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

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Transcript: Democratic Presidential Debate in Brooklyn

Source: NYT, 4-14-16

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

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

Let’s begin with Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

Thank you.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

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

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

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

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

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

Of course she does.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: But I do question…

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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I don’t believe that that is…

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton?

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

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: And then he did say that…

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — and…

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

When asked, he could not explain how…

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: — that would be done and…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — when asked…

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

BLITZER: Senator…

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(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And let’s talk about judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

Where does the money come from?

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

I don’t think so.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, let me…

SANDERS: We have…

CLINTON: — let me just say…

SANDERS: — (INAUDIBLE)…

CLINTON: — let me — let me say…

BLITZER: Madam Secretary, let him finish.

CLINTON: OK.

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

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

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

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — my (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

Secretary?

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

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(BOOS)

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

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — on Wall Street in many a year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BASH: But, Senator…

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

BASH: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

CLINTON: And hold them accountable as well.

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

BASH: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

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

BASH: Thank you. Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

BASH: Madam Secretary…

CLINTON: … but the fact is he did.

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

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

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

(APPLAUSE)

Why not release them?

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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CLINTON: Right.

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

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: Thank you.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: Senator…

SANDERS: We will get them out.

BLITZER: Senator…

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

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

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

BLITZER: Which one?

SANDERS: Last year’s.

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BLITZER: 2014?

SANDERS: Yes.

BLITZER: What about 2013, all the other ones?

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

SANDERS: Yes.

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Verizon happens not to be one of them.

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(BOOS)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: Thank you.

Secretary…

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: — Secretary Clinton?

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

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

BLITZER: Senator…

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

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: Let’s do that again in America.

BLITZER: Senator, how do you…

SANDERS: I’m going to respond…

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

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Stand by.

SANDERS: Well, look…

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton… (CROSSTALK)

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

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

As president…

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

SANDERS: Well, look…

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

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: Go as quickly as…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — to get to $15.

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, wait a minute…

SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE).

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

CLINTON: — wait, wait…

SANDERS: That’s just not accurate. Well…

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

SANDERS: — well and I…

CLINTON: — with Senator Sanders eight…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — times.

SANDERS: Excuse me.

CLINTON: I have said the…

SANDERS: Well…

CLINTON: Exact same thing.

BLITZER: Secretary, Senator, please.

CLINTON: If we can…

(CROSSTALK)

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

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — or Los Angeles or Seattle…

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BLITZER: Secretary, the viewers…

CLINTON: — let’s do it.

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

SANDERS: OK.

BLITZER: So please…

SANDERS: I will…

BLITZER: — don’t talk over each other.

SANDERS: I believe I was…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Go ahead.

SANDERS: — responding.

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

CLINTON: OK.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Go ahead, Secretary. Secretary?

SANDERS: And suddenly…

BLITZER: Secretary, go ahead.

SANDERS: To suddenly…

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much.

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

BLITZER: All right. Secretary?

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

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

BLITZER: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

CLINTON: I could not disagree more.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: … Thank you…

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

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

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

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

SANDERS: Then why did she put out that statement?

CLINTON: I put it out…

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

BLITZER: Please, go ahead sir.

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

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

* embed

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you.

(CHEERING)

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

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLITZER: Thank you.

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Senator, go ahead.

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

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

LOUIS: Thank you, Secretary.

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

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

Do you regret your advocacy for the crime bill?

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

LOUIS: But what about you, Senator?

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

LOUIS: Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

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

LOUIS: Your time’s up, Secretary Clinton.

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

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

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

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Let’s turn to another critically important issue.

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

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

What are his lies?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

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

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

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

BLITZER: …. Thank you…

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton, go ahead and respond.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: … Thank you…

(APPLAUSE CHEERING)

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

BLITZER: … Go ahead, Senator…

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

(CHEERING)

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

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

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

BLITZER: Thank you.

Let us support a tax on carbon…

BLITZER: … Secretary Clinton…

SANDERS: … Not Secretary Clinton’s position.

BLITZER: … Go ahead and respond.

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

SANDERS: Wolf. Wolf.

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

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

LOUIS: OK, thank you, Secretary Clinton.

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton did not answer one simple question.

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

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

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

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

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

What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator — senator, jobs…

SANDERS: Yes?

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

SANDERS: Well, you don’t phase…

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: — that difference?

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: Saving — rebuilding our rail system.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Our mass transit system.

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Lead the world.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

Aren’t you also responsible for that?

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

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

I was very proud of that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLITZER: Thank you.

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

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

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Look…

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

BLITZER: Yes.

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Yes, well, I…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — I…

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

SANDERS: No.

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

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

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

CLINTON: Well, that isn’t…

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

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

Go ahead, Secretary.

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

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

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Go ahead, Senator.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you still feel that way?

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Secretary Clinton?

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

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

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Free Palestine!

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

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

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

BLITZER: … Thank you, Senator…

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: … Thank you…

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

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

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

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

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

(CHEERING)

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

(AUDIENCE REACTION)

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

CLINTON: And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Senator.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: A final word, Senator, go ahead.

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

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well…

BLITZER: Secretary.

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

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

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

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

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

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

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

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

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead. Thank you.

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

SANDERS: I know what Secretary Clinton is saying.

BLITZER: Secretary please.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

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

CLINTON: Well…

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton — Secretary Clinton, go ahead.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

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

BLITZER: Senator?

Go ahead, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

SANDERS: No, you didn’t. My legi…

CLINTON: — yes, I did.

SANDERS: Can I answer…

CLINTON: I did answer the…

SANDERS: — may I please…

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

SANDERS: — can I have… (CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — into my mouth and say something…

SANDERS: — do I not?

CLINTON: — that’s not accurate.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

What’s wrong with that?

Are you prepared to support it?

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

SANDERS: You have sup…

CLINTON: I think it’s important…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — to point out that…

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

SANDERS: All right, so…

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

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Look, Wolf…

CLINTON: — Social Security (INAUDIBLE)…

SANDERS: — I am very glad that…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — and well-funded…

SANDERS: I am very glad to…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: No.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Errol — Errol Louis, go ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We are going…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — we are…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — we are going…

LOUIS: Secretary…

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

BLITZER: Errol…

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

BLITZER: Errol, hold on a second.

CLINTON: — when I am president.

LOUIS: Secretary…

BLITZER: Go ahead.

Hold on, Errol…

SANDERS: — I’m still…

BLITZER: — Errol. Hold on.

SANDERS: I’ve got to admit…

BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator.

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

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

CLINTON: I am…

SANDERS: — yes or no?

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

SANDERS: Oh, you — ah.

(APPLAUSE)

(BOOS)

SANDERS: OK.

CLINTON: — or combination of ways…

(BOOS)

CLINTON: — you know…

(BOOS)

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

Well, let me say then…

SANDERS: Well, look…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — let me say this…

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: — that will actually agree…

BLITZER: Well, thank you…

CLINTON: — with us in doing it.

BLITZER: Errol, go ahead.

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

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: Let me interject here.

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

SANDERS: Yes, Secretary Clinton…

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: — you are a member of the establishment.

LOUIS: — this was a reader…

SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE).

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

(CHEERING)

LOUIS: — a question for you.

LOUIS: Just a second, Senator.

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

LOUIS: Senator Sanders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

BASH: Senator Sanders, your response.

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

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Thank you, Senator.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Sanders…

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

BASH: Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

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

(CHEERING)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

BASH: … Thank you Senator.

SANDERS: $27 a contribution…

BASH: … Senator, your time is up…

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BASH: Thank you, Senator Sanders. Secretary Clinton.

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

That is 2.3 million more than Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

And it is 1.4 million more than Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

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

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BASH: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

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

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

BASH: … Secretary Clinton, thank you.

CLINTON: And, I know something about that…

BASH: … Secretary Clinton…

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

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

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

BASH: …Senator Sanders, on that note….

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(CHEERING)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now, let me say this…

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton, go ahead.

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: … many of whom previously had given up.

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

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

SANDERS: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York…

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton? Secretary Clinton?

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

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

Anderson Cooper picks up our debate coverage right now.

 

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

ELECTION 2016

CampaignBuzz2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

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

Source: Presidential Campaign & Elections

FEB. 25, 2016

Republican debate – CNN/Telemundo/Salem Radio

Time – 8:30 p.m. ET

Location – University of Houston, Houston, Texas

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

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

….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz January 26, 2012: CNN Florida Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

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

https://i2.wp.com/graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/01/26/us/20120127_DEBATE_337-slide-37CU/20120127_DEBATE_337-slide-37CU-hpMedium.jpg

Full Transcript of CNN FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Aired January 26, 2012 – 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: From the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, this is the Florida Republican presidential debate.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight, the four Republican candidates are here to tell us why they’re the most qualified to take on President Barack Obama. I’m Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. We also want to thank our co-sponsors, the Republican Party of Florida and the Hispanic Leadership Network.

Members of the Florida Republican party are here in the audience with us and some of them will have a chance to question the candidates.

In addition, our sister network CNN in Espanol is standing by in Miami with members of the Hispanic Leadership Network who will also have a chance to question the candidates. Viewers can send us questions online. On Twitter, make sure to include the hash tag #CNNdebate; on Facebook at Facebook.com/CNNpolitics; and, of course, on CNNpolitics.com.

It’s now time to welcome the 2012 Republican presidential contenders.

(APPLAUSE)

Joining us on stage, Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

(APPLAUSE)

The former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

(APPLAUSE)

And the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for our national anthem, performed by the University of North Florida Chamber Singers.

(MUSIC)

(APPLAUSE)

Candidates, please take your podiums while I tell you more about how this debate will work tonight.

I’ll be the moderator. And as I mentioned, our partners from the Republican Party of Florida and the Hispanic Leadership Network will also ask questions. I’ll follow up and try to guide the discussion.

Candidates, I’ll try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions. You’ll have one minute to answer, 30 seconds for follow ups and rebuttals. And I’ll certainly make sure you get time to respond if you’re singled out for criticism.

Now let’s have the candidates introduce themselves to Florida voters.

Please keep it short. Here is an example: I’m Wolf Blitzer and I’m thrilled to be here on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Senator Santorum, let’s begin with you.

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Rick Santorum, and I’m thrilled to be here on the campus of North Florida.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: And I’m especially thrilled because I’m here with a North Florida resident who lives right down the beach from Jacksonville, my mom, who is 93 years old, who is with me here tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: I better just stop right there.

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Newt Gingrich, from the neighboring state of Georgia. I’m delighted to be in Jacksonville, which will be the site of the next nuclear aircraft carrier battle group.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Mitt Romney, and I’m pleased to be here with my wife and my oldest son Tagg Romney. We’re the parents of five sons, five daughters-in-law, 16 grandkids. And it’s great to be back in Jacksonville.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATEA: I’m Ron Paul. I’m a congressman from Texas, 12 terms.

I am the champion of a sound monetary system, a gold standard, as it is under the Constitution, and a foreign policy based on strength which rejects the notion that we should be the policemen of the world and that we should be a nation builder.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Let’s start with a question from the audience.

(UNKNOWN): Hello.

Can you tell me what specific actions you’ll take to address the costly consequences of illegal immigration while preserving the rights of those who seek to immigrate legally?

BLITZER: All right.

Senator Santorum, let’s take that question. But also, in the course of that question, express your opinion on what we heard from Governor Romney, that self-deportation, or illegal immigrants leaving the country voluntarily, is a possible solution.

SANTORUM: Well, the possible solution is — I actually agree with Governor Romney. The bottom line is that we need to enforce the laws in this country.

We are a country of laws. People come to this country. My grandfather came to this country because he wanted to come to a country that respected him. And a country that respects you is a country that lives by the laws that they have. And the first act when they come to this country, is to disobey a law, it’s not a particularly welcome way to enter this country. What I’ve said is from the very beginning, that we — we have to have a country that not only do you respect the law when you come here, but you respect the law when you stay here.

And people who have come to this country illegally have broken the law repeatedly. If you’re here, unless you’re here on a trust fund, you’ve been working illegally. You’ve probably stolen someone’s Social Security number, illegally. And so it’s not just one thing that you’ve done wrong, you’ve done a lot of things wrong. And as a result of that, I believe that people should no — should not be able to stay here.

And so I think we need to enforce the law at the border, secure the border. Secondly, we need to have employer enforcement, which means E-verify and then we need to have not only employers sanctioned, but we have to have people who are found who are working here illegally, they need to be deported. That is again the principle of having a rule of law and living by it. I am very much in favor of immigration. I’m not someone — my dad came to this country and I’m someone who believes that — that we need immigration. We are not replacing ourselves.

We have — we need not only immigration for — to keep our population going, but we need immigration because immigrants bring a vitality and a love of this country that is — infuses this country with — with great energy. And so, I support legal immigration, but we need to enforce the law and in fact, if you don’t create an opportunity for people to work, they will leave because they can’t afford to stay here.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, you’ve suggested that self- deportation as advocated by Governor Romney is in your words, “An Obama level fantasy.” Why?

GINGRICH: Well look, I think that first of all, you should control the border, which I have pledged to do by January 1, 2014. You should fix legal immigration in terms of visas so people can come and go easily — more easily than doing it illegally. You should also make deportation easier so when you deport people who shouldn’t be here. The 13 gang members, for example. It should be very quick and very clear.

You should have a guest worker program, probably run by American Express, Visa or MasterCard so they minimize fraud, which the federal government won’t do. And you should have much stronger employer penalties at that point because you can validate it. I actually agree that self-deportation will occur if you’re single. If you’ve only been here a short time. And there are millions of people who faced with that, would go back home, file for a guest worker program and might or might not come back.

The one group I singled out, were people who have been here a very long time who are married, who may well have children and grandchildren. And I would just suggest that grandmothers or grandfathers aren’t likely to self-deport. And then you’ve got a question. I — I offered a proposal, a citizen panel to review whether or not somebody who had been here a very long time, who had family and who had an American family willing to sponsor them, should be allowed to get residency, but not citizenship so that they would be able to stay within the law, but would not have any chance of becoming a citizen, unless they went back home. I don’t think grandmothers and grandfathers will self-deport.

BLITZER: Governor Romney, the few times and I think it was only once, that they experimented with self-deportation, only a handful of individuals voluntarily left. What makes you think that — that program could work?

ROMNEY: Well, you’ve just heard the last two speakers also indicate that they support the concept of self-deportation. It’s very simply this, which is for those who come into the country legally, they would be given an identification card that points out they’re able to work here and then you have an E-verify system that’s effective and efficient so that employers can determine who is legally here and if employers hire someone without a card, or without checking to see if it’s been counterfeited, then those employers would be severely sanctioned.

If you do that, people who have come here illegally won’t be able to find work. And over time, those people would tend to leave the country, or self-deport. I don’t think anyone is interested in going around and rounding up people around the country and deporting 11 million Americans — or, excuse me 11 million illegal immigrants into America. Now, let’s look at — and — and I know people said, but isn’t that unfair to those 11 million that are here and have lived their lives here and perhaps raised children here? But I think it’s important to remember, that there are three groups of people that are of concern to us.

One are those that have come here illegally, 11 million. The second is the group of people who are brought over by coyotes and who are in many cases abused by virtue of coming into this country illegally. And the third, are the four to five million people who are waiting at home in their own nations trying to get here legally. They have family members here asking them to come here. Grandparents and uncles and aunts. Those are the people we have a responsibility for. And the second group as well, those that are abused. We — we’re concerned about them.

Let’s focus our attention on how to make legal immigration work and stop illegal immigration.

BLITZER: All right. Governor Paul — sorry, excuse me, Congressman Paul you’re from Texas. The state with the longest border with Mexico. Is this a viable option, what we just heard?

PAUL: Well, I’d talk about it, but I don’t see it as being very practical. I think it’s a much bigger problem.

You can’t deal with immigration without dealing with the economy. The weaker the economy, the more resentment there is when illegals come in. If you have a healthy, vibrant economy, it’s not a problem; we’re usually looking for workers.

Even under today’s circumstances, a lot of businesses are looking for workers and they don’t have them. They’re not as well-trained here.

But also, the way we’re handling our borders is actually hurting our economy because the businesspeople — you know, visitors have a hard time coming in. I mean, we don’t have a well-managed border. So I think we need more resources and I think most of the other candidates would agree we need more resources. But where are the resources going to come from?

I have a suggestion. I think we spend way too much time worrying about the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Use some of those resources on our own border.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, you had an ad, but you pulled it this week, in which you described Governor Romney as the most anti- immigrant candidate. Why did you do that?

GINGRICH: Why did we describe him that way?

Because, in the original conversations about deportation, the position I took, which he attacked pretty ferociously, was that grandmothers and grandfathers aren’t going to be successfully deported. We’re not — we as a nation are not going to walk into some family — and by the way, they’re going to end up in a church, which will declare them a sanctuary. We’re not going to walk in there and grab a grandmother out and then kick them out.

We’re not going — and I think you have to be realistic in your indignation. I want to control the border. I want English to be the official language of government. I want us to have a lot of changes.

(APPLAUSE)

I am prepared to be very tough and very bold, but I’m also prepared to be realistic, because I’ve actually had to pass legislation in Washington and I don’t believe an unrealistic promise is going to get through, but I do believe, if there’s some level of humanity for people who have been here a long time, we can pass legislation that will decisively reduce illegality, decisively control the border and will once again mean the people who are in America are here legally.

BLITZER: I just want to make sure I understand. Is he still the most anti-immigrant candidate?

GINGRICH: I think, of the four of us, yes.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Governor.

ROMNEY: That’s simply unexcusable. That’s inexcusable. And, actually, Senator Marco Rubio came to my defense and said that ad was inexcusable and inflammatory and inappropriate.

Mr. Speaker, I’m not anti-immigrant. My father was born in Mexico. My wife’s father was born in Wales. They came to this country. The idea that I’m anti-immigrant is repulsive.

Don’t use a term like that. You can say we disagree on certain policies, but to say that enforcing the U.S. law to protect our borders, to welcome people here legally, to expand legal immigration, as I have proved, that that’s somehow anti anti-immigrant is simply the kind of over-the-top rhetoric that has characterized American politics too long.

And I’m glad that Marco Rubio called you out on it. I’m glad you withdrew it. I think you should apologize for it, and I think you should recognize that having differences of opinions on issues does not justify labeling people with highly charged epithets.

GINGRICH: I’ll tell you what…

(APPLAUSE)

I’ll give you an opportunity to self-describe. You tell me what language you would use to describe somebody who thinks that deporting a grandmother or a grandfather from their family — just tell me the language. I’m perfectly happy for you to explain what language you’d use.

ROMNEY: Mr. Speaker, I think I described following the law as it exists in this country, which is to say, I’m not going around and rounding people up and deporting them.

What I said was, people who come here legally get a work permit. People who do not come here legally do not get a work permit. Those who don’t get work will tend, over time, to self-deport.

I’m not going to go find grandmothers and take them out of their homes and deport them. Those are your words, not my words. And to use that rhetoric suggests to people that somehow, if you’re not willing to keep people here who violated the law, that you’re anti- immigrant. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am pro-immigrant. I want people to come to America with skill and vitality and vibrance. I want them to come legally. There are grandmothers that live on the other side of the border that are waiting to come here legally. I want them to come here, too, not just those that are already here.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Well, so we have gone — we’ve gone from your Washington attack when I first proposed this and you said it was outrageous; it would be a magnet to you’re accepting the fact that, you know, a family is going to take care of their grandmother or their grandfather.

The idea that you are going to push them out in some form by simply saying they can’t go get a job — I think the grandmother is still going to be here. All I want to do is to allow the grandmother to be here legally with some rights to have residency but not citizenship, so that he or she can finish their life with dignity within the law.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: You know, our problem is not 11 million grandmothers. Our problem is — all right.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Our problem is 11 million people getting jobs that many Americans, legal immigrants, would like to have. It’s school kids in schools that districts are having a hard time paying for. It’s people getting free health care because we are required under the law to provide that health care.

And the real concern is the people who want to come here legally. Let’s let legal immigrants come here. Let’s stop illegal immigration.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: The rhetoric on immigration, Governor, has been intense, as you well know, as all four of you know, and anyone who watches television knows. You had an ad running saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish “the language of the ghetto.”

What do you mean by that?

ROMNEY: I haven’t seen the ad, so I’m sorry. I don’t get to see all the TV ads. Did he say that?

BLITZER: Did you say that?

GINGRICH: No. What I said was, we want everybody to learn English because we don’t — and I didn’t use the word “Spanish.” We do not want anyone trapped in a situation where they cannot get a commercial job, they cannot rise, and virtually every parent of every ethnic group — and by the way, they are 94 languages spoken at the Miami-Dade College — 94 languages. And that’s why I think English should be the official language of government, and that’s why I think every young American should learn English.

And my point was, no one should be trapped in a linguistics situation where they can’t go out and get a job and they can’t go out and work. So I would say as much as Governor Romney doesn’t particularly like my use of language, I found his use of language and his deliberate distortion equally offensive.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I’d like — I doubt that’s my ad, but we’ll take a look and find out. There are a bunch of ads out there that are being organized by other people.

But I think our position on English in our schools and in our nation is the same, which I believe English should be the official language of the United States, as it is. I also believe that in our schools, we should teach kids in English.

So, when I was governor, I fought for — actually, before I was governor, I fought for, during my election and thereafter, a program to have English immersion in our schools so our kids could learn in English. I think we agree on this, which is, you know what? Kids in this country should learn English so they can have all the jobs and all the opportunity of people who are here.

BLITZER: I want to bring Congressman Paul and Senator Santorum into this. But let’s take this question from Miami.

CNN en Espanol’s Juan Carlos Lopez has a guest there.

LOPEZ: Hola, Wolf.

We’re at the viewing party for the Hispanic Leadership Network, and it really is a party. They are holding their yearly conference, a meeting of Hispanic Republican leaders. And I’m joined by Raquel Rodriguez. She’s an attorney in Miami. She practices business and international law, and she has a question for the candidates.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, good evening.

