The four remaining Republican presidential candidates met in Detroit for the 11th debate of the primary season.
Fox News hosted the debate featuring front-runner Donald Trump, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The moderators were Fox News hosts Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.
Here is a complete transcript.
KELLY: Good evening, and welcome to the fabulous FOX Theatre in downtown Detroit, the site of the 11th Republican presidential debate of the 2016 campaign.
KELLY: I’m Megyn Kelly, along with my co-moderators, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.
BAIER: 59 Republican delegates are at stake here in the state of Michigan during next Tuesday’s Republican primary, the biggest prize out of four states holding contests that day. For tonight’s debate we’re partnering with Facebook. The conversation about this election has been intense, as the crowd is here.
Since January 1st, 53 million people in the U.S. have been talking about the election on Facebook.
WALLACE: Tonight there are just four candidates on this stage. Their position has been determined by their standing in an average of the five most recent national polls as recognized by FOX News, and conducted and released by March 1st. Here they are.
Businessman, Donald Trump.
Texas Senator, Ted Cruz.
Florida Senator, Marco Rubio.
And, Ohio Governor, John Kasich.
KELLY: Tonight’s rules are simple. Up to 60 seconds for each answer, 30 seconds for each follow-up response, and if a candidate goes over the allotted time, you will hear this.
BAIER: So pleasant.
BAIER: We have a big crowd here, and while we expect the audience to be enthusiastic and responsive at times… (CHEERING) (APPLAUSE)
BAIER: … they may have already been — we also expect them to be respectful, and we want the candidates to get their full time. So, somewhere between a library and a Red Wings game.
BAIER: Am I right? Is that OK?
Let’s get started.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, as you may have heard, the 2012 Republican nominee for President, Mitt Romney, had some things to say about you today.
He said your domestic policy will lead to recession, he’s said your foreign policy will make us less safe, and then he listed what he said are your personal qualities. Quoting now Romney on Trump, quote, “the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd, third-grade theatrics”.
He challenged you to answer with substance, not insults. How do you answer Mitt Romney, sir?
TRUMP: Well look, he was a failed candidate, he should have beaten president Obama very easy.
He failed miserably, and it was an embarrassment to everybody, including the Republican party. It looked like he went away on a vacation the last month. So, I don’t take that, and I guess, obviously, he wants to be relevant. He wants to be back in the game.
As far as domestic policy and trade which is killing our country, he said free trade and I believe in free trade also. But, if you look at China, and you look Japan, and if you look at Mexico, both at the border, by the way, where they’re killing us.
Both at the border, and with trade — and every other country we do business with we are getting absolutely crushed on trade. And, he said free trade, I say free trade great. But, not when they’re beating us so badly.
With China we’re going to lose $505 billion dollars in terms of trades. You just can’t do it.
Mexico, $58 billion dollars.
Japan, probably about, they don’t know it yet, but about $109 billion dollars.
Every country we lose money with. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve got to reduce — we have to redo our trade deals 100 percent. I have the greatest business people in the world lined up to do it. We will make…
TRUMP: … great trade deals.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, Romney also talked about your position on race, and the controversy over your failure to denounce David Duke on Sunday. You have repeatedly disavowed him since then, but I’d like to go deeper than that. What are your views on the Klu Klux Klan, and white supremacists?
TRUMP: I totally disavow the Klu Klux Klan. I totally disavow David Duke. I’ve been doing it now for two weeks, this is your — you’re probably about the 18th person that’s asked me the question. It was very clear, that question was also talked about in the form of groups. Groups, I want to know which groups are you talking about? You have to tell me which groups?
Ultimately, he got to the Klu Klux Klan, which obviously I’m going to disavow. And, by the way, if you look on my Twitter account, almost immediately after the program they were disavowed again.
You know, it’s amazing. When I do something on Twitter, everybody picks it up, goes all over the place. But, when I did this one nobody ever picks it up. Take a look at my Twitter account.
WALLACE: Thank you, sir.
TRUMP: Thank you. Thanks.
BAIER: Senator Rubio, three weeks ago you said, quote: “I don’t do the personal attacks, primarily because it’s not who I am, because I think it’s beneath the office that I’m seeking but also because I don’t want to embarrass my kids.”
