’s answer there, where he said the government really shouldn’t be getting involved in these broader issues of behavior?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Listen, I happen to think that the states– that’s their call, not the federal government. The states should be able to make decisions on whether they– Terry, you probably have some programs here– in Iowa to get–

(MALE VOICE: UNINTEL)

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: There you go. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) So– it– it– it should be their call. But listen, this goes back, and– and– and Congressman Paul and I, you know, we disagree from time to time. But the real issues that we have in this country are that people are sick of Washington, D.C. They’re sick of the money that they’re seeing spent, they’re sick of the fraud and the corruption that they’re seeing.

They’re sick of seeing their– their kids’ futures mortgaged because we’ve got a Washington, D.C., that is out of touch with the country. It’s the reason, when I talk about my overhauling Washington plan, and I’ve gotten a pretty good response across the country when I talk about goin’ to a part-time Congress. Cut their pay in half, let ’em spend half the time in Washington, D.C. Send ’em back home to have a regular job like the rest of the people in their districts, and work under the laws that they pass. That I will suggest to you, along with a balanced budget amendment to the United States Congress, will go a long way toward stoppin’ a lot of the nonsense that we’re seeing comin’ out of Washington–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, it was Governor–

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: –D.C.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –Branstad who said this is the– healthiest–

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN: Healthiest–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –state in the nation, and we will return to the healthiest state in the nation in just a minute.

ANNOUNCER: (MUSIC) You’re watching live ABC News coverage of the Iowa Republican Party debate.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Once again, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos.

DIANE SAWYER: And George and I were just talking about the fact, the question we get so often is, why can’t people who disagree show respect for each other, and can we all work together, even people who disagree, to move the country forward? And so–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So we’re– in form of closing, still we just want each of you, you’re running against each other. But in these last few minutes, and just think of a minute where we will not run over to commercial, (LAUGH) tell us the one thing you’ve learned from someone else, one of your challengers, on stage. Senator Santorum?

RICK SANTORUM: Well, I’ll– I’ll go back to– you know, the comment I made earlier. I mean, I– when I was first running for office– you know, Newt Gingrich was the guy that– who’s– who’s tapes I’ve listened to as a young man– and tryin’ to– at 30 years old, deciding to run for Congress. He laid out– a vision for conservative governance that– that I– adopted and– and ran with in a very, very tough Congressional district outside of suburban Pittsburgh, so tough that no one gave me a chance of winnin’ it.

Fact, election night the Wall Street Journal called the Republican National Committee to find out the name of the guy that won. And they didn’t even know my name at the RNC. (LAUGHTER) That’s a true story. And– and you don’t get a lotta true stories. But that’s a true story. And– and so, you know– I– I came out of the blue as a conservative.

Think that’s, again, the– the thing that distinguishes me. I– I’ve run as a conservative in a 60% Democratic district and won in a 70% Democratic district and won in the State of Pennsylvania with almost a million more Republicans than Democrats and won. I defeated an incumbent and– and won again. And– in a year that George Bush lost the election by five, I won by six. And– and I stuck by the conservative principles that Newt outlined in the– in the late ’80s. And– and it’s always served me well. I’ve been a consistent conservative.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Perry?

RICK PERRY: I’d say– Congressman Paul got me really intrigued with the whole– the federal reserve. And I’ve spent a substantial amount of time reading about and Currency Wars, the book by James Rickards that– but Congressman Paul is– is– is the individual in the stage that got me most interested in– in a subject that I found to be quite interesting and at the root of a lotta the problems that we have. And I thank you for that. But the one thing that I found– outside of– of these fine– individuals on this stage is that the people of this country, the people of this country really want to get America back on track.

And Ri– Congressman Keane, whether it’s somebody like you and– and your Idea Act that– that we talked about the other day– there are really good men and women in this country that wanna get this country back headed down a track. And they understand, Michele, just as you’ve said, that this election is about the future of this country. One of the most important elections, if not the most important election, and we gotta get it right.

DIANE SAWYER: Over to you, Governor Romney. (APPLAUSE)

MITT ROMNEY: I– I always find– the principle of leadership to be most interesting. And– and as I look at the people on this stage, each exhibits different qualities of leadership. And they’ve each exercised leadership in different ways. Wha– one of the about Ron Paul that always– amazes me is when I come to a debate like this, the only signs I see are the Ron Paul people out there– (LAUGHTER) in freezing. (APPLAUSE)

In freezing temperatures, they’re always there. He ignites an enthusiasm with a number of people. That’s very exciting to watch. In choosing a president, it– it’s the qualities of leadership that are gonna make the difference. Because our positions on issues are– are– are important, of course.

And I happen to think I’ve got the right positions on issues, of course. Or I wouldn’t have ’em. But– but fundamentally– we know that down the road what’s gonna de– determine who is a great president or not is– is their qualities of leadership in getting America back on track. And– and– and I believe– right now– and just as– as Governor Perry just said, this is the time for real leadership because this country is going in a very dangerous direction. This is a time where America has got to return to principles that will keep us the hope of the earth and– and the shining city on the hill. That light from that shining city has dimmed over the last three years. And I will help restore it. (APPLAUSE)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Mister speaker.

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I– I wanna say two people, one on the stage and one not. Governor Terry Branstad is my role model. Get outta politics for a while doin’ something else, be involved in health care, (LAUGHTER) come back when you’re clearly too old, too experienced, too tied to the past, win the governorship decisively, do a great job. (CHEERS) (APPLAUSE)

And the– the other– I just wanna say two other people very briefly. Rick Perry got me engaged about three years ago on this whole tenth amendment in a big, serious way. And I think that he is– he h– he has helped ignite a fire that is gonna change America. And Rick Santorum’s consistency and courage on Iran has been a hallmark of why, if we do survive, it will be in part because of people like Rick who’ve had the courage to te– tell the truth about the Iranians for a long time. (APPLAUSE)

RON PAUL: Well, I have learned that you should never give up on your opposition. Because if you’re persistent, (LAUGH) and you present your case, they will come your way. So Rick, I appreciate it. (LAUGHTER) Rick, I appreciate it. (UNINTEL) appreciate it. You’re open to the federal reserve. That’s wonderful. But I– I work from the assumption that freedom brings people together.

And if you understand freedom, it’s based on tolerance and nonviolence. So if it’s tolerance, it should be bringing all kinds of people together and that’s following our Constitution. And we shouldn’t be fighting among ourselves. Because we shouldn’t be fighting in Washington if we all take the same oath of office. Where does the fight come from? Somebody is messin’ up somewhere. (LAUGHTER) So– so I say that with persistence, I think that we can all prevail and come up with the right answers. (APPLAUSE)

(OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, I would agree with everything that’s been said here tonight. But I would also add again, someone that I mentioned a little bit earlier and that was Herman Cain. Herman Cain, I think when he brought up the 999 plan, and that you can’t have a debate without saying “999” in the debate, I think one thing that he showed us is the power of being very plain spoken.

And also reducing something to a very simple level so people get it. And people were very excited about that plan. Because they could understand what that meant. And I think that’s a challenge for every one of us; ’cause a lotta times, you can end up sounding and talking like a big bureaucrat in Washington. People don’t want that. They don’t want Washington. They want outside of Washington. And rightfully so. That’s why I think in this race, I’m– I’m the proven consistent conservative and I’m gonna go with win-win-win rather than 999.

DIANE SAWYER: Well again, we are at the end of the (APPLAUSE) time agreed upon by all of you, the candidates. And we thank you so much and we thank the people of Iowa, 24 days the voting begins.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s the time for us. We’re gonna be back with our political team for their independent analysis. We’re hearing lots of opinions on Yahoo and Twitter and Facebook. We’ll get to that in just a minute. (MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER: Much more to come as ABC’s live coverage of the Iowa Republican Party Debate continues. (APPLAUSE)

Full Text Campaign Buzz December 10, 2011: ABC News – Des Moines Register Iowa Debate — GOP Republican Presidential Candidates Debate at Drake University — Transcript Excerpts — Gingrich Wins Debate, Fends off Attacks — Romney’s $10,000 Dollar Mistake

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Mitt Romney, left, sought to raise questions about Newt Gingrich’s temperament during Saturday’s debate in Des Moines. More Photos »

IN FOCUS: ABC NEWS / DES MOINES REGISTER IOWA GOP REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE — NEWT ROMNEY: GINGRICH VS. ROMNEY VS. GOP CANDIDATES

The ABC News, ABC5/WOI-DT, The Des Moines Register and Republican Party of Iowa debate at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa

Live Blog: Race Reshaped, Rivals Target Gingrich in G.O.P. Debate: Newt Gingrich, who has surged in the polls, offered a robust defense of his views and experience during a debate in Des Moines, as his rivals urged voters to take a closer look at his candidacy…. – NYT, 12-10-11

Live Blog: GOP Presidential Iowa DebateABC News, 12-10-11

Race Reshaped, Rivals Target Gingrich in G.O.P. Debate: Three weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Newt Gingrich took fire for most of the evening and seemed to relish his new role as the leading Republican candidate in the field…. – NYT, 12-10-11

Dec. 10 | Republican Debate, Des Moines, Iowa 9 PM ET | hosted by ABC News, ABC5/WOI-DT, The Des Moines Register and Republican Party of Iowa: Six candidates will take the stage at Drake University in Des Moines. (Jon M. Huntsman Jr., still lagging in the polls, did not qualify; Herman Cainhas dropped out.) They will debate for two hours, from 9 p.m. Eastern time, in a session sponsored by ABC and The Des Moines Register and moderated by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos.
Much of the attention tonight will be on Newt Gingrich, whose surge in the national and state-by-state polls has drastically reshaped the race in the final weeks of 2011. The interaction between Mr. Gingrich and Mitt Romney, his chief rival, will be a featured part of the night.
But the energy of the debate may be generated by the other four candidates – Representatives Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Rick Santorum – each of whom may be shifting into desperation mode as the election draws nearer…. – NYT, 12-10-11

TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS

Mitt Romney: “We can start with his idea…to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the moon… He said that he would like to eliminate in some cases the child labor laws so that kids could clean schools… His plan in capital gains, to remove capital gains for people at the very highest level of income. But our real difference, I believe, is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector.”
Newt Gingrich: “The only reason you didn’t become a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.”
Mitt Romney: “If I had been able to get in the NFL as a kid, I would have been a football star, too. But I spent my life in the private sector. We don’t need folks who are lifetime Washington people to get this country out of the mess it’s in — we need people outside Washington, outside K street.”

Rick Perry: “I read your first book and it said in there that your mandate in Massachusetts should be the model for the country. And I know it came out of the reprint of the book. But, you know, I’m just sayin’, you were for individual mandates, my friend.”
Mitt Romney: “Rick, I’ll tell you what: $10,000 bucks? 10,000 bet? I have not said, in that book, first edition or the latest edition, anything about our plan being a national model imposed on the nation.”
Rick Perry: “I’m not in the betting business, but I’ll show you the book.”

Newt Gingrich: “I fought against ‘Obamacare’ every step of the way. I think it’s important for you — and this is a fair game. It’s important for you to be accurate when you say those things. I did no lobbying.”

Michele Bachmann: “This is such an important issue. We have one shot. Do we honestly believe two men who stood on this stage and defended ‘Romneycare’ and an individual mandate. Are they honestly going to get rid of it in 2012? It’s going to be a very heavy lift.”

Rick Perry:“If you cheat on your wife, you’ll cheat on your business partner, so I think that issue of fidelity is important.”

Newt Gingrich: “I said up front openly, I’ve made mistakes at times. I’ve had to seek reconciliation. I’m also a 68-year-old grandfather. I think people have to measure who I am now and whether I’m a person they can trust.”

Newt Gingrich: “Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes. Are we in a situation where every day rockets are fired into Israel while the United States? The current administration tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process… Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, if there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left? We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. It’s fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, enough lying about the Middle East.”

Ron Paul: “Technically and historically, yes– you know, under the Ottoman Empire, the Palestinians didn’t have a state, but neither did Israel have a state then too.”

Mitt Romney: “I happen to agree with… most of the speaker said, except by going out and saying the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker’s part.
The last thing [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu needs to have is not just a person who’s a historian, but someone who is also running for president of the United States stand up and say things that create extraordinary tumult in… his neighborhood. And if I’m president of the United States, I will exercise sobriety, care, stability and make sure that I don’t say anything like this. Anything I say that can affect a place with — with rockets going in, with people dying. I don’t do anything that would harm that — that process. And, therefore, before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend, Bibi Netanyahu and say, would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do? Let’s work together because we’re partners. I’m not a bomb-thrower. Rhetorically or literally.”

Newt Gingrich: “I think sometimes it is helpful to have a president of the United States who has the courage to tell the truth, just as it was Ronald Reagan who went around his entire national security apparatus to call the Soviet Union an evil empire, and who overruled his entire State Department in order to say, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,'” he said. “Reagan believed the power of truth restated the world and re framed the world. I am a Reaganite. I’m proud to be a Reaganite. I will tell the truth, even if it’s at the risk of causing some confusion sometimes with the timid.”

Rick Santorum:“I think you have to speak the truth. But you have to do so with prudence.. it’s a combination. I sat there and I listened to both. I thought they both… made excellent points. But we’re in a real life situation. This isn’t an academic exercise… We have an ally here that we have to work closely with. And I think Mitt’s point… was the correct one. We need to be working with the Israelis to find out, you know what? Is this a wise thing for us to do? To step forward and to engage this issue? Maybe it is. My guess is at this point in time, it’s not. Not that we shouldn’t tell the truth, but we should be talking to our allies. It’s their fight.”

Rick Perry: “This president is the problem, not something that Newt Gingrich said.”

Michele Bachmann :“My mom was a fulltime homemaker with four kids and we went below the poverty line overnight. “I know what it’s like for single moms to struggle. We are still coupon-clippers today. … We get what that feels like.”

Rick Perry: “Congressman Paul is the individual on the stage that got me the most interested in a subject that I found to be quite interesting and at the root of a lot of the problems we have.”

Newt Gingrich: “Terry Branstad is my role model. Get outta politics for a while doin’ something else, be involved in health care, come back when you’re clearly too old, too experienced, too tied to the past, win the governorship decisively, do a great job. If we do survive, it will be in part because of people like Rick who’ve had the courage to tell the truth about the Iranians for a long time.”

Michele Bachmann: “You can’t have a debate without saying ‘999’ in the debate. I think one thing that he showed us is the power of being very plain spoken. I’m going to go with ‘win, win, win’ instead of 999.”

 

Newt, Palestinians and the GOP debate: Transcript & commentary

Source: JTA, 12-10-11

Newt Gingrich’s description of the Palestinians as an “invented people” grabbed some attention at Saturday night’s GOP debate. While most of the GOP field is usually eager to side with Israel, on this point Gingrich got some pushback — from Ron Paul (no surprise), but also from Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:02:29:00 I wanna change subjects now because– (APPLAUSE) foreign policy was– Speaker Gingrich caused something of a stir overnight in the Middle East with comments he made in interview with the Jewish channel in which he called the Palestinians an invented people. And– I just wondered– G– Congressman Paul, if I can start with you: Do you agree with that characterization, that the Palestinians are an invented people?

CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL:
22:02:52:00 N– no, I don’t agree with that. And that’s just stirrin’ up trouble. And I– I believe in a non-interventionist foreign policy. I don’t think we should get in the middle of these squabbles. But to go out of our way and say that so-and-so is not a real people? Technically and historically, yes– you know, under the Ottoman Empire, the Palestinians didn’t have a state, but neither did Israel have a state then too.

22:03:13:00 But this is how we get involved in so many messes. And I think it just fails on the side of– practicing a little bit of diplomacy, getting ourselves (LAUGH) into trouble mentioning things that are unnecessary. The people in those regions should be dealing with these problems; we shouldn’t be dealing with these things.

22:03:30:00 But– historically, it– it– you know, under the Ottoman Empire, that i– that is– technically– correct. But to make these decisions in deciding what the settlement’s going to be should be the people that are involved. This idea that we can be the policemen of the world and settle all these disputes, I mean, soon we’ll have to quit because we’re flat out broke. But we– we cannot continue to get into these issues like this and– and– and– and getting ourselves into more trouble.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:04:00:00 Speaker Gingrich, as I’ve said, this has caused quite a reaction in– in the Middle East. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Sa– Saeb Erekat, said, “Mark my words: These statements of Gingrich will be the ammunition and weapons of the bin Ladens and the extremists for a long, long time.”

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH:
22:04:13:00 How would he know the difference? Look from historic, George, simply. Is– is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes. Are we in a situation where every day, rockets are fired into Israel while the United States, the current administration, tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process?

22:04:33:00 Hamas does not admit the– the right of Israel to exist, and says publicly, “Not a single Jew will remain.” The Palestinian Authority ambassador to India said last month, “There is no difference between Fatah and Hamas. We both agree Israel has no right to exist.”

22:04:50:00 Somebody oughta have the courage to tell the truth: These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, “If there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?” We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. It’s fundamentally– time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, “Enough lying about the Middle East.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:05:09:00 Governor Romney, (APPLAUSE) you just heard the Speaker say he was just telling the truth. Do you take any issue with that characterization of the Palestinians as an invented people?

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:05:22:00 I– I happen to agree with– with most of what the speaker said, except by going down and saying the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker’s part. I– I think– you– you– I think the speaker would probably suggest that as well. I– I don’t think we want to–

22:05:35:00 (SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: UNINTEL)

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:05:37:00 Maybe not. I– (LAUGHTER) I think we’re very wise to stand with our friends, Israel, and not get out ahead of them. This president decided he was gonna try and negotiate for Israel by sayin’, “Let’s go back to the ’67 borders.” That’s not what Israel wanted to h– hear.

22:05:51:00 They– Israel does not want us to make it more difficult for them to sit down with the Palestinians. Ultimately, the Palestinians and the Israelis are gonna have to agree on how they’re gonna settle the– the differences between them. And the United States–

22:06:02:00 (OVERTALK)

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:06:03:00 –and the– and the United States of America should not jump ahead of Bibi Netanyahu and say something that makes it more difficult for him to– to do his job. My view is this: We stand with the Israeli people. We link arms with them. If we disagree with them, like this president has time and time again, we don’t do it in public like he’s done it, we do it in private.

22:06:21:00 And we let the Israeli leadership describe what they believe the right course is going forward. We don’t negotiate for the Israeli people. We stand with the Israeli people, stand with our friends, and make it very clear: We are gonna t– we’re gonna tell the truth, but we’re not gonna throw incendiary words into a– a place which is– a boiling pot when our friends the Israelis would probably say, “What in the world are you doin’?”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:06:43:00 So there you have it, Mr. Speaker. He says this is gonna make life more difficult for the Israelis.

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH:
22:06:47:00 The Israelis are getting rocketed every day. The– we’re not making life more difficult. The Obama administration’s making life more difficult. The fact is, the Palestinian claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story. Somebody oughta have the courage to go all the way back to the 1921 League of Nations mandate for a Jewish homeland, point out the context in which Israel came into existence, and “Palestinian” did not become a common term until after 1977. This is a propaganda war in which our side refuses to engage. And we refuse to tell the truth when the other side lies. And you’re not gonna win the long run if you’re afraid to stand firm and stand for the truth.

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:07:25:00 Of course you s– of course you stand firm, and stand for the truth. But you don’t speak for Israel.

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH:
22:07:30:00 I didn’t.

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:07:30:00 If– if– if– if Bibi Netanyahu wants to say what you said, let him say it. But our ally, b– the– the people of Israel, should be able to take their own positions and not have us negotiate for them.

DIANE SAWYER:
22:07:41:00 I want to turn, if I can, to–

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH:
22:07:42:00 But can– can I just say one last thing? Because I didn’t speak for the people of Israel. I spoke as a historian who’s looked at the world stage for a very long time. I’ve known Bibi since 1984. I feel quite confident an amazing number of Israelis found it nice to have an American tell the truth about the war they are in the middle of and the casualties they’re taking and the people who surround them who say, “You do not have the right to exist, and we want to destroy you.”

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:08:04:00 I– I’ve known– I’ve– (APPLAUSE) I’ve also known Bibi Netanyahu for a long time. We worked together at– at Boston Consulting Group. And the last thing Bibi Netanyahu needs to have is not just a person who’s an historian, but somebody who is also running for president of the United States, stand up and say things that create extraordinary tumult in– in his neighborhood.

DIANE SAWYER:
22:08:29:00 Congresswoman–

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:08:29:00 And I’m president of the United States, I will exercise sobriety, care, stability. And make sure that in a setting like this, anything I say that can affect a place with– with rockets going in, with people dying, I don’t do anything that would harm that– that process.

22:08:47:00 And therefore, before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say, “Would it help if I said this? What would you like me to do? Let’s work together, because we’re partners.” I’m not a bomb thrower, rhetorically or literally.

DIANE SAWYER:
22:09:00:00 Under the rules, we need– your response. (APPLAUSE)

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH:
22:09:05:00 I think sometimes it is helpful to have a president of the United States with the courage to tell the truth, just as was Ronald Reagan who went around his entire national security apparatus to call the Soviet Union an evil empire and who overruled his entire State Department in order to say, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Reagan believed the power of truth restated the world and reframed the world. I am a Reaganite, I’m proud to be a Reaganite. I will tell the truth, even if it’s at the risk of causing some confusion sometimes with the timid.

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:09:32:00 I think it’s important (APPLAUSE)–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:09:37:00 Who’s got the better of this argument, Congresswoman Bachmann? Who’s got the better of this argument?

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN:
22:09:41:00 Who has the better of this argument?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:09:42:00 Yeah. (LAUGHTER)

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN:
22:09:46:00 In 1974, I went to Israel for the first time and I worked on a kibbutz for the summer. And I saw a brand new nation that had begun in 1948 and was making its way into the modernization that we know today. They’re a first world nation. I was able to return as a member of Congress multiple times, and I also met with Fayad in Ramallah in the very room that Arafat used as his conference room. When I was in there, I– I had asked Fayad about the issue that we were very concerned about, and that’s how the Palestinians teach their children to hate the Jews and call them pigs and swine and descendants from Hades.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:10:24:00 Okay, but do you think–

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN:
22:10:24:00 And I– and let me finish–

22:10:25:00 (OVERTALK)

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN:
22:10:26:00 And I have asked him about this very important issues, because how do you find peace when you continue to teach your children hatred? And asked Fayad about this issue, and he said, “Oh, tha– we don’t do that anymore. Our textbooks aren’t filled with that.”