The U.S. has been largely away in its foreign and trade policy with Latin America. In the meantime, Iran and China have been increasing their influence over an involvement in Latin America through the leftist and left-leaning governments.

What would each of you do as president to more deeply engage in Latin America and, importantly, to support the governments and the political parties that support democracy and free markets?

BLITZER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Well, I think free trade is the answer. Free trade is an answer to a lot of conflicts around the world, so I’m always promoting free trade. And you might add Cuba, too. I think we would be a lot better off with Cuba, trading with Cuba.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: So, I think the more you can do to promote this free trade, the better off we’ll be. But as far as us having an obligation, a military or a financial obligation to go down and dictate to them what government they should have, I don’t like that idea.

I would work with the people and encourage free trade, and try to set a standard here where countries in Central America or South America or any place in the world would want to emulate us and set the standards that we have. Unfortunately, sometimes we slip up on our standards and we go around the world and we try to force ourselves on others.

I don’t think the nations in South America and Central America necessarily want us to come down there and dictate which government they should have. And yet, I believe with friendship and trade, you can have a lot of influence, and I strongly believe that it’s time we have friendship and trade with Cuba.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, are you with Congressman Paul?

SANTORUM: No, I’m not with Congressman Paul and I’m not with Barack Obama on this issue.

Our policy in Central and South America under this administration has been abysmal. The way we have treated, in particular, countries like Honduras, Honduras, which stood up for the rule of law, which threw out a would-be dictator who was using the Chavez playbook from Venezuela in order to try to run for re-election in Honduras, and the United States government, instead of standing behind the — the people in the parliament, the people in the Supreme Court, who tried to enforce the constitution of Honduras — instead of siding with them, the Democrats, President Obama sided with two other people in South America — excuse me — Central America and South America. Chavez and Castro and Obama sided against the people of Honduras.

This is a consistent policy of siding with the leftists, siding with the Marxists, siding with those who don’t support democracy, not standing up for our friends in Colombia, not standing up for our friends who want to engage and support America, who want to be great trading partners and great allies for our country, to be able to form that kind of bond that is so essential in our own hemisphere.

The European Union understood how important it was for diverse people to be able to come together in an economic unit. We only — not only have to come together as an economic unit, but the threat of terrorism, the threat of Iran now in Venezuela and in other places, and Cuba and in Nicaragua, the threat of radical Islam growing in that region — is it important for — it’s absolutely important for us to have a president who understands that threat and understands the solution is closer ties. I will visit that area of the world, repeatedly, to solidify those ties when I become president.

BLITZER: Let me let Congressman Paul…

(APPLAUSE)

… quickly respond.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: The — the senator mentioned standing up for some of these nations, but he doesn’t define it, but standing up for nations like this usually means that we impose ourselves, go and pick the dictators, undermine certain governments, also sending them a lot of money.

It doesn’t work. Most of the time, this backfires. They resent us. We can achieve what he wants in a much different way than us using the bully attitude that you will do it our way. This is the…

(APPLAUSE)

This is not a benefit to us. And besides, where do you get the troops and where are you going to get the money? Because you’re talking about force. And I — I know of a much better way than using force to get along with people.

SANTORUM: I don’t know where…

(APPLAUSE)

I don’t know what answer Congressman Paul was listening to. He obviously wasn’t listening to my answer. (APPLAUSE)

What I talked about is building strong economic relationships, strong national security relationships. No one’s talking about force. Nobody’s talking about going into Cuba or going into Venezuela. It’s talking about the other countries in the region, which are being influenced greatly by those countries, that are tending and moving toward those militant socialists, instead of the United States.

Why? Because we’ve ignored them. You’ve got a president of the United States that held a Colombian free trade agreement — Colombia, who’s out there on the front lines, working with us against the narco- terrorists, standing up to Chavez in South America. And what did we do?

For political — domestic political purposes, the president of the United States sided with organized labor and the environmental groups and held Colombia hanging out to dry for three years. We cannot do that to our friends in South America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right, we’re going to — we’re going to come back to this.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re going to come back to Cuba, as well. But stand by for that.

We did double-check, just now, Governor, that ad that we talked about, where I quoted you as saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish “the language of the ghetto” — we just double-checked. It was one of your ads. It’s running here in Florida in — on the radio. And at the end you say, “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this ad.”

So it is — it is here.

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: Let me ask — let me ask a question.

Let me ask the speaker a question. Did you say what the ad says or not? I don’t know.

GINGRICH: It’s taken totally out of context.

ROMNEY: Oh, OK, he said it.

GINGRICH: I did not — no. I did not say it about Spanish. I said, in general, about all languages. We are better for children to learn English in general, period.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Let’s take a look at what he said. (APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. We have a very important subject, housing. Not only here in Florida, foreclosures really, really bad, but all over the country. And a lot of people are wondering if the federal government contributed to the housing collapse in recent years.

We got a question that came in to us and — let me put it up there and I’ll read it to you. “How would you phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Does the private mortgage industry need additional regulation?” — that from William Schmidt.

Let me start with Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: Well, I think you know that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a big part of why we have the housing crisis in the nation that we have. And we’ve had this discussion before.

Speaker Gingrich was hired by Freddie Mac to promote them, to — to influence other people throughout Washington, encouraging them to — not to dismantle these two entities. I think that was an enormous mistake. I think, instead, we should have had a whistle-blower and not horn-tooter.

He should have stood up and said, look, these things are a disaster; this is a crisis. He should have been anxiously telling the American people that these entities were causing a housing bubble that would cause a collapse that we’ve seen here in Florida and around the country. And are they a problem today? Absolutely. They’re offering mortgages, again to people who can’t possibly repay them. We’re creating another housing bubble, which will hurt the American people.

The right course for our — for our housing industry is to get people back to work so they can buy homes again. We have 9.9 percent unemployment in Florida. It’s unthinkable, 18 percent real unemployment here. Get people back to work. We’ll get people into homes. Get the foreclosures out of the system. Let people get into homes, rent properties if necessary and get America’s housing industry growing again.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Let me start by saying, Florida is one of the two or three most hard hit states on foreclosures. How many of you know somebody who has had a house foreclosed? Just raise your hand. Raise your hand.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Okay. The governor has cheerfully — the governor has cheerfully attacking me inaccurately and he knows it. The contracts we released from Freddie Mac said I would do no consulting, wrote in, no — I mean no lobbying, none. But this is a more interesting story. We began digging in after Monday night because frankly I’d had about enough of this. We discovered to our shock, Governor Romney owns shares of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Governor Romney made a million dollars off of selling some of that. Governor Romney owns share — has an investment in Goldman Sachs, which is today foreclosing on Floridians.

So maybe Governor Romney in the spirit of openness should tell us how much money he’s made off of how many households that have been foreclosed by his investments? And let’s be clear about that.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: First of all, my investments are not made by me. My investments for the last 10 years have been in a blind trust, managed by a trustee. Secondly, the investments that they’ve made, we’ve learned about this as we made our financial disclosure, have been in mutual funds and bonds. I don’t own stock in either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. There are bonds that the investor has held through mutual funds. And Mr. Speaker, I know that sounds like an enormous revelation, but have you checked your own investments? You also have investments through mutual funds that also invest in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Let me — let me — I’ve got more time. Let me — let me — let me just — let me just continue. There’s a big difference between buying like U.S. savings bonds and getting a return. That’s a — that’s not taking money out of the United States, that’s loaning money to the United States. And what my trustee did, is he loaned money to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and — and they got paid interest of course, just like if you buy U.S. savings bonds. But what the speaker did, was to work as a spokesman to promote Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To protect them from those people that wanted to take them down.

He got paid $1.6 million to do that. He said his first contract indicated there would be no lobbying. But his second contract didn’t have that prescription taken out of it. And so you have to ask yourself why is that? What he was doing was clearly promoting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in this case Freddie Mac to the tune of $1.6 million. That is one of the reasons we’re in the trouble we’re in.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, you’ll notice that the governor wasn’t aware of the ad he was running. He’s not aware of the investments that were being made in his name.

ROMNEY: Of course, I can’t it’s a blind trust.

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: …compare my investments with his is like comparing a tiny mouse with a giant elephant. The fact — the fact is…

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: …that there is a very substantial question. You didn’t give any instructions to — to say, gee, let’s not do this or let’s not do that? You’re very quick to draw the widest possible exaggeration. The fact is, the only time I ever spoke to the Congress about this issue was in July of 2008. The New York Times reported it. I told the Republicans in the House, vote no. Do not give them any money. They need to be reformed. And in answer to the question earlier, I would break each of them up into five or six separate units.

And over a five year period, I would wean them from all federal sponsorship because we need to get away from this gigantic systems.

BLITZER: Let me bring Congressman Paul, then Senator Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: A follow up question to you both specifically. It seems they both acknowledge they both made money from Fannie and Freddie. Should they return that money?

PAUL: That — that subject really doesn’t interest me a whole lot.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: But the question does. The — the question is, what are we going to do about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It should have been auctioned off right after the crash came. It would have been cleansed by now.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: It should have been sold.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: But maybe it’s my physician background, but I think an ounce of prevention is what we ought to talk about so we can quit doing this. But we know how the bubble came about. It was excessive credit, interest rates held too low, too long, the Federal Reserve responsible for that.

Community Reinvestment Act, which is Affirmative Action telling banks they have to make these risky loans. And at the same time, there was a line of credit which allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to, you know, make more money. And it was — it was assumed that they would always be protected.

Now, you can’t argue. I’ve talked a long time about cutting off that credit from the Fed. I was trying to prevent this stuff.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: Also, I opposed the Community Reinvestment Act, as well as I had legislation in 10 years before the bust came to remove that line of credit to the Treasury.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Well, I would just say, in answer to the question, that as I mentioned last debate, in 2006, I went out and authored a letter with 24 other senators asking for major reform of Freddie and Fannie, warning of a meltdown and a bubble in the housing market. I stood out, I stood tall, and tried to get a reform, and we couldn’t do it. The reform we’d need is to gradually decrease the amount of mortgage that can be financed by Freddie — or underwritten by Freddie and Fannie over time, keep reducing that until we get rid of Fannie and Freddie.

The bigger issue here is, these two gentlemen, who are out distracting from the most important issues we have been playing petty personal politics, can we set aside that Newt was a member of Congress and used the skills that he developed as a member of Congress to go out and advise companies — and that’s not the worst thing in the world — and that Mitt Romney is a wealthy guy because worked hard and he’s going out and working hard? And you guys should that alone and focus on the issues.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We’re going to take a quick break, but we have a lot more to discuss. Coming up, the debate questions go to space, the final frontier.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We’re continuing the debate here in Jacksonville, Florida.

Let’s get to the issue of transparency, because voters out there, they want to know as much about you four gentlemen as possible before they vote.

Tax returns — let me bring this to Speaker Gingrich.

Earlier this week, you said Governor Romney, after he released his taxes, you said that you were satisfied with the level of transparency of his personal finances when it comes to this. And I just want to reiterate and ask you, are you satisfied right now with the level of transparency as far as his personal finances?

GINGRICH: Wolf, you and I have a great relationship, it goes back a long way. I’m with him. This is a nonsense question.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Look, how about if the four of us agree for the rest of the evening, we’ll actually talk about issues that relate to governing America?

BLITZER: But, Mr. Speaker, you made an issue of this, this week, when you said that, “He lives in a world of Swiss bank and Cayman Island bank accounts.” I didn’t say that. You did.

GINGRICH: I did. And I’m perfectly happy to say that on an interview on some TV show. But this is a national debate, where you have a chance to get the four of us to talk about a whole range of issues.

BLITZER: But if you make a serious accusation against Governor Romney like that, you need to explain that.

GINGRICH: I simply suggested —

(BOOING)

GINGRICH: You want to try again? I mean —

ROMNEY: Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t make accusations somewhere else that they weren’t willing to defend here?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: OK. All right.

Given that standard, Mitt, I did say I thought it was unusual. And I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account. I’d be glad for you to explain that sort of thing.

ROMNEY: OK. I will. I will. I’ll say it again.

I have a trustee that manages my investments in a blind trust. That was so that I would avoid any conflicts of interest. That trustee indicated last week, when he was asked about this, he said that he wanted to diversify the investments that I had. And for awhile he had money in a Swiss account, reported in the U.S., full taxes paid on it, U.S. taxes.

There’s nothing wrong with that. And I know that there may be some who try to make a deal of that, as you have publicly. But look, I think it’s important for people to make sure that we don’t castigate individuals who have been successful and try and, by innuendo, suggest there’s something wrong with being successful and having investments and having a return on those investments.

Speaker, you’ve indicated that somehow I don’t earn that money. I have earned the money that I have. I didn’t inherit it.

I take risks. I make investments. Those investments lead to jobs being created in America.

I’m proud of being successful. I’m proud of being in the free enterprise system that creates jobs for other people. I’m not going to run from that.

I’m proud of the taxes I pay. My taxes, plus my charitable contributions, this year, 2011, will be about 40 percent.

So, look, let’s put behind this idea of attacking me because of my investments or my money, and let’s get Republicans to say, you know what? What you’ve accomplished in your life shouldn’t be seen as a detriment, it should be seen as an asset to help America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker, I’m ready to move on, if you are.

GINGRICH: What?

BLITZER: I said I’m ready to move on to the next subject if you are.

GINGRICH: I’m happy to. I’m happy to simply say, you know, it would be nice if you had the same standard for other people that you would like applied to you and didn’t enter into personal attacks about personal activities about which you are factually wrong. So I would be glad to have a truce with you, but it’s a two-way truce.

(BOOING)

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I’m happy on any occasion to describe the things that I believe with regards to the Speaker’s background. We’ll probably get a chance to do that as time goes on.

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker, explain why you think the money that he made over these many years, recent years, under your tax — hold on. Mr. Speaker, under your tax plan — we’re talking about taxes right now. This is substance. Under your proposed tax plan, he would pay zero taxes. Explain that.

GINGRICH: Well, it would depend on whether the particular kind of payments he made were counted under that plan as capital gains or whether they were counted as regular income. But even as regular income, he would pay about the same. And I’ve said this.

This is where I’m the opposite of Obama. I believe we need to have somebody who fights for hardworking taxpayers.

My interest is in reducing everybody’s tax here to 15 percent, not trying to raise his to the Obama level. So I proposed an alternative flat tax —

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: You know, I have proposed an alternative flat tax that people could fill out where you could either keep the current system — this is what they do in Hong Kong — keep the current system with all of its deductions and all its paperwork, or you’d have a single page — I earned this amount, I have this number of dependents, here is 15 percent. My goal is to shrink the government to fit the revenue, not to raise the revenue to catch up with the government.

And I’d be happy…

(APPLAUSE)

Let me just say, I’d — I would be happy to have the Mitt Romney flat tax for every American to pay at that rate, and I haven’t complained about the rate he pays.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, most of the polls, almost all of the polls, want the wealthiest Americans to pay more in taxes in order to balance the budget. Why are they wrong, in your opinion?

SANTORUM: Because we need to have as much money funneling through this economy as possible. And the people who make those investments are people who have resources and wealth, and we want them to deploy that wealth in the most productive way possible.

And when you increase tax rates and you make things much more expensive to do — in other words, the rate of return is not as profitable, then they tend to do things like investing in — in nontaxable instruments and other things that don’t employ people.

And so what I believe is we need to reduce taxes. I don’t — look, I’m honest. I don’t reduce the higher — top rate as much as these other folks do. I take the Reagan approach. Ronald Reagan had a 28 percent top rate. If it was good enough for Ronald Reagan, it’s good enough for me. And that’s what we put the top rate as.

(APPLAUSE)

And — and we have a bottom rate of 10 percent. I believe in a differential. I don’t believe in a flat tax. I believe in a simplified tax code with five deductions and — and focus on simplify, creating two rates.

I disagree with Newt also on this. I don’t believe in a zero capital gains tax rate. I don’t think you need to get to zero to make sure that there’s an efficient deployment of capital and investment.

I think, if you get to zero, then, in fact, guys like Mitt Romney, who, again, I give him — I wish I made as much money as Mitt Romney, but…

(APPLAUSE)

But — you know, but he wouldn’t probably pay much at all in taxes. And I think that, as long as the tax is not one that deters a proper investment to be able to deploy capital and to get jobs created, then lower rates are better than zero when it comes to the issue of capital gains.

BLITZER: Are you with Ronald Reagan as far as the tax rates, as Senator Santorum has suggested, Congressman Paul?

PAUL: No, he taxed too much. My goal is to get rid of the 16th amendment. And the only way you can do that…

(APPLAUSE)

The only way you can do that is not run a welfare system and a warfare system in policing the world.

But I do want to address this subject about taxing the rich. That is not a solution. But I understand and really empathize with the people who talk about the 99 percent and the 1 percent.

Because there’s a characteristic about what happens when you destroy a currency. There is a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. And this has been going on for 40 years. So the middle class is shrinking. They are getting poorer and they’re losing their jobs and they’re losing their houses. But Wall Street isn’t getting poorer. And they are the ones who are getting the bailout.

So we have to address the bailout and the system that favors a certain group over another group. If you don’t have sound money and if you have a welfare state, no matter whether the welfare state is designed to help the poor, you know, the welfare system helps the wealthy.

And there has been this transfer of wealth. So, if we could stop all of these transfers to the wealthy class, but the solution isn’t to tax the wealthy. If you give an honest product and customers buy that product, you deserve to keep that money and earn that money. But there’s a big difference between those who earn money and those who rip us off through the government and the monetary system.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, you’re a physician. You’re 76 years old. You would be the oldest president of the United States if you were elected. Are you prepared to release your medical records so voters out there know what your health is?

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: Oh, obviously, because it’s about one page, if even that long. But…

(LAUGHTER)

But I’m willing to…

(APPLAUSE)

I’m willing to challenge any of these gentlemen up here to a 25- mile bike ride any time of the day in the heat of Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

And, you know — you know, that subject has come up and sometimes in fun but sometimes not in fun. But, you know, there are laws against age discrimination, so if you push this too much, you better be careful.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: I raise the question because you remember, four years ago, the same question came up with John McCain and he released his records, finally. I remember our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta spent hours reviewing those records.

So let me go down and ask all of you. Are you ready to release your medical records?

ROMNEY: Happy to do so.

GINGRICH: I’m happy to. And I also want to attest I’m confident that Dr. Paul is quite ready to serve if he’s elected. Watching him campaign, he’s in great shape.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right, we have another question from the audience. I’ll look forward to seeing your medical records.

(LAUGHTER)

Go ahead.

Let’s take a question right now. Please introduce yourself, as well.

QUESTION: Good evening. My name is Matthew Bathel (ph). My question is, what would your plan be for the future of manned space flight and the future of NASA?

BLITZER: All right, let me go to Governor Romney on this one. An important issue, especially here in Florida where a lot of people have lost their jobs as a result of the decline of the space program. Yesterday Speaker Gingrich outlined a — a pretty long plan on what to do about it and he said that by the end of his second term, if he were elected president, there would be a permanent base on the moon. Good idea?

ROMNEY: That’s an enormous expense. And right now I want to be spending money here. Of course the space coast has been badly hurt and I believe in a very vibrant and strong space program. To define the mission for our space program, I’d like to bring in the — the top professors that relate to space areas and physics, the top people from industry. Because I want to make sure what we’re doing in space translates into commercial products. I want to bring in our top military experts on space needs.

And — and finally of course, the — the people from — the administration if I had an administration. I’d like to come together and talk about different options and the cost. I’d like corporate America as well as the defense network and others that could come together in a — in a part — in, if you will, a partnership basis to create a plan that will keep our space program thriving and growing. I — I believe in a manned space program. I’d like to see whether they believe in the same thing.

I’m not — I’m not looking for a — a colony on the moon. I think the cost of that would be in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions. I’d rather be rebuilding housing here in the U.S.

BLITZER: We have a question. I want to speaker to weigh in as well.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: This question is related from — we got it from Twitter. Speaker Gingrich, how do you plan to create a base on the moon while keeping taxes down in eight years?

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: I think, look it’s a great question. You start with the question, do you really believe NASA in it’s current form is the most effective way of leveraging investment in space? We now have a bureaucracy sitting there, which has managed to mismanage the program so well that in fact we have no lift vehicle. So you almost have to wonder, what does the Washington office of NASA do? Does it sit around and think space?

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: Does it contemplate that some day we could have a rocket? My point in the speech I made yesterday, which is on CSPAN and I’d love to have all of you look at it. It’s based on having looked at space issues since the late 1950’s when missiles and rockets was a separate magazine. And working with NASA and others. I believe by the use of prizes, by the use of incentives, by opening up the space port so that it’s available on a ready basis for commercial fight, by using commonsense for example the Atlas-V could easily be fixed into a man capable vehicle so you didn’t have to rely on — on a Russian launch or a Chinese launch.

There are many things you can do to leverage accelerating the development of space. Lindbergh flew to Paris for a $25,000.00 prize. If we had a handful of serious prizes, you’d see an extraordinary number of people out there trying to get to the moon first in order to have billed (ph) that. And I’d like to have an American on the moon before the Chinese get there.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: I — I believe America’s a frontier nation and obviously the frontier that — that we’re talking about is — is the next one, which is space. And that we need to inspire. One of the big problems we have in our country today is that young people are not getting involved in math and science and not dreaming big dreams. So NASA or the space program where space is important, NASA is one component that — our — our space defense is another area. I think both of — both of which are very, very important. I agree that we need to bring good minds in the private sector much more involved in NASA than the government bureaucracy that we have. But let’s just be honest, we run a $1.2 trillion deficit right now. We’re — we’re borrowing 40-cents of every dollar. And to go out there and promise new programs and big ideas, that’s a great thing to maybe get votes, but it’s not a responsible thing when you have to go out and say that we have to start cutting programs, not talking about how to — how to — how to grow them.

We’re going to cut programs. We’re going to spend — under my administration, we’re going to spend less money every year — every year. Year, to year, to year the federal government amount of spending will go down for four years until we get a balanced budget. And you can’t do that by — by — by grand schemes. Whether it’s the space program or frankly whether it’s the Speaker’s Social Security program, which will create a brand-new Social Security entitlement. Those are things that sound good and maybe make big promises to people, but we’ve got to be responsible in the way we allocate our resources.