But in the past week you’ve mocked Mr. Trump’s tan. You’ve made fun of his spelling. You called him a con artist. You suggested he wet himself backstage at the last debate, along with other vulgar jokes and jabs. So what happened?
RUBIO: Yes, you know, Bret, let me say something. This campaign for the last year Donald Trump has basically mocked everybody with personal attacks. He has done so to people that are sitting on the stage today. He has done so about people that are disabled. He has done it about every candidate in this race.
So if there is anyone who has ever deserved to be attacked that way, it has been Donald Trump, for the way he has treated people in the campaign.
Now that said, I would much prefer to have a policy debate. I hope that’s what we will have here tonight. Let’s have a policy debate…
TRUMP: And we will.
RUBIO: … let’s talk about Donald Trump’s strategy and my strategy and Ted’s strategy and John Kasich’s strategy when it comes to ISIS. And on health care and on the important issues facing this country.
But let’s be honest too about all this. The media has given these personal attacks that Donald Trump has made an incredible amount of coverage. Let’s start talking again about the issues that matter to this country. I’m ready to do that starting right here right now tonight.
BAIER: Mr. Trump, your response?
TRUMP: Well, I also happened to call him a lightweight, OK? And I have said that. So I would like to take that back. He is really not that much of a lightweight. And as far as — and I have to say this, I have to say this. He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I have never heard of this. Look at those hands. Are they small hands?
TRUMP: And he referred to my hands, if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee.
BAIER: OK. Moving on.
KELLY: OK, Senator Cruz, you say that you are the true conservative in this race. But 15 states have voted now, and you have won only four of them. You have lost repeatedly with what is supposed to be your core voter groups, including evangelicals and conservatives.
Hasn’t your brand of conservatism been rejected by an electorate that appears to be more taken with Mr. Trump’s populist message?
CRUZ: Well, Megyn, you know, at the end of the day for the folks at home, this is not about the insults back and forth between the candidates. This is not about what attacks we can throw at each other. This is the people at home who are struggling through seven years of Barack Obama.
This is the single moms who are working two and three jobs, 28, 29 hours a week because their hours have been forcibly reduced because of Obamacare. This is the truck drivers and the steel workers and the mechanics with calluses on their hands who have seen their wages not grow year after year after year while the cost of living goes up.
This is all the young people coming out of school with student loans up to their eyeballs that aren’t able to find a job.
And I don’t think the people of America are interested in a bunch of bickering school children. They are interested in solutions, not slogans. It’s easy to say, make things better, make things great. You can even print it and put it on a baseball cap.
But the question is, do you understand the principles that made America great in the first place? As president, I will repeal every word of Obamacare. I will pull back the regulators that are killing small businesses.
And we will pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. And what that’s going to do, Megyn, is small businesses are going to explode. We are going to see millions of high-paying jobs. We are going to see wages going up. We are going to see opportunity.
That’s where our focus needs to be. That’s where my focus is. And that is why our campaign is the only campaign that over and over again has beaten Donald Trump to date, and it’s why we are the one campaign that going forward can and will beat Donald Trump in this election.
KELLY: Go ahead, Mr. Trump. TRUMP: I have heard Ted say that over and over again on television, that he is the only one that can beat me. Just, for the record, I have won 10. He has won three or four. Last week, in fact, on Tuesday, I was a half a million votes higher than him. I was a million votes higher than Marco, 1 million votes. That’s a lot of votes. And was by far in first place.
So I keep hearing that he is the only one that can beat me but he is getting beaten very, very badly. So where does this come from? Where does it come from?
KELLY: Go ahead, Senator Rubio.
RUBIO: Yes, I would just say a couple of things. There is no doubt that Donald has done well in these elections. There is no doubt about that. The numbers are there.
Here is what the numbers also say. Two-thirds of the people who have cast a vote in a Republican primary or caucus have voted against you. They do not want you to be our nominee.
RUBIO: And, the reason why is because we are not going to turn over the conservative movement, or the party of Lincoln or Reagan, for example, to someone whose positions are not conservative. To someone who last week defended Planned Parenthood for 30 seconds a debate stage. To someone, for example, that has no ideas on foreign — someone who thinks the nuclear triad is a rock band from the 1980’s.