22:10:38:00 And I said, “Oh really?” I pulled out a manila envelope that I’d brought with me, and I pulled out the pages that I’d photocopied out of current books that were being used that clearly showed that. And he said, “Oh, but these are old textbooks.” And he said– I said, “Really? Well, then why don’t you send me the new textbooks that no longer say that and compare them with the old?” And I checked my mailbox today; he still hasn’t me those textbooks. That’s what needs to change.

DIANE SAWYER:
22:11:06:00 Senator Santorum, let me put to you George’s question. Who’s got the better of the argument?

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:
22:11:11:00 Well, I– I think you have to speak the truth– but you have to do so with prudence. I mean, it’s– it’s a combination. Th– and, you know, I– I– I sat there and I listened to both of ’em; I thought they both had– made excellent points.

22:11:23:00 But we’re in a real-life situation. This isn’t an academic exercise. We’ve got– we have a– we have an ally, and the policy of this country should be to stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally. And– we– we didn’t have an ally in the Soviet Union. The only allies we had were sitting in gulags, and they desperately needed to hear the truth. And Ronald Reagan provided that truth.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:11:44:00 So– so do we–

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:
22:11:44:00 Here, we have–

22:11:45:00 (OVERTALK)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:11:45:00 –with prudence, would that be saying (NOISE) Palestinians are invented or not?

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:
22:11:50:00 If I can finish my s– comment, I’ll get to that, George. (LAUGHTER) That– that we– we have an ally here that we have to work closely with. And I think Mitt’s point was– was the correct one. We need to be working with the Israelis to find out, you know what? Is this a wise thing for us to do, to step forward and to engage this issue? Maybe it is.

22:12:10:00 My guess is, at this point in time, it’s not. Not that we shouldn’t tell the truth, but we should be talking to our allies. It’s their fight. We are to be their ally, we’re to be– supporting them. And I’m– I– I’ve been out here very publicly– that the Israelis have the right to determine what happens in their land. And all of Israel, including the quote– you know, West Bank, is Israeli land. And we need to work with them as to the solution that works best for our ally.

DIANE SAWYER:
22:12:36:00 Governor Perry, close this–

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY:
22:12:37:00 Let me–

DIANE SAWYER:
22:12:37:00 –please.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY:
22:12:38:00 –just say that I think this is a minor issue– that the media is blowing– way out of proportion. We have a president of the United States who has put the most muddled foreign policy in place that is causing the problems in the Middle East. Whether it goes back to two thousand and– and– nine when we had an opportunity to impact Iran, whether it has been the way that– he stood back in Egypt and did not try to negotiate people who would come in that w– could work with us, and now we have radical Islamists as the head of Egypt, whether it was leading from the rear, if you will, in — in Libya.

22:13:18:00 The idea that this president now, with Iran getting one of our predator drones in their possession, and he had two opportunities– well, he didn’t have two opportunities, he had two choices– actually, he had three. And he chose the worst.

22:13:33:00 And those two opportunities he had was to either retrieve that drone, or to destroy it, and he did the worst of the three and he did absolutely nothing. And the Russians and the Chinese will have our highly technical equipment now. This president is the problem, not something that Newt Gingrich said. (APPLAUSE)

Campaign Buzz December 10, 2011: Iowa Debate — The ABC News – Des Moines Register and Republican Party of Iowa GOP Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa — Newt Romney: Gingrich vs. Romney vs. GOP Candidates

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Mitt Romney, left, sought to raise questions about Newt Gingrich’s temperament during Saturday’s debate in Des Moines. More Photos »

IN FOCUS: ABC NEWS / DES MOINES REGISTER IOWA GOP REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE — NEWT ROMNEY: GINGRICH VS. ROMNEY VS. GOP CANDIDATES

The ABC News, ABC5/WOI-DT, The Des Moines Register and Republican Party of Iowa debate at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa

Live Blog: Race Reshaped, Rivals Target Gingrich in G.O.P. Debate: Newt Gingrich, who has surged in the polls, offered a robust defense of his views and experience during a debate in Des Moines, as his rivals urged voters to take a closer look at his candidacy…. – NYT, 12-10-11

Live Blog: GOP Presidential Iowa DebateABC News, 12-10-11

Race Reshaped, Rivals Target Gingrich in G.O.P. Debate: Three weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Newt Gingrich took fire for most of the evening and seemed to relish his new role as the leading Republican candidate in the field…. – NYT, 12-10-11

  • Fact Checking the Debate in Iowa:
    Fact Check 1 – We’ll lose 1.6 million jobs over five years under the affordable healthcare act.
    Fact Check 2 – Newt Gingrich would build a colony on the moon.
    Fact Check 3 – Payroll tax cut: band-aid, gimmick or something else all together?
    Fact Check 4 – Romney’s record on the Affordable Care Act.
    Fact Check 5 – HPV vaccine vs. Romney’s health care plan.
    Fact Check 6 – Palestinians as an “invented” people? — ABC News, 12-10-11Mitt Romney: “We can start with his idea…to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the moon… He said that he would like to eliminate in some cases the child labor laws so that kids could clean schools… His plan in capital gains, to remove capital gains for people at the very highest level of income. But our real difference, I believe, is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector.”Newt Gingrich: “The only reason you didn’t become a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.”Mitt Romney: “If I had been able to get in the NFL as a kid, I would have been a football star, too. But I spent my life in the private sector. We don’t need folks who are lifetime Washington people to get this country out of the mess it’s in — we need people outside Washington, outside K street.”

    Rick Perry: “I read your first book and it said in there that your mandate in Massachusetts should be the model for the country. And I know it came out of the reprint of the book. But, you know, I’m just sayin’, you were for individual mandates, my friend.”
    Mitt Romney: “Rick, I’ll tell you what: $10,000 bucks? 10,000 bet? I have not said, in that book, first edition or the latest edition, anything about our plan being a national model imposed on the nation.”

    Rick Perry: “I’m not in the betting business, but I’ll show you the book.”

    Newt Gingrich: “I fought against ‘Obamacare’ every step of the way. I think it’s important for you — and this is a fair game. It’s important for you to be accurate when you say those things. I did no lobbying.”

    Michele Bachmann: “This is such an important issue. We have one shot. Do we honestly believe two men who stood on this stage and defended ‘Romneycare’ and an individual mandate. Are they honestly going to get rid of it in 2012? It’s going to be a very heavy lift.”

    “If you cheat on your wife, you’ll cheat on your business partner, so I think that issue of fidelity is important.” — Rick Perry

    “I said up front openly, I’ve made mistakes at times. I’ve had to seek reconciliation. I’m also a 68-year-old grandfather. I think people have to measure who I am now and whether I’m a person they can trust.” — Newt Gingrich

    “Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes. Are we in a situation where every day rockets are fired into Israel while the United States? The current administration tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process… Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, if there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left? We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. It’s fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, enough lying about the Middle East.” — Newt Gingrich

    “Technically and historically, yes– you know, under the Ottoman Empire, the Palestinians didn’t have a state, but neither did Israel have a state then too.” — Ron Paul

    “I happen to agree with… most of the speaker said, except by going out and saying the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker’s part.
    The last thing [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu needs to have is not just a person who’s a historian, but someone who is also running for president of the United States stand up and say things that create extraordinary tumult in… his neighborhood. And if I’m president of the United States, I will exercise sobriety, care, stability and make sure that I don’t say anything like this. Anything I say that can affect a place with — with rockets going in, with people dying. I don’t do anything that would harm that — that process. And, therefore, before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend, Bibi Netanyahu and say, would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do? Let’s work together because we’re partners. I’m not a bomb-thrower. Rhetorically or literally.” — Mitt Romney

    “I think sometimes it is helpful to have a president of the United States who has the courage to tell the truth, just as it was Ronald Reagan who went around his entire national security apparatus to call the Soviet Union an evil empire, and who overruled his entire State Department in order to say, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,'” he said. “Reagan believed the power of truth restated the world and re framed the world. I am a Reaganite. I’m proud to be a Reaganite. I will tell the truth, even if it’s at the risk of causing some confusion sometimes with the timid.” — Newt Gingrich

    “I think you have to speak the truth. But you have to do so with prudence.. it’s a combination. I sat there and I listened to both. I thought they both… made excellent points. But we’re in a real life situation. This isn’t an academic exercise… We have an ally here that we have to work closely with. And I think Mitt’s point… was the correct one. We need to be working with the Israelis to find out, you know what? Is this a wise thing for us to do? To step forward and to engage this issue? Maybe it is. My guess is at this point in time, it’s not. Not that we shouldn’t tell the truth, but we should be talking to our allies. It’s their fight.” — Rick Santorum

    “This president is the problem, not something that Newt Gingrich said.” — Rick Perry

    “My mom was a fulltime homemaker with four kids and we went below the poverty line overnight. “I know what it’s like for single moms to struggle. We are still coupon-clippers today. … We get what that feels like.” — Michele Bachmann

    “Congressman Paul is the individual on the stage that got me the most interested in a subject that I found to be quite interesting and at the root of a lot of the problems we have.” — Rick Perry

    Terry Branstad is my role model. Get outta politics for a while doin’ something else, be involved in health care, come back when you’re clearly too old, too experienced, tied to the past, win the governorship decisively, do a great job. If we do survive, it will be in part because of people like Rick who’ve had the courage to tell the truth about the Iranians for a long time.” — Newt Gingrich

    “You can’t have a debate without saying ‘999’ in the debate. I think one thing that he showed us is the power of being very plain spoken. I’m going to go with ‘win, win, win’ instead of 999.” — Michele Bachmann

  • Fact Checking the Debate in IowaABC News, 12-10-11
  • Romney’s $10K Bet Steals Iowa Debate SpotlightABC News, 12-10-11
  • Romney Camp Insists $10K Bet Was No GaffeABC News, 12-10-11
  • Bet On It: Twitter Loves Romney’s WagerABC News, 12-10-11
  • Kennedy Reference Prompts Twitter ActionABC News, 12-10-11
  • Candidates’ Slams from the Iowa DebateABC News, 12-10-11
  • Gingrich Says Republicans Won’t Win If Negative Attacks PersistABC News, 12-10-11
  • Dec. 10 | Republican Debate, Des Moines, Iowa 9 PM ET | hosted by ABC News, ABC5/WOI-DT, The Des Moines Register and Republican Party of Iowa: Six candidates will take the stage at Drake University in Des Moines. (Jon M. Huntsman Jr., still lagging in the polls, did not qualify; Herman Cainhas dropped out.) They will debate for two hours, from 9 p.m. Eastern time, in a session sponsored by ABC and The Des Moines Register and moderated by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos.
    Much of the attention tonight will be on Newt Gingrich, whose surge in the national and state-by-state polls has drastically reshaped the race in the final weeks of 2011. The interaction between Mr. Gingrich and Mitt Romney, his chief rival, will be a featured part of the night.
    But the energy of the debate may be generated by the other four candidates – Representatives Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Rick Santorum – each of whom may be shifting into desperation mode as the election draws nearer…. – NYT, 12-10-11
  • Iowa Debate: Winners and Losers: ABC News, in conjunction with Yahoo! News and The Des Moines Register, sponsored a debate in Des Moines Saturday night, a little more than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Here’s our take on the winners and losers from Saturday night.
    • WINNERS:

    Newt Gingrich: Newt Gingrich is now clearly the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president. Saturday’s debate in Iowa was the first one since he has surged in the polls and Gingrich handled it with his usual aplomb. Many expected the debate to be a full-throated attack on the former House speaker, but shots were fired at both Gingrich and Mitt Romney, which helps Gingrich.
    His recent surge stemmed in part because of impressive debate performances and he was clearly at ease on the stage Saturday. Many of his answers showed more depth than his rivals, especially his lengthy factual explanation of why he changed his position on a very important issue for voters: the individual mandate to buy health insurance. He also struck Mitt Romney hard in the early part of the debate, telling Romney that the reason he is also not a professional politician is because he lost a 1994 bid to unseat Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. And, perhaps most significantly, the thrice-married Gingrich had as strong an answer on questions of infidelity as could be expected. He directly addressed the issue, acknowledging mistakes and said he is older and wiser now… –

    CBS News, 12-10-11

  • A $10000 bet between Romney and Perry tops chatter at GOP debate: Key moments in Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa: ___ BIG MOMENT: What’s $10000 among friends? Mitt Romney challenged Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s claims that the former Massachusetts governor backed a requirement that … – WaPo, 12-10-11
  • Gingrich comes under attack in GOP debate: Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich came under sharp and repeated attack here Saturday night, accused by his rivals of being a career politician who has profited by being a Washington insider, a serial hypocrite who has often … – WaPo, 12-10-11
  • Republican debate in Iowa: Newt Gingrich unbloodied, unbowed: The Republican presidential candidates went quickly after Newt Gingrich on the debate stage in Iowa Saturday night, describing the newest GOP frontrunner as a Washington insider with a record of espousing outlandish ideas.
    But the former House speaker, whose debate performances throughout the summer and fall enabled him to rise from the political dead, never appeared to falter.
    In the debate hosted by ABC and Yahoo! News, Mitt Romney came out aggressively against Gingrich, charging that his long career in politics leaves him unprepared to lead an economic recovery…. – Politico, 12-10-11
  • Gingrich, Romney hammered at GOP debate: Newt Gingrich came under heavy fire from his rivals during a presidential debate Saturday night, with Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann hammering the former House Speaker over his support for an individual health care mandate, his long career in Washington, his personal life and even his advocacy for a lunar colony to mine the moon’s natural resources.
    Romney, who is widely seen as Gingrich’s chief rival for the nomination, was also a target in Des Moines Saturday, with Perry and Bachmann casting the two frontrunners as insufficiently conservative.
    The debate marked the first time that Gingrich, who has risen to the top of the polls in the Republican presidential race, has been aggressively criticized during a presidential debate…. – CBS News, 12-10-11
  • Republican debate: 7 takeaways: The GOP debate last night was a rarity — it lived up to the hype. For nearly two hours, six Republican candidates (minus Jon Huntsman) duked it out on a stage at Drake University im Iowa, drawing blood, getting under one another’s skin, and — for a few monents — getting warm and fuzzy about which rival they’ve learned the most from.
    The main focus was expected to be Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, and neither disappointed the viewing public.
    Here are POLITICO’s seven takeaways from the ABC News/Des Moines Register debate…

    Mitt Romney had a $10,000 unforced error
    Newt Gingrich accomplished what he needed to
    Gingrich is testing how far right a GOP candidate can go on Israel
    Rick Perry still has some game
    Michele Bachmann is the only one invoking Herman Cain
    The Jon Huntsman-Newt Gingrich debate just got more interesting
    Ron Paul gets his due

    Politico, 12-10-11

  • Gingrich sticks by comment calling Palestinians “invented” people: Newt Gingrich is standing by comments he made earlier this week when he called the Palestinians an “invented” people.
    “Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire,” the former House speaker told the Jewish Channel this week. “And I think that we’ve have invented the Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and are historically part of the Arab community, and they had the chance to go many places.”
    Gingrich’s comments immediately caused a stir in the Middle East and elsewhere. A Palestinian legislator said Gingrich had “lost touch with reality,” while another official described called him “ignorant,” according to the Associated Press.
    Gingrich was then asked about the comments during Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate from Iowa, which was sponsored by ABC News…. – CBS News, 12-10-11
  • Indulgence, invention, infidelity — the Newt Romney debate: One man dominated the questions asked at the Saturday night’s ABC News Republican debate: Newt Romney. “Newt Romney” -… – WaPo, 12-10-11
  • Gingrich plays defense in key GOP debate: Newt Gingrich defended himself from attacks on his record, character and rhetoric as six GOP presidential candidates traded jabs in the first of two pivotal debates before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3. … – USA Today, 12-10-11
  • Iowa Republican debate: An off night for Romney: Short version? Not a good night for Mitt Romney, as everyone gives solid performances. For a change, Romney didn’t stand out as the class of the field and the obvious “presidential” type. It’s important not to assume too much importance for these … – WaPo, 12-10-11
  • Des Moines Republican debate decisive?: Tonight’s Des Moines debate had no meltdown moment for any candidate, although it did suggest Newt Gingrich is in for a tough time now that he’s not just an entertaining candidate, but a serious contender for the nomination. … – WaPo, 12-10-11
  • Gingrich is favorite target at latest GOP debate: The newest Republican front-runner parries attacks on his character, his record and his ideas, including recent statements about Palestinians…. – LAT, 12-10-11One of the most memorable moments of the ABC News/Des Moines Register debate was when Romney bet Rick Perry he was wrong about what Romney had written about a national health care mandate:“Rick, I’ll tell you what: $10,000 bucks? 10,000 bet?” Romney said, extending a hand for a handshake.
    Perry stepped back, saying: “I’m not in the betting business. I’m in the politicking business.”
  • Debate: Gingrich, Romney take most of debate’s jabs: It was a Saturday night brawl in Des Moines, with Republican rivals clubbing each other and front-runner Newt Gingrich, who batted back at criticisms that he once supported mandating purchase of health insurance and that he makes inflammatory remarks.
    But despite withering criticism of Gingrich and to a lesser extent fellow national front-runner Mitt Romney, if anyone won the debate, it was Gingrich, said Iowa Republican strategist Richard Schwarm.
    “He entered the debate with momentum and did not lose any momentum,” Schwarm said. “Despite being the main target, he was not damaged.”… – Des Moines Register, 12-10-11Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia, told the Des Moines Register after the debate: Romney may have hurt himself with his jaw-dropping $10,000 bet. Not too many average Americans can identify with a candidate who can casually risk ten grand on a whim.” Drake Political Science Professor Rachel Paine Caufield said tonight: “On the whole, viewers got what they expected out of this debate. They saw Gingrich and Romney go head-to-head but at the end of the day it was a draw. Neither one of them clearly and decisively knocked out their opponent.”
  • 2012 Iowa debate: The Outsider: Rick Perry swatted both big government and big banks in his opening answer at Saturday night’s debate, declaring that only an “outsider” can turn around the US economy…. – Politico, 12-10-11
  • Huntsman, Excluded from Iowa Debate, Holds NH Town Hall: Excluded from Saturday’s GOP presidential debate, Jon Huntsman concentrated on wooing Granite State votes, using markedly sharper language than he has in the past. Tim Pawlenty: Candidates will…. – National Journal, 12-10-11Minneapolis mayor to give a Democratic response after GOP debate in Iowa Saturday: The ABC News/Des Moines Register/Republican Party of Iowa debate is Saturday at 8 pm at Drake University. It will be broadcast live on ABC…. – DesMoinesRegister.com, 12-7-11
  • New GOP front-runner Gingrich expected to draw rivals’ shots in latest debate: Newt Gingrich has leapfrogged Mitt Romney to become the GOP front-runner and prime target of his rivals at their latest presidential debate less than a month before the leadoff vote to determine President Barack Obama’s challenger. … – WaPo, 12-10-11“These are the last chances for the candidates to really have an impact on the race before the voting starts. It’s a huge opportunity.” — Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak
  • Gingrich vs Romney rivalry in Iowa debate spotlight: The budding rivalry between surging Newt Gingrich and former frontrunner Mitt Romney will take center stage on Saturday in the first of two Republican presidential debates in Iowa over the next five days.
    Gingrich, Romney and four other White House contenders will make their case to voters in a race that polls show is still up for grabs less than a month before Iowa kicks off the state-by-state Republican nominating contest.
    The debate will be broadcast nationally on ABC at 9 p.m. EST from Drake University in Des Moines. Another Republican debate will be held on Thursday in Sioux City, Iowa…. – Reuters, 12-10-11
  • With Race Heating Up, Republicans Set To Square Off In Pivotal Iowa Debate: Only three weeks from the Iowa caucuses, the top Republican candidates will square off tonight at a pivotal debate in the state capital…. – ABC News, 12-10-11
  • What to Watch for in Tonight’s Debate: Saturday night’s debate carries many risks for the Republican candidates…. – NYT, 12-10-11
  • Saturday Iowa Debate: We all know that Newt Gingrich has soared to the top of the polls – that’s one big difference from the last debate held just before Thanksgiving – but since then Herman Cain has dropped out of the race…. – Atlanta Journal Constitution, 12-10-11
  • Gingrich prime focus of rivals in latest debate: Newt Gingrich has leapfrogged Mitt Romney to become the GOP front-runner and prime target of his rivals at their latest presidential debate less than a month before the leadoff vote to … – AP, 12-10-11
  • Romney Makes Surprise Appearance at Iowa Rally: A punchy and jovial Mitt Romney made a surprise visit to his Iowa headquarters just hours before he is set to take the stage at a Republican debate, joking with the crowd and his wife, Ann, and son, Josh, who joined him … – NYT, 12-10-11
  • Surprise! It’s Mitt Romney: Mitt Romney, continuing his recent push in Iowa, made a surprise visit to campaign headquarters Saturday, telling supporters to rally their friends ahead of the caucuses. Mr. Romney wasn’t originally scheduled to appear at the event in … – WSJ, 12-10-11“Many of the pack runners are going to try to take aim at, and ultimately take down, the new front-runner, Newt Gingrich — by trying to frame him as the smart yet unreliable alternative. But doing so against such an accomplished debater carries its own risks for the field.” — Republican strategist David Polyansky
  • IOWA DEBATE: What to look for from each Republican candidate tonight: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks during a GOP debate in Michigan on Nov. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    Back when he was at the back of the pack, a relaxed Newt Gingrich rested an elbow on the debate lectern, dished out cerebral policy ideas and zingy applause lines, and got snippy with the moderators.
    But the race has reshuffled considerably, and tonight Gingrich will be at the center-front lectern, facing a much more thorough examination of his record and behavior than in the last debate, on Nov. 22.
    During the 8 p.m. event in Des Moines, watch for Gingrich’s rivals to try to give Iowans an eye-opening moment by calling him more moderate than they are, campaign strategists told the Register.
    The overarching theme of the night will likely be “Who is the real Newt Gingrich?”… – Des Moines Register, 12-10-11
  • Jon Huntsman Won’t Do Anything to Win: You won’t be seeing Jon Huntsman in the next Republican debate. The debate this weekend is taking place in Iowa, where Huntsman has made himself unwelcome. (He will, however, attend the following Iowa debate, in Sioux City … – National Journal, 12-9-11
  • Huntsman to skip Iowa debate: Jon Huntsman says he plans to skip a GOP debate in Iowa next week in a move that casts a positive light on the possibility that he likely would not have met the qualifications set by the event’s hosts…. – CNN,