BLITZER: We’re going to get to that in a moment, but…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, Texas, the space program very important there as well. Where do you stand on this?

PAUL: Well, I don’t think we should go to the moon. I think we maybe should send some politicians up there.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: But I went — I went into the Air Force in 1962 and studied aerospace medicine. Actually had a daydream about maybe becoming the first physician to go into space. That — that didn’t occur, but I see space — the amount of money we spend on space, the only part that I would vote for is for national defense purposes. Not to explore the moon and go to Mars. I think that’s fantastic. That’s — I love those ideas. But I also don’t like the idea of building government business partnerships. If we had a healthy economy and had more Bill Gateses and more Warren Buffetts, the money would be there. It should be privatized, and the people who work in the industry, if you had that, there would be jobs in aerospace.

And I just think that we don’t need a bigger, a newer program, when you think of the people — I mean, health care or something else deserves a lot more priority than going to the moon. So, I would be very reluctant, but space technology should be followed up to some degree for national defense purposes, but not just for the fun of it and, you know, for — you know, for scientific —

BLITZER: We’re going to leave this subject, but before we do, I want Speaker Gingrich to clarify what you said yesterday in that major speech you delivered on space. You said that you would support a lunar colony or a lunar base, and that if 13,000 Americans were living there, they would be able to apply for U.S. statehood from the moon.

GINGRICH: I was meeting Rick’s desire for grandiose ideas. But —

BLITZER: That’s a pretty grandiose idea.

GINGRICH: But let me make just two points about this.

It is really important to go back and look at what John F. Kennedy said in May of 1961 when he said, “We will go to the moon in this decade.” No American had orbited the Earth. The technology didn’t exist.

And a generation of young people went into science and engineering and technology, and they were tremendously excited. And they had a future.

I actually agree with Dr. Paul. The program I envision would probably end up being 90 percent private sector, but it would be based on a desire to change the government rules and change the government regulations, to get NASA out of the business of trying to run rockets, and to create a system where it’s easy for private sector people to be engaged.

I want to see us move from one launch occasionally to six or seven launches a day because so many private enterprises walk up and say, we’re prepared to go do it. But I’ll tell you, I do not want to be the country that having gotten to the moon first, turned around and said, it doesn’t really matter, let the Chinese dominate space, what do we care? I think that is a path of national decline, and I am for America being a great country, not a country in decline.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We’re going to move on, but go ahead, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: I spent 25 years in business. If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, “You’re fired.”

The idea that corporate America wants to go off to the moon and build a colony there, it may be a big idea, but it’s not a good idea. And we have seen in politics — we’ve seen politicians — and Newt, you’ve been part of this — go from state to state and promise exactly what that state wants to hear. The Speaker comes here to Florida, wants to spend untold amount of money having a colony on the moon. I know it’s very exciting on the Space Coast.

In South Carolina, it was a new interstate highway, and dredging the port in Charleston. In New Hampshire, it was burying a power line coming in from Canada and building a new VHA hospital in New Hampshire so that people don’t have to go to Boston.

Look, this idea of going state to state and promising what people want to hear, promising billions, hundreds of billions of dollars to make people happy, that’s what got us into the trouble we’re in now. We’ve got to say no to this kind of spending.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I want to make two points.

First, I thought we were a country where one of the purposes of candidates going around was to actually learn about the states they campaigned in and actually be responsive to the needs of the states they campaign in. For example, the port of Jacksonville is going to have to be expanded because the Panama Canal is being widened, and I think that’s useful thing for a president to know. I think it’s important for presidents to know about local things.

Second — and at the other end of the state, the Everglades Restoration Project has to be completed, and it’s the federal government which has failed.

But, second, in response to what Rick said, when we balanced the budget with the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, and ultimately had four consecutive balanced budgets, we doubled the size of the National Institutes of Health because we set priorities. It is possible to do the right things in the right order to make this a bigger, richer, more exciting country.

You don’t just have to be cheap everywhere. You can actually have priorities to get things done.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. We’re going to move on.

But go ahead, Ron Paul.

PAUL: I want to make a quick comment, because Newt’s mentioned this quite a few times about balancing the budget for four times. I went back and looked at the record.

The budget was — the national debt during those four years actually went up about a trillion dollars. What he’s talking about is, he doesn’t count the money he takes out of Social Security.

So, Reagan nor you had a truly balanced budget because the national debt goes up, and that’s what we pay the interest on. So I think you’ve stretched that a little bit more than you should have.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Go ahead and respond. And then Senator Santorum.

GINGRICH: No, I…

BLITZER: You want to respond to Congressman Paul?

GINGRICH: No, I would just say — I would just say, under the system that was used, we were $405 billion (inaudible)…

(BOOING)

I agree with Ron — but let me finish. I actually agree with you, and I propose that we take Social Security off budget so no president can ever again get threaten, as Obama did in August, that he would not send the check out, and you could set Social Security back up as a free-standing trust fund. It does have enough money and you could in fact pay the checks without regard to politics in Washington.

BLITZER: Go ahead, quickly.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Well, look, we just listened to the president of the United States the other night completely ignore the biggest problem facing this country when it comes to our financial health. We’ve been downgraded as a — as a — as a country and the president of the United States completely ignored any of the heavy work, the hard work in being honest with the American public about what we have to do to get our fiscal house in order.

And I think that’s the point I would make here. Going around and promising a whole bunch of new ideas and new projects and big ideas — that was fine. And maybe we need it; we can do that. I supported the doubling of the National Institutes of Health. But we didn’t have a $1.2 trillion deficit. We didn’t — we weren’t at over — we are now going to reach $16 trillion, which is more than our whole GDP. We were not in that situation 20, 15 years ago.

We are in a different world. We need leaders who are going to be honest with the people of this country, of the problems we have, and have bold solutions to make that happen. I’ll do that.

BLITZER: Let’s continue on this subject.

(APPLAUSE)

But let’s take a question from the audience.

Go ahead. Stand up and please introduce yourself.

QUESTION: My name is Lynn Frazier and I live here in Jacksonville. And for the Republican presidential candidates, my question is, I’m currently unemployed and I found myself unemployed for the first time in 10 years and unable to afford health care benefits.

What type of hope can you promise me and others in my position?

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let’s ask Congressman Paul.

PAUL: Well, it’s a tragedy because this is a consequence of the government being involved in medicine since 1965.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have a whole lot, but my dad had a small insurance, but medical care costs weren’t that much. And you should have an opportunity — medical care insurance should be given to you as an individual, so if you’re employed or not employed, you have — you just take care of that and you keep it up. When you lose a job, sometimes you lose your insurance.

But the cost is so high. When you pump money into something, like housing, cost — prices go up. If you pump money into education, the cost of education goes up. When the government gets involved in medicine, you don’t get better care; you get — cost goes up and it distorts the economy and leads to a crisis.

But your medical care should go with you. You should get total deduction on it. It would be so much less expensive. It doesn’t solve every single problem, but you’re — you’re suffering from the consequence of way too much government and the cost going up because government has inflated the cost and we have a government-created recession, and that is a consequence of the business cycle.

BLITZER: Speaker — Speaker Gingrich, what should Lynn do?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Well, look, the first — she actually put her finger on two different problems. The largest challenge of this country is to get the economy growing so she can have a job so it’s easy for her to have insurance.

We — we need — and the president did nothing about this the other night. In fact, his proposal on taxes would make the economy worse.

We need to have a program which would start with, frankly, repealing Obamacare, repealing Dodd-Frank, repealing Sarbanes-Oxley.

(APPLAUSE)

And we need to give her a chance at a job.

Second, we need real health reform, not the Obama style, but we need health reform that allows her to buy in. And Dr. Paul is right. She ought to get the same tax break whether she buys personally or whether she buys through a economy.

She should also be able to buy into an association so that she’s buying with lots of other people so it’s not single insurance, which is the most expensive kind.

But you combine those two, reforming the insurance system and getting the economy growing again so people are back at work, you cure an awful lot of America’s problems with those two steps, and you put her back in a position where she’s in charge of her life; she’s not dependent on Barack Obama to take care of her.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: That plan work for you, Governor? ROMNEY: Actually, what both these gentlemen said is pretty much spot-on. And I’d — and I’ll add a couple of things.

One, I want to underscore something both of them said, and that is, right now in America, if you have insurance, you most likely got it through your employer. And the reason is, your employer gets a deduction for you when they buy the insurance for you.

That means that, if you change jobs, you’ve got to get a new insurance company, most likely. And if you become unemployed, you lose your insurance.

That doesn’t make sense. And if an individual wants to own their own insurance, they’re not part of a big group, and so as a result they get a very high rate.

What we should do is allow individuals to own their own insurance and have the same tax treatment as companies get. You do that and people like this young woman would be able to own her insurance. The rates would be substantial lower for her buying it individually than if she had to buy it individually today.

Secondly, getting people to work. This president has failed the American people.

He got up there and gave a speech last night. It was like Groundhog Day all over again. He said the same things and the same results we’re seeing today. People are not working.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And we know what it takes to put people back to work. He said some of those things last night — lowering corporate taxes, lowering regulations, opening up all of the above in energy, cracking down on China. He just doesn’t do any of those things, and if I’m president, I will do those things and I’ll get you back to work.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: All three of these folks sound great and I agree with them. I would just add that health savings account, which I introduced 20 years ago with John Kasich, is really the fundamental reform of getting consumers back involved in the health care system.

The problem with the answers from Congressman Gingrich and Governor Romney is that, well, they didn’t always say what they’re saying. Governor Romney was the author of Romneycare, which is a top- down government-run health care system which, read an article today, has 15 different items directly in common with Obamacare, everything from the increase in the Medicaid program, not just that government is going to mandate you buy something that’s a condition of breathing, mandate that you buy an insurance policy, something that Governor Romney agreed to at the state level, something Congressman Gingrich for 20 years advocated, that the federal government can force each and every person to enter into a private contract. Something that everyone now, at least up on this stage, says is radically unconstitutional, Congressman Gingrich supported for 20 years.

Governor Romney supported it in the state, a state that is a — pretty much a model for what Obamacare is going to look like — the highest health care costs in the country, 27 percent above the average, average waiting time — 94 percent of the people in Massachusetts are now insured, but there was just a survey that came out and said one in four don’t get the care they need because of the high cost. So, you have a card, you’re covered, but you can’t get care.

This is the top-down model that both of these gentlemen say they’re now against, but they’ve been for, and it does not provide the contrast we need with Barack Obama if we’re going to take on that most important issue. We cannot give the issue of health care away in this election. It is too foundational for us to win this election.

BLITZER: A quick rebuttal from Speaker Gingrich and then Governor Romney.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Well, in my case, I think Rick is lumping us together rather more than is accurate.

If you go to healthtransformation.net, I founded the Center for Health Transformation. I wrote a book in 2002 called “Saving Lives and Saving Money.” It calls for you and your doctor and your pharmacist and your hospital have a relationship. I believe in something like patient power.

I didn’t advocate federal mandates. I talked about it at a state level, finding a way — which included an escape clause that people didn’t have to buy it — finding a way to try to have people have insurance, particularly for wealthy people who are simply free-riding on local hospitals. But the fact is, it was a personal system, dramatically different than either Romneycare or the version Rick just discussed.

BLITZER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: The system that we put in place in our state was something we worked out with the labor community, the health care community, business, and the citizens of the nation. We came together, it was voted by a 200-person legislature. Only two voted no.

Our system has a lot of flaws, a lot of things I’d do differently. It has a lot of benefits. The people of the state like it by about three to one.

We consider it very different than Obamacare. If I were president, day one I will take action to repeal Obamacare. It’s bad medicine. It’s bad economy. I’ll repeal it.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And I believe the people — I believe the people of each state should be able to craft programs that they feel are best for their people. I think ours is working pretty well. If I were governor, it would work a heck of a lot better.

BLITZER: All right.

And very quickly, go ahead.

SANTORUM: What Governor Romney just said is that government-run top-down medicine is working pretty well in Massachusetts and he supports it. Now, think about what that means —

ROMNEY: That’s not what I said.

SANTORUM: — going up against Barack Obama, who you are going to claim, well, top-down government-run medicine on the federal level doesn’t work and we should repeal it. And he’s going to say, wait a minute, Governor. You just said that top-down government-run medicine in Massachusetts works well.

Folks, we can’t give this issue away in this election. It is about fundamental freedom. Whether the United States government or even a state government — you have Amendment 1 (ph) here offered by Scott Pleitgen (ph), who, by the way, endorsed me today, and it’s going to be on your ballot as to whether there should be a government mandate here in Florida.

According to Governor Romney, that’s OK. If the state does it, that’s OK. If the state wants to enforce it, that’s OK. Those are not the clear contrasts we need if we’re going to defeat Barack Obama and a —

BLITZER: Let’s go to Miami.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Very quickly.

ROMNEY: Rick, I make enough mistakes in what I say, not for you to add more mistakes to what I say. I didn’t say I’m in favor of top- down government-run health care, 92 percent of the people in my state had insurance before our plan went in place. And nothing changes for them. They own the same private insurance they had before.

And for the 8 percent of people who didn’t have insurance, we said to them, if you can afford insurance, buy it yourself, any one of the plans out there, you can choose any plan. There’s no government plan.

And if you don’t want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill, because under federal law if someone doesn’t have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. So we said, no more, no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility.

Either get the insurance or help pay for your care. And that was the conclusion that we reached.

SANTORUM: Does everybody in Massachusetts have a requirement to buy health care?

ROMNEY: Everyone has a requirement to either buy it or pay the state for the cost of providing them free care. Because the idea of people getting something for free when they could afford to care for themselves is something that we decided in our state was not a good idea.

SANTORUM: So, in Massachusetts…

(APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: Just so I understand this, in Massachusetts, everybody is mandated as a condition of breathing in Massachusetts, to buy health insurance, and if you don’t, and if you don’t, you have to pay a fine.

What has happened in Massachusetts is that people are now paying the fine because health insurance is so expensive. And you have a pre-existing condition clause in yours, just like Barack Obama.

So what is happening in Massachusetts, the people that Governor Romney said he wanted to go after, the people that were free-riding, free ridership has gone up five-fold in Massachusetts. Five times the rate it was before. Why? Because…

ROMNEY: That’s total, complete…

SANTORUM: I’ll be happy to give you the study. Five times the rate it has gone up. Why? Because people are ready to pay a cheaper fine and then be able to sign up to insurance, which are now guaranteed under “Romney-care,” than pay high cost insurance, which is what has happened as a result of “Romney-care.”

ROMNEY: First of all, it’s not worth getting angry about. Secondly, the…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Secondly, 98 percent of the people have insurance. And so the idea that more people are free-riding the system is simply impossible. Half of those people got insurance on their own. Others got help in buying the insurance.

Look, I know you don’t like the plan that we had. I don’t like the Obama plan. His plan cuts Medicare by $500 billion. We didn’t, of course, touch anything like that. He raises taxes by $500 billion. We didn’t do that.

He wasn’t interested in the 8 percent of the people that were uninsured. He was concerned about the 100 percent of the people of the country. “Obama-care” takes over health care for the American people.

If I’m president of the United States, I will stop it. And in debating Barack Obama, I will be able to show that I have passion and concern for the people in this country that need health care, like this young woman who asked the question.

But I will be able to point out that what he did was wrong. It was bad medicine, it’s bad for the economy, and I will repeal it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let’s move on, let’s move on.

SANTORUM: Wolf, what Governor Romney said is just factually incorrect. Your mandate is no different than Barack Obama’s mandate. It is the same mandate. He takes over…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. All right.

SANTORUM: You take over 100 percent, just like he takes over 100 percent, requires the mandate. The same fines that you put in place in Massachusetts are fines that he puts in place in the federal level. Same programs.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, who is right?

PAUL: I think they’re all wrong.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: I think this — this is a typical result of when you get government involved, because all you are arguing about is which form of government you want. They have way too much confidence in government sorting this out.

So, I would say there’s a much better way. And that is allow the people to make their decisions and not get the government involved. You know, it has only been…

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: When I started medicine, there was no Medicare or Medicaid. And nobody was out in the streets without it. Now, now people are suffering, all the complaints going on. So the government isn’t our solution.

So, I’m not too happy with this type of debate, trying to blame one versus the other, so, but — most likely we’re going to continue to have this problem unless we straighten out the economy. And that means…

BLITZER: I’ll give you 30 seconds, Mr. Speaker. PAUL: … cut the spending. And they talk about these new programs and all, but how many of the other candidates are willing to cut anything? I’m willing to cut $1 trillion out of the first year.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right.

GINGRICH: Well, I just want to say that I actually think if you look at what Ron Paul’s background is as a doctor, and you look at medicine in the early ’60s, and you look at how communities solved problems, it was a fundamentally more flexible and less expensive system.

And there’s a lot to be said for rethinking from the ground up, the entire approach to health care.

BLITZER: Let’s go to Miami. We have another question.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: CNN Espanol’s Juan Carlos Lopez is standing by. Go ahead?

LOPEZ: Yes, Wolf, our question now comes from Jennifer Coryn (ph) she is a — the Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network, our cosponsor and she is the spouse of a Marine Corps Gunnery Sargent and I believe, Jennifer, your question has to do with the future?

QUESTION: Yes. Thank you very much and good evening. We have many qualified, Hispanic leaders. Which of our Hispanic leaders would you consider to serve in your cabinet?

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM:: Well, I mean I hate to throw one to Florida, but obviously your Senator Marco Rubio is a pretty impressive guy.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: I think that there are a number, and I think for example of — of when you think cabinet, I think for example of Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico. You know, at the cabinet level I think of somebody like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. I actually thought about Marco Rubio on a slightly more dignified and central role, then being in the cabinet, but that’s another conversation.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor?

ROMNEY: We — we are blessed — we’re blessed to have an enormous number of highly qualified Hispanic-Americans in the Republican Party and leadership right now. Brian Sandoval, the governor of — of Nevada. You mentioned Susana Martinez in New Mexico. I — both of the Diaz-Belart brothers, one retired from Congress, the other currently there. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mel Martinez is back in the private sector. Who knows, he could be pulled back. Of course, Senator Marco Rubio a — a terrific Hispanic- American. I — I’m sure I’m missing many, many others, but we have a — a remarkable — Carlos Gutierrez, formerly secretary of Commerce.

These individuals can for membership in our — in our cabinet, I believe. And — and potentially as the — as the speaker indicates, other positions as well.

PAUL: I — I — I don’t have one particular name that I’m going to bring up, but my litmus test would be to get individuals, Hispanic or otherwise to understand monetary policy and understand the system. But also the Hispanic community is especially attuned to the foreign policy of non-intervention. They — they are more opposed to war than other communities, so I would think there’s plenty in the Hispanic community that could give me good advice and an understanding of why a non-intervention foreign policy is very attractive to the Hispanic people.

BLITZER: All right, gentleman stand by. Much more to discuss. I want to take a short break. We have many more topics to include — including this, we’ll get into this a little bit, what would your wife — why would your wife make the best first lady. I’ll ask these four candidates. Stay with us.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: I’m Wolf Blitzer.

We’re here in Jacksonville for CNN’s Florida Republican presidential debate. Many of you are watching online, commenting on Twitter, Facebook, at CNN.com. We have many more questions for the candidates, including one that hits close to home.

Stand by to find out why each man on this stage thinks his wife would be the best first lady.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Want to get right back to the rest of the debate, but first, on a lighter subject, I want to ask each of these gentlemen why they think their wife would make a great first lady.

Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Well, she’s been my wife for 54 years. And we’re going to have an anniversary on February 1st.

BLITZER: Congratulations.

PAUL: So — but she’s the mother of five of our children, and she’s a grandmother of 18 grandchildren, does an excellent job. And she’s also the author of a very famous cookbook, “The Ron Paul Cookbook.”

BLITZER: Governor?

ROMNEY: I’ve got to take a little bit more time, a little more seriousness.

My — nothing wrong with what you said — I’m sorry.

My wife is also a mom, as I pointed out early on, but in some respects, she is a real champion and a fighter. She was diagnosed in 1998 with Multiple Sclerosis, and more recently with breast cancer. She has battled both successfully. And as first lady, she will be able to reach out to people who are also struggling and suffering and will be someone who shows compassion and care.

And she’s also had a passion all of her adult life on helping people in troubled situations, young women in particular, understand the importance of getting married before they have babies and encouraging people to create families to raise kids in.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Let me say, first of all, having gotten to know them, I think all three of the wives represented here would be terrific first ladies. Callista and I have gotten to know all three of them, and we think they’d be fabulous people. So I would rather just to talk about why I like Callista, and why I’d like her to be first lady, but she’s not necessarily in any way better. These are wonderful people, and they would be wonderful first ladies.

But Callista brings a couple of things. One is a tremendous artistic focus. She’s done a video in music education, why it really matters. She’s a pianist by background, plays the French horn in a community band, sings in the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. She really cares about the arts and would bring a really strong feeling for music education and for art, and why it matters to people as part of their education.

She’s also very patriotic about American exceptionalism. She’s had a best-selling “New York Times” book, children’s book, and has really reached out to young people to get them to understand America.

And she’s helped produce and host seven movies now, so she would bring an entire, I think, artistic flavor.

But — and I, obviously, would be thrilled to be able to hang out with her at the White House. So it would be good.

BLITZER: And I suspect you would be.

Unfortunately, Senator Santorum, your wife is not here tonight.

SANTORUM: Yeah, she’s not. She’s — she’s doing what she does incredibly well, which is to be a mother to our seven children. And she is — she’s my hero. She’s someone who has been, you know, well- educated. She was a neo-natal intensive care nurse for nine years at one of the most advanced nurseries in the — in the country.

She went on to, because she saw all these ethical challenges there, so she went on and got a law degree so she could — she could deal with those in the — in the legal world.

And then when she got married, she gave that up; she walked away and walked into something that she felt called to do, which was to be a mom and to be a wife.