TRUMP: Oh yeah, you’re…
RUBIO: … To someone who time and again on issue after issue has not proven that he has the principals…
RUBIO: … That outline what the conservative movement has been about. And, as Ted said, the things that made America great.
America is great because of the conservative principles of limited government and free enterprise, and a strong national defense…
KELLY: … OK…
RUBIO: … And, our nominee needs to be someone that stands by those things…
KELLY: … Alright…
RUBIO: … Donald has not demonstrated that.
KELLY: … Go ahead, Mr. Trump, and then we’re going to have to go to Governor Kasich.
TRUMP: Very nice words, but happens to be wrong. CNN just came out with a poll two days ago that…
RUBIO: … (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: … That national poll — excuse me…
RUBIO: … (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: … The national poll — a national poll where he’s at 15, he’s at 14… RUBIO: … (INAUDIBLE)…
TRUMP: … And, I’m at 49, so when he says 75 percent, that would mean that 80 percent of the people don’t dig you, and I’m back down to 50…
RUBIO: … Of all the people on this stage, he performs the worst against Hillary Clinton.
RUBIO: … If you’re our nominee, we will lose…
TRUMP: … I beat Hillary Clinton. I beat Hillary Clinton in many polls…
RUBIO: … You lose by (INAUDIBLE) points (ph). She will wipe you out.
TRUMP: I beat Hillary Clinton in many polls…
RUBIO: If you’re our nominee (INAUDIBLE)…
KELLY: … Hold on, Senator, hold on…
TRUMP: … I think I’m talking…
RUBIO: … Oh, excuse me (INAUDIBLE)…
TRUMP: … I beat Hillary Clinton…
KELLY: … Hold on, hold on, hold on…
TRUMP: … I hope you think (INAUDIBLE)…
KELLY: … The audience cannot understand when you’re talking over each other. Finish your point, Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: … I beat Hillary Clinton in many polls. The Cue (ph) poll just came out. I beat Hillary Clinton in a recent Fox poll, I beat Hillary Clinton in USA Today, I beat her today in a poll in Ohio. I beat — I’m the only one that beats Hillary Clinton.
I beat — and I have not started on Hillary yet. Believe me, I will…
TRUMP: … start soon. I haven’t even started.
BAIER: Governor Kasich, today you admitted that you have a narrow path to the nomination through a contested convention. Today also Mitt Romney proposed that Republicans should vote for Senator Rubio in Florida. They should vote for you in Ohio. They should vote for Senator Cruz in states that he can beat Mr. Trump to prevent Mr. Trump from getting the nomination.
So, do you buy Romney’s blueprint, and can you say tonight to your Florida supporters that they should vote for Senator Rubio to get a contested convention?
KASICH: You know, this so much about process. It frankly is boring to me. I would like it clear though, since we’re talking about polls, I beat Hillary Clinton by more than 11 points, and the reason it happens…
TRUMP: … In one poll…
KASICH: … The reason it happens…
TRUMP: … In one poll…
KASICH: … You know, the reason is because, as the Democrats tell me all the time, I can get the crossover votes. You see, because throughout this campaign I’ve talked about issues, I have never tried to go and get into these scrums that we’re seeing here on the stage. And, people say everywhere I go, “you seem to be the adult on the stage.”
In terms of — you know, Mitt Romney’s a great guy, but he doesn’t determine my strategy. The fact of the matter is I’m running for president because I worked hard to fix this country when I was in Washington as the Chairman of the Budget Committee where we had some of the most significant job growth after we balanced the budget.
We had wages going up, it was very successful in Ohio. Our wages grow faster than the national average. We’re up over 400,000 jobs. We paid down, back in the old days, they paid down half a trillion dollars of the national debt. It’s a formula that works. And, I believe that formula will work when I return to Washington as the president.
And, by the way, I won’t need on the job training because I know how to do all of this, and within the first 100 days I will have a plan that will pass the Congress because…
KASICH: … It is reasonable, and I can bring both sides together…
BAIER: … But Governor, this is all about process. For voters, they need to see a path to get to the nomination if they’re going to support you.
On Super Tuesday you finished in single digits in nine out of 11 states. So, you can see that your path is through a contested convention. How do you…
KASICH: … Well, Bret, I think we’re all really there. I mean, the simple fact is that, you know, you all wrote me off. You wrote me off before I even got to New Hampshire, then when I finished in New Hampshire you wrote me off in the South, then you wrote me off in Super Tuesday.