Campaign Recap September 19, 2011: GOP Candidates Gang-up on Rick Perry Attack Social Security Position at the CNN / Tea Party GOP Republican Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Chip Litherland for The New York Times

Republican presidential candidates before their debate in Tampa, Fla. More Photos »

STATS & POLLS

Republican Presidential Candidates: Primaries 2012 — NYT

Democratic Nominee 2012: President Barack Obama’s Official Reelection Campaign Website — BarackObama.com

Republican National Committee

Democratic National Committee

  • Gallup Poll: Election 2012 — Track GOP Contender’s Images Week by Week — Generic Ballot Gallup
  • Gallup: Presidential Job Approval Gallup
  • Gallup Daily: Obama Job Approval: Each result is based on a three-day rolling average Gallup
  • Poll Watch: Polls and Related Articles From The New York Times NYT
  • Rick Perry’s ‘Ponzi scheme’ problem: new evidence it’s real: Gov. Rick Perry’s inflammatory language on Social Security doesn’t sit well with independents, though it’s a wash for Republican voters, a new Gallup poll shows…. – CS Monitor, 9-16-11

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Mitt Romney: Speeches & News — Full Text & Transcripts mittromney.com

Rick Perry: Speeches & News — Full Text & Transcripts rickperry.org

Ron Paul: Speeches & News — Full Text & Transcripts ronpaul2012.com

Herman Cain: Speeches & News — Full Text & Transcripts hermancain.com

Michele Bachmann: Speeches & News — Full Text & Transcripts michelebachmann.com

Newt Gingrich: Speeches & News — Full Text & Transcripts newt.org

Jon Huntsman: Speeches & News — Full Text & Transcripts jon2012.com

Rick Santorum: Speeches & News — Full Text & Transcripts ricksantorum.com

“I still have that same old dopey same old answer that I’m sure you guys are getting sick of hearing, and that is I’m still thinking about it, praying about it, contemplating, talking to my family. I’m sick of giving the same answer, believe me. I’m anxious to give an answer and get on with life one way or the other.” — Sarah Palin on Fox News 9-12-11

IN FOCUS: GOP CNN/TEA PARTY EXPRESS REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE IN TAMPA, FLORIDA

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 12, 2011: CNN / Tea Party GOP Republican Presidential Debate — Candidates Gang Up on Rick Perry — Target Social Security (Complete Transcript) CNN, 9-12-11

Live blog of CNN’s first-ever Tea Party Republican Debate CNN, 9-12-11

Fact-checking the Republican presidential debate San Francisco Chronicle, 9-12-11

Jon Huntsman: “Yesterday, we were reminded how extraordinary this country is … Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are deeply divided.”

Herman Cain: “I am the only non-politician on this stage tonight.”

Michele Bachmann: “I brought the voice of the tea party to the United States Congress.”

Mitt Romney: “Like you, I recognize that America’s economy is in crisis.”

Rick Perry: “I simply want to get America work again and make Washington D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.”

Ron Paul: “My goal has always been to promote the cause of liberty and to obey the Constitution.”

Newt Gingrich: “In the spirit of 9/12, I hope to work with you to fundamentally, profoundly change Washington.”

Rick Santorum: “I won two elections [in Pennsylvania] without having to change my policies or my party to win.”

“We’re having that conversation, Governor. We’re running for president.” — Mitt Romney

“A program that’s been there 70 or 80 years, obviously we’re not going to take that away.” — Rick Perry

“The company was Merck, and it was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them. I raise about $30 million. And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.” — Rick Perry

“If you’ve been in the state of Texas for three years, if you’re working towards your college degree, and if you are working and pursuing citizenship in the state of Texas, you pay in-state tuition there. It doesn’t make any difference what the sound of your last name is, that’s the American way.” — Rick Perry

“The idea you’re going to build a wall from Brownsville to El Paso and go left to Tijuana is not reality. What you gotta have is boots on the ground … the aviation assets in the air. We understand and know how to secure that border, but the federal government needs to step up and do their constitutional duty and secure the border with Mexico.” — Rick Perry

“Of course we build a fence, and of course we do not give in-state tuition credits to people who have come here illegally.” — Mitt Romney

“I would put a little damper on this, but I don’t want to offend the governor, because he might raise my taxes or something.” — Ron Paul

“I think Gov. Perry would agree that if you’re dealt four aces, that doesn’t make you a terrific poker player.” — Mitt Romney

“Well, I was going to say Mitt you were doing pretty good until you got to talking poker.” — Rick Perry

“For Rick to say we can’t secure the border is pretty much a treasonous statement.” — Jon Huntsman

“You’ve got Governor Romney, who called it a fraud in his book ‘No Apology.’ I don’t know if that was written by Kurt Cobain or not.” — Jon Huntsman

“We could spend all night talking about where Mitt’s been on all the issues and that would take forever.” — Jon Huntsman

Perry Is Target as Republican Candidates Take Aim: The presidential candidates aggressively confronted Gov. Rick Perry and pressed him to expound upon his views on Social Security and a vaccination program for teenage girls…. – NYT, 9-12-11

Perry assailed by GOP rivals, defends his record: Attacked from all sides, Texas Gov. Rick Perry softened his rhetoric if not his position on Social Security in a snarky campaign debate Monday night and fended off attacks on his record creating jobs and requiring the vaccination of schoolgirls against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted virus…. – AP, 9-12-11

    • Factbox: Social Security central in Republican debate: Republican presidential candidates on Monday traded barbs over their positions on Social Security but avoided deep discussion of possible solutions to a coming funding crunch in the retirement program.
      Here are some important dates and possible choices lawmakers will weigh on Social Security as 77 million older Americans — Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 — begin to draw benefits…. – Reuters, 9-12-11
    • A Ben Bernanke treason trial: Michele Bachmann refuses to respond to a question about Rick Perry’s “treasonous” comment on Ben Bernanke, saying, “As president of the US I would not be reappointing Ben Bernanke but during the bailout … I worked behind the scenes against the bailout. the enabling act legislation is written so broadly that congress is giving the federal reserve unlimited power.”
      Pushed, she said, “That’s for Gov Perry to make that decision. my decision is i would not appoint Ben Bernanke.”
      Perry, at his turn, stood by the remark, saying, “I said if you are allowing the federal reserve to be allowed to be used for political purposes it would be almost treasonous.”…. – Politico, 9-12-11
    • Jabbing over Social Security, Romney takes on Perry: a look at key moments in the GOP debate:
      Big moment: To open the debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney immediately went after each other on Social Security — with Perry defending his inflammatory language and Romney accusing Perry of scaring seniors.
      “It has been called a Ponzi scheme by many people long before me,” Perry said. The Texas governor has also called the social safety net a “monstrous lie.”
      “I think the word ‘Ponzi scheme’ is over the top and unnecessary and frightful to many people,” Romney snapped back…. – WaPo, 9-12-11
    • Republican debate: Perry fends off assaults from GOP rivals: Gov. Rick Perry stood his ground, Monday, while fellow GOP candidates took numerous jabs at the front-runner….
      Attacked from all sides by fellow Republicans, Texas Gov. Rick Perry softened his rhetoric if not his position on Social Security in a snarky presidential campaign debate Monday night. He fended off assaults on his record creating jobs and requiring the vaccination of schoolgirls against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted virus.
      Across a crackling two-hour debate, the front-runner in opinion polls gave little ground and frequently jabbed back, particularly at his chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney….
      It marked the first time in the summer debates that internal Republican differences dominated rather than a common eagerness to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama…. – CS Monitor, 9-12-11
    • In debate Republicans lash out at each other: A Republican presidential debate became a race to the bottom Monday night as candidates attacked each other for treason, lack of manliness, trying to prevent cervical cancer, and even – – gasp – – letting campaign contributions affect their judgment. … – Politico, 9-12-11
    • At GOP debate, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney tear into each other: The second presidential debate in a week begins as a cross between a fight club and a book club….
      Mitt Romney and Rick Perry took the first possible opportunity to tear into each other at the CNN- and Tea Party Express-hosted forum in Florida, trading harsh accusations over their views on Social Security…. – Politico, 9-12-11
    • At Tea Party Debate, Perry Experiences the Full Force of His Rivals’ Wrath: Firmly entrenched as the double-digit front-runner for the Republican President nomination, Texas Governor Rick Perry endured the unpleasant privilege of his status on Monday night…. – TIME, 9-12-11
    • Tea Party Debate Themes: Gang Up On Rick Perry, Dismantle Washington: The dynamics of the Republican race became clear: it’s Rick Perry against the field. And the contest’s central theme became just as clear: let’s dismantle as much as we can of the federal government’s role…. – Huffington Post, 9-12-11
    • GOP debate: Rick Perry remains in front despite bumpy ride in Tampa: The Texas governor, Rick Perry, emerged bruised but still looking like the frontrunner for his party’s presidential nomination after a contentious televised debate in which he was the focus of attack from rival candidates and in which he drew scorn…. – The Guardian, UK, 9-13-11
    • The Tea Party/CNN debate: Ganging up on Rick Perry, as Kurt Cobain makes a cameo: The Tea Party Republican debate turned into a brawl pretty fast on Monday night. Well aware of the momentum that Gov. Rick Perry has as the most media-analyzed Republican of the moment, candidates including Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann went after him on issues ranging from Social Security to the HPV vaccine…. – Entertainment Weekly, 9-12-11
    • Republicans go after Rick Perry in Florida debate: Rick Perry’s Republican presidential rivals took turns ganging up on the leader of the pack during a presidential debate Monday, accusing the Texas governor of frightening senior citizens with his attacks on Social Security…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 9-12-11
    • Perry assailed by rivals, forced to defend record Texas governor clashes with Romney on Social Security, Bachmann on HPV vaccine: Attacked from all sides, Texas Gov. Rick Perry softened his rhetoric if not his position on Social Security in a snarky campaign debate Monday night and fended off attacks on his record creating jobs and requiring the vaccination of schoolgirls against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted virus.
      It marked the first time in the summer debates that internal Republican differences dominated rather than a common eagerness to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama…. – MSNBC, 9-12-11
    • Rick Perry Stands By Harsh Ben Bernanke Remarks (VIDEO): Texas Governor Rick Perry stood by eyebrow-raising remarks he made last month about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during Monday night’s Republican presidential debate…. – Huff Post, 9-12-11
    • Rick Perry Calls For Afghanistan Withdrawal At GOP Tea Party Debate: Rick Perry has been relatively silent on foreign policy, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the GOP debate Monday night, he said he believed that the US should continue to have a “presence” in Afghanistan, but that it was time to start…. – Huff Post, 9-12-11
    • Ron Paul checks Rick Perry on his jobs record: Asked about Rick Perry’s jobs record and whether he deserves so much credit, Ron Paul replies, “Not quite…I would put a little damper on this but I don’t want to offend the governor because he might raise my taxes or something.”… – Politico, 9-12-11
    • Michele Bachmann regains footing in ‘tea party’ debate: Michele Bachmann recaptured some of her stride tonight. After seeming to fade in last week’s debate at the Reagan Library, she was far more vocal and passionate. Of course, she was playing to her crowd — the “tea party” has an uncomplicated passion for her — but there was a new energy in her voice, particularly when she slammed Rick Perry for his executive order on the HPV vaccine.
      If Perry felt like a piñata at last week’s debate, as he joked then, he must have felt like the human silhouette on the wrong end of a shooting range tonight…. – LAT, 9-12-11
    • Rick Perry: “The first round of stimulus … it created zero jobs.”: Rick Perry criticized President Barack Obama’s new jobs plan during a Republican presidential debate Sept. 12, 2011, saying his previous effort “created zero jobs.”… – PolitiFact, 9-12-11
    • Santorum: I feel like I’m on ‘Survivor’: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum used a reality television show to describe how he feels in the current Republican presidential contest. That show, “Survivor.”… – CNN, 9-12-11
    • Analysis: Bachmann comes back to life in Republican debate: Michele Bachmann won a new lease on life for her fizzling presidential campaign by aggressively targeting Republican front-runner Rick Perry and raising doubts about his conservative credentials.
      But whether Bachmann can save a campaign that is clearly on the ropes is very much in doubt, just a month after she enjoyed her best moment of the 2012 season by winning the Iowa straw poll, an important early test of strength…. – Reuters, 9-12-11
    • Commentary: Republican nomination may be Perry’s to lose: Paul Burka of Texas Monthly summed up the general consensus in Austin last month, saying Gov. Rick Perry “is going to be the Republican nominee. … We might as well skip the primary and go straight to the general election.” Burka draws a straight path … – Kansas City Star, 9-12-11
    • GOP rivals spar on Social Security: GOP presidential rivals Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry clashed again last night during their second debate — sharpening their differences on Social Security and jobs in the key battleground state of Florida, where older voters … – Boston Herald, 9-12-11
    • Texas pol storming into town as Democrats go on the offensive: GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry is kicking up a Texas-sized ruckus in Boston today — intent on skewering rival Mitt Romney’s jobs records in his own backyard while protesting Democrats plan to slam Perry’s controversial stance…. – Boston Herald, 9-12-11
    • Second tier candidates, not chief rival, score points against Perry: At least for now, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. But it was the second- and third-tier candidates who shed light on some of Perry’s greatest vulnerabilities in Monday’s presidential debate and they did so from his right.
      U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania pounded away at Perry for ordering in 2007 that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus. The order never took full effect, and it gave parents the option to opt out, but the idea of requiring an inoculation against a sexually transmitted disease just isn’t going to play well with GOP primary voters…. – Austin American-Statesman, 9-12-11
    • Perry’s not-so-innocuous inoculation at the Tea Party HPV debate: If, as the consensus seems to be, Perry only managed to whelm us at the last debate, this time he distinctly underwhelmed. Santorum and Bachmann seized him by the ankles of his hand-tooled cowboy boots and refused to let go. … – WaPo, 9-12-11
    • On immigration, Rick Perry takes heat for Texas DREAM Act: In a debate that’s already been fiery, the temperature rose further, even a little uncomfortably, when the subject of immigration came up.
      The candidates on this stage have repeatedly said they won’t elaborate on their plans for dealing with the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country until the border with Mexico is secured.
      Perry, who signed a Texas version of the DREAM Act (which allows young people in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities) drew several rounds of boos when he defended the policy…. – LAT, 9-12-11
    • Republican candidates unite on Fed attack: Republican candidates for president squabbled over social security, foreign wars and the economy but presented a largely united front on one issue – the need to rein in the power of the Federal Reserve…. – Financial Times, 9-12-11
    • Federal Reserve is a target at Florida Republican debate: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke was in the bullseye Monday night at the debate of Republican presidential hopefuls in Florida. Texas Governor Rick Perry stood by comments made last month that Bernanke’s efforts to jumpstart the US economy…. — CBS News, 9-12-11
    • The GOP debate: 7 takeaways: Last night’s GOP debate wasn’t a face-off, it was a pile-on. The CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Tampa, Fla. —the second in a string of five Republican meet-ups coming in rapid succession—was an opportunity to gang up on Rick Perry and his onstage rivals took full advantage. Here are seven takeaways from Monday’s debate…. – Politico, 9-12-11
    • Palin slams Perry on ‘crony capitalism’: Sarah Palin, who has kept mum about whether she’ll run, is not in sync with Rick Perry: Sarah Palin took a hard swipe against her friend Rick Perry in a post-debate TV appearance, calling him out by name for “crony capitalism”…. – Politico, 9-12-11
    • DNC Chair uses debate moment to pounce on GOP: The woman working to ensure President Obama’s re-election entered the political equivalent of the lion’s den – and pounced on a debate moment to blast the Republican presidential candidates late Monday. … – CNN, 9-12-11
    • Huntsman Paul take hits on Twitter in debate: If Twitter trends were the measure, Kurt Cobain was the clear winner of Monday’s presidential debate sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express. Seventeen years after the Nirvana frontman’s suicide, a name-check on stage by Jon Huntsman shot him right … – Politico, 9-12-11

“The 1 million jobs he’s helped create as governor is a stark contrast to the 2.4 million jobs lost on President Obama’s watch. Rick Perry will bring our country more than hope – he’ll get America working again.” — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

  • Endorsement fever: Bobby Jindal backs Rick Perry: The first bit of rapid response among Republican presidential hopefuls came hours before the start of Monday’s “tea party” debate in Tampa, as Rick Perry answered Tim Pawlenty’s endorsement of Mitt Romney by announcing the support of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
    Jindal, once seen as a rising GOP star, said in a statement that Perry’s “record on job creation simply cannot be beat.”… – LAT, 9-12-11
  • As Perry Rises, GOP Elite Look Toward Romney: The rising presidential candidacy of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is stirring excitement for many Republican voters but is creating unease in some quarters of the party’s establishment…. – NYT, 9-12-11
  • For Debate Partners, an Unusual Pairing: The sponsors, CNN and the Tea Party, each stand to benefit from reaching the other’s following…. – NYT, 9-12-11
  • Factbox: Four keys to Republican debate in Florida: Eight Republican presidential hopefuls will meet on Monday in a debate co-sponsored by CNN and the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement, which helped elect dozens of Republicans to Congress in 2010. Here are four keys to the debate…. – Reuters, 9-12-11
  • GOP Debate: Three keys to tonight’s debate: What do the presidential candidates need to do in tonight’s Tea Party Express/CNN GOP debate?…. – CS Monitor, 9-12-11
  • Five things to watch for in CNN/Tea Party Republican debate: Watch the CNN/Tea Party Republican Debate at 8 p.m. ET Monday on CNN TV and CNN.com.
    Here are key storylines and strategies to watch for in Monday night’s CNN/Tea Party Republican Debate
    1. Round two of the Perry-Romney slugfest? It started in Wednesday’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the new guy in the race and the front-runner in the national polls, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the previous front-runner, sparred over jobs creation and Social Security…. – CNN, 9-12-11

THE HEADLINES: WEEKLY RECAP

    • Pennsylvania Republicans Weigh Electoral Vote Changes: The newly empowered Republicans are considering changing the way Pennsylvania awards its electoral votes in presidential elections despite growing concerns that the move could backfire…. – NYT, 9-19-11
    • Mitch Daniels Calls for a More Honest Campaign Debate: The governor of Indiana says his party’s presidential candidates should “campaign to govern, not just win.”… – NYT, 9-18-11
    • SC senator: Presidential election is GOP’s to lose: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says the upcoming presidential election is the GOP’s to lose. Graham says President Barack Obama has done “everything he knows how” to beat himself and that people have little confidence in Obama’s policies because they aren’t working…. – AP, 9-18-11
    • Rick Perry, Uber Texan: We have had several Texas presidents, but none so deeply, intensely Texas as Rick Perry would be…. – NYT, 9-18-11
    • Michele Bachmann doubles down on ‘Perrycare.’ Will it work?: In a swipe at Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann took flak for suggesting that the HPV vaccine might cause “mental retardation.” But she’s not backing down, and “Perrycare” is now her prime target…. – CS Monitor, 9-17-11
    • GOP candidates revive private Social Security idea: Most of the top Republicans running for president are embracing plans to partially privatize Social Security, reviving a contentious issue that fizzled under President George W. Bush after Democrats relentlessly attacked it.
      As President Barack Obama sidesteps ways to keep the retirement system viable, his would-be rivals are keen on letting younger workers divert part of their payroll taxes into some type of personal account to be invested separately from Social Security…. – AP, 9-17-11
    • Republicans seize on waning campus Obamamania: The young people in the ad look dissatisfied and pouty. Barack Obama’s voice and the words “winning the future,” from one of his old campaign speeches, echo in the background. “You’re LOSING my future,” says one young man.
      The ad, which has aired during sportscasts, reality TV shows and late-night comedy programs popular with younger people, was produced for the College Republican National Committee. It is an attempt to play on the fears that haunt college students, that they won’t find jobs and will be living with less than their parents did…. – AP, 9-17-11
    • Perry Finds Kindred Spirits in Iowa: Gov. Rick Perry’s charisma and straight-talking Texan message have wide appeal…. – NYT, 9-16-11
    • Perry likens Romney health care program to Obama’s: Rick Perry is continuing to tie the health care program enacted by fellow Republican Mitt Romney in Massachusetts to President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Perry told more than 100 Republican activists at a coffee shop in Iowa Friday morning…. – AP, 9-16-11
    • Republican Perry says Romney health plan cost jobs: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said Thursday the health care bill GOP rival Mitt Romney enacted in Massachusetts paved the way for President Barack Obama’s federal health law last year and cost the state jobs. … – AP, 9-15-11
    • Obama raising money, pitching jobs plan: Pitching his jobs plan and his re-election, President Barack Obama attended two intimate $35,800-per-couple fundraisers Thursday, assuring donors that he will push Congress to pass his economic initiative and expressing confidence in his ability to win a second term…. – AP, 9-15-11
    • Candidates bash stimulus, campaign at companies: Republican presidential contenders have crisscrossed the nation bashing President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plans as a colossal waste of taxpayer money. But with an awkward frequency, these same candidates are campaigning at businesses that benefited from the president’s landmark stimulus package…. – AP, 9-15-11
    • GOP chairman ‘very satisfied’ with candidate field: The chairman of the Republican Party says he’s “very satisfied” with the GOP presidential field and that it’s not too late for another candidate to join the race.
      Reince Priebus tells ABC’s “Good Morning America” show that it’s normal for there to be “a lot of shots” among candidates in the primary season…. – AP, 9-15-11
    • On immigration, a Democrat has kind words for GOP’s Rick Perry (VIDEO): Presidential candidate Rick Perry is right to back a Texas law that lets students who are illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition rates, said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley…. – CS Monitor, 9-15-11
    • Misstatements Shadow Bachmann in Republican Presidential Race: Representative Michele Bachmann’s penchant for exaggeration has been getting more exposure, raising questions about her judgment and maturity…. – NYT, 9-15-11
    • Is the Republican Victory in New York a Sign?: Republicans wasted no time Tuesday night in trying to nationalize their victories in special elections in New York and Nevada…. – NYT, 9-14-11
    • With Wins in New York and Nevada, Republicans See a Trend: The Republican Party seized on the outcome of two special Congressional elections as fresh evidence that voters are souring on President Obama and are prepared to hold Democrats accountable…. – NYT, 9-14-11
    • Obama Campaign Launches AttackWatch.com: The Obama campaign has started a Web site where users can report what they believe are false accusations against the president’s record…. – NYT, 9-14-11
    • Republicans See a Ripple in the Nation’s Jewish Vote: Republicans are hoping to seize on unhappiness among some Jewish voters over the president’s treatment of Israel…. – NYT, 9-14-11
    • For Democrats, It’s 2010 All Over Again: With special elections, any one race may or may not be representative of a national trend…. – NYT, 9-14-11
    • Is Rick Perry a real front-runner, or the next Michele Bachmann?: Rick Perry took a beating at the CNN/Tea Party debate in Tampa, Fla., on Monday night. But is it enough to dethrone him as front-runner of the GOP primary race? Don’t bet the ranch on it…. – CS Monitor, 9-14-11
    • Obama adviser: GOP candidates offer no job ideas: Barack Obama’s top political adviser says none of the president’s Republican challengers has much to say about how they’re going to create jobs. David Axelrod told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that Rick Perry and Mitt Romney…. – AP, 9-13-11