And we’ve — we’ve had eight children. We are blessed to be raising seven. We’ve been through a lot together, losing a child, having a child with a disability that we have now, our little Bella.

And the — the amount of love for these special kids is just palpable in her.

She wrote a book about our son that we lost called “Letters to Gabriel,” about that ordeal that we went through. That book, that little book has saved countless — I don’t — we know of at least hundreds of lives that were saved because people read that book and realized that the child they we’re carrying had the dignity to be love and nurtured irrespective of what malady may have — may have befallen that baby in the womb. And so many children were born and are alive today because of that book.

She’s also written a book on manners. That’s something that I — I — we have seven children, so we know that kids are not born good. And…

(LAUGHTER)

… and so manners is very important in our house. And she wrote a storybook because there were all sorts of how-to books on manners but there was no storybook, teaching manners through, well, how Christ taught us, through stories. And — and that’s what she did. And that book has hopefully somewhat civilized some children around this country.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Very nice.

All right, let’s get back to the debate — the debate now.

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Romney, you criticized Speaker Gingrich for not being as close to Ronald Reagan as he says he was. When you ran for the Senate, you said you were, quote, “You weren’t trying to return to Reagan-Bush.”

So the question is, do you think you can claim the Reagan mantle more than Speaker Gingrich? ROMNEY: Oh, of course not. No, I — I was — at the time Ronald Reagan was — was president, I was just getting started. I went through school, came out of school, got my first job, worked my way up in a consulting company, and then, after awhile, started a business of my own. I was looking at politics from afar and learning as time went on.

I didn’t get involved in politics early in my life. I instead spent my time building a business. And then later, as my business had been successful and we’d been involved in some turnaround situations, some businesses in trouble that we were able to help — not all worked out as we’d hoped, but a number did — I got asked to go off and help get the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 on track and put aside my business and went — went to Utah. And it was perhaps the greatest professional experience of my life, going there and spending three years helping getting those games on track.

I — I happen to believe the Olympics is one of the great showcases of the — of the human spirit that exists in the media world. And it was very successful. And then — and then, after that, I was asked by some friends to come back and run for governor, did that. And that’s when I became terribly politically involved.

And in that involvement, I learned a lot of lessons. Being governor taught me a lot of things. I became more conservative, by the way, as I was governor, and found the importance of lowering taxes, making it easier for businesses to grow, the importance of driving schools to be the best in the country. Those are the things I did.

And so I’m not suggesting — the speaker was a congressman at the time Ronald Reagan was president, so he — he, of course, was closer to the Ronald Reagan era than I.

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker, you’ve heard the criticism lately that you weren’t necessarily as close to the president as you suggest?

GINGRICH: Well, it’s increasingly interesting to watch the Romney attack machine coordinate things. And all of a sudden, today, there are like four different articles by four different people that randomly show up.

The fact is, I’m thrilled that Michael Reagan has endorsed me and will be campaigning with me here in Florida. I remember very fondly, in 1995, when we were at the Goldwater Institute and Nancy Reagan said, you know, “Barry gave Ronnie the torch, and now Ronny’s passing the torch to Newt and his team in Congress. So I think it’s reasonable to say, and I think the governor said it fairly, I am vastly closer to Reagan. In that period the governor was an independent business person. In ’92 he was donating to the Democrats for Congress and voted for Paul Tsongas in the Democratic primary. In ’94 running against Teddy Kennedy, he said flatly, I don’t want to go back to the Reagan-Bush era, I was an independent.

So there’s a pretty wide gap. Now, he’s more mature. He’s more conservative, I accept that. I think it’s a good thing. But those of us who were in the trenches fighting in the ’80’s, it would be nice to be recognized for what we actually did and not to have orchestrated attacks to try to distort the history of that period.

BLITZER: Governor Romney, you can respond please.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Just a — just a short clarification. I — I’ve never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot. And — and in my state of Massachusetts, you could register as an independent and go vote in which — either primary happens to be very interesting. And any chance I got to vote against Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy, I took. And so I — I’m…

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: …I have voted — I have always voted for a Republican any time there was a Republican on the ballot. With regards to the Speaker’s involvement in the Reagan years, he can speak for himself. The Reagan Diaries and the other histories that were written at that time can lay that out as well. I — I — I think, I think what he said speaks for itself and I’m proud of the things I was able to accomplish.

BLITZER: Let’s take another question from the audience. Go ahead. Please stand up and give us your name?

QUESTION: Hi, my name is George Miatus (ph), I live here in Jacksonville and when I was 3-years-old I was very blessed that my parents brought me here from Cuba. They brought me here so that I could be raised in freedom and in liberty. President Obama has recently announced that he is liberalizing trade and travel policies. What would be your position as president toward the island of Cuba?

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: I would oppose it. I’ve been 100 percent in support of the Cuban people and their right to have a free Cuba and the United States should stand on the side of the Cuban people against these despots who are not just reigning terror, continuing reign of terror in Cuba. But now have their — their — their puppet, Chavez in — in Venezuela and Noriega and Morales and it keeps — it keeps like a cancer growing. So the idea that a president of the United States would take the heart of the cancer that is in Central and South America, and begin to reward behavior that has spread this cancer because of our dilly-dallying and our inattentiveness to the problems in Central and South America.

Now, we’re going to reward the secret police. We’re going to (inaudible) president of Venezuela as they are in Cuba. We’re going to reward this type of thuggery, this type of Marxism in our region. We’re going to reward a country that is now working with these other countries to harbor and bring in Iran and the terrorist — the Jihadist’s who want to set up missile sites and to set up training camps. And so we’re going to reward this behavior by opening up and liberalizing. This is the exact wrong message at the exact wrong time.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: …you said the U.S. should talk to everyone. Imagine you’re in the Oval Office, you speak to Raul Castro. What would you say to him?

PAUL: Well, I’d ask him what he called about, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: What was the purpose of his call? No, I would ask him what can — what can we do to improve relations? Because I wouldn’t see them as likely to attack us. When I was drafted in October of ’62, that was a different world. I mean there were nuclear weapons in Cuba. That was a different story. But — but today to — not to talk to them and take the call and see what you can work out, helps — helps Castro. It hurts the people, the dissidents, the people who want to overthrow him have always had to be, you know, nationalistic and unified behind the leader.

So as well intended as these sanctions are, they almost inevitably backfire and they help the dictators and hurt the people.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: So it’s time to change. The Cold — the Cold War — the Cold War is over. They’re not going to invade us and I just think that a better relationship and trade relationship, so many people — I think — I’ve noticed already since I’ve been talking about this issue the last four of five years, I think the people have changed their mind. It’s very — the American people are getting much more open. Not nearly as frightened. And people — I don’t think they see a Jihadist under the bed every night…

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: …and we have to worry about that. I think there’s — I — I worry about overreaction, over concern and lack of ability to talk to them when they call you.

BLITZER: I want both of you to weigh in, Governor Romney first?

ROMNEY: Two — two major flaws with President Obama’s foreign policy.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Well what about Ron Paul’s policy?

ROMNEY: Well, I’m talking about President Obama right now. We can get back to Ron Paul in a moment.

(APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: First of all, I think the president has largely ignored Latin America, Cuba in particular, Venezuela, and other nations. I think we have to change that dramatically.

I think we have to have economic initiatives to build trade throughout Latin America, particularly with Colombia and Panama, now part of free trade agreements. I want more of that throughout Latin America. But that’s the first flaw, ignoring Latin America.

And number two is reaching out with accommodations to some of the world’s worst actors, whether it was Putin in Russia, giving him what he wanted, or Castro, saying we’re going to let you have remittances coming from the U.S. to fund your future, or relaxed trade restrictions. Throughout the world, with Ahmadinejad opening an open hand, tyrants look for weakness to take advantage. That’s the wrong course.

The right course for Cuba is to continue to honor Helms-Burton. And if I’m president of the United States, I will use every resource we have, short of invasion and military action, Congressman Paul. I’ll use every resource we can to make sure that when Fidel Castro finally leaves this planet, that we are able to help the people of Cuba enjoy freedom.

They want it. It’s a God-given right. And it is our responsibility to help share the gift of freedom with people throughout the world that are seeking it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Are you open — Mr. Speaker, are you open to improving relations with Cuba?

GINGRICH: Well, let me start with where the governor correctly pointed out. I was very proud as Speaker to be able to make sure that the Helms-Burton Act passed, and I’m delighted that Congressman Dan Burton is here tonight and is campaigning with me, because it was a very important step towards isolating the Castro regime.

I think it’s amazing that Barack Obama is worried about an Arab Spring, he’s worried about Tunisia, he’s worried about Libya, he’s worried about Egypt, he’s worried about Syria, and he cannot bring himself to look south and imagine a Cuban Spring. And I would argue that we should have, as a stated explicit policy, that we want to facilitate the transition from the dictatorship to freedom. We want to bring together every non-military asset we have, exactly as President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher and Pope John Paul II did in Poland and in Eastern Europe.

They broke up the Soviet empire without a general war by using a wide range of things, one of which is just psychological, saying to the next generation of people in Cuba, the dictatorship is not going to survive. You need to bet to moving to freedom in order to have prosperity in Cuba, and we will help you get to that freedom.

(APPLAUSE) BLITZER: Let’s take another question from the audience.

Please give us your name and tell us where you are from.

(UNKNOWN): Abraham Hassel (ph) from Jacksonville, Florida.

How would a Republican administration help bring peace to Palestine and Israel when most candidates barely recognize the existence of Palestine or its people? As a Palestinian-American Republican, I’m here to tell you we do exist.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s ask Governor Romney, first of all.

What would you say to Abraham?

ROMNEY: Well, the reason that there’s not peace between the Palestinians and Israel is because there is — in the leadership of the Palestinian people are Hamas and others who think like Hamas, who have as their intent the elimination of Israel. And whether it’s in school books that teach how to kill Jews, or whether it’s in the political discourse that is spoken either from Fatah or from Hamas, there is a belief that the Jewish people do not have a right to have a Jewish state.

There are some people who say, should we have a two-state solution? And the Israelis would be happy to have a two-state solution. It’s the Palestinians who don’t want a two-state solution. They want to eliminate the state of Israel.

And I believe America must say — and the best way to have peace in the Middle East is not for us to vacillate and to appease, but is to say, we stand with our friend Israel. We are committed to a Jewish state in Israel. We will not have an inch of difference between ourselves and our ally, Israel.

This president went before the United Nations and castigated Israel for building settlements. He said nothing about thousands of rockets being rained in on Israel from the Gaza Strip. This president threw —

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I think he threw Israel under the bus with regards to defining the ’67 borders as a starting point of negotiations. I think he disrespected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

I think he has time and time again shown distance from Israel, and that has created, in my view, a greater sense of aggression on the part of the Palestinians. I will stand with our friend, Israel.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, you got into a little hot water when you said the Palestinians were an invented people. GINGRICH: It was technically an invention of the late 1970s, and it was clearly so. Prior to that, they were Arabs. Many of them were either Syrian, Lebanese, or Egyptian, or Jordanian.

There are a couple of simple things here. There were 11 rockets fired into Israel in November. Now, imagine in Duvall County that 11 rockets hit from your neighbor. How many of you would be for a peace process and how many of you would say, you know, that looks like an act of war.

You have leadership unequivocally, and Governor Romney is exactly right, the leadership of Hamas says, not a single Jew will remain. We aren’t having a peace negotiation then. This is war by another form.

My goal for the Palestinian people would be to live in peace, to live in prosperity, to have the dignity of a state, to have freedom. and they can achieve it any morning they are prepared to say Israel has a right to exist, we give up the right to return, and we recognize that we’re going to live side-by-side, now let’s work together to create mutual prosperity.

And you could in five years dramatically improve the quality of life of every Palestinian. But the political leadership would never tolerate that. And that’s why we’re in a continuous state of war where Obama undermines the Israelis.

On the first day that I’m president, if I do become president, I will sign an executive order directing the State Department to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to send the signal we’re with Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let’s go to Miami. Let’s take another question from Miami. Juan Carlos, go ahead?

LOPEZ: Thank you, Wolf. I’m joined now by Elizabeth Cuevas- Neunder. She is the CEO and founder of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in Florida. She is based out of Tampa.

And I’m pretty sure, Elizabeth, your question has to do with the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.

ELIZABETH CUEVAS-NEUNDER, FOUNDER/CEO, PUERTO RICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN FLORIDA: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH). Good evening. (SPEAKING IN SPANISH). I am bilingual, proud of it. My question to the candidates, we have 4 million Puerto Ricans in the United States, voters, 3.8 in Puerto Rico.

We have been treated as second class citizen and just now our governor’s name was not mentioned as a V.P. possibility, a great governor. My question to you is, where do you stand for Puerto Rico to become a state? And secondly, how do you — where do you stand on domestic trade between Florida and Puerto Rico, between Tampa Bay and Ponce ports which have been neglected? Thank you. BLITZER: All right. Senator Santorum, let’s throw that question to you. The question about, do you support Puerto Rico potentially as the 51st state?

SANTORUM: Well, first, I will give a shout-out to Governor Luis Fortuno, who is a good friend of mine, and someone — I know him and his family, we have known each other for many years, we actually used to go to church together.

And so I spoke to Luis this week. And I’ve been to Puerto Rico many times. And actually, when I was a United States senator, we did a lot of work with Puerto Rico. Because of my relationship with many friends down there, I was made aware of problems, for example, in the Medicaid program.

We went down and we actually passed things to help with reimbursement rates, which were deplorably low in Puerto Rico. We also worked on hurricane relief and a whole lost of other things as a result of my relationship with many Puerto Ricans in Pennsylvania, and developed those relationships on the island.

I believe that — I believe in self-determination. That, you know, the Puerto Rican people should have the opportunity to be able to be able to speak on this. I have supported that. I don’t take a position one way or the other on statehood, commonwealth, independence, that’s for the people of Puerto Rico to decide.

But I also supported a lot of things to help the Puerto Rican economy. Puerto Ricans are United States citizens, and the poverty, the unemployment rates simply are — are simply not something that we as Americans should allow to occur in our country.

And we need to make sure that there are pro-growth, supply side economics to make sure that Puerto Rico can be successful as an economy on that island, and I believe they can. And under my administration, that’s something that I would work towards.

BLITZER: I’ll take that as a maybe. Statehood, not statehood.

SANTORUM: No, I take no position on that. That’s — I would — I’ve supported, you know, the opportunity for them to make that decision.

BLITZER: Let’s take another question from the audience here. Go ahead, please. What is your name?

SUZANNE BASS, JACKSONVILLE RESIDENT: Suzanne Bass, I’m an attorney in Jacksonville. Welcome to the great city of Jacksonville.

My question, how would your religious beliefs, if you’re elected, impact the decisions that you make in the office of the presidency?

BLITZER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Well, my religious beliefs wouldn’t affect it. My religious beliefs affect my character in the way I treat people and the way I live. The only thing it would affect…

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: The only thing that would affect me in the way I operate as a president or a congressman is my oath of office and my promises that I’ve made to the people.

BLITZER: Governor?

ROMNEY: Ron Paul makes very good point. I concur with that. I would also seek the guidance of — of providence in making critical decisions.

And of course, ours is a nation which is based upon Judeo- Christian values and ethics. Our law is based upon those values and ethics. And in some cases, our law doesn’t encompass — encompass all of the issues that we face around the world.

The conviction that the founders, when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, were writing a document that was not just temporary and not just for one small locale but really something which described the relationship between God and man — that’s something which I think a president would carry in his heart.

So when they said, for instance, that the creator had “endowed us with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” I would seek to assure that those principles and values remain in America and that we help share them with other people in the world, not by conquering them, but by helping them through our trade, through our various forms of soft power, to help bring people the joy and — and — and opportunity that exists in this great land.

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I would say that there are three ways in which religion would affect me.

The first is, I agree with Governor Romney. I think anyone who is president is faced with decisions so enormous that they should go to God. They should seek guidance. Because these are decisions beyond the ability of mere mortals to truly decide without some sense of what it is we should be doing.

I would say, second, that we have a real obligation to recognize that, if you’re truly faithful, it’s not just an hour on Sundays or Saturdays or Fridays. It’s in fact something that should suffuse your life, to be a part of who you are. And in that sense, it is inextricably tied in with how you behave.

But I would say, third, one of the reasons I am running is there has been an increasingly aggressive war against religion and in particular against Christianity in this country, largely by…

(APPLAUSE)

… largely by a secular elite and the academic news media and judicial areas. And I frankly believe it’s important to have some leadership that stands up and says, enough; we are truly guaranteed the right of religious freedom, not religious suppression by the state.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator?

SANTORUM: Faith is a very, very important part of my life, but it’s a very, very important part of this country. The foundational documents of our country — everybody talks about the Constitution, very, very important. But the Constitution is the “how” of America. It’s the operator’s manual.

The “why” of America, who we are as a people, is in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”

The Constitution is there to do one thing: protect God-given rights. That’s what makes America different than every other country in the world. No other country in the world has its rights — rights based in God-given rights, not government-given rights.

And so when you say, well, faith has nothing to do with it, faith has everything to do with it. If rights come…

(APPLAUSE)

If our president believes that rights come to us from the state, everything government gives you, it can take away. The role of the government is to protect rights that cannot be taken away.

And so the answer to that question is, I believe in faith and reason and approaching the problems of this country but understand where those rights come from, who we are as Americans and the foundational principles by which we have changed the world.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

We have one more break to take, but we have a lot more to discuss. Don’t go too far away. Coming up, the final debate question before Florida votes.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. We’re in the last few minutes of the last question to these four presidential candidates before the Florida primary on Tuesday in this debate format. Here is the question, and it involves the president of the United States. I want you to tell voters who are watching or are here on this campus right now why you are the one person on this stage that is most likely to beat Barack Obama.

Congressman?

PAUL: Well, you know, so far, we have some pretty good evidence that I’ll do quite well and have a better chance than the rest to beat him, because if you do a national poll, I do very, very well against Obama. But one of the reasons is, is that the freedom message in the Constitution is very appealing to everybody in all political beliefs because it includes free markets, which conservatives endorse, but it also protects civil liberties, the way people run their lives.

If it is a God-given life, and it’s your life, you should have the right to run your life as you so choose as long as you don’t harm other people. This means a lot more tolerance that some would like to give. So that brings people in who are concerned about civil liberties, and all of a sudden, my position undermines Obama completely and totally because the foreign policy is different.

He promises to end the wars, but the wars expand. A constitutional foreign policy will end the wars. And if you want somebody to talk about peace and prosperity, it has to be somebody who understands money and a foreign policy and free markets.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Romney, why are you the one person on this stage most likely to beat President Obama?

ROMNEY: The people of America recognize that this is a critical time. This is not just an average election.

This is a time where we’re going to decide whether America will remain the great hope of the 21st century, whether this will be an American century, or, instead, whether we’ll continue to go down a path to become more and more like Europe, a social welfare state. That’s where we’re headed.

Our economy is becoming weaker. The foundation of our future economy is being eroded. Government has become too large. We’re headed in a very dangerous direction.

I believe to get America back on track, we’re going to have to have dramatic, fundamental, extraordinary change in Washington to be able to allow our private sector to once again reemerge competitively, to scale back the size of government and to maintain our strength abroad in our military capacities.

I believe that, to change Washington in such a dramatic way, you cannot do it by people who have been there their entire careers.

I believe, if you just elect the same people to change chairs in Washington, not much happen. I think, if you want to change Washington, you’re going to have to bring someone in who has been on the outside.

I have lived in the private sector. I know how it works. I’ve competed with businesses around the world. I know how to win.

I know what it takes to keep America strong. I know how to work in government. I’ve had experience for — four years, rather, working as the governor of Massachusetts.

I will use the experience of my life to get America right. And I will be able to convince the American people that someone with my experience is very different than Barack Obama. And that experience is how I’ll beat him.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker…

(APPLAUSE)

… why are you the one person on this stage most likely to beat President Obama?

GINGRICH: You know, I have participated in the two largest Republican sweeps in modern time, 1980, in the Reagan campaign, and 1994, with the Contract with America, which had the largest one-party increase in American history, 9 million extra votes.

I believe that what we need this fall is a big-choice election that goes to the heart of who we are. I’m running more than anything for my two grandchildren, Maggie and Robert. I’d like them to be able to look back 50 years from now and say that what we did, what we the American people did, the choice we made in 2012 to unleash the American people, to rebuild our country based on the core values, to pose for the American people a simple choice: Do you want freedom and independence and a paycheck and a job, or do you want dependence and big government and food stamps and a lack of future?

And I believe, if we have a big election with truly historic big choices, that we can defeat Barack Obama by a huge margin. But it won’t be by running just as a Republican. It will be an American campaign open to every American who prefers a paycheck to food stamps, who prefers the Declaration of Independence to Saul Alinsky and who prefers a strong national security to trying to appease our enemies.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator?

(APPLAUSE)

I’ll repeat the question for you. Why do you think you’re the best, most qualified person on this stage to beat President Obama?

SANTORUM: I agree with the previous two speakers that this is a big election. This is an election about fundamental freedom. It’s about who America is going to be. Are we a country that’s going to be built great from the bottom up, as our founders intended, or from the top down?

I just think I’m a lot better than the previous two speakers to be able to make that case to the American people. I’m not for a top- down government-run health care system. I wasn’t for the Wall Street bailouts like these two gentlemen were.

Governor Romney talks about the private sector and how he’s going to bring private sector. When the private sector was in trouble, he voted for government to come in and take over the private sector and be able to — and to bail them out.

Cap-and-trade — both of them bought into the global warming hoax, bought into the cap-and-trade, top-down control of our energy and manufacturing sector.

If you look at President Obama’s speech the other night, what did he lead with? He lead with manufacturing. He led with manufacturing why? Because the base of his party, the ones that are always the ones — not the base — the swing vote in his party, the ones that Ronald Reagan was able to get — we call them Reagan Democrats up in Pennsylvania. Those are the blue-collar working people of America who know that this president has left them behind. He has a plan for them, and it’s more dependency, not work, not opportunity.