I split delegates in Vermont with Donald Trump, I finished second in Massachusetts, and we won delegates in Virginia. But, guess what? It’s now March Madness and we’re heading up North to the place — to my turf, OK?
KASICH: And, let me just tell you this, I will win Ohio, and I am going to move all across this country, and over time as people begin to finally hear my message — you know what people say, Bret, to me all the time?
Why don’t they give you any time on the debate stage? Why is that?
KASICH: So now all of a sudden, I’m starting to get it, and what I want the people to know is, I know how to bring people together, Republicans and Democrats. I have successfully, both at the federal level and the state level brought economic growth, wage growth, and economic security to this country.
And I want to go back and do it again, and I’m going to keep talking about my message of bringing people together and motivating people in the neighborhoods that realize they don’t need somebody from Washington galloping in. There are many things they can do where they live, because the strength of our country is in our neighborhoods and our families. And I’m going to keep doing this.
BAIER: Thank you.
WALLACE: Well, then, we want to focus now on the economy, which is one of the top issues on Facebook, with 6.6 million people discussing it online. A lot of that conversation is happening here in Detroit, where the unemployment rate is 10.9 percent. That’s more than double the national average.
Senator Rubio, you have taken to calling Mr. Trump a con artist who portrays himself as a hero to working people while he’s really been, in your words, “sticking it” to the American workers for 40 years. But he has built a big company that employs thousands of people. Question. How many jobs have you created?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, government doesn’t…
First of all, Chris, my point is exactly right. He has spent a career of convincing Americans that he’s something that he’s not in exchange for their money. Now he’s trying to do the same in exchange for their country. This is a fact. He talks about these great businesses that he’s built. He inherited over $100 million.
TRUMP: Wrong. Wrong.
RUBIO: And with that money, he lost more money than he made.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, it’s not your turn. You’ll get your turn, sir.
RUBIO: He can start tonight by announcing that all the Donald Trump clothing will no longer be made in China and in Mexico, but will be made here in the United States.
And on the issue of job creation, I find this interesting. The private sector creates jobs. The jobs of those of us in public service are to put in place policies that allow the economy to grow.
That’s the problem with the Democratic Party. They think government is what creates jobs. Government does not create jobs.
Now, the way you create jobs is you make America the easiest and the best place in the world to start a business or to expand an existing business. If you go on my website, marcorubio.com, you will see a real plan to fix our taxes, to roll back regulations, to repeal and replace Obamacare, not just lines around the states. Serious policies and proposals.
WALLACE: Sir? Mr. Trump, I’d like you to respond. You have 30 seconds to respond. But as part of that, could you respond to his specific assertion about Trump Collection clothes, which you say some of it is made in Mexico?
TRUMP: This little guy has lied so much…
RUBIO: Here we go.
TRUMP: … about my record.
RUBIO: Here we go. It’s personal.
TRUMP: He has lied so much about my record.
WALLACE: Mr. Rubio — Senator Rubio, why don’t you let him finish?
TRUMP: And I will tell you this. First of all, I got a call from my sister and brother tonight, and they said we had no idea Dad gave you $200 million. Believe me, I started off with $1 million. I built a company that’s worth more than $10 billion. And I say it not in a bragging way, but that’s the kind of thinking we need.
Very low debt, tremendous cash flow. My financials are all — they’re all in there with the federal elections. You’ve seen them. Everybody has seen them. I say it only because that’s the kind of thinking this country needs with $19 trillion in debit. Believe me.
WALLACE: But wait one second. Specifically and quickly on the question, will you promise that you will — and how soon will you move your clothing collection, the clothes that are made in China and Mexico?
TRUMP: They devalue their currencies. I will do that. And by the way, I have been doing it more and more. But they devalue their currencies, in particular China. Mexico is doing a big number now, also. Japan is unbelievable what they’re doing.
They devalue their currencies, and they make it impossible for clothing-makers in this country to do clothing in this country. And if you look at what’s happened on Seventh Avenue, and you look at what’s happened in New York with the garment industry, so much of the clothing now comes out from Vietnam, China, and other places. And it’s all because of devaluation.