“A great many of those who perished were approximately your age. Young men and women whose entire future was in front of them. They sacrificed their dreams to preserve yours. Because of what they gave, I simply ask you to make the most of the freedom that they sacrificed.” — Gov. Rick Perry at Liberty University

  • On defense, Perry talks of faith, military heroes: Texas Gov. Rick Perry avoided contentious social issues in a speech Wednesday at the nation’s largest evangelical university, offering the youth a testimonial about his own path to Christian faith and praising the men and women of the military.
    The Republican presidential contender urged students at Liberty University to remember the legacies of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without explicitly invoking his own presidential bid, he cast life’s choices as tributes to the military’s sacrifice in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks…. – AP, 9-14-11
  • Social Security no longer a ‘monstrous lie’? Why Rick Perry is shifting. (VIDEO): Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry had questioned the very foundations of Social Security before Monday’s debate. His new, softer stance is a bow to political reality…. – CS Monitor, 9-13-11
  • Perry Wears a Bull’s-Eye at G.O.P. Debate: The presidential candidates aggressively confronted Gov. Rick Perry and pressed him to expound upon his views on Social Security and a vaccination program for teenage girls…. – NYT, 9-13-11
  • Leading the Pack Brings New Perils, Perry Discovers: After his second presidential debate, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is finding that the downsides of being tagged as the Republican front-runner are coming into sharper focus…. – NYT, 9-13-11
  • Romney’s aggressive approach here to stay: An assertive Mitt Romney has emerged in the GOP presidential race. The former Massachusetts governor has shown little willingness to assail his Republican competitors over the past few months, focusing all of his criticism on President Barack Obama. But in one night, Romney became the most prominent aggressor in a growing effort by the GOP field to derail front-runner Rick Perry. And in doing so, Romney may have started to ease concern within the GOP establishment over the strength of his candidacy…. – AP, 9-13-11
  • As Perry Rises, G.O.P. Elite Look Toward Romney: The rising presidential candidacy of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is stirring excitement for many Republican voters but is creating unease in some quarters of the party’s establishment…. – NYT, 9-13-11
  • Perry’s Tone on Social Security Takes a Turn: Rick Perry, once highly critical of Social Security, now suggests its long-term viability must be assured…. – NYT, 9-12-11
  • Republican debate: Who did best? Who stumbled?: For the second time in a week, Mitt Romney may have turned in the best overall performance. Some conservatives believe Rick Perry did well, too. And the other candidates all had their moments…. – CS Monitor, 9-13-11
  • FACT CHECK: Social Security prompts debate miscues: Rick Perry 1.0 thought Social Security was a “disease” inflicted on the population by the federal government. Rick Perry 2.0 thinks Social Security deserves to be saved “for generations to come.”
    That metamorphosis by the Republican presidential hopeful over recent months contributed to some factual stretches Monday night in a GOP debate, both by the Texas governor and his opponents for the nomination.
    A look at some of the claims in the debate and how they compare with the facts…. – AP, 9-13-11
  • Analysis: GOP foes seek cracks in Perry’s record: Rick Perry’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination will rise or fall on his 10-year record as Texas governor.
    In Monday’s crackling GOP debate, his rivals attacked that record as never before, led by a newly energized Mitt Romney and hard-charging Michele Bachmann.
    Perry, holding his own but looking besieged at times, defended himself vigorously on most fronts. He acknowledged mishandling a schoolgirl vaccination program, however, and asked for understanding about Texas’ need to work with illegal immigrants who seek citizenship and college educations.
    As President Barack Obama might say: Welcome to the role of an incumbent with a complex record to defend from critics on all sides…. – AP, 9-13-11
  • Perry attacks Obama jobs plan: Texas Gov. Rick Perry is attacking President Barack Obama’s jobs plan as a second stimulus plan that won’t put Americans back to work.
    Obama’s plan includes some tax cuts, and Perry was asked whether he would oppose them. Perry instead says Obama’s plan would raise taxes…. – AP, 9-12-11
  • Perry assailed by GOP rivals, defends his record: It marked the first time in the summer debates that internal Republican differences dominated rather than a common eagerness to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama. Especially on Social Security. “A program that’s been there 70 or 80 years.”… – AP, 9-12-11
  • Jindal endorses Perry for president: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal endorsed Rick Perry for president on Monday, calling the Texas governor “the candidate who can lead our party to victory in 2012.”
    Jindal and Perry announced the endorsement ahead of Monday night’s GOP presidential debate in Tampa, Fla. — and just hours after former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty endorsed Mitt Romney, Perry’s most significant rival for the Republican nomination.
    Jindal praised Perry’s job creation record as Texas governor, the central message of Perry’s campaign…. – AP, 9-12-11
  • Jindal to Endorse Perry: Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has decided to back Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary…. – NYT, 9-12-11
  • Romney: NLRB Boeing complaint political payback: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, fresh from picking up former rival Tim Pawlenty’s endorsement, criticized the Obama administration’s links to organized labor, arguing that a National Labor Relations Board’s complaint against Boeing is White House payback to unions…. – AP, 9-12-11
  • Pawlenty endorses Romney in GOP race: While a candidate against Romney, Pawlenty hit hard on his rival’s role in crafting a Massachusetts health law, parts of which were a template for President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care overhaul. Pawlenty once dubbed the Massachusetts law … – AP, 9-12-11
  • Pawlenty Endorses Romney: Tim Pawlenty, who dropped out of the race last month, endorses Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination…. – NYT, 9-12-11
  • Pawlenty: Romney’s front-line defender: Within hours of picking up an endorsement from former White House contender Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney swooped into South Carolina Monday morning with his new de-facto cheerleader and front-line defender.
    Pawlenty’s new role was apparent at a press availability with the two men in North Charleston. Romney was able to step back, at least for one question, and let his new national co-chair speak for his record…. – CNN, 9-12-11
  • Perry Seeks Blessing From an Immigration Hardliner: Rick Perry, who once said he was “intrigued and open” to an amnesty program for Mexican workers in the United States illegally, is now courting the support of a famous immigration hardliner: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona…. – Texas Tribune, 9-12-11
  • GOP debate: three things we might see at tea party event tonight: The Republican candidates face off in Florida tonight, and the Tea Party Express organizers vow that the debate will focus only on tea party ‘core principles.’ Will Perry and Paul clash?… – CS Monitor, 9-12-11
  • DNC ad campaign to promote Obama jobs plan: The Democratic National Committee is launching an ad campaign in politically key states aimed at rallying the public behind President Barack Obama’s new jobs plan and pressuring a divided Congress to act. … – AP, 9-12-11

HOUSE — SENATE — GOVERNORSHIPS CAMPAIGNS & ELECTIONS

  • The Dewhurst Profile: Unexciting but Atop Polls: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is the Mitt Romney of the United States Senate race in Texas — orderly, and leading in the polls…. – NYT, 9-15-11
  • Election Reflects New Dynamic in Brooklyn and Queens: The Democratic Party in Queens ended Tuesday night exposed as a tottering old dame, her inability to push a loyal son into Congress testament to her infirmities…. – NYT, 9-14-11
  • Warren launches US Senate campaign with Mass. tour: Harvard Law professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren officially launched her Democratic campaign for the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, hoping for a chance to take on Republican Sen. Scott Brown in next year’s election…. – AP, 9-14-11

ELECTIONS: SPECIAL ELECTIONS IN NEW YORK & NEVADA

G.O.P. Gains House Seat Vacated by Weiner, AP Reports: A little-known Republican businessman from Queens, channeling voter discontent with President Obama into an upset victory, on Tuesday won election to Congress from the heavily Democratic district in New York City last represented by Anthony D. Weiner, according to The Associated Press.
The Republican, Bob Turner, a retired cable television executive, defeated Assemblyman David I. Weprin, the scion of a prominent Democratic family in Queens, in a nationally watched special election.

With 84 percent of the precincts counted early Wednesday, Mr. Turner was leading Mr. Weprin by 54 percent to 46 percent, according to The Associated Press.

Turner recently polled 6 points higher than Democrat opponent David Weprin, who is actually Jewish, and narrowed Weprin’s lead among Jewish voters by 15 points. The Turner campaign sent out 5,000 letters to registered voters in Israel, asking them to register for the ballots and place them in time.

“We congratulate Bob Turner on his historic victory.
This Republican win in an overwhelmingly Democrat district is a significant indicator of the problem that President Obama has in the Jewish community. While party leaders scramble to deny and try to stem the erosion of Jewish support for Democrats, the real issue is this President’s policies on Israel, on jobs, and on the economy. Jewish voters are coming to see that Republicans offer real solutions to our economic crisis, are resolute friends of Israel, and represent a way forward to a better future.
Bob Turner’s win tonight has huge implications for 2012 races in states with large Jewish communities, such as Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The RJC took a proactive approach in this race, reaching out to Jewish voters in the district, and we will be a leading voice driving the debate in the Jewish community nationally through 2012 as well.” — Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matt Brooks statement on the results of the special election in New York’s 9th congressional district — RJC: Jewish Defections Hurt Obama, Democrats in Queens Race

“His [President Barack Obama] hostility should concern Jews, Christians, and other supporters of Israel. Many believe the president has conveyed by his actions and demands on that state that he is willing to throw it under the bus and end the special relationship which has existed between the U.S. and Israel beginning with Harry Truman and continuing through the administration of George W. Bush….
While President Obama has made demands upon Israel that affect its security, no comparable demand — indeed, no demands — have been made upon the Palestinian Authority before entering the peace talks….
On the other hand, the election of Bob Turner in a normally safe Democratic district running against President Obama’s position on Israel and against his own party’s positions on the three entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would send a message to his own party leadership, as well as to President Obama.” — Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch

“No matter who wins in the special election in New York’s 9th congressional district on Tuesday. This race highlights the serious problems that President Obama has in the Jewish community because of his policies regarding Israel. Without question, Obama’s policies are causing significant numbers of Jewish voters to re-examine their loyalty to the Democratic Party.” — Matt Brooks RJC executive director

    • G.O.P. Gains House Seat Vacated by Weiner: Bob Turner, a little-known Republican businessman from Queens, beat Assemblyman David I. Weprin in an upset victory seen as a message to Washington…. – NYT, 9-13-11
    • GOP Takes Anthony Weiner’s Seat in Congress: Republican Bob Turner, a retired media executive, bested Democrat Assemblyman David Weprin. With about 70 percent of precincts reporting late Tuesday, Turner had 53 percent of the vote to Weprin’s 47 percent when the Associated Press called the race…. – ABC News, 9-13-11
    • Republican wins Weiner’s former seat: In a blow to Democrats, a Republican candidate captured the heavily Jewish New York City congressional district previously represented by Rep. Anthony Weiner.
      The race was closely watched as a measure of attitudes toward President Obama, with the Jewish vote a particular focus of attention. Former New York City mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, urged voters to support the Republican, Bob Turner, in order to send a message of dissatisfaction to President Obama over his policies toward Israel…. – JTA, 9-13-11
    • Why Obama Is Losing the Jewish Vote He doesn’t have a ‘messaging’ problem. He has a record of bad policies and anti-Israel rhetoric: New York’s special congressional election on Tuesday was the first electoral outcome directly affected by President Obama’s Israel policy. Democrats were forced to expend enormous resources to try to defend this safe Democratic district, covering Queens and Brooklyn, that Anthony Weiner won last year by a comfortable margin.
      A Public Policy Poll taken days before the election found a plurality of voters saying that Israel was “very important” in determining their votes. Among those voters, Republican candidate Robert Turner was winning by a 71-22 margin. Only 22% of Jewish voters approved of President Obama’s handling of Israel. Ed Koch, the Democrat and former New York mayor, endorsed Mr. Turner because he said he wanted to send a message to the president about his anti-Israel policies.
      This is a preview of what President Obama might face in his re-election campaign with a demographic group that voted overwhelmingly for him in 2008. And it could affect the electoral map, given the battleground states—such as Florida and Pennsylvania—with significant Jewish populations. In another ominous barometer for the Obama campaign, its Jewish fund-raising has deeply eroded: One poll by McLaughlin & Associates found that of Jewish donors who donated to Mr. Obama in 2008, only 64% have already donated or plan to donate to his re-election campaign…. – WSJ, 9-13-11
    • Koch Played Key Role in GOP Victory: The Republican victory in New York’s solid blue 9th Congressional District seat in Tuesday’s special election came largely with the help of an influential Democrat: former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
      Koch was arguably the one single factor in helping the GOP win the battle to succeed disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner in the U.S. House.
      The thrice-elected former mayor, who remains a powerful force in New York and national politics, had backed Obama strongly in the 2008 election.
      A self-describer “liberal with reason,” former Congressman Koch holds a hawkish view on U.S. foreign policy and national security matters.
      In 2004, he cited the war on terror to cross party lines and back George Bush over John Kerry for the presidency. Koch campaigned for Bush’s re-election in Florida and Ohio.
      In the special election, the 86-year-old Koch urged fellow New Yorkers, and disaffected Democrats like himself, to send a message to President Obama that they give him a thumbs down for his domestic and foreign policies.
      Koch, a staunch supporter of Israel, has been dismayed with Obama’s lukewarm support for Israel.
      The former mayor’s message appeared to resonate in the congressional district that straddles the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn and is home to many Jews, including many Orthodox ones. Newsmax, 9-13-11
    • Republican Bob Turner wins special election in New York: Democrats suffered a stunning blow Tuesday as voters in New York’s 9th Congressional District handed the seat to Republican Bob Turner, reversing a nearly 90-year tradition of electing Democrats to represent the district. … – LAT, 9-13-11
    • Republican Bob Turner wins New York special election: Businessman Bob Turner (R) defeated state Assemblyman David Weprin (D) in the special election for the House seat held by former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner (D)…. – WaPo, 9-13-11
    • A referendum on Obama and Israel: Bob Turner vs. David Weprin is really about: In deciding between Republican Bob Turner and Democrat David Weprin, the 9th’s large percentage of Jewish voters may provide an important clue about what a part of President Obama’s base in 2008 will do in next year’s presidential contest…. – New York Daily News, 9-13-11
    • Republican wins Democratic New York House seat: Republican Bob Turner won the race to succeed Anthony Weiner in New York’s 9th congressional district. By Paul Kane, With his outcome of his own reelection effort 14 difficult months away, President Obama suffered a sharp rebuke…. – WaPo, 9-13-11
    • GOP Wins in Race to Replace Weiner: AP Democrats suffered a setback Tuesday in a congressional election in New York City, where a district they have held for nearly a century elected a Republican who framed his candidacy as a rebuke to President Barack Obama. … – WSJ, 9-13-11
    • Republican wins in New York Democratic stronghold: Republicans won an upset victory in a Democratic stronghold in New York Tuesday in a special US House of Representatives election for the seat vacated by former Representative Anthony Weiner, who resigned after a Twitter sex scandal…. – Reuters, 9-13-11
    • GOP wins in NY House race, seen as Obama rebuke: Republicans have scored an upset victory in a House race that started as a contest to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner after he resigned in a sexting scandal but became a referendum on President Barack Obama…. – Forbes, 9-13-11

“The idea is telling Obama, we’re not just in your pocket because we’re Democrats and we’re ticking off Democrat all the way down the list. We are holding you responsible for your policies, and we’re telling you we don’t want them…. If Obama looks at his always historically blue district … if he gets this message from this Democrat district, this can affect his policies–again, both on fiscal and Israel — in the next year” — Ruth Lieberman, a veteran political consultant

  • NY-9 Could Affect White House Israeli Policy: This afternoon, Ruth Lieberman, a veteran political consultant who has been helping Republican Bob Turner in his special election race to win former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat in New York, spoke with Townhall about the dynamics between Turner and the Jewish vote in this race and broader implications for 2012. The district shows 1/3 registered Jewish voters, but of last year’s participation in the election, a large percentage were Jewish voters, according to Lieberman.
    The conversation with Lieberman revealed voters in the very blue district seem interested on two issues: jobs and Israel. Turner’s message to constituents has been that if they’re not happy with the Obama economy or with the administration’s stance on Israel, Turner is their man. Turner also picked up major Jewish Democrat endorsements along the way — local Assemblyman Dov Hikind (who has been campaigning with Turner) and former New York Mayor Ed Koch. Lieberman emphasized that these two Democrat politicians are telling voters to cross over and that this isn’t about party, but a referendum on Obama and jobs and Israel…. – Townhall, 9-13-11
  • Is Israel Policy an Election Problem for Obama?: President Barack Obama’s weakened standing with voters has helped put a safe Democratic House seat at risk of tipping to the GOP in a special election Tuesday in New York City…. – WSJ, 9-13-11
  • Shocker: White House Spox Says NY-9 Special Is Not A Referendum On Obama’: It is worth reiterating that PPP found 54% of those polled said they disapproved of Obama’s policy on Israel, but voters were split on whether Israel matters in the NY-9 election…. – New York Daily News, 9-12-11
  • Polling Israel in NY-9: Republican Bob Turner’s unusual lead in last night’s PPP poll among Jewish and pro-Israel voters in Anthony Weiner’s old district has drawn its share of attention, but a reader points out that it may be a bit of a local anomaly. … – Politico, 9-12-11
  • GOP Jewish group yokes NY-9 results to Obama: The Republican Jewish Coalition, which sent mailers to 30,000 Jewish homes in NY-9 in advance of the special congressional election this week, is trying to pre-frame the results as negative for President Obama, regardless of whether Democrat David Weprin wins or loses.
    Weprin is locked in a tight race against neophyte politician and Republican Bob Turner, in a heavily Jewish district where Obama’s approval numbers are now underwater…. – Politico, 9-9-11
  • Gaming the Catholic vote: In a brief interlude into NY-9, which appears poised to go for the Republican Bob Turner tonight and will be sifted-over for national implications, veteran New York strategist Hank Sheinkopf said one takeaway for the Democrats next year is the Catholic vote…. – Politico, 9-13-11
  • Boehner on N.Y. special election: Republicans don’t have ‘any right to think we can win”: But if businessman Bob Turner (R) does prevail at the polls, Boehner said, the message will be a clear one: Voters are unhappy with President Obama’s leadership on the economy…. – WaPo, 9-13-11
  • NY special election a measure of Obama’s strength: Democrat David Weprin faced an unusually tight race against Republican Bob Turner in a special election Tuesday in New York’s heavily Democratic 9th Congressional District, where voters unhappy with President Barack Obama could elect a Republican for the first time.
    The contest to replace disgraced Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner has become too close to call, with public opinion polling showing a slight edge for Turner, a retired media executive with no previous political experience…. – AP, 9-13-11
  • Outside groups spend $1.65 million on House races in Nevada, New York: In Nevada, Kate Marshall (about $748000 reported) has out-raised Republican Mark Amodei (about $659000), while in New York David Weprin (about $684000) has more than doubled the campaign cash of his opponent Bob Turner (about $323000)…. – iWatch News, 9-13-11
  • 6 NY Assembly seats up for grabs in NYC, upstate: The race getting the most attention is the special election in New York City’s 9th Congressional District, where Democrat David Weprin faces Republican Bob Turner in the contest to succeed replace disgraced Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner…. – Houston Chronicle, 9-13-11
  • Former Mayor Ed Koch Supports Bob Turner YouTube, 9-12-11
  • Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D) Endorses Bob Turner (R) for US Congress in NY-9 YouTube, 9-9-11

CAMPAIGN 2012: ANALYSTS &S HISTORIANS COMMENTS

  • Politico Arena: Daily Debate with Policymakers, Opinionshapers & Academics Politico
  • Julian Zelizer: Romney offers the electability argument Portrays Perry as too extreme: “Usually [electability] is not the most effective appeal in primaries where activists are the main voices,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history at Princeton University. “In this election though, the anger toward President Obama is so intense for the Republican Party that the electability argument might be stronger than it usually is.”… – Boston Globe, 9-16-11

Campaign Buzz September 12, 2011: Rick Perry Vs. Republican Candidates at CNN / Tea Party Express GOP Republican Presidential Debate — Perry Attacked, on the Offense, Defense & Toned Down on Social Security

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES: GOP CNN/TEA PARTY EXPRESS REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE IN TAMPA, FLORIDA

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 12, 2011: CNN / Tea Party GOP Republican Presidential Debate — Candidates Gang Up on Rick Perry — Target Social Security (Complete Transcript) CNN, 9-12-11

Live blog of CNN’s first-ever Tea Party Republican Debate CNN, 9-12-11

Fact-checking the Republican presidential debate San Francisco Chronicle, 9-12-11

Jon Huntsman: “Yesterday, we were reminded how extraordinary this country is … Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are deeply divided.”