So he went out and tried to make a play for manufacturing. That’s been the center point of my campaign. The center point of my campaign is to be able to win the industrial heartland, get those Reagan Democrats back, talking about manufacturing, talking about building that ladder of success all the way down so people can climb all the way up.

That’s why I’m the best person to be able to go out and win the states that are necessary to win this presidency and govern with the mandate that Newt just talked about.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

And thank you to the four presidential candidates.

(APPLAUSE)

I also want to thank our partners in this debate, the Republican Party of Florida, the Hispanic Leadership Network. Thank you very much to them.

(APPLAUSE)

We’d also like to thank our hosts here on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Full Text Campaign Buzz November 22, 2011: CNN GOP National Security Republican Presidential Debate at Constitutional Hall, Washington, DC — Debate Transcript

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

 

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Before the sparring began at the debate in Washington on Tuesday, the Republican presidential primary candidates paused as the national anthem was sung.

Source: CNN, 11-23-11

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Full Transcript of CNN NATIONAL SECURITY DEBATE, 20:00-22:00

Aired November 22, 2011 – 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Live from Washington, DC, for the Republican National Security Debate.

(UNKNOWN): It’s a president’s most important and daunting responsibility, to protect and defend the United States of America. Millions of lives in the hands of one commander-in-chief. It’s what legacies are made of.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A date which will live in infamy.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): For better…

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): — and for worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that is not to do anything that would endanger the lives or safety of the hostages.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): In war…

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just two hours ago, Allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): — and peace. On the day everything changed… (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): — and every day since.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Tonight, from an historic hall in the nation’s capital, the Republican candidates address the global challenges ahead — Mitt Romney, who ran an international business and the Olympic Winter Games.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The people of America deserve a regular briefing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker with a PhD in history.

Herman Cain…

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We would use our military might if we have to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): A business executive who worked for firms with global reach.

Ron Paul, a leading anti-war voice in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: We should only go to the war when the people in this country declare the war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Rick Perry, the governor of the state with the longest stretch of international border.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BACHMANN: Iran is waiting in the wings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Michele Bachmann, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUNTSMAN: Our nation’s future is how well prepared we are to compete.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Jon Huntsman, the former U.S. ambassador to China.

Rick Santorum, who served on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Who has what it takes to be the next commander-in-chief in a world of peril?

The first step toward building a legacy, the Republican National Security Debate begins now.

BLITZER: From Constitution Hall in the nation’s capital, this is the Republican presidential debate.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Every U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge has been inside this historic hall, just steps away from the White House.

Tonight, the eight Republican candidates are here with their ultimate goal in sight.

I’m Wolf Blitzer.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Tonight’s debate is airing on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Espanol and the American Forces Network. We want to thank our co- sponsors, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

Members of these distinguished conservative think tanks, they are here in our audience and some of them will have a chance to question the candidates. They’ll add their knowledge and insights to our discussion, making this unlike any debate so far in this presidential campaign.

Viewers also can take part in our debate by sending us your questions online, on Twitter. Make sure to include the hash tag, cnndebate; on Facebook at Facebook.com/cnnpolitics; and, of course, on CNNPolitics.com.

It’s time now to meet the 2012 Republican presidential contenders.

Joining us onstage, the former U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman.

FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN JR, R-UTAH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

Thank you very much.

Thank you.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTSMAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you, Wolf.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: The former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: The former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Herman Cain.

(APPLAUSE)

The former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney…

(APPLAUSE)

Texas governor, Rick Perry…

(APPLAUSE)

Texas congressman, Ron Paul…

(APPLAUSE)

(inaudible) from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

Now, please rise for our National Anthem. Please rise. The National Anthem performed by Mauricio Perez, from the Tony Award winning musical, “Jersey Boys,” now playing at the National Theater here in Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

(SINGING NATIONAL ANTHEM)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Mauricio Perez, thank you.

Candidates, please take your — to your podiums while I tell you a little bit more about how this debate will work. I’ll be the moderator and as I mentioned, our partners from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute will ask questions as well.

I’ll follow up. I’ll try to guide the discussion. Candidates, I’ll try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions.

You’ll have one minute to answer, 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. And I’ll make sure you get time to respond if — if you’re singled out for criticism.

This year more than ever we’ve seen how events beyond our borders directly affect America, including perhaps the biggest national security issue right now, the economy.

Candidates, tonight Republican voters are here. They are watching around the country to decide if you have what it takes to be the next commander in chief, to shape foreign policy, to protect this great nation.

On some of these issues you will agree. On some you’ll disagree. But by the end of the night, voters should have a better understanding of how you would lead the nation in times of crisis.

Now, let’s have the candidates introduce themselves to our audience, but we’ll keep it very brief. Here’s an example of what I’m looking for.

I’m Wolf Blitzer and yes, that’s my real name. I’ll be your moderator this evening and I’m happy to welcome each one of you to our debate.

Rick Santorum, let’s begin with you.

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I am Rick Santorum. And it’s great to be here and I want to thank AEI and Heritage (inaudible).

… One constitutional responsibility of the federal government and that is national security. And I think we can all agree that if you like what Barack Obama has done to our economy, you’ll love what he’s done to our national security.

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas. I am pleased to be here at the debate because this is a very important debate. I am convinced that needless and unnecessary wars are a great detriment. They undermine our prosperity and our liberties. They add to our deficits and they consume our welfare. We should take a careful look at our foreign policy.

GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, and I want to take a moment and introduce you, the beautiful first lady of the state of Texas, Anita. Thank you for being here with me, 29 years of wedded bliss and 45 years ago we had our first date. So I’m a blessed man in many ways to represent a great state, and we’re here to ask you for your support, your blessings and your vote.

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Mitt Romney and yes, Wolf, that’s also my first name. And…

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: … I’m a husband, a father, a grandfather of 16. I love this country very much. I spent my life in the private sector. And as I’ve watched the direction this president has taken our country, both domestically and internationally, I’m afraid that he’s taking us on a perilous course. I want to keep America strong and free, and if I’m president, I’ll use every ounce of my energy to do just that.

(APPLAUSE)

HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am businessman Herman Cain. I’m delighted to be here to discuss one of the most critical issues we face because, as a result of this administration, our national security has indeed been downgraded.

(APPLAUSE)

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Newt Gingrich. My father spent 27 years in the infantry. And as a result of that, in the fall of 1958, I decided that national survival was worth the study of a lifetime. I’ve worked with both Heritage and the American Enterprise Institute for over 30 years. I can’t imagine any two institutions better to partner with CNN on the most important single topic, the survival of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

BACHMANN: My name is Michele Bachmann. I’m a proud member of the United States Congress. I’m privileged to serve on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. My father honorably served in the United States Air Force, my stepfather in the United States Army and my brother in the United States Navy.

I think for every one of us who are here on this stage tonight, I think we all want to send our very best Happy Thanksgiving greetings to all of our men and women in uniform who are serving us overseas, here in the United States and also to their families. Happy Thanksgiving. We appreciate, we love you and we want to get you home as soon as we can.

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTSMAN: My name is Jon Huntsman. I believe this week, in particular, that there is still much to be grateful for in this, the greatest nation that ever was. I’m here with my wife of 28 years, Mary Kay, who is fortuitously sitting in the New Hampshire box up here. We are the wife — or we are the parents of seven kids, two in the United States Navy.

Twice elected governor of the great state of Utah, I’ve lived overseas four times, three times as a United States ambassador. I am honored and privileged to be here. Wolf, CNN, Heritage, AEI, thank you one and all for making tonight possible.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. And let’s get right to the questions.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Our leadoff question is from the honorable Ed Meese, the former attorney general of the United States, who is representing the Heritage Foundation.

ED MEESE, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: At least 42 terrorist attacks aimed at the United States have been thwarted since 9/11. Tools like the Patriot Act have been instrumental in finding and stopping terrorists.

Shouldn’t we have a long range extension of the investigative powers contained in that act so that our law enforcement officers can have the tools that they need?

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, only this weekend there was an alleged terror plot uncovered in New York City. What do you think?

GINGRICH: Well, I think that Attorney General Meese has raised a key point, and the key distinction for the American people to recognize is the difference between national security requirements and criminal law requirements.

I think it’s desperately important that we preserve your right to be innocent until proven guilty, if it’s a matter of criminal law. But if you’re trying to find somebody who may have a nuclear weapon that they are trying to bring into an American city, I think you want to use every tool that you can possibly use to gather the intelligence.

The Patriot Act has clearly been a key part of that. And I think looking at it carefully and extending it and building an honest understanding that all of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives. This is not going to end in the short run. And we need to be prepared to protect ourselves from those who, if they could, would not just kill us individually, but would take out entire cities.

BLITZER: So, Speaker, just to clarify, you wouldn’t change the Patriot Act?

GINGRICH: No, I would not change it. I’m not aware of any specific change it needs. And I’d look at strengthening it, because I think the dangers are literally that great. And again, I’ve spent years studying this stuff. You start thinking about one nuclear weapon in one American city and the scale of loss of life and you ask yourself, what should the president be capable of doing to stop that?

And you come up with a very different answer. Again, very sharp division. Criminal law, the government should be frankly on defense and you’re innocent until proven guilty. National security, the government should have many more tools in order to save our lives.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, I suspect you disagree.

PAUL: I do.

BLITZER: Tell us why.

PAUL: I think the Patriot Act is unpatriotic because it undermines our liberty. I’m concerned, as everybody is, about the terrorist attack. Timothy McVeigh was a vicious terrorist. He was arrested. Terrorism is still on the books, internationally and nationally, it’s a crime and we should deal with it.

We dealt with it rather well with Timothy McVeigh. But why I really fear it is we have drifted into a condition that we were warned against because our early founders were very clear. They said, don’t be willing to sacrifice liberty for security.

Today it seems too easy that our government and our congresses are so willing to give up our liberties for our security. I have a personal belief that you never have to give up liberty for security. You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: I want to bring others in, but do you want to respond, Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Yes. Timothy McVeigh succeeded. That’s the whole point.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Timothy McVeigh killed a lot of Americans. I don’t want a law that says after we lose a major American city, we’re sure going to come and find you. I want a law that says, you try to take out an American city, we’re going to stop you.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: This is like saying that we need a policeman in every house, a camera in every house because we want to prevent child- beating and wife-beating. You can prevent crimes by becoming a police state. So if you advocate the police state, yes, you can have safety and security and you might prevent a crime, but the crime then will be against the American people and against our freedoms. And we will throw out so much of what our revolution was fought for. So don’t do it so carelessly.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, let me bring you into this conversation. Are you with Congressman Paul or Speaker Gingrich or do you have your own view?

BACHMANN: Well, I’m with the American people, with the Constitution, and with the job of the commander-in-chief as the number one duty of the president of the United States.

We have to realize we’re in a very different war, with very different techniques that are used for that war, and very different bad actors than we’ve had before in the terrorists and their motivations are very different.

We can’t forget that technology is completely different. When we were looking at prior laws, phones were wired in to walls. That’s not how it works any more. Today we deal with wireless functions. And we have to completely change the way that we go about investigating.

This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He has outsourced it to them. Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for terrorists.

When the bomber — or the attempted bomber over Detroit, the underwear bomber was intercepted, he was given Miranda warnings within 45 minutes. He was not an American citizen. We don’t give Miranda warnings to terrorists, and we don’t read them their rights. They don’t have any.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman, where do you stand on the Patriot Act? Do you believe it’s un-American, as Congressman Paul has suggested?

HUNTSMAN: I think we have to be very careful in protecting our individual liberties. We forget sometimes that we have a name brand in this world. And I have seen it shine living overseas. And when our light shines based on the values that we live up to and represent, it moves people, it moves countries, it moves events like nothing else can.

We are a nation of values. And forever, like what we’re trying to do in this debate tonight, we’ll try to find that balancing act between our individual liberties and security. But we also have to remember as we’re talking about security, I see Tom Ridge in the audience here, a great former secretary of Homeland Security. He will tell you, he will tell you that we cannot secure the homeland out of Washington, D.C., itself. We’ve got to make sure that we have partnerships with governors and mayors, that this is a national effort.

No longer can we compartmentalize intelligence. Those are the old days. Today we’ve got to share. We’ve got to make sure that we are prepared as a people, we are prepared not only as a federal government, but we’re prepared as well as a local government in a collaborative and sharing kind of relationship.

BLITZER: I’m going to give everyone a chance to respond, but let me get this one question from CNN Politics, that came to cnnpolitics.com, and then we’ll bring in the rest of you.

This was the question: “TSA pat-downs: violation of civil liberty or a necessity to ensure national security?”

Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Well, we can do a lot better than the TSA system. It’s going to get get better over time. We can use better technology. We can also identify people who are lower risk and allow them to go through the process more quickly than the current process.

But let’s come back to the issue that seems to be so confusing here.

And that is Congressman Paul talked about crime. Newt Gingrich was right. There are different categories here. There’s crime and there are rights that are afforded to American citizens under our Constitution and those that are accused of crime. Then there’s war. And the tool of war being used today in America and around the world is terror. There’s a different body of law that relates to war.

And for those that understand the difference between the two, they recognize that we need tools when war is waged domestically to ensure that, as president of the United States, you can fulfill your first responsibility, which is to protect the life, liberty and property of American citizens and defend them from foes domestic and foreign.

And that means, yes, we’ll use the Constitution and criminal law for those people who commit crimes, but those who commit war and attack the United States and pursue treason of various kinds, we will use instead a very different form of law, which is the law afforded to those who are fighting America.

that we need tools when war is waged domestically to ensure that as president of the United States you can fulfill your first responsibility which is to protect the life, liberty and property of American citizens and defend them from foes domestic and foreign. That means yes we’ll use the constitution and criminal law for those people who commit crimes but those who commit war and attack the United States and pursue treason of various kinds we will use instead a very different form of law which is the law afforded to those who are fighting America.

BLITZER: Governor Perry…

(APPLAUSE)

… you proposed legislation that would criminalize these TSA pat-downs under certain circumstances.

PERRY: Right.

BLITZER: Explain what you have in mind.

PERRY: Well, here’s what I would do with the TSA; I would privatize it as soon as I could and get rid of those unions.

(APPLAUSE)

It’s working in Denver. They have a program where they’re privatizing it. And the airlines and other private-sector groups work together to do the security in our airports. And it makes abundant good sense.

And I agree with most of my colleagues here on the stage when we talk about the Patriot Act. And we need to keep it in place. We need to have — strengthen it if that’s what’s required, to update it with new technologies as they come along, Newt.

But here’s the other issue that I think we’ve really failed at, and that is in our ability to collect intelligence around the world. And this administration in particular has been an absolute failure when it comes to expending the dollars and supporting the CIA and the military intelligence around the world, to be able to draw in that intelligence that is going to truly be able to allow us to keep the next terrorist attack from happening on American soil.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, under certain circumstances in the past, you’ve supported profiling. Is that correct?

SANTORUM: I have.

BLITZER: What do you have in mind?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, I think TSA is a good example of that. We should be trying to find the bomber, not the bomb. Other countries have done it. Israel is probably the best example of that.

But to put this enormous expense on the federal government, to put the enormous expense on the traveling public for — for pat-downs and other intrusions, I think, is too much money. I agree with Governor Perry; I actually voted when I — when this bill came up, I voted to allow for privatization. I was not for this being a government function. I thought it could be a private function.

But the issue of the Patriot Act is — is a little different. We are at war. The last time we had a — we had a threat at home like this — obviously, it was much more of a threat at home — was during the Civil War.

And, of course, Abraham Lincoln ran right over civil rights. Why? Because we had a present domestic threat. In the previous wars that we’ve had, we haven’t had this type of threat that we have here in the homeland. And we have to deal with it differently.

I disagree with Governor Huntsman. He made some good points. And we have had the debate. It’s been an open debate. It’s really shown the values of our country, that we can engage in this open debate and balance those interests, and I think we have done so appropriately.

BLITZER: So just to be precise, is it ethnic profiling, religious profiling? Who would be profiled?

SANTORUM: Well, the folks who are most likely to be committing these crimes. If you look at — I mean, obviously, it was — obviously, Muslims would be — would be someone you’d look at, absolutely. Those are the folks who are — the radical Muslims are the people that are committing these crimes, as we’ve — by and large, as well as younger males.

I mean, these are things that — not exclusively — but these are things that you profile to — to find your best — the most likely candidate.

BLITZER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: That’s digging a…

(APPLAUSE)

That’s digging a hole for ourselves. What if they look like Timothy McVeigh? You know, he was a pretty tough criminal.

I think we’re using too much carelessness in the use of words that we’re at war. I don’t remember voting on — on a declared — declaration of war. Oh, we’re against terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

And terrorism is a tactic. It isn’t a person. It isn’t a people. So this is a very careless use of words. What about this? Sacrifice liberties because there are terrorists? You’re the judge and the jury? No, they’re suspects.

And they have changed the — in the — in DOD budget they have changed the wording on the definition of al-Qaeda and Taliban. It’s anybody associated with organizations, which means almost anybody can be loosely associated so that makes all Americans vulnerable.

And now we know that American citizens are vulnerable to assassination.

So I would be very cautious about protecting the rule of law. It will be a sacrifice that you’ll be sorry for. (APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Herman Cain, let’s bring you into this conversation. Are you with Senator Santorum when he says that there should be religious profiling, that Muslims in particular should get extra screening when they go — go through airports?

CAIN: I believe we can do a whole lot better with TSA. And I called it, targeted identification.

BLITZER: What does that mean?

CAIN: We can do — we can do — targeted identification. If you take a look at the people who are trying to kill us, it would be easy to figure out exactly what that identification profile looks like.

But I want — but I want to make sure that I get to the Patriot Act. So I believe we can do a whole better. The answer, I believe, also may be privatization.

Now, relative to the Patriot Act, if there are some areas of the Patriot Act that we need to refine, I’m all for that. But I do not believe we ought to throw out the baby with the bathwater for the following reason. The terrorists have one objective that some people don’t seem to get. They want to kill all of us.

So we should use every mean possible to kill them first or identify them first — first.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Now, just to be precise, Mr. Cain. I just want to — I’ll give you a chance. Is it OK for Muslim Americans to get more intensive pat downs or security when they go through airports than Christian Americans or Jewish Americans?

CAIN: No, Blitz. That’s oversimplifying it. I happen to believe that if — if you allow our intelligence agencies to do their job they can come up with an approach — I’m sorry, Blitz, I meant Wolf, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

This was — since we on a — since we on a blitz debate, I apologize. Wolf, what I’m saying is let’s ask the professionals to give us an approach of how we can increase the identification of people that might be a danger to civilians as well as a danger to this nation.

BLITZER: Thank you, Cain.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE) All right. Go ahead. We have another question. Please give us your name and the organization you represent.

QUESTION: I’m Fred Kagan, resident scholar and director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute.

And my question is, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was obviously an important success in the struggle against al-Qaeda, although it also drove U.S. relations with Pakistan into a new low.

Do you think that an expanded drone campaign in Pakistan would be sufficient to defeat al-Qaeda and to secure our interests in Pakistan?

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: Let me just say that as we talk about foreign policy, let’s be reminded that in order to have an effective foreign policy we need a Washington that works.

Today we have a president who can’t lead. We have a Congress that can’t even figure out how to balance our budget. They need term limits, by the way. We’ve gotta get our house in order if we…

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. We’ve gotta get our house in order if we’re gonna expect to get anything done overseas because when our light shines we can influence the rest of the world.

Pakistan is a concern. That’s the country that ought to keep everybody up at night. You have not President Zardari in charge but General Kayani over the military, which also is responsible for ISI.

You’ve got the youngest demographic of the 160 million people in Pakistan. You’ve got a Midrasha movement. You’ve got over 100 nuclear weapons. You’ve got trouble on the border.

You’ve got a nation-state that is a candidate for failure. And I say it’s a haven for bad behavior. It’s a haven — it’s — it’s a haven for training the people who seek to do us harm. And an expanded drone program is something that would serve our national interest.

I think it must be done. And I think it must be consistent with recognizing the reality on the ground of what we need out of Afghanistan — we don’t need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.

We don’t need to nation-build in Afghanistan when this nation so desperately needs to be built.

BLITZER: We’re gonna get to Afghanistan.

HUNTSMAN: But we need something. We need something in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, we’ll be bringing you in. You’re a member… HUNTSMAN: We need Special Forces and drones.

BLITZER: All right. You’re a member of the Intelligence Committee. Do you think, as Governor Perry has said, that Pakistan should no longer receive U.S. aid because they’ve shown they’re not a good friend, ally of the United States?

BACHMANN: Pakistan has been the epicenter of dealing with terrorism. They are, as Governor Huntsman said, there are al-Qaeda training grounds there. There’s also the Haqqani network that can be trained there as well.

And they also are one of the most violent, unstable nations that there is. We have to recognize that 15 of the sites, nuclear sites are available or are potentially penetrable by jihadists. Six attempts have already been made on nuclear sites. This is more than an existential threat. We have to take this very seriously.

The United States has to be engaged. It is complicated. We have to recognize that the Chinese are doing everything that they can to be an influential party in Pakistan. We don’t want to lose influence.

I’m answering your question. You asked me about the money that the United States gives to Pakistan. This is a — this is a dual answer. A nation that lies, that does everything possibly that you could imagine wrong, at the same time they do share intelligence data with us regarding Al Qaida.

We need to demand more. The money that we are sending right now is primarily intelligence money to Pakistan. It is helping the United States. Whatever our action is, it must ultimately be about helping the United States and our sovereignty…

BLITZER: So…

BACHMANN: … our safety and our security.

BLITZER: … you would continue that aid to Pakistan?

BACHMANN: I — at this point I would continue that aid, but I do think that the Obama policy of keeping your fingers crossed is not working in Pakistan,. And I also think that Pakistan is a nation, that it’s kind of like too nuclear to fail. And so we’ve got to make sure that we take that threat very seriously.

BLITZER: Governor Perry?

PERRY: I understand where she’s coming from, but the bottom line is that they’ve showed us time after time that they can’t be trusted. And until Pakistan clearly shows that they have America’s best interests in mind, I would not send them one penny, period.