Herman Cain: “I am the only non-politician on this stage tonight.”

Michele Bachmann: “I brought the voice of the tea party to the United States Congress.”

Mitt Romney: “Like you, I recognize that America’s economy is in crisis.”

Rick Perry: “I simply want to get America work again and make Washington D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.”

Ron Paul: “My goal has always been to promote the cause of liberty and to obey the Constitution.”

Newt Gingrich: “In the spirit of 9/12, I hope to work with you to fundamentally, profoundly change Washington.”

Rick Santorum: “I won two elections [in Pennsylvania] without having to change my policies or my party to win.”

“We’re having that conversation, Governor. We’re running for president.” — Mitt Romney

“A program that’s been there 70 or 80 years, obviously we’re not going to take that away.” — Rick Perry

“The company was Merck, and it was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them. I raise about $30 million. And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.” — Rick Perry

“If you’ve been in the state of Texas for three years, if you’re working towards your college degree, and if you are working and pursuing citizenship in the state of Texas, you pay in-state tuition there. It doesn’t make any difference what the sound of your last name is, that’s the American way.” — Rick Perry

“The idea you’re going to build a wall from Brownsville to El Paso and go left to Tijuana is not reality. What you gotta have is boots on the ground … the aviation assets in the air. We understand and know how to secure that border, but the federal government needs to step up and do their constitutional duty and secure the border with Mexico.” — Rick Perry

“Of course we build a fence, and of course we do not give in-state tuition credits to people who have come here illegally.” — Mitt Romney

“I would put a little damper on this, but I don’t want to offend the governor, because he might raise my taxes or something.” — Ron Paul

“I think Gov. Perry would agree that if you’re dealt four aces, that doesn’t make you a terrific poker player.” — Mitt Romney

“Well, I was going to say Mitt you were doing pretty good until you got to talking poker.” — Rick Perry

“For Rick to say we can’t secure the border is pretty much a treasonous statement.” — Jon Huntsman

“You’ve got Governor Romney, who called it a fraud in his book ‘No Apology.’ I don’t know if that was written by Kurt Cobain or not.” — Jon Huntsman

“We could spend all night talking about where Mitt’s been on all the issues and that would take forever.” — Jon Huntsman

Perry Is Target as Republican Candidates Take Aim: The presidential candidates aggressively confronted Gov. Rick Perry and pressed him to expound upon his views on Social Security and a vaccination program for teenage girls…. – NYT, 9-12-11

Perry assailed by GOP rivals, defends his record: Attacked from all sides, Texas Gov. Rick Perry softened his rhetoric if not his position on Social Security in a snarky campaign debate Monday night and fended off attacks on his record creating jobs and requiring the vaccination of schoolgirls against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted virus…. – AP, 9-12-11

    • Factbox: Social Security central in Republican debate: Republican presidential candidates on Monday traded barbs over their positions on Social Security but avoided deep discussion of possible solutions to a coming funding crunch in the retirement program.
      Here are some important dates and possible choices lawmakers will weigh on Social Security as 77 million older Americans — Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 — begin to draw benefits…. – Reuters, 9-12-11
    • A Ben Bernanke treason trial: Michele Bachmann refuses to respond to a question about Rick Perry’s “treasonous” comment on Ben Bernanke, saying, “As president of the US I would not be reappointing Ben Bernanke but during the bailout … I worked behind the scenes against the bailout. the enabling act legislation is written so broadly that congress is giving the federal reserve unlimited power.”
      Pushed, she said, “That’s for Gov Perry to make that decision. my decision is i would not appoint Ben Bernanke.”
      Perry, at his turn, stood by the remark, saying, “I said if you are allowing the federal reserve to be allowed to be used for political purposes it would be almost treasonous.”…. – Politico, 9-12-11
    • Jabbing over Social Security, Romney takes on Perry: a look at key moments in the GOP debate:
      Big moment: To open the debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney immediately went after each other on Social Security — with Perry defending his inflammatory language and Romney accusing Perry of scaring seniors.
      “It has been called a Ponzi scheme by many people long before me,” Perry said. The Texas governor has also called the social safety net a “monstrous lie.”
      “I think the word ‘Ponzi scheme’ is over the top and unnecessary and frightful to many people,” Romney snapped back…. – WaPo, 9-12-11
    • Republican debate: Perry fends off assaults from GOP rivals: Gov. Rick Perry stood his ground, Monday, while fellow GOP candidates took numerous jabs at the front-runner….
      Attacked from all sides by fellow Republicans, Texas Gov. Rick Perry softened his rhetoric if not his position on Social Security in a snarky presidential campaign debate Monday night. He fended off assaults on his record creating jobs and requiring the vaccination of schoolgirls against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted virus.
      Across a crackling two-hour debate, the front-runner in opinion polls gave little ground and frequently jabbed back, particularly at his chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney….
      It marked the first time in the summer debates that internal Republican differences dominated rather than a common eagerness to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama…. – CS Monitor, 9-12-11
    • In debate Republicans lash out at each other: A Republican presidential debate became a race to the bottom Monday night as candidates attacked each other for treason, lack of manliness, trying to prevent cervical cancer, and even – – gasp – – letting campaign contributions affect their judgment. … – Politico, 9-12-11
    • At GOP debate, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney tear into each other: The second presidential debate in a week begins as a cross between a fight club and a book club….
      Mitt Romney and Rick Perry took the first possible opportunity to tear into each other at the CNN- and Tea Party Express-hosted forum in Florida, trading harsh accusations over their views on Social Security…. – Politico, 9-12-11
    • At Tea Party Debate, Perry Experiences the Full Force of His Rivals’ Wrath: Firmly entrenched as the double-digit front-runner for the Republican President nomination, Texas Governor Rick Perry endured the unpleasant privilege of his status on Monday night…. – TIME, 9-12-11
    • Tea Party Debate Themes: Gang Up On Rick Perry, Dismantle Washington: The dynamics of the Republican race became clear: it’s Rick Perry against the field. And the contest’s central theme became just as clear: let’s dismantle as much as we can of the federal government’s role…. – Huffington Post, 9-12-11
    • GOP debate: Rick Perry remains in front despite bumpy ride in Tampa: The Texas governor, Rick Perry, emerged bruised but still looking like the frontrunner for his party’s presidential nomination after a contentious televised debate in which he was the focus of attack from rival candidates and in which he drew scorn…. – The Guardian, UK, 9-13-11
    • The Tea Party/CNN debate: Ganging up on Rick Perry, as Kurt Cobain makes a cameo: The Tea Party Republican debate turned into a brawl pretty fast on Monday night. Well aware of the momentum that Gov. Rick Perry has as the most media-analyzed Republican of the moment, candidates including Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann went after him on issues ranging from Social Security to the HPV vaccine…. – Entertainment Weekly, 9-12-11
    • Republicans go after Rick Perry in Florida debate: Rick Perry’s Republican presidential rivals took turns ganging up on the leader of the pack during a presidential debate Monday, accusing the Texas governor of frightening senior citizens with his attacks on Social Security…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 9-12-11
    • Perry assailed by rivals, forced to defend record Texas governor clashes with Romney on Social Security, Bachmann on HPV vaccine: Attacked from all sides, Texas Gov. Rick Perry softened his rhetoric if not his position on Social Security in a snarky campaign debate Monday night and fended off attacks on his record creating jobs and requiring the vaccination of schoolgirls against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted virus.
      It marked the first time in the summer debates that internal Republican differences dominated rather than a common eagerness to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama…. – MSNBC, 9-12-11
    • Rick Perry Stands By Harsh Ben Bernanke Remarks (VIDEO): Texas Governor Rick Perry stood by eyebrow-raising remarks he made last month about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during Monday night’s Republican presidential debate…. – Huff Post, 9-12-11
    • Rick Perry Calls For Afghanistan Withdrawal At GOP Tea Party Debate: Rick Perry has been relatively silent on foreign policy, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the GOP debate Monday night, he said he believed that the US should continue to have a “presence” in Afghanistan, but that it was time to start…. – Huff Post, 9-12-11
    • Ron Paul checks Rick Perry on his jobs record: Asked about Rick Perry’s jobs record and whether he deserves so much credit, Ron Paul replies, “Not quite…I would put a little damper on this but I don’t want to offend the governor because he might raise my taxes or something.”… – Politico, 9-12-11
    • Michele Bachmann regains footing in ‘tea party’ debate: Michele Bachmann recaptured some of her stride tonight. After seeming to fade in last week’s debate at the Reagan Library, she was far more vocal and passionate. Of course, she was playing to her crowd — the “tea party” has an uncomplicated passion for her — but there was a new energy in her voice, particularly when she slammed Rick Perry for his executive order on the HPV vaccine.
      If Perry felt like a piñata at last week’s debate, as he joked then, he must have felt like the human silhouette on the wrong end of a shooting range tonight…. – LAT, 9-12-11
    • Rick Perry: “The first round of stimulus … it created zero jobs.”: Rick Perry criticized President Barack Obama’s new jobs plan during a Republican presidential debate Sept. 12, 2011, saying his previous effort “created zero jobs.”… – PolitiFact, 9-12-11
    • Santorum: I feel like I’m on ‘Survivor’: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum used a reality television show to describe how he feels in the current Republican presidential contest. That show, “Survivor.”… – CNN, 9-12-11
    • Analysis: Bachmann comes back to life in Republican debate: Michele Bachmann won a new lease on life for her fizzling presidential campaign by aggressively targeting Republican front-runner Rick Perry and raising doubts about his conservative credentials.
      But whether Bachmann can save a campaign that is clearly on the ropes is very much in doubt, just a month after she enjoyed her best moment of the 2012 season by winning the Iowa straw poll, an important early test of strength…. – Reuters, 9-12-11
    • Commentary: Republican nomination may be Perry’s to lose: Paul Burka of Texas Monthly summed up the general consensus in Austin last month, saying Gov. Rick Perry “is going to be the Republican nominee. … We might as well skip the primary and go straight to the general election.” Burka draws a straight path … – Kansas City Star, 9-12-11
    • GOP rivals spar on Social Security: GOP presidential rivals Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry clashed again last night during their second debate — sharpening their differences on Social Security and jobs in the key battleground state of Florida, where older voters … – Boston Herald, 9-12-11
    • Texas pol storming into town as Democrats go on the offensive: GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry is kicking up a Texas-sized ruckus in Boston today — intent on skewering rival Mitt Romney’s jobs records in his own backyard while protesting Democrats plan to slam Perry’s controversial stance…. – Boston Herald, 9-12-11
    • Second tier candidates, not chief rival, score points against Perry: At least for now, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. But it was the second- and third-tier candidates who shed light on some of Perry’s greatest vulnerabilities in Monday’s presidential debate and they did so from his right.
      U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania pounded away at Perry for ordering in 2007 that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus. The order never took full effect, and it gave parents the option to opt out, but the idea of requiring an inoculation against a sexually transmitted disease just isn’t going to play well with GOP primary voters…. – Austin American-Statesman, 9-12-11
    • Perry’s not-so-innocuous inoculation at the Tea Party HPV debate: If, as the consensus seems to be, Perry only managed to whelm us at the last debate, this time he distinctly underwhelmed. Santorum and Bachmann seized him by the ankles of his hand-tooled cowboy boots and refused to let go. … – WaPo, 9-12-11
    • On immigration, Rick Perry takes heat for Texas DREAM Act: In a debate that’s already been fiery, the temperature rose further, even a little uncomfortably, when the subject of immigration came up.
      The candidates on this stage have repeatedly said they won’t elaborate on their plans for dealing with the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country until the border with Mexico is secured.
      Perry, who signed a Texas version of the DREAM Act (which allows young people in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities) drew several rounds of boos when he defended the policy…. – LAT, 9-12-11
    • Republican candidates unite on Fed attack: Republican candidates for president squabbled over social security, foreign wars and the economy but presented a largely united front on one issue – the need to rein in the power of the Federal Reserve…. – Financial Times, 9-12-11
    • Federal Reserve is a target at Florida Republican debate: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke was in the bullseye Monday night at the debate of Republican presidential hopefuls in Florida. Texas Governor Rick Perry stood by comments made last month that Bernanke’s efforts to jumpstart the US economy…. — CBS News, 9-12-11
    • The GOP debate: 7 takeaways: Last night’s GOP debate wasn’t a face-off, it was a pile-on. The CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Tampa, Fla. —the second in a string of five Republican meet-ups coming in rapid succession—was an opportunity to gang up on Rick Perry and his onstage rivals took full advantage. Here are seven takeaways from Monday’s debate…. – Politico, 9-12-11
    • Palin slams Perry on ‘crony capitalism’: Sarah Palin, who has kept mum about whether she’ll run, is not in sync with Rick Perry: Sarah Palin took a hard swipe against her friend Rick Perry in a post-debate TV appearance, calling him out by name for “crony capitalism”…. – Politico, 9-12-11
    • DNC Chair uses debate moment to pounce on GOP: The woman working to ensure President Obama’s re-election entered the political equivalent of the lion’s den – and pounced on a debate moment to blast the Republican presidential candidates late Monday. … – CNN, 9-12-11
    • Huntsman Paul take hits on Twitter in debate: If Twitter trends were the measure, Kurt Cobain was the clear winner of Monday’s presidential debate sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express. Seventeen years after the Nirvana frontman’s suicide, a name-check on stage by Jon Huntsman shot him right … – Politico, 9-12-11

“The 1 million jobs he’s helped create as governor is a stark contrast to the 2.4 million jobs lost on President Obama’s watch. Rick Perry will bring our country more than hope – he’ll get America working again.” — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

  • Endorsement fever: Bobby Jindal backs Rick Perry: The first bit of rapid response among Republican presidential hopefuls came hours before the start of Monday’s “tea party” debate in Tampa, as Rick Perry answered Tim Pawlenty’s endorsement of Mitt Romney by announcing the support of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
    Jindal, once seen as a rising GOP star, said in a statement that Perry’s “record on job creation simply cannot be beat.”… – LAT, 9-12-11
  • As Perry Rises, GOP Elite Look Toward Romney: The rising presidential candidacy of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is stirring excitement for many Republican voters but is creating unease in some quarters of the party’s establishment…. – NYT, 9-12-11
  • For Debate Partners, an Unusual Pairing: The sponsors, CNN and the Tea Party, each stand to benefit from reaching the other’s following…. – NYT, 9-12-11
  • Factbox: Four keys to Republican debate in Florida: Eight Republican presidential hopefuls will meet on Monday in a debate co-sponsored by CNN and the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement, which helped elect dozens of Republicans to Congress in 2010. Here are four keys to the debate…. – Reuters, 9-12-11
  • GOP Debate: Three keys to tonight’s debate: What do the presidential candidates need to do in tonight’s Tea Party Express/CNN GOP debate?…. – CS Monitor, 9-12-11
  • Five things to watch for in CNN/Tea Party Republican debate: Watch the CNN/Tea Party Republican Debate at 8 p.m. ET Monday on CNN TV and CNN.com.
    Here are key storylines and strategies to watch for in Monday night’s CNN/Tea Party Republican Debate
    1. Round two of the Perry-Romney slugfest? It started in Wednesday’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the new guy in the race and the front-runner in the national polls, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the previous front-runner, sparred over jobs creation and Social Security…. – CNN, 9-12-11

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 12, 2011: CNN / Tea Party GOP Republican Presidential Debate — Candidates Gang Up on Rick Perry — Target Social Security (Complete Transcript)

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Chip Litherland for The New York Times

Republican presidential candidates before their debate in Tampa, Fla. More Photos »

Perry Is Target as Republican Candidates Take Aim: The presidential candidates aggressively confronted Gov. Rick Perry and pressed him to expound upon his views on Social Security and a vaccination program for teenage girls.

Complete CNN / Tea Party Republican Debate Transcript

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, eight Republicans, one goal: to win the White House and kick Barack Obama out.

Cheering them on, their powerful allies and fierce critics, the grassroots movement putting a bold stamp on this election, the Tea Party.

Tonight’s players —

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love America. I’ll fight for America.

ANNOUNCER: — Mitt Romney, the early front-runner —

ROMNEY: Obamacare.

ANNOUNCER: — focused on attacking the president, now turning his attention to a more immediate opponent —

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m going to be a pro-business president, and I’m not going to make any apologies about it.

ANNOUNCER: Rick Perry, the newcomer. He got a late start, then surged to the front of the pack, with a conservative voice, folksy and brash.

Michele Bachmann, the firebrand.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We’re here to win.

ANNOUNCER: She aced an early test in Iowa, proving she’s a top- tier contender, as well as a lightning rod.

The rest of the field in search of a breakthrough.

Jon Huntsman, the diplomat, carving a more moderate path to try to defeat his ex-boss, the president.

Ron Paul, the Libertarian, billing himself as the freedom fighter in the race.

Rick Santorum, the fighter, known for throwing hard punches from the right.

Herman Cain, the businessman who plays up his experience as a pizza executive and his inexperience in politics.

Newt Gingrich, the big thinker, once the most powerful man in the House, now looking for traction after early stumbles.

Tonight, eight candidates, one stage, one chance to take part in a groundbreaking debate. The Tea Party support and the Republican nomination, on the line right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: And welcome to the Florida State Fairgrounds here in Tampa, the site of the first ever Tea Party/Republican presidential debate.

One year from now, right here in Tampa, the Republican National Convention will nominate the Republican candidate for president of the United States.

Tonight, eight contenders will be on this stage to try to convince voters he or she is the best choice to hold the highest office in the country. And joining them inside this hall, Tea Party activists from Florida and across the nation.

I’m Wolf Blitzer.

I’d like to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world, including U.S. troops and their families watching overseas.

Tonight’s debate is airing on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Espanol, and the American Forces Network seen on U.S. military bases in 175 countries and aboard Navy ships at sea around the globe.

We also want to welcome our co-sponsors, the Tea Party Express, and more than 100 state and local Tea Party groups from across the United States.

Members of the Tea Party movement will play an active role in this debate. We’ll take questions from here in Florida, one of the most critical battleground states in the nation. We’ll also take questions from Tea Party activists in three other key states.

Watch parties are under way right now in Portsmouth, Virginia, an historic Navy port and a 2012 election battleground. In Phoenix, Arizona, the western states shaping the national debate over immigration. And in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Midwestern swing state that has been decisive in so many elections.

It’s time now to meet the 2012 Republican presidential contenders.

(APPLAUSE) Joining us now on stage, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: The former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Texas Governor Rick Perry.

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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

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ROMNEY: Hey, guys. Hi.

BLITZER: Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

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The former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Herman Cain.

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And the former governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman.

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

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Ladies and gentlemen, please rise now and join recording artist Diana Nagy as she leads us in the national anthem.

DIANA NAGY, RECORDING ARTIST: (SINGS “STAR-SPANGLED BANNER”

BLITZER: Diana Nagy, thanks very, very much.

Candidates, please take your podiums. And while you do, I want to tell all of our viewers, everyone here a little bit more about how this debate will work.

I, obviously, will be the moderator. I’ll ask questions and follow-ups, and I’ll work to try my best to make sure that each candidate is getting his or her fair share of the questions and the answer time. And as I mentioned, the tea party activists will be asking questions here in the hall, as well as from our remote sites. And, viewers, you, too, can participate. We’re accepting questions for the candidates on Twitter — make sure to include #cnnteaparty — on Facebook and, of course, on cnnpolitics.com. Each candidate will have about one minute to answer questions and 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. I’ll make sure that each candidate gets the time to respond if they are singled out for specific criticism.

It’s important that the American public knows where the candidates agree on the substantive issues and where they disagree. We want everyone watching to emerge from this debate more informed about these eight people, who each want to become the president of the United States.

Now that the candidates are all in place, it’s time for the candidates to introduce themselves to our audience. I’m asking them all to keep it very, very short. Here’s an example of what I have in mind.

I’m Wolf Blitzer, and I’m usually in “The Situation Room,” but tonight I’m thrilled to be at the Tea Party Republican presidential debate.

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Governor Huntsman, we’ll begin with you.

FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN JR. (R-UT.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wolf, delighted to be here. Yesterday, we were reminded how extraordinary this country is when we pull together during a time of need. Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are deeply divided. I believe I have the experience and the leadership necessary to move this country forward.

HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Herman Cain. I am the only non-politician on this stage tonight, and I believe that America has become a nation of crises. That’s why I want to be president of the United States of America.

BACHMANN: My name is Michele Bachmann. I know we can do so much better in this country. That’s why I’m the chief author of the bill to repeal Dodd-Frank, the bill to repeal Obamacare. And that’s why I brought the voice of the Tea Party to the United States Congress as the founder of the Tea Party Caucus.

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ROMNEY: My name is Mitt Romney. And like you, I recognize that America’s economy is in crisis. Got a lot of people without work, and a lot of people wonder whether the future is going to be brighter for their kids. I spent my life in the private sector. I understand how jobs come to America and why they go. And I want to use that experience to get America growing again, adding jobs, and assuring every citizen that they know that their kid and their grandkid will have a brighter future. Thank you.

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PERRY: I’m Governor Rick Perry. And I’m proud to be here today with the Tea Party Express. And I simply want to get America working again and make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can.

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REP. RON PAUL, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Congressman Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas. I’ve been in the Congress for 20 years. My goal has always been to promote the cause of liberty and to obey the Constitution. I plan to do that as president, as well.

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, (R-GA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Newt Gingrich. I think it is totally appropriate that we’re having this particular debate on 9/12. And in the spirit of 9/12, I hope to work with you to fundamentally, profoundly change Washington in what will be a long and difficult struggle against the forces of reaction and special interests.

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FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R-PA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Rick Santorum. I’m a former two-term senator from a state that has over a million more registered Democrats than Republicans, and I won two elections there without having to change my policies or my party to win.

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BLITZER: Ladies and gentlemen, the eight Republican presidential candidates.

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All right. Let’s — let’s start off here in Tampa. We have a Tea Party activist. Please identify yourself and ask your question.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Tea Party, Jacksonville, Florida. My question: How will you convince senior citizens that Social Security and Medicare need to be changed and get their vote?

BLITZER: Good question. Let me begin with Michele Bachmann. Congresswoman, how do you do that? How do you go ahead and change, reform Social Security, Medicare, while at the same time getting votes?

BACHMANN: Well, one thing that we need to let senior citizens know is, for those who are currently on the Social Security system, the United States government made a promise to senior citizens, and we have to keep that promise to them.

But we also need to know that for those who are not yet on the system, the system simply has to be reformed in order for it to work. The same goes with Medicare. We know that President Obama stole over $500 billion out of Medicare to switch it over to Obamacare. We also know that Medicare hospital trust fund will be bankrupt within nine years. These are programs that need to be saved to serve people, and in their current form, they can’t.

So we need to have someone who understands these programs, who — who understands the solutions to these programs. I’m a person that’s had feet in the private sector and a foot in the federal government. I’ve been there long enough to know the problems, but not long enough to become a part of the system. I know what to do, and I have the core of conviction to be able to make the changes that senior citizens can count on.

BLITZER: Governor Perry, speaking of Social Security, you’ve said in the past it’s a Ponzi scheme, an absolute failure, unconstitutional, but today you wrote an article in USA Today saying it must be saved and reformed, very different tone. Why?

PERRY: Well, first off, the people who are on Social Security today need to understand something. Slam-dunk guaranteed, that program is going to be there in place for those. Those individuals that are moving towards being on Social Security, that program’s going to be there for them when they arrive there.

But the idea that we have not had the courage to stand up and look Americans in the face, young mid-career professionals or kids that are my children’s age and look them in the eye and said, listen, this is a broken system. It has been called a ponzi scheme by many people long before me. But no one’s had the courage to stand up and say, here is how we’re going to reform it.

We’re going to transform it for those in those mid-career ages, but we’re going to fix it so that our young Americans that are going out into the workforce today will know without a doubt that there were some people who came along that didn’t lie to them, that didn’t try to go around the edges and told them the truth.

BLITZER: Governor Romney, you said that Governor Perry’s position on Social Security is, quote, unacceptable and could even obliterate the Republican Party. Are you saying he could not, as Republican nominee, beat Barack Obama?

ROMNEY: No, what I’m saying is that what he just said, I think most people agree with, although the term ponzi scheme I think is over the top and unnecessary and frightful to many people. But the real issue is in writing his book, Governor Perry pointed out that in his view that Social Security is unconstitutional, that this is not something the federal government ought to be involved in, that instead it should be given back to the states.

And I think that view, and the view that somehow Social Security has been forced on us over the past 70 years that by any measure, again quoting book, by any measure Social Security has been a failure, this is after 70 years of tens of millions of people relying on Social Security, that’s a very different matter.

So the financing of Social Security, we’ve all talked about at great length. In the last campaign four years around, John McCain said it was bankrupt. I put in my book a series of proposals on how to get it on sound financial footing so that our kids can count on it not just our current seniors.

But the real question is does Governor Perry continue to believe that Social Security should not be a federal program, that it’s unconstitutional and it should be returned to the states or is he going to retreat from that view?

BLITZER: Let’s let Governor Perry respond. You have 30 seconds.

PERRY: If what you’re trying to say is that back in the ’30s and the ’40s that the federal government made all the right decision, I disagree with you. And it’s time for us to get back to the constitution and a program that’s been there 70 or 80 years, obviously we’re not going to take that program away. But for people to stand up and support what they did in the ’30s or what they’re doing in the 2010s is not appropriate for America.

ROMNEY: But the question is, do you still believe that Social Security should be ended as a federal program as you did six months ago when your book came out and returned to the states or do you want to retreat from taht?

PERRY: I think we ought to have a conversation.

ROMNEY: We’re having that right now, governor. We’re running for president.

PERRY: And I’ll finish this conversation. But the issue is, are there ways to move the states into Social Security for state employees or for retirees? We did in the state of Texas back in the 1980s. I think those types of thoughtful conversations with America, rather than trying to scare seniors like you’re doing and other people, it’s time to have a legitimate conversation in this country about how to fix that program where it’s not bankrupt and our children actually know that there’s going to be a retirement program there for them.

ROMNEY: Governor, the term ponzi scheme is what scared seniors, number one. And number two, suggesting that Social Security should no longer be a federal program and returned to the states and unconstitutional is likewise frightening.

Look, there are a lot of bright people who agree with you. And that’s your view. I happen to have a different one. I think that Social Security is an essential program that we should change the way we’re funding it. You called it a criminal…

PERRY: You said if people did it in the private sector it would be called criminal. That’s in your book.

ROMNEY: Yeah, what I said was…

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ROMNEY: Governor Perry you’ve got to quote me correctly. You said it’s criminal. What I said was congress taking money out of the Social Security trust fund is like criminal and that is and it’s wrong.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, let me expand this conversation. Do you agree with Governor Perry that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme?

PAUL: Well, I agree that Social Security is broke. We spent all the money and it’s on its last legs unless we do something. One bill that I had in congress never got passed was to prevent the congress from spending any of that money on the wars and all the nonsense that we do around the world.

Now the other thing that I would like to see done is a transition. I think it’s terrible that the Social Security system is in the — the problems it has, but if people wouldn’t have spent the money we would be OK.

Now, what I would like to do is to allow all the young people to get out of Social Security and go on their own. Now, the big question is, is how would the funding occur?

BLITZER: All right. Hold that thought for a minute, because I want Herman Cain to get involved.

Are you with Governor Perry that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme?

CAIN: I don’t care what you call it, it’s broken. And here’s my solution.

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CAIN: Start with optional personal retirement accounts. In 1981, the Galveston County employees, they opted out because that was a very short window of opportunity. They took it. Today, when people retire in Galveston County, Texas, they retire making at least 50 percent more than they would ever get out of Social Security.

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Secondly, allow younger workers to have personal retirement accounts as an option.

Now, to answer this gentleman’s question, current seniors will not be affected. It’s to give the option to the younger workers.

The Galveston County model worked, and it also worked in the small country of Chile. Instead of giving it to the states, let’s give it back to the workers. That’s what personal retirement accounts will do.

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BLITZER: Governor Huntsman, when it comes to reforming Social Security, is anything from your perspective off the table?

HUNTSMAN: I don’t think anything should be off the table except maybe some of the drama that’s playing out here on this floor today. I mean, to hear these two go at it over here, it’s almost incredible.

You’ve got Governor Romney, who called it a fraud in his book “No Apology.” I don’t know if that was written by Kurt Cobain or not. And then you’ve got Governor Perry, who is calling this a Ponzi scheme.

All I know, Wolf, is that we’re frightening the American people who just want solutions. And this party isn’t going to win in 2012 unless we get our act together and fix the problem.

We all know that we’ve got entitlement problems, we’ve got Medicare, we’ve got Social — the fixes are there. I mean, the Ryan plan is there, for heaven’s sake.

We’ve got the answers. We don’t have leadership. That’s the problem.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, would you raise the retirement age for Social Security recipients?

GINGRICH: No, not necessarily, but let me start with — I’m not particularly worried about Governor Perry and Governor Romney frightening the American people when President Obama scares them every single day.

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GINGRICH: This is eating into my time.

Let me just say to all of you —

BLITZER: Let me just pinpoint the question. What would you do to fix Social Security?

GINGRICH: OK. But can I also expand for a second? Because that was not a rhetorical joke.

President Obama twice said recently he couldn’t guarantee delivering the checks to Social Security recipients. Now, why should young people who are 16 to 25 years old have politicians have the power for the rest of their life to threaten to take away their Social Security?

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GINGRICH: Now, I just want to make two simple points about Social Security and how you save it.

The first is, you get back to a full employment economy, and at four percent unemployment you have such a huge increase in funding, that you change every single out year (ph) of projection in a positive way.

The second is you say precisely as several folks here have said it, if you are younger — everybody who is older and wants to be totally protected, fine, no change. So don’t let anybody lie to you, starting with the president. No change. But if you’re younger and you would like a personal account, you would control instead of the politicians. And you know you’ll have more money at the end of your lifetime if you control it than the politicians.

Why shouldn’t you have the right to choose?

BLITZER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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BLITZER: Senator Santorum, when it comes to Social Security, are you with Governor Romney or Governor Perry?

SANTORUM: Well, the question is who is with me? Because I’ve been out here talking about — you want to talk about courage to tell the truth, Governor? I was out in 1994 running against a Democratic incumbent in a campaign managed by James Carville, and I went out and talked about Social Security reform.

Why? Because I knew this day was coming. And I had the courage to go out and say Social Security is in trouble. And I told a group of young people at La Salle University that we needed to do something like raising the retirement age.

They ran that on TV for three weeks prior to the election, in the second oldest per capita state in the country. And I still won the election. Why? Because the people of Pennsylvania wanted someone who had the courage to tell them the truth.

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SANTORUM: And I had the courage to tell them the truth.

And what I’ve done since I was in the United States Senate is every year I proposed — I went, in fact, with Bill Clinton in 1997 on the first bipartisan Social Security town hall meeting, and I was the spokesperson, a Republican conservative from a blue state out there leading the charge on Social Security.

You folks want someone with courage? I’ve got a track record of courage and a track record of concrete proposals on how to fix this, among some of the things that have been discussed here tonight.

BLITZER: Senator, thank you.

Let’s go to another question. We have a question now from the audience.

Go ahead. Identify yourself.

DR. BRIDGET MELSON, PLEASANTON TEA PARTY: Hi. My name is Dr. Bridget Melson with the Pleasanton Tea Party. Good to be here.

My question for you is, what is your plan to balance the budget and get this spending under control so that my children’s share of the debt is erased without compromising my retired mother’s already tenuous financial future?

BLITZER: Good question. Let me ask Speaker Gingrich to respond, and I’ll sort of paraphrase it.

How do you do that? How do you protected seniors, balance the budget? So much of the budget goes to defense and entitlements like Social Security, Medicare.

GINGRICH: But that’s just a Washington mythology. And anybody who knows anything about the federal government knows that there’s such an enormous volume of waste, that if you simply had a serious all-all effort to modernize the federal government, you would have hundreds of billions of dollars of savings falling off.

Let me say, I helped balance the budget for four straight years. This is not a theory. Rick and I were working together on this. This is not a theory. You voted for it. So we can balance the federal budget.

But let me start with — all of you should go to Strong America Now, which is a group that believes if you modernize the federal government, you save $500 billion a year. Now, check and see whether the super committee of 12 in their august power is willing to sit down with that group and actually learn how to be smart rather than cheap, and actually modernize the federal government.

One example, the federal government is such a bad manager of money, that somewhere between $70 billion and $120 billion a year in Medicare and Medicaid is paid to crooks. We wrote a book several years ago called “Stop Paying the Crooks.” I thought it was pretty obvious even for Washington. So I would start to balance the budget by stop paying the crooks, not by cheating honest Americans.

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BLITZER: Senator Santorum, staying on the issue of spending, budget deficits, you voted for the prescription drug benefits for seniors when you were in the United States Senate costing about $1 trillion. If you had to do it over again, you wouldn’t vote for that, but if you were president of the United States, would you repeal prescription drug benefits for seniors under Medicare?

SANTORUM: I think we have to keep a prescription drug component, but we have to pay for it. In other words, we have to have a program that is funded.

Now, the reason that that program has actually worked well is it’s come in 40 percent under budget because it’s a program that uses private sector insurance, not government-run, one-size-fits-all health care. If we do that for the rest of Medicare, which is what the Ryan proposal suggests, and something that I proposed, again, years ago, had the courage to go out and lead on this issue, then we would be able to have a prescription drug program and we’d be able to have Medicare that you choose.

The idea that unless we have a government-run, one-size-fits-all Medicare program, that that’s throwing grandma off a cliff, is Washington think — is people who think in Washington this president, who believes that they know better than you how to run your life and how to purchase your health care. I trust you, I trust the American people. That is the greatness of our country.

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BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

Governor Perry, it was President Bush who pushed for prescription drug benefits for senior, not President Obama. It was President Bush who pushed for prescription drug benefits for seniors. The question to you: If you were president — it’s not a difficult question — would you vote to eliminate, to repeal those prescription drug benefits for seniors under Medicare?

PERRY: No. It’s a $17 trillion hole that we have in our budget we’ve got to deal with. And I think that’s the issue of, how do you find the savings and still deliver the services?

For instance, in the state of Texas, we combined a substantial amount of our health and human services from 10 down to five agencies. We put an Office of Inspector General into place, and we saved over $5.3 billion, Newt, just by finding the waste and the fraud in Texas state government. I’m thinking there might be more waste and fraud in the federal government than even there is in the Texas government.

WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: But, Governor, just to be precise, if you were president, you wouldn’t repeal prescription drug benefits for seniors under Medicare?

GOV. RICK PERRY, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That’s what I said when I started the conversation.

BLITZER: OK. Just want to be precise on that, Governor.

Governor Romney, what about you?

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, (R-MA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wouldn’t repeal it. I’d reform Medicare and reform Medicaid and reform Social Security to get them on a sustainable basis, not for current retirees, but for those in their 20s and 30s and early 50s.

But the key to balancing the budget — and we talk about all the waste in government and the inefficiency. And having spent 25 years in business, I know something about taking waste out of enterprises. I’d love to do that to the federal government. And there is massive waste.

But we’re not going to balance the budget just by pretending that all — all we have to do is take out the waste. We’re going to have to cut spending. And I’m in favor of cutting spending, capping federal spending as a percentage of GDP, at 20 percent or less, and having a balanced budget amendment. That’s essential to rein in the scale of the federal government.

And there’s a second part to balancing the budget, and that’s growing the economy again. And that’s why I laid out a plan to restructure the foundation of America’s economy to start creating jobs again so people are paying taxes, businesses are paying taxes, not because we’re raising the rates, but because we’re growing the economy.

The right answer for America is to stop the growth of the federal government and to start the growth of the private sector.

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BLITZER: Congressman Paul, what about you? Would you repeal it?

REP. RON PAUL, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we shouldn’t have never started it. I voted against it. But that sure wouldn’t be on my high list. I would find a lot of cuts a lot of other places. As a matter of fact, on Social Security, it is already being reformed, because the cost of living increases aren’t there, so the value is going down.

So, no, there’s places we should cut. And we cut — we spend — and I’m not sure I can get anybody to agree with me on here — on this panel, but we spend $1.5 trillion overseas in wars that we don’t need to be in and we need to cut there…

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… and then put this money back into our economy here. And that is the only way to achieve it. Then it still wouldn’t be enough in order to get some people out. What we need to do is cut the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, and all these departments, and get rid of them.

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Then we can do it.

BLITZER: We’re going to get to national security. Don’t worry.

Congresswoman Bachmann, what about you?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R-MN.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that the principle has to change, because for years, politicians have run on the idea that government is going to buy people more stuff and that the federal government would be taking care of people’s prescription drugs, their retirement, their health care, their housing, their food.

We’re the everybody else that’s paying for the freight for all of these things. That’s the principle that has to change, because we have to now recognize that, going forward…

(APPLAUSE)

… this isn’t going to work anymore. We have to be an ownership society, where individual responsibility, personal responsibility once again becomes the animating American principle. And we can’t be ashamed of that.

BLITZER: All right, we’ve got a lot more to discuss. We’re only just beginning. I want to take a quick break. I want our viewers out there to know they can weigh in, they can respond. Go to Twitter, Facebook, cnn.com. We want to hear from you if you have questions for these eight Republican presidential candidates. You’ll have an opportunity to get some questions to them. We’re going to talk about jobs, jobs, jobs when we come back.

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BLITZER: Welcome back to CNN Tea Party Republican presidential debate. We’ve got a question from Portsmouth, Virginia. Please identify yourself. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Good evening. My name is Sandra Jones (ph) from Yorktown, Virginia. My question is, what would you do to get the economy moving forward? Do you have a plan? And, if so, what is it?

BLITZER: All right, good question. Let’s ask Governor Huntsman. The first thing you would do as president of the United States, knowing, of course, that President Obama today formally gave legislation to Congress with his jobs plan?

FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN JR., (R-UT.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let us recognize, first and foremost, that what we’re seeing playing out in America is a human tragedy. We have millions and millions who are unemployed, millions beyond who are so dispirited they’ve completely given up trying to find a job. We’ve got moms and dads and families that have been economically shipwrecked. And it’s a great American tragedy that we’re watching play out.

I have put forward a program that I want all of you to understand is basically patterned after what I did as governor. I think when you look at everybody on the stage here, all you have to do is say, where have they been and what have they done?

First and foremost, I want to reform this tax code. I put forward a program that the Wall Street Journal has come out and endorsed. It basically calls for stripping out the loopholes and the deductions and lowering the rates for individuals, cleaning out corporate welfare and subsidies on the corporate side and lowering the rate, leaving us a whole lot more competitive for the 21st century. That’s the first item of business I’d drop on the doorstep of Congress.

Second is regulatory reform, because we cannot go forward with Obamacare.

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We cannot go forward with Dodd-Frank, because businesses in this country are saying there’s no predictability, there’s no ability to see around the bend, we don’t know what costs are going to be, we’re not hiring and bringing new people on.

Third, this country needs to wean itself from its heroin-like addiction to foreign oil. We need energy independence desperately in this country.

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BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

Governor Perry, the president in his new plan has a lot of tax cuts, payroll tax cuts, middle-class tax cuts, tax credits for hiring veterans, tax credits for hiring long-term unemployed people. Are those things you would support?

PERRY: And he’s going to pay for them all with raising your taxes. That is the issue. He had $800 billion worth of stimulus in the first round of stimulus. It created zero jobs, $400-plus billion dollars in this package. And I can do the math on that one. Half of zero jobs is going to be zero jobs.

(LAUGHTER)

This president does not understand how to free up the small businessmen and women or, for that matter, Wall Street. You give people the opportunity to risk their capital by lowering the tax burden on them, by lowering the regulatory climate, and you will see an American economy that takes off like a rocket ship.

And that’s what we need to be focusing on in this country, freeing up the small businessmen and women to do what they know how to do, which is risk their capital and give them half a chance to have an opportunity to have a return on that investment, and they will go risk their capital. That’s what the president of the United States needs to do: Quit the spending. Give clear regulatory relief and reform the tax code.

BLITZER: So just to be precise, Governor, whenever the president supports tax cuts, that has to be balanced with spending cuts?

PERRY: I would suggest to you that people are tired of spending money we don’t have on programs we don’t want.

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BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, I’m going to bring Mr. Cain in, in a moment, but the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, which went across the board, were not offset with spending cuts, and as a result, potentially, a lot of economists think, the deficit went up and up and up.

BACHMANN: Well, there’s a reason why the deficit went up and up and up. When you have a trillion dollars worth of spending that you don’t pay for, it’s going to go up. And now we’re seeing again that the president wants to do more of the same.

I was the leading voice in the wilderness of Washington all summer. I was one of the only people in Washington that said do not raise the debt ceiling. Don’t give the president of the United States another $2.4 trillion blank check. You’ve got to draw the line in the sand somewhere and say no more out of control spending.

The president wanted to borrow money from countries like China to pay it back for a stimulus. We’ve got $1.2 trillion already that’s been earned by American countries overseas. If we have a 0 percent tax rate, Wolf, we can bring that 1.2 trillion — it’s called repatriation — bring that in. You’d have 1.2 trillion flooded into the system, then pass the free trade agreements so that we can move the economy, permanently lower the tax code. I’m a federal tax lawyer. I know how to do that. Repeal Dodd-Frank, repeal Obamacare.

It really isn’t that tough if you try. It is easy to turn around this economy, just have the backbone to do it.

BLITZER: Mr. Cain?

HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.

This economy is on life support. I don’t want – we need a bold solution, not one that tinkers around the edges, not one that allows politicians to continue to pick winners and losers. I believe we throw out the entire tax code and put in my nine nine nine plan. nine nine nine. A 9 percent business flat tax, a 9 percent personal income tax and a 9 national sales tax.

Now I’ve been told by some people, well, you can’t get that done. I say why? Well, because you don’t know how Washington works. Yes, I do. It doesn’t.

The American people are ready to do something bold. We need a bold solution in order to get this economy growing at the maximum rate.

I agree with many of the others up here who say, you get the government out of the way. American entrepreneurship, American businesses, they will create the jobs if we provide some certainty.

BLITZER: Governor Romney, you know Governor Perry as governor of Texas created more jobs in Texas than any other state.

ROMNEY: Terrific state, no question about that. Some wonderful things that Texas has going for it that the nation could learn from. zero income tax. That’s a pretty good thing. Right to work state. Republican legislature, Republican supreme court.

By the way, a lot of oil as well.

We’re an energy rich nation. We’re living like an energy poor nation.

I spent my life in the private sector. I’ve competed with companies around the world. I’ve learned something about how it is that economies grow. It’s not just simple wave a wand and everything gets better. No, you have to make some structural changes. The world has changed.

What’s happened over the last 20, 30 years is we’ve gone from a pay phone world to a smartphone world and President Obama keeps jamming quarters into the pay phone thinking things are going to get better. It’s not connected, Mr. President.