I think it is important for us to send the message to those across the world that, if you are not going to be an ally of the United States, do not expect a dime of our citizens’ money to be coming into your country. That is the way we change foreign policy. Now, if we want to engage these countries with our abilities and our companies that go in, and help to economically build these countries up, rather than just writing a blank check to them, then we can have that conversation, because I think that is a change in foreign policy that would be adequate and appropriate and a positive move for us.

But to write a check to countries that are clearly not representing American interests is nonsensical.

BLITZER: You want to respond, Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: Well, I — with all due respect to the governor, I think that’s highly naive, because, again, we have to recognize what’s happening on the ground. These are nuclear weapons all across this nation. And, potentially, Al Qaida could get hold of these weapons.

These weapons could find their way out of — out of Pakistan, into New York City or into Washington, D.C., and a nuclear weapon could be set off in this city. That’s how serious this is. We have to maintain an American presence.

They certainly aren’t looking out for the best interests of the United States. I wouldn’t expect them to. But at the same time, we have to have our interests, which is national security, represented. The best way we can do that with an uneven actor state is to have some sort of presence there.

BLITZER: I just want to give Governor Perry the chance to respond.

She just said your views are highly naive.

PERRY: And I — absolutely we need to be engaged in that part of the world. I never said for us not to be engaged. I just said we need to quit writing blank checks to these countries, and then letting them decide how these dollars are going to be spent.

We’ve got Afghanistan and India working in concert right now to leverage Pakistan. I think if we would create a trade zone in that part of the world, where you have all of those countries working together, that may be the answer to getting Pakistan to understand that they have to work with all of the countries in that region.

BLITZER: All right, I want to move on.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I want to move on, but you’ll have a chance — you’ll have a chance to respond…

BACHMANN: If I can just — Wolf, if I could just…

BLITZER: Very quickly.

BACHMANN: … clarify, we’re not writing just blank checks. We’re also exchanging intelligence information. So we aren’t writing blank checks in that region.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s take another question from the audience.

Please give us your name and your organization.

QUESTION: Israel Ortega (ph) with the Heritage Foundation.

Is the money that we’ve drawn back from U.S. troops in Afghanistan really worth the risk of allowing Taliban to expand territories, and Al Qaida to grow safe sanctuaries?

BLITZER: Governor Romney, $2 billion a week the United States is spending right now in Afghanistan, $2 billion, more than $100 billion a year. And U.S. troops are supposed to stay for another three years at least, till the end of 2014. Is that money well spent?

ROMNEY: We spent about $450 billion so far, 1,700 or so service men and women have lost their lives there, and many tens of thousands have been wounded. Our effort there is to keep Afghanistan from becoming a launching point for terror against the United States. We can’t just write off a major part of the world.

Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world. We can’t just say goodbye to all of — of what’s going on in that part of the world.

Instead, we want to draw them toward modernity. And for that to happen, we don’t want to literally pull up stakes and run out of town after the extraordinary investment that we’ve made. And that means we should have a gradual transition of handing off to the Afghan security forces the responsibility for their own country.

And for the region, what happened in Indonesia back in the 1960s, where — where we helped Indonesia move toward modernity with new leadership. We — we brought them in the technology that allowed them to trade in the world.

We need to bring Pakistan into the 21st century — or the 20th century, for that matter, so that they — they can engage throughout the world with trade and with modernity.

Right now, American approval level in — in Pakistan is 12 percent. We’re not doing a very good job with this huge investment we make of $4.5 billion a year. We can do a lot better directing that to encourage people to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities the West and freedom represent for their people.

BLITZER: Now, Governor Huntsman, do you agree with Governor Romney that the U.S. has to stay in Afghanistan at these levels?

HUNTSMAN: No, I — I totally disagree. I think we need to square with the American people about what we’ve achieved. We need an honest conversation in this country about the sacrifices that have been made over nearly 10 years. We have — we have dismantled the Taliban. We’ve run them out of Kabul. We’ve had free elections in 2004. We’ve killed Osama bin Laden. We’ve upended, dismantled al Qaeda. We have achieved some very important goals for the United States of America.

Now, the fact that we have 100,000 troops nation-building in Afghanistan when this nation so desperately needs to be built, when, on the ground, we do need intelligence gathering, no doubt about that. We need a strong Special Forces presence. We need a drone presence. And we need some ongoing training of the Afghan National Army.

But we haven’t done a very good job defining and articulating what the end point is in Afghanistan. And I think the American people are getting very tired about where we find ourselves today.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let me let Governor Romney respond.

ROMNEY: Well, let me respond.

Are you suggesting, Governor, that we just take all our troops out next week or what — what’s your proposal?

HUNTSMAN: Did you hear what I just said?

I said we should draw down from 100,000. We don’t need 100,000 troops. We don’t need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan…

(CROSSTALK)

HUNTSMAN: — many of whom can’t even cross the wire. We need a presence on the ground that is more akin to 10,000 or 15,000. That will serve our interests in terms of intelligence gathering and Special Forces response capability. And we need to prepare for a world, not just in South Asia, but, indeed, in every corner of the world in which counter-terror — counter-terrorism is going to be in front of us for as far as the eye can see into the 21st century.

ROMNEY: And the — and the commanders on the ground feel that we should bring down our surge troops by December of 2012 and bring down all of our troops, other than, perhaps, 10,000 or so, by the end of — of 2014.

The decision to pull our troops out before that, they believe, would put at risk the extraordinary investment of treasure and blood which has been sacrificed by the American military.

I stand with the commanders in this regard and have no information that suggests that pulling our troops out faster than that would do anything but put at — at great peril the extraordinary sacrifice that’s been made. This is not time for America to cut and run. We have been in for 10 years. We are winding down. The Afghan troops are picking up the capacity to secure their country. And the mission is pretty straightforward, and that is to allow the Afghan people to have a sovereign nation not taken over by the Taliban. BLITZER: Let me bring the speaker in. What do you say…

GINGRICH: I would…

BLITZER: — pull out?

HUNTSMAN: Just — just one point.

BLITZER: You want — oh, go ahead.

HUNTSMAN: Yes, just about the generals on the ground. And listen, I think it’s important for the American people to know we have achieved some very important objectives in raising standards in Afghanistan and helping to build civil society.

But at the end of the day, the president of the United States is commander-in-chief, commander-in-chief. Of course you’re going to listen to the generals. But…

(APPLAUSE)

HUNTSMAN: — I also remember when people listened to the generals in 1967 and we heard a certain course of action in South Asia that didn’t serve our interests very well.

The president is the commander-in-chief and ought to be informed by a lot of different voices, including of those of his generals Jr. ) on the ground.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: It’s…

ROMNEY: Look, I’ve got a good — he gets a response, I get a response.

BLITZER: All right.

ROMNEY: Of course the commander-in-chief makes — make the final decision.

PAUL: How about the rest of us?

ROMNEY: Of course the final — look…

PAUL: How about us who haven’t had a response?

BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) got a chance.

ROMNEY: Of course the commander-in-chiefs makes the — makes the final decision. But the commander-in-chief makes that decision based upon the input of people closest to the ground. And — and we — we’ve both been to Afghanistan. I’ve been to Afghanistan. The people I speak with there say we have a very good prospect of the people in Afghanistan being able to secure the peace and their sovereignty from the Taliban, but that if we pull out on a precipitous basis, as Governor Huntsman suggests, that we could well see that nation and Pakistan get pulled into terror and become another launching point to go after America. That’s a mistake. That’s why you listen and then make your decision.

BLITZER: Speaker?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Well, Wolf, I’m a little confused about exactly what we’re currently debating, because I think — I think we tend to get down to these narrow questions that — that, in a sense, don’t get at the — at the core issues.

The very first question I thought about Pakistan is the one that should be the starting point.

The gentleman said that when we went in and killed bin Laden, that we drove U.S.-Pakistan — did I have — is this like a 30-second response?

BLITZER: Go ahead.

GINGRICH: I mean, I’m happy to play by the rules, I just want to know what they are. But I think this is the heart of the American dilemma. We were told, a perfectly natural Washington assumption that our killing bin Laden in Pakistan drove U.S.-Pakistan relations to a new low.

To which my answer is, well, it should have because we should be furious.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: Now, and that’s where this has got to start. You want to keep American troops in Afghanistan, you accept hot pursuit, you say no sanctuaries, you change the rules of engagement, you put the military in charge of the military side, you overhaul the State Department and AID so they get the job done, and you do it for real and you do it intensely, and you tell the Pakistanis, help us or get out of the way, but don’t complain if we kill people you’re not willing to go after on your territory where you have been protecting them.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: I agree with Ron Paul. We are not fighting a war on terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic. We’re fighting a war against radical Islam. And what radical Islam is telling — all of the radical Islamist leaders are saying is that just wait America out, America is weak, they will not stand for the fight, they cannot maintain this, they’ll set time limits, politics will interfere, and we will tell the people in Afghanistan, we will tell the people in Iraq and other places that we will be the strong horse in the region.

And President Obama, by making political decision after political decision about timelines and constraints on rules of engagement, has validated everything these radical Islamists are saying.

So the answer to you, Jon, is that you’re doing exactly — Governor Huntsman, is that you’re doing exactly what all of the radical leaders are saying that America will do, that we are not in this to win, we are going to play politics with this, and then we will find this problem in Afghanistan on our shores in a very short order.

BLITZER: We are going to come to Congressman Cain (sic) in a moment. But just hold your horses for a second because we’re going to take a quick break. Much more coming up. The former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff calls this the number one threat to America’s national security. The candidates will answer that question on this topic, coming up next.

We want you to send us your questions for the candidates. Go to cnnpolitics.com or facebook.com/cnnpolitics or on twitter use #cnndebate. Our coverage of this historic debate at Constitution Hall in Washington continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to historic Constitution Hall here in the nation’s capital.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re continuing the CNN national security debate. Let’s go right to the audience. We have a question from the audience.

(APPLAUSE)

Go ahead with your question.

Hello?

No question from the audience.

Yes, we do. We do have a question from the audience.

(LAUGHTER)

We were waiting for you.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: I’m Mike Gonzalez (ph) of the Heritage Foundation.

BLITZER: Thank you.

QUESTION: If Israel attacked Iran to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, would you help Israel launch the attack or support it otherwise? BLITZER: All right. We’ve got the question. Let me ask Herman Cain first. Did you get the question?

CAIN: I didn’t quite get the question.

BLITZER: If — the specific question is, if Israel attacked Iran to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, would you help Israel launch the attack or support it otherwise?

CAIN: I would first make sure that they had a credible plan for success, clarity of mission and clarity of success.

Remember, when you talk about attacking Iran, it is a very mountainous region. The latest reports say that there may be 40 different locations, and I would want to make sure that we had a good idea from intelligence sources where these are located.

And if Israel had a credible plan that it appeared as if they could succeed, I would support Israel, yes. And in some instances, depending upon how strong the plan is, we would join with Israel for that, if it was clear what the mission was and it was clear what the definition of victory was.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, would you support Israel and help Israel in such an attack?

PAUL: No, I wouldn’t do that.

(LAUGHTER)

But there would be good reasons because I don’t expect it to happen. Because, you know, the Mossad leader that just retired said it would be the stupidest thing to do in the world. And it’s a big argument over in Israel. They’re not about to do this.

They’ve just polled 40 major experts on foreign policy here by the National Journal. Not one of them said there should be a unilateral attack on — on the sites in — in Iran.

So that’s not going to happen. And if it did — you’re supposing that if it did, why does Israel need our help? We need to get out of their way. I mean, we interfere with them. We interfere with them…

(LAUGHTER)

… when they deal with their borders. When they want to have peace treaties, we tell them what they can do because we buy their allegiance and they sacrifice their sovereignty to us. And then they decide they want to bomb something, that’s their business, but they should, you know, suffer the consequences. When they bombed the Iraqi missile site, nuclear site, back in the ’80s, I was one of the few in Congress that said it’s none of our business and Israel should take care of themselves. Israel has 200, 300 nuclear missiles. And they can take care of themselves. Why should we commit — we don’t even have a treaty with Israel. Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel? So I think they’re quite capable of taking care of themselves.

I think we do detriment — just think of all the money we gave to Egypt over 30 or 40 years. Now, look, we were buying friendship. Now there’s a civil war, they’re less friendly to Israel.

The whole thing is going to backfire once we go bankrupt and we remove our troops, so I think we should be very cautious in our willingness to go to war and send troops without a proper declaration by the U.S. Congress.

BLITZER: Let me let Herman Cain respond.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: Thank you.

I stated if the mission and the plan were clear, that it could succeed, but I pointed out that that is highly unlikely, given the terrain, the mountainous terrain in Iran.

But here’s the other reason that we should help Israel in an initiative live that. Back to Afghanistan: if we pull out of Afghanistan too soon, Iran is going to help to fulfill that power vacuum in Afghanistan. And so it is in our best interests, the United States of America, to prevent them from being able to help fill that power vacuum in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: Let’s stay on this subject. And I want all of you to weigh in. We have another question.

Please give us your name and your organization.

QUESTION: Good evening. I’m Danielle Pletka (ph); I’m the Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Yesterday the United States and the U.K. slapped new sanctions on Iran. But we haven’t bought oil directly from Iran in over 30 years. We’ve had targeted sanctions on Iran for more than half that time.

Nonetheless, Iran is probably less than a year away from getting a nuclear weapon. Do you believe that there is any set of sanctions that could be put in place that would stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?

BLITZER: Let’s go to Governor Perry. What do you think?

PERRY: Absolutely. We need to sanction the Iranian Central Bank. That would be one of the most powerful ways to impact that. As a matter of fact, Congressman Paul, that is what we need to do before we ever start having any conversations about a military strike, is to use every sanction that we have. And when you sanction the Iranian Central Bank, that will shut down that economy. At that particular point in time, they truly have to deal with the United States. And it’s one of the reasons that I call for the — there is an area over there, of all of them working together — and I’m talking about Syria — and bringing them into the mix as well.

As I called for, one of the options is to have a no-fly zone over Syria at the same time you’re putting those types of sanctions against Iran. And in that moment, they will understand that America is serious. This President refuses to do that, and it’s another show of lack of leadership from the President of the United States.

BLITZER: The argument, Speaker Gingrich — and I know you’ve studied this, and I want you to weigh in — on the sanctioning of the Iranian Central Bank, because if you do that, for all practical purposes, it cuts off Iranian oil exports, 4 million barrels a day.

The Europeans get a lot of that oil. They think their economy, if the price of gasoline skyrocketed, which it would, would be disastrous. That’s why the pressure is on the U.S. to not impose those sanctions. What say you?

GINGRICH: Well, I say you — the question you just asked is perfect, because the fact is we ought to have a massive all-sources energy program in the United States designed to, once again, create a surplus of energy here, so we could say to the Europeans pretty cheerfully, that all the various sources of oil we have in the United States, we could literally replace the Iranian oil.

Now that’s how we won World War II.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: So, I think you put your finger, Wolf, on the — on the — you know, we all get sucked into these tactical discussions. We need a strategy of defeating and replacing the current Iranian regime with minimum use of force. We need a strategy, as Rick Santorum was saying, of being honest about radical Islam and designing a strategy to defeat it wherever it happens to exist.

We need a strategy in central Asia that recognizes that, frankly, if you’re Pashtun, you don’t care whether you’re in Pakistan or Afghanistan, because you have the same tribal relationships. So we need to be much more strategic and less tactical in our discussion.

But if we were serious, we could break the Iranian regime, I think, within a year, starting candidly with cutting off the gasoline supply to Iran, and then, frankly, sabotaging the only refinery they have.

BLITZER: But sanctions on the Iranian Central Bank now, is that a good idea or a bad idea?

GINGRICH: I think it’s a good idea if you’re serious about stopping them having nuclear — I mean, I think replacing the regime before they get a nuclear weapon without a war beats replacing the regime with war, which beats allowing them to have a nuclear weapon. Those are your three choices.

BLITZER: I want Congresswoman Bachmann to weigh in. Go ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

BACHMANN: I agree with all of that. And energy independence is something that President Obama certainly has avoided.

BLITZER: But that’s going to take many years.

BACHMANN: It — it will but the president — almost every decision that the president has made since he came in has been one to put the United States in a position of unilateral disarmament including the most recent decision he made to cancel the Keystone Pipeline.

That would have not only created jobs but it would have helped us in energy independence.

But I want to go back to something. That’s the fact why is it that we’re talking about Israel having to make a strike against Iran? It’s because Iran has announced they plan to strike Israel.

They’ve stated, as recently as August just before President Ahmadinejad came to — to the U.N. General Assembly. He said that he wanted to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth.

He has said that if he has a nuclear weapon he will use it to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. He will use it against the United States of America.

This isn’t just an idle threat. This is a reality. And that’s why President Obama has — has failed the American people because for two and a half years he gave the Iran the luxury of time.

He met with them with no preconditions. It’s the doctrine of appeasement. He has changed the course of history because at the time when we needed a leader most, we didn’t have one.

That’s what I’ll do differently as President of the United States. I’ll lead.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you. All right. I — I — I want to — I want to — we’re gonna continue this but we have another question from Paul Wolfowitz. Go ahead.

QUESTION: My name is Paul Wolfowitz. I’m a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and my question is about development assistance.

Under George W. Bush, who was a conservative Republican, the United States spent billions of dollars to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa and elsewhere and set up the Millennium Challenge Corporation to encourage governments of poor countries to pursue policies that promote economic growth and job creation.

Do you believe those are still wise expenditures? Or do you think we can no longer afford them?

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Well, as the author of the Global Fund Bill and the Millennium Challenge in the United States Senate and someone who worked with the president on PEPFAR to deal with the issue of AIDS in Africa, I believe it’s absolutely essential.

Africa was a country on the brink. On the brink of complete meltdown and chaos, which would have been fertile ground for the radical Islamists to be able to — to get — to get a foothold.

We’re seeing it already. But the work that we’ve done in stabilizing that area, while humanitarian in nature, was absolutely essential for our national security.

And I hear people up here talking abut zeroing out foreign aid and humanitarian aid in particular. I think that’s absolutely the wrong course.

You want to — you want to spend more money on the military, zero out all the things we do to develop relationships around the world and we will spend a lot more money on the military.

It’s important for us to use all the assets we have. Promote our values. America is that shining city on the hill. It is — it is the city that comes to the aid of those in trouble in America — in the world.

We have done more good for America in Africa and in the third world by the things that we’ve done. And we have saved money and saved military deployments by wisely spending that money not on our enemies but on folks who can and will be our friends.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Herman Cain?

CAIN: Here again…

BLITZER: All right, here’s the question. Can the United States afford to continue that kind of foreign assistance to Africa for AIDS, malaria — could run into the billions of dollars? CAIN: It depends upon priorities. Secondly, it depends upon looking at the program and asking the question, has that aid been successful.

In other words, let’s look at the whole problem. It may be worthwhile to continue. It may not. I would like to see the results.

Just like every program we have here domestically, what have the results been. Then we make a decision about how we prioritize. BLITZER: Ron Paul?

PAUL: I — I think the aid is all worthless. It doesn’t do any good for most of the people. You take money from poor people in this country and you end up giving it to rich people in poor countries.

And they’re used as weapons of war so you accomplish nothing. We should export some, maybe some principles about free markets and sound money and maybe they could produce some of their — their own wealth.

But this whole idea of — of talking about the endless wars and the endless foreign aid, it seems like nobody cares about the budget. I mean, we — we’re in big trouble and — and — and nobody wants to cut anything.

So if you’re gonna keep sending foreign aid overseas and these endless wars that you don’t have to declare and — and go into Libya without even consulting with the Congress, the biggest threat — the biggest threat to our national security is our financial condition.

And this is just aggravating it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Congressman Paul, what they’re doing is cutting a trillion dollars out of the defense budget. They’re cutting a trillion dollars out of the defense budget, which just happens to equal the trillion dollars we’re putting into “Obama-care.”

And so what you have is a president that has a priority of spending us into bankruptcy, but he’s not just spending us into bankruptcy, he’s spending the money foolishly.

We need to protect America and protect our troops and our military and stop the idea of “Obama-care.” That’s the best way to save money, not the military.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Hold on one second because Ron Paul wants to respond to that point.

PAUL: Well, they’re not cutting anything out of anything. All this talk is just talk.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: Believe me. They’re cutting — they’re nibbling away at baseline budgeting, and its automatic increases. There’s nothing cut against the military. And the people on the Hill are nearly hysterical because they’re not going — the budget isn’t going up as rapidly as they want it to. It’s a road to disaster. We had better wake up.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: OK. Let’s just talk about what they’re cutting with the first $350 billion, not the next 600 which is coming down the road. The first $350 billion, what do they cut? They stopped the F-22. They delayed aircraft carriers. They stopped the Navy cruiser system. They said long range Air Force bombers aren’t going to be built. They’re trying to cut our troops by 50,000. The list goes on.

They’re cutting programs that are cutting the capacity of America to defend itself. Look, let’s stand back for a moment, because we’ve been talking about Israel and Iran. What we’re talking about here is a failure on the part of the president to lead with strength.

And that’s why we have discussions about whether Israel should have to step in to stop the nuclear program, whether Iran is going to become nuclear. We have a president who pursued an agenda of saying we’re going to be friendly to our foes and we’re going to be disrespectful to our friends.

The right course in America is to stand up to Iran with crippling sanctions, indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Geneva — or the Genocide Convention, put in place the kind of crippling sanctions that stop their economy. I know it’s going to make gasoline more expensive. There’s no price which is worth an Iranian nuclear weapon.

And the right course for Israel is to show that we care about Israel, that they are our friend, we’ll stick with them. If I’m president of the United States, my first trip — my first foreign trip will be to Israel to show the world we care about that country and that region.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. We’re going to stay on this subject.

Go ahead.

ALISON ACOSTA FRASER, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, OKLAHOMA OFFICE OF STATE FINANCE: Hi, my name is Alison Acosta Fraser, and I’m the director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. And my question is this, the next president will have to make some very, very tough choices in order to solve the nation’s spending and debt crisis. Would you be willing to say that our national security is so paramount that cuts to the defense budget are unacceptable?

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich.

GINGRICH: No. I helped found the Military Reform Caucus in 1981 at the beginning of the Reagan buildup because it’s clear that there are some things you can do in defense that are less expensive.

It’s clear, if it takes 15 to 20 years to build a weapons system at a time when Apple changes technology every nine months, there’s something profoundly wrong with this system. So I’m not going to tell you automatically I’m going to say yes. (APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: But let me make a deeper point. There’s a core thing that’s wrong with this whole city. You said earlier that it would take too long to open up American oil. We defeated Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan in three years and eight months because we thought we were serious.

If we were serious, we would open up enough oil fields in the next year that the price of oil worldwide would collapse. Now, that’s what we would do if we were a serious country. If we were serious…

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: One last thing, if we were serious, we would apply Strong America Now’s model of Lean Six Sigma, we would save $500 billion a year by having an efficient effective federal government. We would open up federal lands, increasing dramatically both jobs and the amount of revenue of the federal government.

There are lots of things you can do if you decide break out of the current mindless bureaucracy of this city and just get the job done, including, by the way, making the Millennium Challenge work and doing it in a way that we actually help people even more effectively and at a much lower cost by having public/private partnerships.

BLITZER: I’m going to bring Governor Huntsman in, but very quickly, Mr. Speaker, would you, if you were president of the United States, bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent it from becoming a nuclear power?

GINGRICH: Only as a last recourse and only as a step towards replacing the regime. No bombing campaign which leaves the regime in charge is going to accomplish very much in the long run. You have to seriously talk about regime replacement, not just attacking them.

But I will also say — this is, I guess, where I disagree with my good friend Ron Paul. If my choice was to collaborate with the Israelis on a conventional campaign or force them to use their nuclear weapons, it will be an extraordinarily dangerous world if out of a sense of being abandoned they went nuclear and used multiple nuclear weapons in Iran. That would be a future none of us would want to live through.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman, where do you stand on defense cuts?

HUNTSMAN: Well, let’s face the economic reality. Let’s face the deficit reality we have as a country. We have an economic deficit. And I’d argue that 70 percent debt-to-GDP is a national security problem because, at some point, you just don’t grow any more, when your debt becomes that.

I mean, look at Japan. They’re in their third decade of lost growth. Look at Greece. Look at Italy. So I’d say, aside from that, we’ve got another deficit in this country. It’s called the trust deficit.

People have lost trust in their institutions of power in America. They don’t trust Congress. They don’t trust the executive branch. They don’t trust Wall Street. The list goes on. We’ve got to fix both those deficits.

As it relates to defense spending, let’s be realistic about this. We can’t have an intellectually honest conversation about where we go with debt and spending with sacred cows. Everything’s got to be on the table. The Defense Department’s got to be on the table, for haven’t sake. But we need to have a Defense Department and a budget for the Defense Department. If we can’t find some savings in the $650 billion budget, we’re not looking closely enough.

But we need spending for the Department of Defense that follows a strategy. And that strategy needs to follow how we best protect the American people now that we’re in the second decade of the 21st century.

And I believe our national security strategy and our foreign policy increasingly needs to follow, number one, economic policy.

It used to break my heart sitting in Beijing, the second largest embassy in the world, looking at neighboring Afghanistan. We’d have 100,000 troops there. The Chinese would move in and take the mining concession. And I’d say there’s something fundamentally wrong with this picture.

When are we going to get with the program and determine that foreign policy will be driven by economics, that which plays right back to strengthening our core (ph)…

(APPLAUSE)

… and creates jobs here on the home front.

And, second of all, let’s face the reality that we have a counterterror threat for as far as the eye can see.

Professor Wolfowitz was just up here. I know he’s done a lot of work on — for as far as the eye can see, and that means not only in Afghanistan but every corner of the world. We’ve got to prepare for the reality that counterterrorism is here to stay. We need friends and allies who are in this fight with us. We need special forces response capability. We need defense spending that will match the realities of where we find ourselves.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me bring in Governor Perry into this conversation.

As you know, the so-called supercommittee failed. And as a result, unless Congress takes action next year — in an election year, that would be difficult — there’s not going to be any change in that automatic trigger as it’s called. That sequestration, $1.2 trillion cut, including $600 billion in defense, will go into effect.

Here’s the question. If you were president of the United States, would you compromise with Democrats in Congress in order to avoid that Washington gridlock that, if you believe the polls, the American people hate?

PERRY: I don’t think anybody is particularly surprised that a supercommittee failed. It was a super-failure. And I think we expected that. We had a president of the United States who is not a leader. He pitched this over to them and said, here, you all figure this out.

I’ve signed six balanced budgets as the head of the state of Texas. I worked with those legislators on a daily basis, or my staff.

This president has been an absolute failure when it came to this budget process. And the idea — it was almost reprehensible to me. I’ve worn the uniform of this country. I’ve been the commander in chief of the 20-plus-thousand National Guard troops that we have in Texas, Dr. Paul.

But it was reprehensible, for me, for this president to stand in front of Americans and to say that that half a trillion dollars, $500 million-plus is not going to be on the table and we’re just going to have to work our way through it, putting young men and women’s life in jeopardy.

And I will tell you, as a commander in chief, as an American citizen, that is totally and absolutely irresponsible. Even his own secretary of defense said it was irresponsible. As a matter of fact, if Leon Panetta is an honorable man, he should resign in protest.

BLITZER: Here’s the question, though. Would you compromise — all of you have said you wouldn’t accept any tax increases at all, even if there were 10 — 10 times as many spending cuts. So would you just let the gridlock continue, Governor Perry, or would you compromise under those circumstances?

PERRY: Listen, I’ve had to work with Democrats for the 10 years that I’ve been the governor of the state of Texas.

So the idea that you can’t sit down and work with people on both sides of the aisle, but just to, you know, throw us into — into that briar patch at this particular point in time and say, what would you do — we would never have gotten into that situation if I were the president of the United States. I’d have been there working day in and day out so that we had a budget that not only — I’ve laid out a clear plan to — flat tax of 20 percent; cut the spending; and put a 20 percent corporate tax rate in. And, as a matter of fact, they ought to make the legislature, the Congress, part-time, and that would make as big an impact in this city as anything I can think of.

BLITZER: Let me bring Senator Santorum into this, because I covered Ronald Reagan’s presidency. And, as you know — and I’ll read a quote. He wrote in his autobiography this: “If you got 75 of 80 percent of what you were asking for, I say you take it and fight for the rest later.”

If you got 75 percent or 80 percent of what you wanted, would you make a deal with Democrats, increase some taxes in order to move on and fight the next battle the next day?

SANTORUM: It all depends on what the 75 percent and 85 percent is. If the — if the things that you have to give up make what you’re trying to accomplish harder to do — in other words, reduce the deficit, what the Republicans — why the Republicans are drawing a line in the sand, rightfully so, it’s because what they’re — what the Democrats are attempting to do is increase taxes, which will slow down to the — this economy, which will increase the deficit, reduce tax revenues, ultimately, and — and increase government payments.

So you don’t work against yourself. You — you won’t — you — you take ideas from the other side that you may not find particularly valuable, like spending cuts that you may not want. There are spending cuts that I would like to, you know, I mean there’s things that it mentioned before, that I would stand — stand firm on.

But in a compromise, yes, you do give up some things that you think maybe are critical spending. But you don’t undermine the ability of this con — economy to grow because of politics. This president has poisoned the well. He’s campaigned all over this country, trying to divide group from group in order to — to — to win, you know, to — to position himself to win this election and rally his troops. And what he’s done is poisoned the well here in Congress.

I’ve worked together, I’ve got a long track record of bipartisan accomplishments where I kept to the principles. I use welfare reform as an example. Welfare reform, I stuck to my principles. We cut the welfare budget. We had — we had time limits. We block granted to the states and we put a work requirement.

Did I compromise on things?

Yes. I compromised on some — on some child care. I compromised on — on some transportation.

So I got 75 percent. But it 100 percent changed the welfare system because we…

BLITZER: Thank you.

SANTORUM: — stuck to our principles.

BLITZER: Let — but let’s stay on this subject, because I know many of you want to weigh in.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: We have another question.

ALEX BRILL: My name is Alex Brill and I’m a research fellow in the economics department at the American Enterprise Institute. Even if the super committee hadn’t failed, the savings that they would have proposed would have been a drop in the bucket relative to the $11 trillion deficit our country may face in the subsequent decade. In the decades after that, without entitlement reform, we’ll borrow even more.

To strengthen our economy, to strengthen our country, what entitlement reform proposals would you make to address our long-term structural deficit?

BLITZER: Good question.

Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: It’s a great question and it raises the — the core issue of really large scale change.

Yesterday in Manchester, I outlined a Social Security reform plan based on Chile and based on Galveston, Texas. In Chile, people who have now have the right to a personal Social Security savings account, for 30 years, the government of Chile has promised that if you don’t have as much savings as you would get from Social Security, the government would make up the difference.

In 30 years time, they’ve paid zero dollars, even after ’07 and ’08 and ’09, people slid from three times as much to one-and-a-half times as much, but they didn’t go below the Social Security amount. The result is in Chile, for example, 72 percent — they have 72 percent of the GDP in savings. It has — it has increased the economy, increased the growth of jobs, increased the amount of wealth and it dramatically solves Social Security without a payment cut and without having to hurt anybody.

So I think you can have a series of entitlement reforms that, frankly, make most of this problem go away without going through the kind of austerity and pain that this city likes.

BLITZER: Let’s talk about that, Congresswoman Bachmann.

Social Security, Medicare, health care — what would you cut first?

What would you tackle if you were president of the United States?

BACHMANN: Let me answer that in the context of the super committee, because I was involved in the middle of that fight as a member of Congress this summer. And my voice said this. I said it’s time for us to draw a line in the sand. We have sufficient revenues coming in to pay the interest on the debt.

But the real issue was, were we going to give Congress another $2.4 billion in borrowing authority?

In other words, another blank check to the president. Because, again, consider the context. A little of four years ago, we were just over $8 trillion in debt. We are now $15 trillion in debt in just over four years. Now we’re talking about — if the gentleman is correct — adding another $11 trillion in debt over 10 years, or potentially $8.5 trillion, according to the super committee.

All that they were asked to do is cut back on $1.2 trillion of that increase in debt. We aren’t even talking about the central issue, which is balancing the budget. We need to balance the budget and then chip away at the debt. This isn’t Monopoly money.

Because what we need to recognize is that when we are sending interest money over to China, with whom we are highly in hock, we’re not just sending our money. We’re sending our power.

What will happen is that our national security and our military will decrease and our money will increase China’s military. So think about that.

Our money will be used to grow China’s military at the expense of the United States military. That should give every American pause.

BLITZER: All right. I want everybody to stand by and all of you are going to weigh in. We’ve got a lot more to discuss, important issues that we’re talking about. Collect your thoughts for a moment.

More tough questions for the candidates including their plans for protecting the border, reducing illegal immigration — we’re live from Constitution Hall here in Washington, D.C. This is the CNN Republican National Security Debate.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN National Security Debate.

The next President of the United States will certainly have to tackle conflicts in the Middle East. You’re looking at these live pictures coming in from Cairo’s Tahrir Square right now, the middle of the night in Egypt.

Thousands of Egyptians are again protesting their government as the Arab Spring continues into the winter months.

The candidates will weigh in on this and much, much more. We’re being seen live, around the world right now. Remember, you can send in your questions and comments at cnnpolitics.com; at Twitter, remember hash tag #cnndebate.

The Republican National Security Debate — we’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the historic Constitution Hall here in Washington, D.C. We’re at the CNN Republican National Security Debate. Let’s go right to the audience. We have a question. Please, give us your name and your organization. TRULUCK: Thank you. My name is Phil Truluck. I’m executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Heritage Foundation. And I’d like to thank all the candidates for joining us tonight. I know some of you may want to be in other places, but we appreciate you being here and sharing your views with us.

Let’s — I’d like to turn it back a little bit, a little closer to home, and talk about what’s going on on the borders, our southern border. As all of you know, the drug-related crimes and violence are getting heavier and heavier in that area.

First, do you consider that to be a national interest threat? And, secondly, what could we be doing with the Mexican government to help stop these drug cartels?

BLITZER: Let’s go to Governor Perry. You represent the state with the longest border with Mexico right now. What do you think you should do, if you were President of the United States, as far as using the United States military?

PERRY: Well, let me kind of broaden it out. I think it’s time for a 21st century Monroe Doctrine. When you think about what we put in place in the — in the 1820s, and then we used it again in the 1960s with the Soviet Union. We’re seeing countries start to come in and infiltrate. We know that Hamas and Hezbollah are working in Mexico, as well as Iran, with their ploy to come into the United States.

We know that Hugo Chavez and the Iranian government has one of the largest — I think their largest embassy in the world is in Venezuela. So the idea that we need to have border security with the United States and Mexico is paramount to the entire western hemisphere.

So putting that secure border in place with strategic fencing, with the boots on the ground, with the aviation assets, and then working with Mexico in particular, whether it’s putting sanctions against the banks, whether it’s working with them on security with Mexico, all of those together can make that country substantially more secure and our borders secure.

As the President of the United States, I will promise you one thing, that within 12 months of the inaugural, that border will be shut down, and it will be secure.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Congressman Paul, you’re from Texas. Do you agree with your governor?

PAUL: Not entirely.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: No, the drug was mentioned. I think that’s another war we ought to cancel, because it’s… (APPLAUSE)

PAUL: … to nobody’s benefit. And that’s where the violence is coming from. But, yes, we do have a national responsibility for our borders. What I’m, sort of, tired of is all the money spent and lives lost worrying about the borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan and forgetting about our borders between the United States and Mexico. We should think more about, you know, what we do at home.

We need better immigration services, obviously. But, you know, if you subsidize something or give people incentives, you get more of it. So if you give easy road to citizenship, you’re going to have more illegals. If you have a weak economy, which is understandable and we should have prevented, that’s understandable.

But giving — mandating to the states and to Texas that we have to provide free medical care and free education, that’s a great burden. It’s a great burden to California and all the border states.

So I would say eliminate all these benefits and talk about eliminating the welfare state because it’s detrimental not only to here but the people that come because that’s the incentive to bring their families with them.

BLITZER: But I just want you to clarify. When you say cancel the war on drugs, does that mean legalize all these drugs? PAUL: I think the federal war on drugs is a total failure.

(APPLAUSE)

You can — you can at least let sick people have marijuana because it’s helpful, but compassionate conservatives say, well, we can’t do this; we’re going to put people who are sick and dying with cancer and they’re being helped with marijuana, if they have multiple sclerosis — the federal government’s going in there and overriding state laws and putting people like that in prison.

Why don’t we handle the drugs like we handle alcohol? Alcohol is a deadly drug. What about — the real deadly drugs are the prescription drugs. They kill a lot more people than the illegal drugs.

So the drug war is out of control. I fear the drug war because it undermines our civil liberties. It magnifies our problems on the borders. We spend — like, over the last 40 years, $1 trillion on this war. And believe me, the kids can still get the drugs. It just hasn’t worked.

BLITZER: Herman Cain, let me let you…

(APPLAUSE)

… weigh in.

CAIN: Yes. Allow me to answer the gentleman’s question. The answer is yes. An insecure border is a national security threat for the following reasons.

Number one, we know that terrorists have come into this country by way of Mexico. Secondly, 40 percent of the people in Mexico, according to a survey, already believe that their country is a failed state. Thirdly, the number of people killed in Mexico last year equals the number of people killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

So yes, so let’s solve the whole problem. Number one, secure the border for real. Number two, enforce the laws that are already there. We don’t need new laws. Number three, promote the current path to citizenship. Clean up the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. so people can come through the front door instead of sneaking in the side door. And, number four, to deal with the illegals that are already here, empower the states to do what the federal government is not capable of doing.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let’s stay on this subject. Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: I have a question about high-skilled immigration. We hear a lot about low-skilled immigration, so I want to ask you about high-skilled immigration.

What would you do to ensure that the United States is as welcoming as possible to the world’s skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs?

BLITZER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Well, as the son of a legal immigrant to this country, I strongly believe in legal immigration and believe we are that shining city on the hill, that our future — if you look at all of the jobs that are being created in our economy today, a huge percentage of them come from the legal immigrants of this county — country who have innovated, who created great products, who created great companies and employed lots of people.

That’s one of the reasons that — that I put together my economic plan, was to take all that great innovation that’s coming as a result, in part, of legal immigration and make sure that those products that are being created are actually made here in America.

That’s part of the problem that — you know, Reaganomics was criticized as trickle-down. Problem is, we’re not seeing that money trickle down to the blue-collar workers in America. And that’s why I put forth a four-point economic plan to revitalize manufacturing that begins with zeroing out the corporate tax for manufacturers; also, regulatory reform, repatriation of profits, if invested in this country, to pay no taxes; and finally, energy policy that will explode the energy industry in this country.

We do those things, we’ll not only have the innovation, which I support, coming from legal — legal immigrants, but we’ll have that money trickle down to blue-collar workers and we can see that income mobility that a lot of people are right in that is not happening in America.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, let me let you broaden out this conversation. Back in the ’80s — and you remember this well. I was covering you then. Ronald Reagan and you — you voted for legislation that had a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, as you well remember. There were, what, maybe 12 million, 10 million — 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States right now.

Some called it amnesty then; they still call it amnesty now. What would you do if you were President of the United States, with these millions of illegal immigrants, many of whom have been in this country for a long time?

GINGRICH: Let me start and just say I think that we ought to have an H-1 visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science and engineering so that people stay here.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: You know, about five blocks down the street, you’ll see a statue of Einstein. Einstein came here as an immigrant. So let’s be clear how much the United States has drawn upon the world to be richer, better and more inclusive.

I did vote for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Ronald Reagan, in his diary, says he signed it — and we were supposed to have 300,000 people get amnesty. There were 3 million. But he signed it because we were going to get two things in return. We were going to get control of the border and we were going to get a guest worker program with employer enforcement.

We got neither. So I think you’ve got to deal with this as a comprehensive approach that starts with controlling the border, as the governor said. I believe ultimately you have to find some system — once you’ve put every piece in place, which includes the guest worker program, you need something like a World War II Selective Service Board that, frankly, reviews the people who are here.

If you’re here — if you’ve come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home. period. If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.

The Creeble Foundation is a very good red card program that says you get to be legal, but you don’t get a pass to citizenship. And so there’s a way to ultimately end up with a country where there’s no more illegality, but you haven’t automatically given amnesty to anyone.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, you agree with the speaker?

BACHMANN: Well, I don’t agree that you would make 11 million workers legal, because that, in effect, is amnesty. And I also don’t agree that you would give the DREAM Act on a federal level. And those are two things that I believe that the speaker had been for, and he can speak for himself.

But those are two areas that I don’t agree with. What I do think, though, is what Steve — what Steve Jobs said to President Obama. He had said to President Obama that he had to move a great deal of his operation over to China because he couldn’t find 30,000 engineers to be able to do the work that needed to be done.

That’s what we want to do. We do want to have people. And I agree with the speaker, people like chemists and engineers, and people who are highly skilled.

We think about the United States and what’s in the best interests of the United States. If we can utilize these workers, like Steve jobs wanted to, then we need to offer those visas. That will help the United States. But I don’t agree that we should make 11 million workers who are here illegally legal.

BLITZER: Let me let the speaker respond to that.

GINGRICH: Well, I mean, two things, first of all, in the DREAM Act, the one part that I like is the one which allows people who came here with their parents to join the U.S. military, which they could have done if they were back home, and if they serve on it with the U.S. military to acquire citizenship, which is something any foreigner can do.

And I don’t see any reason to punish somebody who came here at three years of age, but who wants to serve the United States of America. I specifically did not say we’d make the 11 million people legal.

I do suggest if you go back to your district, and you find people who have been here 25 years and have two generations of family and have been paying taxes and are in a local church, as somebody who believes strongly in family, you’ll have a hard time explaining why that particular subset is being broken up and forced to leave, given the fact that they’ve been law-abiding citizens for 25 years.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, you want to respond?

(APPLAUSE)

BACHMANN: If I understood correctly, I think the speaker just said that that would make 11 people — 11 million people who are here illegally now legal. That’s really the issue that we’re dealing with. And also, it would be the DREAM Act, the federal DREAM Act, which would offer taxpayer-subsidized benefits to illegal aliens. We need to move away from magnets (ph), not offer more.

BLITZER: Let’s broaden it out.

Governor Romney, where do you stand? Are you with the speaker, that some of those illegal immigrants — I think — he didn’t say all — some of them, if they have roots, they belong to a church, for example, should be allowed to stay in this country? ROMNEY: Look, amnesty is a magnet. What when we have had in the past, programs that have said that if people who come here illegally are going to get to stay illegally for the rest of their life, that’s going to only encourage more people to come here illegally.

The right course for our immigration system is to say we welcome people who want to come here legally. We’re going to have a system that makes that easier and more transparent. But to make sure we’re able to bring in the best and brightest — and, by the way, I agree with the speaker in terms of — I’d staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who’s got a degree of math, science, a Masters degree, Ph.D.

We want those brains in our country. But in order to bring people in legally we’ve got to stop illegal immigration. That means turning off the magnets of amnesty, in-state tuition for illegal aliens, employers that knowingly hire people that have come here illegally.

We welcome legal immigration. This is a party, this is a party that loves legal immigration. But we have to stop illegal immigration for all the reasons the questioner raised, which is, it is bringing in people who in some cases can be terrorists, in other cases they become burdens on our society.

And we have to finally have immigration laws that protect our border, secure the border, turn off the magnets, and make sure we have people come to this country legally to build our economy.

BLITZER: Just to precise, and I’ll give Speaker Gingrich a chance to respond. Are you saying that what he’s proposing, giving amnesty in effect, or allowing some of these illegal immigrants to stay, is a magnet that would entice others to come to this country illegally?