And if we’re going to get this economy going, we’ve got seven, one, make our tax code competitive with the world. Two, get regulations to work to encourage enterprise. Three, to make sure we have trade policies that work for us not just for the other guys. Four is to have energy security in this country by developing our energy resources. Five so execute the rule of law, which is to stop the Boeing decision that the NLRB put in place. Six is to make sure that we have institutions that create fantastic human capital. And finally number seven is to balance the budget. People won’t invest here unless they have confidence here. And that’s what I’ll do.

BLITZER: And just to get back to the question. So does Governor Perry deserve any credit for all those jobs that were created in Texas?

ROMNEY: Oh, sure.

BLITZER: Go ahead and tell him how much credit he deserves.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: Well, look, I think Governor Perry would agree with me that if you’re dealt four aces that doesn’t make you necessarily a great poker player. And four aces — and the four aces that are terrific aces are the ones the nation should learn from, the ones I described, zero income tax, low regulation, right to work state, oil in the ground and a Republican legislature. Those things are terrific.

And by the way, there has been great growth in Texas. Under Ann Richards, job growth was under 2.5 percent a year, under George Bush was 3 percent a year, under Rick Perry it’s been 1 percent a year.

Those are all good numbers. Those are all good numbers. But Texas is a great state. And I’ll tell you, if you think that the country is like Texas going swimmingly well, then somebody who has done that is just terrific. But if you think the the country needs a turnaround, that’s what I do.

BLITZER: All right. Governor Perry, you were dealt four aces.

PERRY: Well, I was going to say Mitt you were doing pretty good until you got to talking poker. But the fact is the state of Texas has led the nation. While the current resident of the White House is overseeing the loss of 2.5 million jobs, Texas during my period of governor has created over a million jobs. And we did that during some pretty tough economic period.

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY: One of the things that’s really important, one of the things that the Fed Reserve chairman said was the most powerful — one of the most powerful things that happened, was tort reform that we passed in that state. And you want to talk about some powerful job creation? Tell the trial lawyers to get out of your state and to quit costing businessmen and women.

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY: That’s what needs to happen in the states, and it’s also what needs to happen at the federal level, passing federal tort reform at those federal levels.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, you’re from Texas. Does your governor deserve all that credit?

PAUL: Not quite.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: I’m a taxpayer there. My taxes have gone up. Our taxes have doubled since he’s been in office. Our spending has gone up double. Our debt has gone up nearly triple.

So, no. And 170,000 of the jobs were government jobs. So I would put a little damper on this, but I don’t want to offend the governor, because he might raise my taxes or something.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: But I would like to mention something that we said earlier about a tax cut and can you — how do you pay for a tax cut? I think that’s the wrong principle, because when you give people their money back, it’s their money.

You don’t have to pay for it. That means that the government owns all of our money if you look that way.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right.

PAUL: So we have to cut the spending, and a good way to start, there’s a little embassy we built over in Baghdad that cost us a billion dollars. It’s bigger than the Vatican. That’s what’s bankrupting this country, and that’s the easy place to cut. That’s where we should be cutting.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Perry, you have 30 seconds to tell Congressman Paul whether you’re going to raise his taxes.

PERRY: While I’ve been governor, we have cut taxes by $14 billion, 65 different pieces of legislation. You may not have seen them, Representative Paul, but the fact of the matter is, there are people coming to Texas for five years in a row, the number one destination. They’re not coming because we’re overtaxing them.

They’re coming to Texas because they know there’s still a land of freedom in America, freedom from over-taxation, freedom from over- litigation and freedom from over-regulation, and it’s called Texas. We need to do the same thing for America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let me bring Speaker Gingrich into this conversation.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. All of us who covered you when you were Speaker — and you worked with President Clinton at the time — you compromised, he compromised, you got things done. There was a budget surplus for as far as the eye could see.

If you were president, would you work with the Democrats, assuming they were the majority in the House or the Senate? Would you compromise with them on some of these gut issues?

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, (R-GA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, after the last debate, when Governor Huntsman and Governor Perry and Governor Romney each explained how their state was the best at job creation, Brady Castis (ph), who works with me, went back and checked. In the four years I was Speaker, we created — the American people, not me — created more jobs in Utah than under Governor Huntsman, more jobs in Massachusetts than under Governor Romney, and more jobs in Texas than in the 11 years of Governor Perry.

Now, I don’t claim credit for that because it was done by investors and done — in fact, Mitt, at that time, as the private sector, was part of the job creation. But I just want to point out, the American people create jobs, not government. OK?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Now, Ronald Reagan — when I was a very young congressman, Ronald Reagan taught me a great lesson if you have Democrat in charge. And that is to go to the American people on principle, have the American people educate their congressmen.

He used to say, “I try to turn up the light for the people so they will turn up the heat on Congress.” When we passed welfare reform, half the Democrats voted yes because they couldn’t go home having voted no. And on a principle basis, I’d be glad to work with Democrats in any office, but I’d do it on principle, not on compromising principle.

BLITZER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. We have a question via CNNPolitics.com. “All of you profess to be pro-business candidates for president. Can you be pro-worker at the same time?”

Mr. Cain?

CAIN: The answer is absolutely yes, because I was a worker before I was an executive and before I was a business owner. Absolutely.

And when I ran the National Restaurant Association, it is a collection of small businesses. Godfather’s Pizza is the same way, when I ran the region for Burger King. One restaurant is the basic fundamental business unit in this country.

And so, yes, I know how to be pro-worker because I came from a pro-worker family. My mother was a domestic worker, my father was a barber, a janitor, and a chauffeur, all at the same time. I understand work because that’s how I came up. So the answer is, absolutely yes.

The two are not mutually exclusive, but what we need is the right leadership, starting with, are we working on the right problems? If we keep tinkering around the edges on the tax code or tinkering around the edges on Social Security, we’re not going to solve the right problem.

BLITZER: Thank you, Mr. Cain.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman, you have experience in the business community, in government. Why would you be more effective in creating jobs than any of your rivals on this stage?

HUNTSMAN: Well, let me just say about workers, this country needs more workers. Can we say that?

This country needs more workers, and we’re not going to get more workers until we actually have an economic plan led by someone who has actually done it before, presumably as a governor, to create the environment in which the private sector can then work its magic. That’s how we’re going to get from point A to point B.

But let me just say that we have put forward a plan, Wolf. And I want people to take a serious look at this, because you can come up with a spin on everything — any way to describe your plan, come up with fancy language, but I just want you to take a look at what we have done where we have been in terms of proposing job creation measures under tax reform in our state that is totally applicable to what this country needs: looking at regulatory reform; creating the most business-friendly environment in the entire United States; creating health care reform without a mandate.

I know that everything’s bigger in Texas, and Rick likes to talk that way. And I know all the smart people reside in Massachusetts. But let me just tell you, Utah, the great state of Utah, was number one in job creation at 5.9 percent during my years as governor.

We were the best managed state in America. We were the best place in America for business.

I’m the only person on this stage, Wolf, who can actually lay claim to all of that. And you know why it’s important? It’s because it’s exactly what this country needs at this point in his history.

BLITZER: All right. We’re going to let everybody respond. We’ve got a lot more to talk about, including national security — it’s a critical issue — taxes, Federal Reserve, health care, many more subjects coming up.

Stay with us. Remember, go to Twitter or Facebook, CNNPolitics.com. We want to hear from you as well.

Our special coverage of this historic CNN/Tea Party Republican presidential debate will continue after this. (APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN/Tea Party presidential debate. We’re here in Tampa.

Let’s go right to a question from the audience.

Please give us your name.

STEVE ROUTSZONG, GREATER GASTON COUNTY TEA PARTY: Good evening. I’m Steve Routszong with the Tea Party of Greater Gaston County, from Gastonia, North Carolina.

My question tonight is: What is your position on the Federal Reserve? Should it indeed be audited and be held accountable by the American people?

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R-PA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I agree with an audit on the Federal Reserve. I believe that what we should do with the Fed is to make it a single charter instead of a dual charter.

I think the second charter that was instituted that had it be responsible for increasing employment and dealing with that leads to a fundamental distrust among the American people that they are taking their eye off the ball, which is sound money. They should be a sound money Federal Reserve. That should be their single charter, and that is it.

With respect to some of the questions that were asked in the last segment on the economy, I would just say this. Some people say that Barack Obama’s economy is a disaster. My feeling is it would have to make a dramatic improvement just to be a disaster. The…

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

What we need to do is have a pro-growth plan that can pass the Congress with Democratic support and, as Newt mentioned, be able to rally the American people. What the American people want is a policy that’s going to get people the opportunity to rise in society, to fill that great middle of America, and that is manufacturing jobs.

That’s why my plan takes the corporate tax, which is 35 percent, cuts it to zero, and says, if you manufacture in America, you aren’t going to pay any taxes. We want you to come back here. We want you to have “Made in America” stamped on your — your product.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Cain? CAIN: Yes.

BLITZER: You were once with the Kansas City Federal Reserve. Should it be audited?

CAIN: Yes, it can — it should be audited. And, secondly, I believe that its focus needs to be narrowed. I don’t believe in ending the Fed; I believe in fixing the Fed.

For many, many decades, the Fed did its job when it was singularly focused on sound money. When we wake up in the morning, we expect 60 minutes to be in an hour. Now when we wake up, because of some of the actions of the current Fed, we don’t know what the value of the dollar is going to be.

In 1988, it took 1.2 dollars in order to be able to convert from Canadian to U.S. It is now totally reversed because of the current policies of the Fed.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Congresswoman Bachmann, you know that Governor Perry has suggested that Ben Bernanke, the head of the Federal Reserve, potentially should be tried for treason for what he’s doing.

(APPLAUSE)

Do you agree?

BACHMANN: Well, as president of the United States, I would not be reappointing Ben Bernanke, but I want to say this. During the bailout, the $700 billion bailout, I worked behind the scenes against the bailout, because one of the things that I saw from the Federal Reserve, the enabling act legislation is written so broadly that, quite literally, Congress has given the Federal Reserve almost unlimited power over the economy.

That has to change. They can no longer have that power. Why? Because what we saw, with all of the $700 billion bailout, is that the Federal Reserve opened its discount window and was making loans to private American businesses. And not only that, they’re making loans to foreign governments.

This cannot be. The Federal Reserve has a lot to answer for. And that’s why it’s important that they’re not only audited, but they have got be shrunk back down to such a tight leash that they’re going to squeak.

BLITZER: It’s one thing to say you wouldn’t reappoint him, Ben Bernanke…

(APPLAUSE)

… to be head of the Federal Reserve. It’s another thing — do you agree or disagree with Governor Perry that potentially he’s engaged in treason? BACHMANN: Well, that’s for — that’s for Governor Perry to make that decision. My — my opinion is, I would not reappoint Ben Bernanke.

BLITZER: You stand by those remarks, Governor?

PERRY: I — I said that, if you are allowing the Federal Reserve to be used for political purposes, that it would be almost treasonous. I think that is a very clear statement of fact.

(APPLAUSE)

I am not a fan of the current chairman allowing that Federal Reserve to be used to cover up bad fiscal policy by this administration. And that, I will suggest to you, is what we have seen.

It is a travesty that young people in America are seeing their dollars devalued in what — we don’t know if it was political or not because of the transparency issue. But I stand by this, that we need to have a Fed that is working towards sound monetary policy, that creates a strong dollar in America, and we do not have that today.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Romney, is there anything you disagree with — with — with Governor Perry on that point?

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, (R-MA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, my own view is that, quite simply, that the Federal Reserve has a responsibility to preserve the value of our currency, to have a strong American currency, such that investors and people who are thinking about bringing enterprises to this country have confidence in the future of America and in our currency. People will not invest in this country and create jobs in this country for the American people if they don’t have belief in our currency.

Of course we should see what the Fed is doing. There should be some oversight to make sure that it’s — it’s acting properly.

But at the same time, we recognize that we need to have a Fed. Why — why do I say that? Because if we don’t have a Fed, who’s going to run the currency? Congress? I’m not in favor of that. I’d rather have an agency that is being overseen rather than have the United States Congress try and manage our currency.

WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: All right. Let’s take another question from the hall. Go ahead. And please identify yourself.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Tyler Hensley (ph). I’m from Napa, California. My — well, first of all, thank you guys for coming out tonight. My question is, out of every dollar that I earn, how much do you think that I deserve to keep?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R-MN.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I love that question. I love that question.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman?

FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN, (R-UT.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I’ve come out with a tax program that basically simplifies, lowers, flattens the rate, why? Because I did it as governor in the state of Utah; I believe that that experience means something.

And I look at people who are earning, you in the workplace, trying to make ends meet. You ought to be given a competitive tax code. We need to clear out the cobwebs. We need to clear out the deductions, the loopholes, the corporate welfare, and all the subsidies. And for you, you know, we leave it at 8 percent, 14 percent, 24 percent. Those are the three rates that I think would work on the individual income side.

On the corporate side, I think we recognize the reality that a whole lot of companies can afford to have lobbyists and lawyers on Capitol Hill working their magic. Let’s recognize the reality that they’re all paying 35 percent. We need to lower that to 25 percent. So let’s phase out the corporate subsidies and clean out the cobwebs and leave it more competitive for the 21st century.

I can tell you, by doing that with our tax code — and I know, because we did it in a state that took us to the number-one job creator in this country — it will leave you and your generation a whole lot better off.

But the thing that you all need to be worried about is the debt that is coming your way, because we have a cancer that is eating away at the core of this country called debt. And it’s going to eat — eat — eat alive this country until your generation gets active in the 2012 election cycle and finds a leader who can address debt and growth.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

Speaker Gingrich, some of the biggest companies in the United States, the oil companies, they got — I guess some would call government handouts in the form of tax breaks, tax exemptions, loopholes. They’re making billions and billions of dollars. Is that fair?

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, (R-GA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I thought for a second, you were going to refer to General Electric, which has paid no taxes.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, I — I was — I was astonished the other night to have the president there in the joint session with the head of G.E. sitting up there and the president talking about taking care of loopholes. And I thought to myself, doesn’t he realize that every green tax credit is a loophole…

(APPLAUSE)

… that everything he wants — everything General Electric is doing is a loophole? Now, why did we get to breaks for ethanol, breaks for oil and gas, et cetera? We got to them because of this idea, which the young man just represented. If we make you — if we make it possible for you to keep more of your own money, you will do more of it.

We have a simple choice. We can depend on Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, or we can encourage development in the United States of manufacturing, as Rick said. We can encourage development of oil and gas. We can do it by saying we’re going to let you keep more of your money if you create more of what we want. I’m for an energy- independent America, and that means I favor people who create energy.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: But I just want to follow up, Mr. Speaker. If you eliminate some of those loopholes, those exemptions, whether for ExxonMobil or G.E. or some other companies, there are those who argue that is, in effect, a tax increase and it would violate a pledge that so many Republicans have made not to raise taxes.

GINGRICH: Yes, a lot of people argue that. They’re — they’re technically right, which is why I’m — look, I’m cheerfully opposed to raising taxes. This government — we have a problem of overspending. We don’t have a problem of undertaxing.

And I think that it would be good for us to say, we’re not going to raise any — which is why I’m also in favor of keeping the current tax cut for people who are working on Social Security and Medicare. I think trying to raise the tax on working Americans in the middle of the Obama depression is a destructive policy. So I don’t want to have any tax increase at any level for anyone. I want to shrink government to fit income, not raise income to try to catch up with government.

BLITZER: All right, let’s go to Cincinnati.

(APPLAUSE)

We’ve got a question from Cincinnati. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello. My question is, would any of you be willing to support the fair tax?

BLITZER: Governor Romney? A fair tax basically is a national sales tax.

ROMNEY: Yeah. Yeah. The — the idea of a national sales tax or a consumption tax has a lot to go for it. One, it would make us more competitive globally, as we send products around the world, because under the provisions of the World Trade Organization, you can reimburse that to an exporter. We can’t reimburse our taxes right now. It also would level the playing field in the country, making sure everybody is paying some part of their fair share.

But the way the fair tax has been structured, it has a real problem and that is it lowers the burden on the very highest income folks and the very lowest and raises it on middle income people. And the people who have been hurt most by the Obama-economy are the middle class.

And so my plan is to take the middle class individuals and dramatically reduce their taxes by the following measure. And that is for middle income Americans, no tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. Let people save their money as the way they think is best for them, for their kids, for their future, for their retirement. We’re taxing too much, we’re spending too much and middle income Americans need a break and I’ll give it to them.

BLITZER: All right. We have another question from Portsmouth, Virginia. Go ahead.

QUESTION: My name is Linda Gunn (ph). I’m from Portsmouth, Virginia. I’m part of the Virginia Taxpayers Alliance. My question has to do with executive orders, under what circumstances should a president sign an executive order? And how frequently should such an order be signed?

BLITZER: Congressman Paul.

REP. RON PAUL, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The executive orders have been grossly abused by all administrations for a lot of years. If you can’t — some executive orders are legal. When the president executes proper function of the presidency like moving troops and other things, yes, it’s done with an executive order. But the executive order should never be used to legislate. That is what is so bad.

So the executive order should be taken under control. And I have made a promise that as president I would never use the executive order to legislate.

BLITZER: Governor Perry, as you well know, you signed an executive order requiring little girls 11 and 12-year-old girls to get a vaccine to deal with a sexually transmitted disease that could lead to cervical cancer. Was that a mistake?

GOV. RICK PERRY, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was. And indeed, if I had it to do over again, I would have done it differently. I would have gone to the legislature, worked with them. But what was driving me was, obviously, making a difference about young people’s lives.

Cervical cancer is a horrible way to die. And I happen to think that what we were trying to do was to clearly send a message that we’re going to give moms and dads the opportunity to make that decision with parental opt-out.

Parental rights are very important in state of Texas. We do it on a long list of vaccines that are made, but on that particular issue, I will tell you that I made a mistake by not going to the legislature first.

Let me address Ron Paul just a minute by saying I will use an executive order to get rid of as much of Obamacare as I can on day one.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, do you have anything to say about what Governor Perry just said. You’re a mom.

BACHMANN: I’m a mom. And I’m a mom of three children. And to have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. That should never be done. It’s a violation of a liberty interest.

That’s — little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan. They don’t get a do- over. The parents don’t get a do-over. That’s why I fought so hard in Washington, D.C., against President Obama and Obamacare.

President Obama in a stunning, shocking level of power now just recently told all private insurance companies, you must offer the morning-after abortion pill, because I said so. And it must be free of charge. That same level coming through executive orders and through government dictates is wrong. And that’s why again we have to have someone who is absolutely committed to the repeal of Obamacare and I am. I won’t rest until it’s appealed.

BLITZER: Let’s let Governor Perry respond. Was what you signed into law, that vaccine for 11 and 12-year-old girls, was that,as some of your critics have suggested, a mandate?

PERRY: No, sir it wasn’t. It was very clear. It had an opt- out. And at the end of the day, this was about trying to stop a cancer and giving the parental option to opt out of that. And at the end of the day, you may criticize me about the way that I went about it, but at the end of the day, I am always going to err on the side of life. And that’s what this was really all about for me.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum — go ahead.

BACHMANN: Can I add to that, Wolf? Can I add to that?

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on a second. First Congresswoman Bachmann, then Senator Santorum.

BACHMANN: I just wanted to add that we cannot forget that in the midst of this executive order there is a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate. We can’t deny that…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: What are you suggesting?

BACHMANN: What I’m saying is that it’s wrong for a drug company, because the governor’s former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company. The drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donations to the governor, and this is just flat-out wrong. The question is, is it about life, or was it about millions of dollars and potentially billions for a drug company?

BLITZER: All right. I’ll let Senator Santorum hold off for a second.

You’ve got to response to that.

PERRY: Yes, sir. The company was Merck, and it was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them. I raise about $30 million. And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.

(APPLAUSE)

BACHMANN: Well, I’m offended for all the little girls and the parents that didn’t have a choice. That’s what I’m offended for.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R-PA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we need to hear what Governor Perry’s saying. He’s saying that his policy was right. He believes that what he did was right. He thinks he went about it the wrong way.

I believe your policy is wrong. Why — ladies and gentlemen, why do we inoculate people with vaccines in public schools? Because we’re afraid of those diseases being communicable between people at school. And therefore, to protect the rest of the people at school, we have vaccinations to protect those children.

Unless Texas has a very progressive way of communicating diseases in their school by way of their curriculum, then there is no government purpose served for having little girls inoculated at the force and compulsion of the government. This is big government run amok. It is bad policy, and it should not have been done.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: I’m going to move on, Governor Perry, unless you want to say anything else.

PERRY: Look, I think we made decisions in Texas. We put a $3 billion effort in to find the cure for cancer. There are a lot of different cancers out there. Texas, I think, day in and day out, is a place that protects life.

I passed parental notification piece of legislation. I’ve been the most pro-life governor in the state of Texas. And what we were all about was trying to save young people’s lives in Texas.

SANTORUM: Then give the parents the opt-in, as opposed to — teach them, let them opt in, but do not force them to have this inoculation.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Let’s take a question from the audience.

Give us your name please.

QUESTION: I’m Caroline Taylor (ph). I’m from Orange Park, Florida, with the Peoples Tea Party.

My question is, health insurance is expensive because health care is expensive. What is your plan to reduce the cost of health care so that our insurance premiums and other related costs can also be reduced? BLITZER: All right.

Mr. Cain?

HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First, repeal Obamacare in its entirety.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Amen.

CAIN: Secondly, pass market-driven, patient-centered reforms such as, under the current code, deductibility of health insurance premiums regardless of who pays for it. But as you know, I want to throw that out and put in my 999 plan. Secondly, the other thing that we can do in order to help bring down the costs is pass loser pay laws. Doctors will tell you that one of their biggest expenses is medical liability insurance because of frivolous lawsuits.

Secondly, restructure Medicare, another big cost that’s passed on to us as consumers related to all the bureaucracy associated with that.

Another market-driven idea, allow association health plans. When I ran the National Restaurant Association, which today has 14 million employees, we wanted to design a system for health insurance that was going to be customized for our industry. We could not do that. We need to be allowed to do that, and so should other organizations and other associations.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Mr. Cain.

Governor Romney, a lot of the Tea Party supporters here and around the country have a real serious problem with the health care mandate that you got through in Massachusetts. Is there anything you want to say to them to revise or amend? Do you stand by what you did?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. And let me come back and just mention something that — Herman Cain is right, and let’s get back to getting the cost of health care down. I happen to think that’s an enormous issue.

And I agree with almost everything you said, Herman, but the reason health care is so expensive, I think you hit the nail on head. You said it’s not just because of insurance, it’s because of the cost of providing care. And one reason for that is the person who receives care in America generally doesn’t care how much it costs, because once they’ve paid their deductible, it’s free. And the provider, the more they do, the more they get paid.

We have something that’s not working like a market. It’s working like a government utility. And so what we have to do is make sure that individuals have a concern and care about how much something costs. And for that to happen, health savings accounts. Give people a stake in what the cost of insurance is going to be, what the cost of it is going to be. Co-insurance, where people pay a share of the bill, that makes a difference.

And with regards to Massachusetts care, I’m not running for governor. I’m running for president. And if I’m president, on day one I’ll direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states.

It’s a problem that’s bad law, it’s not constitutional. I’ll get rid of it.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: All right.

Governor Perry, you’re a firm believer in states’ rights. Can a state like Massachusetts go ahead and pass health care reform, including mandates? Is that a good idea, if Massachusetts wants to do it?

PERRY: Well, that’s what Governor Romney wanted to do, so that’s fine. But the fact of the matter is, that was the plan that President Obama has said himself was the model for Obamacare. And I think any of us who know that that piece of legislation will draw a line between the doctor/patient relationship, that will cost untold billions of dollars, is not right for this country. And frankly, I don’t think it was right for Massachusetts when you look at what it’s costing the people of Massachusetts today. But at the end of the day, that was their call.

So, from a just purely states get to decide what they want to do, I agree with that. And in the state of Texas, we don’t think that’s the way we want to go.

BLITZER: All right.

BACHMANN: Wolf, can I —

BLITZER: I’m going to let you respond, but I want Governor Romney to respond first.

ROMNEY: First, I’d be careful about trusting what President Obama says as to what the source was of his plan, number one. But number two, if you think what we did in Massachusetts and what President Obama did are the same, boy, take a closer look, because, number one, he raised taxes $500 billion, and helped slow down the U.S. economy by doing it. We didn’t raise taxes.

He cut Medicare by $500 billion. This is a Democrat president. The liberal, so to speak, cut Medicare. Not Republicans, the Democrat.

We dealt with the people in our state that were uninsured, some nine percent. His bill deals with 100 percent of the people.

He puts in place a panel that ultimately is going to tell people what kind of care they’re going to have. We didn’t do anything like that.

What the president did was simply wrong. It is the wrong course for America. It is not what we did in Massachusetts.

The people of Massachusetts favored our plan by three to one. And states can make their own choices. I’m happy to stand up for what he did. But I’ll tell you one thing, what he did is wrong for America, and I’ll stop it.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor. Before I get to Michele Bachmann, I want to just — you’re a physician, Ron Paul, so you’re a doctor. You know something about this subject. Let me ask you this hypothetical question.

A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it.

Who’s going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?

PAUL: Well, in a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him.

BLITZER: Well, what do you want?

PAUL: But what he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major medical policy, but not be forced —

BLITZER: But he doesn’t have that. He doesn’t have it, and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?

PAUL: That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody —

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?

PAUL: No. I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid, in the early 1960s, when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: And we’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. This whole idea, that’s the reason the cost is so high.

The cost is so high because they dump it on the government, it becomes a bureaucracy. It becomes special interests. It kowtows to the insurance companies and the drug companies, and then on top of that, you have the inflation. The inflation devalues the dollar, we have lack of competition.

There’s no competition in medicine. Everybody is protected by licensing. And we should actually legalize alternative health care, allow people to practice what they want.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, go ahead and weigh in on this hypothetical 30-year-old who needs six months of intensive care, has no insurance.

BACHMANN: Well, first of all, what I want to say, with all due respect to the governors, I’ve read this health care bill, I’ve been fighting this fight the last couple of years.

BLITZER: Which health care bill?

BACHMANN: President Obama’s Obamacare bill. And waivers and executive orders won’t cut it. If you could solve Obamacare with an executive order, any president could do it and any president could undo it. That’s not — not how it can be done.

Plus, no state has the constitutional right to force a person as a condition of citizenship to buy a product or service against their will. It’s unconstitutional…

(APPLAUSE)

… whether it’s the state government or whether it’s the federal government. The only way to eradicate Obamacare is to pull it out by the root and branch to fully repeal it. It’s the only way we’re going to get rid of it.

And this is why I’m running for the presidency of the United States, because 2012 is it. This is the election that’s going to decide if we have socialized medicine in this country or not. This is it.

Why? I just have to say this. It’s because President Obama embedded $105,464,000,000 in Obamacare in post-dated checks to implement this bill. We are never going to get rid of it unless we have a president committed to getting rid of it. And if you believe that states can have it and that it’s constitutional, you’re not committed. If you’ve implemented this in your state, you’re not committed. I’m committed to repealing Obamacare.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

There is much, much more in this Republican presidential debate, the CNN Tea Party debate. Stand by. We’re taking another quick break. When we come back, national security, immigration, and a lot more. We’ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: I’m Wolf Blitzer in Tampa at the CNN Tea Party Republican presidential debate. Thousands of you are watching and commenting online on Twitter, Facebook, and cnn.com. We’ve seen the candidates strongly disagree on several issues already. When we come back, three especially bitter divides: the staggering cost of the war in Afghanistan; how to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon; and illegal immigration. We’ll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN Tea Party Republican presidential debate. We’re here in Tampa. But we’re taking questions from across the country.

Let’s go to Cincinnati. Please identify yourself and ask the question.

QUESTION: Yes, what — what would you do — what would you do to remove the illegal immigrants from our country?

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, maybe 11 million, 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. What would you do?

SANTORUM: I’ve said this from the very beginning. What — I’m the son of an Italian immigrant. I believe in immigration. I believe that immigration is an important part of the lifeblood of this country.

But what we have is a problem of an unsecure border. Unlike Governor Perry, I believe we need to build more fence. I need — I believe that we need to secure the border using technology and more personnel. And until we build that border, we should neither have storm troopers come in and throw people out of the country nor should we provide amnesty.

What we should do is enforce the laws in this country with respect to employers, and we should secure the border. And then after the border is secured, then we can deal with the problem that are in this country.

But I — I think it’s very important that we understand and we explain to folks that immigration is an important lifeblood of this country, something that I strongly support and something that we have to do legally if we’re going to have — have respect for the law.

BLITZER: Governor Perry, he mentioned you, so go ahead.

PERRY: Yes, sir. There’s not anybody on this stage that’s had to deal with the issue of border security more than I have, with 1,200 miles of — of Texas and Mexico. And our federal government has been an abject failure at securing our border.

(APPLAUSE)

We’ve had to spend some $400 million of Texas taxpayer dollars to send Texas Ranger recon teams down there. Strategic fencing in the metropolitan areas absolutely has a role to play.

But the idea that you’re going to build a wall from Brownsville to El Paso and go left for another 800 miles to Tijuana is just not reality. What you have to have is boots on the ground. You’ve got to have 450 Border Patrol agents trained up, 1,500 National Guard troops. You’ve got to have the aviation assets in the air putting real-time information down to the law enforcement.

We understand and know how to secure that border, but we can’t do it alone. And the federal government has to step up and do what their constitutional duty is, and that is to secure the border with Mexico.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let me just take this quick question from Twitter, and then I want to stay on this subject. What are the candidates doing to attract the Latino voters? Go ahead, Senator Santorum.

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R-PA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I mean, what Governor Perry’s done is he provided in-state tuition for — for illegal immigrants. Maybe that was an attempt to attract the illegal vote — I mean, the Latino voters.

But you track Latino voters by talking about the importance of immigration in this country. You talk about the importance of — as — as Newt has talked about for many years, having English as the — as the official language of this country.

(APPLAUSE)

And I say that…

(APPLAUSE)

I say that as, again, my — my father and grandfather came to this country not speaking a word of English, but it was the greatest gift to my father to have to learn English so he could assimilate into this society.

We’re a melting pot, not a salad bowl. And we need to continue that tradition.

WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Governor Perry, I’m going to move on to Governor Huntsman in a second, but you did sign legislation giving some illegal immigrants in Texas the opportunity to have in-state tuition at universities in Texas, explain what that…

GOV. RICK PERRY, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the state of Texas, if you’ve been in the state of Texas for three years, if you’re working towards your college degree, and if you are working and pursuing citizenship in the state of Texas, you pay in-state tuition there.

And the bottom line is it doesn’t make any difference what the sound of your last name is. That is the American way. No matter how you got into that state, from the standpoint of your parents brought you there or what have you. And that’s what we’ve done in the state of Texas. And I’m proud that we are having those individuals be contributing members of our society rather than telling them, you go be on the government dole.

BLITZER: You heard some boos there. But go ahead, Congresswoman Bachmann, is that basically the DREAM Act that President Obama wants as well?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R-MN.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, it’s very similar. And I think that the American way is not to give taxpayer subsidized benefits to people who have broken our laws or who are here in the United States illegally. That is not the American way. Because the immigration system in the United States worked very, very well up until the mid-1960s when liberal members of Congress changed the immigration laws.

What works is to have people come into the United States with a little bit of money in their pocket legally with sponsors so that if anything happens to them, they don’t fall back on the taxpayers to take care of them. And then they also have to agree to learn the speak the English language, learn American history and our constitution. That’s the American way.

BLITZER: I’m going to bring Governor Huntsman here. But go ahead, Governor Perry.

PERRY I’m not for the DREAM Act that they are talking about in Washington D.C. that is amnesty. What we did in the state of Texas was clearly a states right issue. And the legislature passed with only four dissenting votes in the House and the Senate to allow this to occur.

We were clearly sending a message to young people, regardless of what the sound of their last name is, that we believe in you. That if you want to live in the state of Texas and you want to pursue citizenship, that we’re going to allow you the opportunity to be contributing members in the state of Texas and not be a drag on our state.

BLITZER: Hold on a second, Governor Huntsman, you also signed legislation in Utah that gave driving privileges to illegal immigrants. Was that a good idea?

FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN, JR., (R-UT.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, let me say for Rick to say that you can’t secure the border I think is pretty much a treasonous comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn’t hear that.

HUNTSMAN: Rick, we can secure the border. We can secure the border through means of fences, through technology, through the deployment of our National Guard troops, we can get it done. In fact, when the elected president of the United States, I would work with you and the other three border governors to ensure that through your law enforcement officials you can verify that that border is secure.

But I will tell you before Wolf here directs a question, they were given a driver’s license before and they were using that for identification purposes. And I thought that was wrong. Instead we issued a driver privilege card, which in our state allowed our economy to continue to function. And it said in very bold letters, not to be used for identification purposes. It was a pragmatic local government driven fix and it proved that the tenth amendment works. We believe in local fixes and solutions.

BLITZER: All right. Governor Romney, do you have a problem with either what Governor Huntsman did in Utah or Governor Perry did in Texas?

FORMER GOV. ROMNEY (R-MA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yeah, with both, actually. The question began by saying how do we attract Latino voters. And the answer is by telling them what they know in their heart, which is they or their ancestors did not come here for a handout. If they came here for a handout, they’d be voting for Democrats. They came here for opportunity and freedom. And that’s what we represent. And that’s why we’ll win collecting support from Latinos across the country.

With regards to illegal immigration, of course we build a fence and of course we do not give instate tuition credits to people who come here illegally. That only attracts people to come here and take advantage of America’s great beneficence.

And with regards to giving driver’s licenses to people that are here illegally, that creates a patina of legal status. There are sanctuary cities in some parts of the country.

One of the things I did in my state was to say, look, I’m going to get my state police authorized to be able to enforce immigration laws and make sure those people who we arrest are put in jail, to find out they’re here illegally, we’re going to get them out of here.

We have to recognize that this is the party that believes in supporting the law. We’re going to enforce the law. We’re the party of opportunity, we’re also the party of legal law abiding citizens. And that’s something we’re going to attract people of all backgrounds.

PERRY: As I said it earlier, we basically had a decision to make. Are we going to give people an incentive to be contributing members of this society or are we going to tell them no, we’re going to put you on the government dole?

In the state of Texas, and this is a states right issue, if in Massachusetts you didn’t want to do that or Utah you didn’t want to do this, that’s fine. But in the state of Texas where Mexico has a clear and a long relationship with this state, we decided it was in the best interest of those young people to give them the opportunity to go on to college and to have the opportunity. They’re pursuing citizenship in this country rather than saying, you know, we’re going to put you over here and put you on the government dole for the rest of your life. We don’t think that was the right thing to do. And it’s working. And it’s working well in the state of Texas.

BLITZER: I know you want to respond, too, because he said that what you did in Utah was a mistake giving driving privileges to illegal immigrants.

HUNTSMAN: I think we can spend all night talking about where Mitt’s been on all the issues of the day. And that would take forever. But let me just say that all the Latino voters, Hispanic voters want is opportunity, can we say that? The greatest thing that we can do for the people in this country is — on illegal immigration is fix homeland security.

I mean, when are we going to have an honest conversation in this country about the root causes. We can’t process people. The H1B visa process is broken. We need to bring in brain power to this country to shore up our economic might. We need to bring in foreign capital to raise real estate prices as well.

We need a fixed Department of Homeland Security.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

All right. Let’s take a question from Phoenix. Go ahead, Phoenix. Give us your name.

(APPLAUSE)

QUESTION: The United States has an abundance of coal, oil, natural gas and uranium. The American people have been told for decades that energy independence is a top priority. What will you do in your first 100 days in office to assure the American people that energy independence will finally become reality.

BLITZER: Mr. Cain?

HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first thing that I would do in order to assure that we get on the road to energy independence, and I do believe that we can because we do have the natural resources to do so, we’ve got to remove some of those barriers out of the way that are being created by the federal government. I would start with an EPA that’s gone wild. That’s where we start.

I would put together a regulatory reduction commission for every agency starting with the EPA. This regulatory reduction commission — one of my guiding principles is if you want to solve a problem go to the source closest to the problem. So the people that I would appoint to that commission will be people who have been abused by the EPA. That would be the commission that would straighten out the regulatory burden.

BLITZER: Let’s take a question from Twitter. Do you plan to decrease defense spending to balance spending? Or do you believe high spending is essential to security? Speaker Gingrinch?

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, (R-GA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we are at the edge of an enormous crisis in national security. I think that we are greatly underestimating the threat to this country. And I think that the day after we celebrated the 10th anniversary of 9/11 we should be reminded exactly what is at stake if a foreign terrorist gets a nuclear weapon into this country.

We have failed for a decade to deal with North Korea. We have failed for a decade to deal with Iran. The developments in Egypt and Turkey are much more dangerous than anybody is looking at in this country. And I think we need, frankly, to ask for a very serious national dialogue.

I’d like to see both the House and Senate right now holding hearings on three levels of security. What do you do in Mexico where there’s a civil war underway next door to us? What do you do in the Middle East where we have totally underestimated the scale of the threat? And what do you do about our national domestic industrial base which is crucial if we’re going to be competitive with China?

All three of those are a major threat to us.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

REP. RON PAUL, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First thing I would like to do is make sure that you understand there’s a difference between military spending and defense spending. I’m tired of all the militarism that we are involved in. And we’re wasting this money in getting us involved. And I agree, we are still in danger, but most of the danger comes by our lack of wisdom on how we run our foreign policy.

So I would say there’s a lot of room to cut on the military, but not on the defense. You can slash the military spending. We don’t need to be building airplanes that were used in World War II — we’re always fighting the last war.

But we’re under great threat, because we occupy so many countries.

We’re in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We’re going broke.

The purpose of al Qaeda was to attack us, invite us over there, where they can target us. And they have been doing it. They have more attacks against us and the American interests per month than occurred in all the years before 9/11, but we’re there occupying their land. And if we think that we can do that and not have retaliation, we’re kidding ourselves.

We have to be honest with ourselves. What would we do if another country, say, China, did to us what we do to all those countries over there?

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: So I would say a policy — a foreign policy that takes care of our national defense, that we’re willing to get along with people and trade with people, as the founders advised, there’s no authority in the Constitution to be the policeman of the world, and no nation-building. Just remember, George Bush won the presidency on that platform in the year 2000. And I still think it’s a good platform.

BLITZER: All right.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let me let Senator Santorum respond, because I know you strongly disagree.

SANTORUM: On your Web site on 9/11, you had a blog post that basically blamed the United States for 9/11. On your Web site, yesterday, you said that it was our actions that brought about the actions of 9/11.

Now, Congressman Paul, that is irresponsible. The president of the United States — someone who is running for the president of the United States in the Republican Party should not be parroting what Osama bin Laden said on 9/11.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: We should have — we are not being attacked and we were not attacked because of our actions. We were attacked, as Newt talked about, because we have a civilization that is antithetical to the civilization of the jihadists. And they want to kill us because of who we are and what we stand for. And we stand for American exceptionalism, we stand for freedom and opportunity for everybody around the world, and I am not ashamed to do that.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thirty second, Mr. Paul.

PAUL: As long as this country follows that idea, we’re going to be under a lot of danger. This whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this, and they’re attacking us because we’re free and prosperous, that is just not true.

Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have been explicit — they have been explicit, and they wrote and said that we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians fair treatment, and you have been bombing —

(BOOING)

PAUL: I didn’t say that. I’m trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombing, at the same time we had been bombing and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis for 10 years.

Would you be annoyed? If you’re not annoyed, then there’s some problem.

BLITZER: Thank you, Congressman.

All right. We’re going to say on this subject. We have a question from the audience.

Go ahead. Please identify yourself.

SAHAR HEKMATI, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: Hi. My name is Sahar Hekmati. I was brought here from Ronald Reagan. I am from Afghanistan. And my question to you is, as the next president of the United States, what will you do to secure safety and protection for the women and the children of Afghanistan from the radicals?

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: We are 10 years into this war, Sahar. America has given its all in Afghanistan.

We have families who have given the ultimate sacrifice. And it’s to them that we offer our heartfelt salute and a deep sense of gratitude. But the time has come for us to get out of Afghanistan.

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTSMAN: We don’t need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan nation- building at a time when this nation needs to be built. We are of no value to the rest of the world if our core is crumbling, which it is in this country.

I like those days when Ronald Reagan — you talked about — when Ronald Reagan would ensure that the light of this country would shine brightly for liberty, democracy, human rights, and free markets. We’re not shining like we used to shine. We need to shine again.

And I’m here to tell you, Sahar, when we start shining again, it’s going to help the women of Afghanistan, along with any other NGO work that can be done there and the collaborative efforts of great volunteer efforts here in the United States. We can get it done, but we have to make sure that the Afghan people increasingly take responsibility for their security going forward.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Very quickly, to Governor Perry, $2 billion a week, is that money well spent by U.S. taxpayers in Afghanistan?

PERRY: Well, I agree with Governor Huntsman when we talk about it’s time to bring our young men and women home and as soon and obviously as safely as we can. But it’s also really important for us to continue to have a presence there. And I think the entire conversation about, how do we deliver our aid to those countries, and is it best spent with 100,000 military who have the target on their back in Afghanistan, I don’t think so at this particular point in time.

I think the best way for us to be able to impact that country is to make a transition to where that country’s military is going to be taking care of their people, bring our young men and women home, and continue to help them build the infrastructure that we need, whether it’s schools for young women like yourself or otherwise.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

All right. We’re going to take another quick break.

When we come back, here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to get to know these candidates a little bit better. When we come back, what would they add to the White House if they were to move in?

We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Eight Republican presidential candidates on the stage.

You know, Americans are looking at you. They also want to know a little bit more about you.

I’m going to start with Senator Santorum. I want to go down and get your thoughts on something you would bring to the White House if you were the next president of the United States.

An example, President George H. W. Bush put in a horseshoe pit. President Clinton put in a jogging track. President Obama added a vegetable garden.

Senator Santorum, if you’re president, what would you bring to the White House?

SANTORUM: Well, mine is pretty obvious. Karen and I have seven children, so we’d add a bedroom or — and some beds to the White House.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I would reduce the White House by kicking out all the White House czars the first day, creating a lot more space.

(APPLAUSE)

And then, because of Callista’s interest, we’d have a lot more music, because of my granddaughter, Maggie, we’d have ballet, and because of my grandson, Robert, we’d have a very large chess set. So it’ll all come together.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: I’d bring a bushel basket full of common sense. And I would also bring a course in Austrian economics to teach the people…

(APPLAUSE)

… the business cycle and why the Fed creates inflation and depressions and all our unemployment problems.

BLITZER: Governor Perry?

PERRY: It’s simple. I’m going to bring the most beautiful, most thoughtful, incredible first lady that this country’s ever seen, Anita.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: You know, one of — one of my heroes was a man who had an extraordinary turn of phrase. He once said about us, he said, you know, you can count on the Americans to get things right after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives. And now and then we’ve made a couple of mistakes. We’re quite a nation. And this man, Winston Churchill, used to have his bust in the Oval Office. And if I’m president of the United States, it’ll be there again.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congressman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: I would bring a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and that’s it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Cain?

CAIN: I would bring a sense of humor to the White House, because America’s too uptight.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: And Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: And to play to that theme — my wife’s going to kill me for saying this — but I would bring my — as a 40-year motorcycle rider, I would bring my Harley-Davidson and my motocross bike.

BLITZER: Ladies and gentlemen, the eight Republican presidential candidates.

(APPLAUSE)

And that’s all the time we have. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a hand to our candidates for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

We want to thank our partners, the Tea Party Express, and 150 Tea Party groups from around the country. Thanks also to our host, the Florida State Fairgrounds. Our next debate here on CNN, in Las Vegas, October 18th with the Western Republican Leadership Conference. We look forward to seeing the candidates and all of you there. The conversation continues online right now on Twitter, Facebook, and cnnpolitics.com. More coverage of this debate with “Anderson Cooper 360” right now.

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