ROMNEY: There’s no question. But to say that we’re going to say to the people who have come here illegally that now you’re all going to get to stay or some large number are going to get to stay and become permanent residents of the United States, that will only encourage more people to do the same thing.

People respond to incentives. And if you can become a permanent resident of the United States by coming here illegally, you’ll do so. What I want to do is bring people into this country legally, particularly those that have education and skill that allows us to compete globally. (APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who have been here a quarter century, who have children and grandchildren, who are members of the community, who may have done something 25 years ago, separate them from their families, and expel them.

I do believe if you’ve been here recently and have no ties to the U.S., we should deport you. I do believe we should control the border. I do believe we should have very severe penalties for employers, but I would urge all of you to look at the Krieble Foundation Plan.

I don’t see how the — the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century. And I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.

BLITZER: Governor Perry, are you with the speaker or with the governor, Governor Romney?

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY: Here we go again, Mitt. You and I standing by each other again and you used the words about the magnets. And that’s one of the things that we obviously have to do is to stop those magnets for individuals to come in here.

But the real issue is securing that border. And this conversation is not ever going to end until we get the border secure. But I do think that there is a way. That after we secure that border that you can have a process in place for individual who are law- abiding citizens who have done only one thing, as Newt says, 25 years ago or whatever that period of time was, that you can put something in place that basically continues to keep those families together.

But the idea that we’re having this long and lengthy conversation here, until we have a secure border is just an intellectual exercise. You’ve got to secure the border first. And I know how to do that. I’ve been dealing with it for 10 years.

And we have to put the boots on the ground and the aviation assets in place, and secure that border once and for all, and be committed to it.

BLITZER: Let me let Governor Romney respond.

ROMNEY: Yes, I don’t disagree with what Governor Perry indicated. Certainly we have to secure the border. And we talk about people who have been here 25 years, that is the extreme exception…

BLITZER: You would let them stay.

ROMNEY: … not the rule.

BLITZER: You would let them stay?

ROMNEY: I’m not going to start drawing lines here about who gets to stay and who get to go. The principle is that we are not going to have an amnesty system that says that people who come here illegally get to stay for the rest of their life in this country legally.

The answer is we’re going to have a system that gives people who come legally a card that identifies them as coming here legally. Employers are going to be expected to inspect that card, see if they’re here legally. On that basis we’re going to be able to bring you to this country.

The number of people that we need to power our industries, whether that’s agriculture or high tech, we welcome people in here with visa programs. We have a whole series of legal programs. But the idea of focusing a Republican debate on amnesty and who we’re going to give it to, is a huge mistake.

Secure our border, protect legal immigration, and return to a system that follows the law.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s take another…

(APPLAUSE)

… quick break because we have a lot more to — I want to bring everybody into this conversation. We’re also going to broaden the conversation and go to the Middle East and see what’s going on in the so-called Arab Spring.

Don’t forget, Twitter — you can weigh in on what’s going on, #CNNdebate. Also, go to Facebook, CNNpolitics.com. Much more from historic Constitution Hall, here in the nation’s capital, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Welcome back to the CNN Republican national security debate. Let’s go right to the audience.

Please give us your name and your organization.

QUESTION: I’m David Addington. I’m a vice president with the Heritage Foundation.

(APPLAUSE)

Serious violence has erupted in Syria between the repressive al- Assad regime and some elements of the people of Syria. Syria borders a major ally of the United States, NATO ally, Turkey, and three other friendly countries, Israel, Jordan and Iraq.

In your view, what are the interests of the United States in this region and what would you do to protect them?

BLITZER: Herman Cain, you may not know this, but today Governor Perry called for a no-fly zone, for the U.S. to participate in a no- fly zone over Syria. Would you go that far? Would you support that?

CAIN: No, I would not. I would work with our allies in the region to put pressure to be able to try and get our allies and other nations to stop buying oil from Syria. That would be one thing that I would do, but I would not support a no-fly zone.

The most effective tools that we have in any of these situations are a strong military, which it is getting weaker, unfortunately, and our own economic strength.

This whole discussion tonight about cutting and compromise, we didn’t spend enough time talking about the other part of the problem — growing this economy, because this administration has failed dismally at growing this economy. We can cut until the cows come home but it still would not solve the problem until we have effective economic growth.

BLITZER: Governor Perry, why would you support a no-fly zone over Syria?

PERRY: Obviously, that’s one of a multitude of — of sanctions and actions that I think work very well from the standpoint of being able to pressure that regime, overt, covert, economic sanctions.

I mean I think there are a number of ways. But when you put the no-fly zone above Syria, it obviously gives those dissidents and gives the military the opportunity to maybe disband, that want to get out of the situation that they’re in in Syria, as well.

So I think if we’re serious about Iran — and that’s what we’re really talking about here. We’re talking about Syria is a partner with Iran in exporting terrorism all across that part of the world and — and around the globe.

So if we’re serious about Iran, then we have to be serious about Syria, as well.

So I think a no-fly zone is an option of one of a multitude of options that we should be using. And we should put them in place if we’re serious about Iran not getting the nuclear weapon.

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman, let me bring you into this conversation.

We just got a question from Twitter. I’ll read it to you.

“So many people view the Arab spring as a good thing. Given the recent violence in Egypt, do you worry this can go bad?”

And we’ve got some live pictures we’re going to show our viewers out there of Tahrir Square in Cairo right now. Thousands of people are protesting the military regime in Egypt right now.

What do you say to this person who sent this — this — this Twitter message to us?

HUNTSMAN: His — history will tell. We missed the Persian spring. The president failed on that front. We go into Libya, where, to my mind, we don’t have any definable American interests. We’ve got Syria now on the horizon, where we do have American interests. It’s called Israel. We’re a friend and ally. They’re a friend and ally. And we need to remind the world what it means to be a friend and ally of the United States.

And we have nuclearization in Iran. Centrifuges spinning. At some point, they’re going to have enough in the way of fissile material out of which to make a weapon. That’s a certainty.

We had a discussion earlier tonight about sanctions. Everybody commented on sanctions. Sanctions aren’t going to work, I hate to break it to you. They’re not going to work because the Chinese aren’t going to play ball and the Russiansaren’t going to play ball.

And I believe Iran has already — the mullahs have already decided they want to go nuclear.

Why?

They have looked at North Korea. They’ve got a weapon. Nobody touches them. They like at Libya. Libya gave up their weapon in exchange for friendship with the world. Look where they are.

So I say let’s let history be our guide. We saw the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1919. We saw the region transform and make itself into something different. We saw changes in 1947.

I think we do our national interests a disservice by jumping in too soon and taking up sides with people we don’t fully understand, Islamist groups, pan-Arab groups.

Our interest in the Middle East is Israel. And our interest is to ensure that Israel — that Iran does not go nuclear.

BLITZER: All right, let’s stay in the region.

We have another question from the audience.

KATHERINE ZIMMERMAN: I’m Katherine Zimmerman from the American Enterprise Institute Critical Threats Project.

The United States adopted a policy of disengagement with Somalia after its retreat following Black Hawk down.

Today, an al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabab, controls significant territory in that country.

What can the United States do to prevent Al Shabab from posing the same threat that al Qaeda did from Afghanistan 10 years ago?

BLITZER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: You’re talking about al Qaeda, correct?

ZIMMERMAN: Right.

PAUL: You have to understand who the al Qaeda really is. The — the al Qaeda responds in a very deliberate fashion. As a matter of fact, Paul Wolfowitz explained it very clearly after 9/11.

He said that al Qaeda is inspired by the fact that we had bases in Saudi Arabia. So if you want to inspire al Qaeda, just meddle in — in that region. That will inspire the al Qaeda. As a matter of fact, he went on to say that that was a good reason for us to remove the base that we had had in 15 years in — in Saudi Arabia and that we should have done that.

So there is a response. Al Qaeda responds to that and they — they are quite annoyed with us. So if you drop — if you have a no- fly zone over Syria, that’s an act of war.

What if we had China put a no-fly zone over our territory? I don’t think — I don’t think we would like that.

And I think we should practice a policy of good will to other people. What about saying that we don’t do anything to any other country that we don’t have them do to us? When we have a no-fly zone over Iraq, it was for — meant to be regime change. And evidently, some want to have regime change.

What is our business? Why should we spend more money and more lives to get involved in another war? That’s an — that is the internal affairs of the other nations and we don’t want — we don’t need another nation to start nation building. We have way too many already. So this is just looking for more trouble. I would say why don’t we mind our own business?

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor Romney, where do you stand?

ROMNEY: Wolf, that is a foreign policy. It’s different than President Obama’s, but similar in some respects. President Obama’s foreign policy is one of saying, first of all, America’s just another nation with a flag.

I believe America is an exceptional and unique nation. President Obama feels that we’re going to be a nation which has multipolar balancing militaries. I believe that American military superiority is the right course. President Obama says that we have people throughout the world with common interests. I just don’t agree with him. I think there are people in the world that want to oppress other people, that are evil.

President Obama seems to think that we’re going to have a global century, an Asian century. I believe we have to have an American century, where America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

President Obama apologizes for America. It is time for us to be strong as a nation. And if we are strong, with a military and economy that are so strong, no one in the world will try and attempt to threaten us or to attack our friends.

BLITZER: Just to be precise, are you with Governor Perry…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: … on declaring a no-fly zone over Syria? ROMNEY: No, this is not — this is not the time for a no-fly zone over Syria. This is the time for us to use not only sanctions, but covert actions within Syria to get regime change there. There are people in the military that are shifting over, that are — that are becoming part of the rebel effort.

We should support those efforts. We need to meet with the Alawites to make sure they understand that they have a future after Assad, that they don’t have to link with him. He’s getting pressure now from both Turkey as well as Saudi Arabia. They’re coming and putting pressure on him. The Arab League is putting pressure on him.

We — that’s the right way to go. And by the way, they have 5,000 tanks in Syria. A no-fly zone wouldn’t be the right military action. Maybe a no-drive zone. I mean, this is — this is a nation — this is a nation which is not bombing its people, at this point, and the right course is not military.

BLITZER: We’re ready to wrap it up. But let me have Governor Perry react.

PERRY: Yes, as I said, I said the no-fly zone is one of the options that we have. But I think you need to leave it on the table to make sure, because this is not just about Syria. This is about Iran, and those two, as a partnership and exporting terrorism around the world. And if we’re going to be serious about saving Israel, we better get serious about Syria and Iran, and we better get serious right now.

BLITZER: All right. Let’s take another question from the audience. This is last question. Go ahead.

QUESTION: My name is Mark Teese (ph) and I’m a visiting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute. And my question has to do with the unexpected. During the 200 Presidential debates, Governor George W. Bush was never asked about the threat from Al Qaida, yet the battle with Al Qaida dominated his presidency. What national security issue do you worry about that nobody is asking about, either here or in any of the debates so far?

BLITZER: All right. Let’s go down the line and start with Senator Santorum. Give us a quick answer. What do you think?

SANTORUM: Well, I’ve spent a lot of time and concern — and Rick mentioned this earlier — about what’s going on in Central and South America. I’m very concerned about the militant socialists and there — and the radical Islamists joining together, bonding together.

I’m concerned about the spread of socialism and that this administration, with — time after time, whether it was the delay in moving forward on Colombia’s free trade agreement, whether it was turning our back to the Hondurans and standing up for democracy and the — and the rule of law.

And we took the side with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro for a corrupt President. We’ve sent all the wrong signals to Central and South America.

BLITZER: Thank you.

SANTORUM: You know, maybe the first trip I would take to Israel, but my second trip, and third and fourth, would be into Central and South America. We need to build a solid hemisphere and those people — and the people in south of our border need to know that we are going to…

BLITZER: All right.

SANTORUM: … solidarity with them and build strong alliances.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

I want to do this quickly, if we can, because we don’t have a lot of time.

Congressman?

PAUL: I worry most about overreaction on our part, getting involved in another war when we don’t need to, when we have been attacked, and our national security has not been at threat. And I worry a lot about people never have come around to understanding who the Taliban is and why they are motivated.

Taliban doesn’t mean they want to come here and kill us. The Taliban means they want to kill us over there because all they want to do is get people who occupy their country out of their country, just like we would if anybody tried to occupy us.

BLITZER: Governor Perry?

(APPLAUSE)

PERRY: I think, obviously, the big issue out there, and we’ve talked about it before, but I happen to think it’s China and how we’re — we’re going to deal with China.

And Communist China — when I think back about Ronald Reagan, and he said that the Soviet Union was destined for the ash heap of history, and he was correct, and I happen to think that Communist China is destined for the ash heap of history because they are not a country of virtues.

When you have 35,000 forced abortions a day in that country; when you have the cybersecurity that the PLA has been involved with, those are great and — and major issues, both morally and security-wise that we’ve got to deal with now.

BLITZER: All right. We’ve got to keep it brief. But, go ahead…

(APPLAUSE)

… Governor Romney. ROMNEY: Rick, in my view, is right with regards to long-term security interests, and that’s — and that’s China, although that’s very much on our agenda.

Immediately, the most significant threat is, of course, Iran becoming nuclear.

But I happen to think Senator Santorum is right with regards to the issue that doesn’t get enough attention. That’s the one that may come up that we haven’t thought about, which is Latin America. Because, in fact, Congressman, we have been attacked. We were attacked on 9/11. There have been dozens of attacks that have been thwarted by our — by our security forces. And we have, right now, Hezbollah, which is working throughout Latin America, in Venezuela, in Mexico, throughout Latin America, which poses a very significant and imminent threat to the United States of America.

BLITZER: Thank you, Governor. Mr. Cain?

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: Having been — having been a ballistics analyst and a computer scientist early in my career, cyber attacks: that’s something that we do not talk enough about, and I happen to believe that that is a national security area that we do need to be concerned about.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich?

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I — I helped create the Hart-Rudman Commission with President Clinton, and they came back after three years and said the greatest threat to the United States was the weapon of mass destruction in an American city, probably from a terrorist. That was before 9/11.

That’s one of the three great threats. The second is an electromagnetic pulse attack which would literally destroy the country’s capacity to function.

And the third, as Herman just said, is a cyber attack. All three of those are outside the current capacity of our system to deal with.

BLITZER: Thank you. Congresswoman?

BACHMANN: Well, I would agree with what my colleagues said up here on the stage. And also, we need to remember, we won the peace in Iraq. And now President Obama is intentionally choosing to give that peace away.

This is a significant issue because we’re taking the terrorist threat away from the Middle East, bringing it to the United States.

We talked about Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab is real. In my home state of Minnesota, we’ve just had two convictions of two women that are financing terror with Al-Shabaab. This threat, I believe, now is in the United States and now the threat has come home and that’s what we have to deal with.

BLITZER: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: I guess I could say China because I know a little bit about the subject matter, but they’re in for real trouble ahead.

So I have to say that our biggest problem is right here at home. And you can see it on every street corner. It’s called joblessness. It’s called lack of opportunity. It’s called debt, that has become a national security problem in this country. And it’s also called a trust deficit, a Congress that nobody believes in anymore, an executive branch that has no leadership, institutions of power that we no longer believe in.

How can we have any effect on foreign policy abroad when we are so weak at home? We have no choice. We’ve got to get on our feet here domestically.

BLITZER: Thank you to…

(APPLAUSE)

… all of you. And thanks to all of you as well. We have to leave it right there. We want to thank our partners, the American Enterprise Institute. We want to thank the Heritage Foundation. Thanks very much for watching. I’m Wolf Blitzer here at Constitution Hall.

(APPLAUSE)

Campaign Buzz November 22, 2011: CNN GOP National Security Republican Presidential Debate at Constitutional Hall, Washington, DC — Frontrunner Newt Gingrich Takes Center Stage on Immigration & Patriot Act

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

Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

Before the sparring began at the debate in Washington on Tuesday, the Republican presidential primary candidates paused as the national anthem was sung.

IN FOCUS: CNN GOP NATIONAL SECURITY REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE

Fact checking the GOP national security debate — CBS News, 11-22-11

Debate Highlights G.O.P.’s Lack of a Unified Security Vision: Most of the presidential candidates vowed to put any necessary steps to protect the nation ahead of worries about civil liberties…. – NYT, 11-22-11

Live Blogging the National Security Debate: Follow along for live updates, analysis and fact checks during the Republican national security debate…. – NYT, 11-22-11

Defense cuts, immigration policy: Key moments in Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate: Key moments in Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate…. – AP, 11-22-11

“I’m prepared to take the heat for saying let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship, but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.” — Newt Gingrich

“I think the speaker just said that he would make 11 people, 11 million people who are here illegally now, legal.” — Rep. Michele Bachmann

“A no-fly zone wouldn’t be the right military action — maybe a no-drive zone. — Mitt Romney

“We’ve got to get on our feet domestically.” — Jon Huntsman

“Africa was a country on the brink. On the brink of complete meltdown and chaos, which would have been fertile ground for the radical Islamists to be able to — to get — to get a foothol.” — Rick Santorum

 

  • Republican Presidential Hopefuls Debate National Security, Foreign Aid: US Republican presidential hopefuls debated how to deal with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran’s nuclear program Tuesday evening in their latest televised debate. Questioned about US aid to Pakistan, Texas Governor Rick Perry said he would cut the aid … – Voice of America, 11-22-11
  • GOP presidential candidates debate liberty vs. security in age of terrorism: The Republican presidential candidates grappled Tuesday with how to balance civil liberties and security, from the war on terrorism at home and abroad to check-in lines at airports. … – Miami Herald, 11-22-11
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  • Too Much Debate? Why the Republican Frontrunner Keeps Changing: Debates are doing in the Republican candidates one by one, and yet they can’t seem to stop talking. And we can’t seem to stop watching. Tuesday night’s debate was the 11th political face-off among the Republican candidates…. – Reuters, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich shows humane side on immigration: In his first debate as the Republican frontrunner, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took a political gamble Tuesday by wading into the volatile issue of limited amnesty for long-time illegal immigrants. … – CNN, 11-22-11
  • 2012 CNN foreign policy debate: Mitt Romney channels Rudy Giuliani: For one night only, anyway, but Mitt Romney just turned to Ron Paul as a foil to make the point about how the US was attacked on 9/11, which was why the nation is at war. FIghting with Paul as a hawk was a part of Rudy Giuliani’s debate strategy…. – Politico, 11-22-11
  • Patriot Act, security prompt GOP sparring in CNN National Security Debate: The Republican candidates for president outlined their visions for fighting terrorism and keeping the country safe during a CNN debate Tuesday held just down the street from the White House … – CNN, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich Calls for Regime Change in Iran: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called for replacing the leadership of Iran and said that could be accomplished within a year, adopting a more aggressive posture toward the US … – WSJ, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich at center stage, national security in the spotlight: Republican presidential candidates argued Tuesday night over what was more important — the need to fight terrorism or protect civil liberties — as they sought to define themselves on national … – USA Today, 11-22-11
  • Washington foreign policy debate: Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich mix it up: Some of Newt GIngrich’s critics have been taking him on over his past stands on immigration, and Michele Bachmann joined them onstage, pointing out that the former House Speaker supported, as she said, the federal DREAM Act. Gingrich disagreed. … – Politico, 11-22-11
  • GOP divides on foreign policy questions: The Republican presidential candidates sparred in a national security debate Tuesday night, dividing over the war in Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, foreign aid and more. The night was a stark contrast to the overall unity within the Republican Party…. – Politico, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich says cutting off Iran from gasoline, sabotaging its refineries would: Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich says the United States could “break Iran within a year” if allies worked together on a strategy instead of focusing on specific tactics. Gingrich says that ending gasoline sales to Iran and … – WaPo, 11-22-11
  • Gingrich ‘prepared to take the heat’ with talk of amnesty: In his first debate since jumping into the lead in the polls, Newt Gingrich took the lead on a controversial topic Tuesday night when he suggested that his fellow Republicans might reconsider their outright opposition to amnesty for … – LAT, 11-22-11
  • GOP debate recap: Yes, Herman Cain’s obsession with the topography of Iran showed up. No, Michele Bachmann’s friend, the Seven-Foot Doctor, didn’t. Probably the newsiest thing that happened in tonight’s Republican debate on national security was that Newt Gingrich went where Rick Perry should never have gone and tried to make a case for moderation on immigration…. – WaPo, 11-22-11
  • Candidates Vie For Air Time: Among the many things that pundits and party operatives alike will be considering during tonight’s GOP debate on CNN – the 11th debate of this primary season – is the following question: Does it appear as though some candidates are being asked more … – ABC News, 11-22-11
  • Networks walk a tightrope over crowded debates: Keeping the crowded Republican presidential debates fair, lively and topical at the same time can seem like the equivalent of juggling while walking a tightrope. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer is the next television personality on stage. … – CBS News, 11-22-11
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  • Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul clashed over the Patriot Act: Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul clashed over the Patriot Act at the start of Tuesday’s debate for GOP presidential candidates, with Gingrich saying terrorism means “all of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives. … – CNN, 11-22-11
  • At GOP debate, candidates spar over Patriot Act: It only took a few minutes for Newt Gingrich to display the bluntness that has become his signature quality during the Republican presidential debates. Gathered at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington, … – LAT, 11-22-11
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  • Gingrich, Paul tangle over Patriot Act as GOP candidates open national: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul are tangling over the Patriot Act as they open a Republican presidential debate on national security. Gingrich says he supports the anti- terrorism law that civil liberty activists object … – WaPo, 11-22-11
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  • Foreign policy debate: Ron Paul cites Oklahoma City on counter-terrorism: Ron Paul delivered the first philosophical dispute of CNN’s national security debate, disagreeing with Newt Gingrich’s support for the Patriot Act and pointing to the Oklahoma City attack as a threat dealt with through criminal law. … – Politico, 11-22-11
  • Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul Clash Over Patriot Act Extension: Saying “we will be in danger for the rest of our lives,” Newt Gingrich on Tuesday supported an extension of Patriot Act provisions to fight terrorism. Speaking at a CNN debate on national security at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC…. – Sunshine State News, 11-22-11
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