By the way, the Trans-Pacific, if you look at the TPP, a total disaster, which, by the way, Marco is in favor of, they need — it is a disaster for our country. It’s trying to be approved by various people, including President Obama. And I’ll tell you something. The biggest problem with that is: They don’t take into concurrence the devaluation. They’re devaluing their currency.
WALLACE: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Trump. Senator Rubio?
TRUMP: And they’re killing — they’re going to…
WALLACE: Wait, wait, Senator Rubio.
RUBIO: The answer is, he’s not going to do it. And you know why? Because there are plenty of clothing makers in America.
RUBIO: If you go on my website, marcorubio.com, everything we have on there is made in America. The reason why he makes it in China or Mexico is because he can make more money on it. That’s why he’s doing it.
And the second point, you see what happens, again, when you challenge him on a policy issue. You asked him about the economy, and the first thing he does is launch an attack about some little guy thing. Because he doesn’t have answers.
TRUMP: No, no. I have very good answers.
RUBIO: And he’s asking us to make him the president of the United States of America.
RUBIO: This is not a game.
TRUMP: I know what’s happening with the economy. You don’t know a thing.
RUBIO: Well, then answer the economy question.
TRUMP: You haven’t employed in your life one person.
RUBIO: But he doesn’t answer the employment question.
TRUMP: I have employed tens of thousands of people.
TRUMP: You haven’t employed one person.
RUBIO: You ever heard of Trump Steaks? You ever heard of Trump Vodka?
TRUMP: Oh, you know what? You know what? Take a look at Trump Steaks.
RUBIO: All of these companies he has ruined.
TRUMP: By the way, that’s the other thing…
RUBIO: Trump Steaks is gone. You have ruined these companies.
TRUMP: Mitt Romney…
TRUMP: … false, totally false. And now the funny thing is he didn’t talk about the hundreds of really successful jobs, the buildings all over the world that have made a fortune.
WALLACE: I have a policy question for you, sir.
RUBIO: Let’s see if he answers it.
TRUMP: I will. Don’t worry about it, Marco. Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it little Marco, I will.
RUBIO: All right, well, let’s hear it big Donald.
TRUMP: Don’t worry about it, little Marco.
WALLACE: Gentlemen. Gentlemen.
WALLACE: You have got to do better than this. TRUMP: This guy has a number one — the number one absentee record in the United States…
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I would like to ask you a policy question.
TRUMP: He doesn’t show up to vote.
WALLACE: Your proposed tax cut…
TRUMP: That’s why the people in Florida do not like him.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, your proposed tax cut would add $10 trillion to the nation’s debt over 10 years, even if the economy grows the way that you say it will. You insist that you could make up for a good deal of that, you say, by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse.
WALLACE: Like what? And please be specific.
TRUMP: Department of Education. We’re cutting Common Core. We’re getting rid of Common Core. We’re bringing education locally. Department of Environmental Protection. We are going to get rid are of it in almost every form. We’re going to have little tidbits left but we’re going to take a tremendous amount out.
We have various other things. If you look at the IRS, if you look at every single agency, we can cut it down, and I mean really cut it down and save. The waste, fraud, and abuse is massive.
Larry Kudlow, great guy, everybody respects him, said my plan for taxes and tax cutting is the best by far of everybody.
WALLACE: But, Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump, your numbers don’t add up. Please put up full screen number four. The Education Department, you talk about cutting, the total budget for the education department is $78 billion.
And that includes Pell grants for low-income students and aid to states for special education. I assume you wouldn’t cut those things. The entire budget for the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, $8 billion.
WALLACE: The deficit this year is $544 billion. That’s more than a half trillion dollars. Your numbers don’t add up, sir.
TRUMP: Let me explain something. Because of the fact that the pharmaceutical companies — because of the fact that the pharmaceutical companies are not mandated to bid properly, they have hundreds of billions of dollars in waste.
We don’t bid properly. We don’t have proper bidding procedures. The reason we don’t is because they take care of all of the senators, all of the congressman, and they don’t bid. They don’t go out to bid. WALLACE: Mr. Trump…
TRUMP: Take a look — excuse me. You are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars…
WALLACE: No, you are not.
TRUMP: … if we went out to the proper bid. Of course you are.
WALLACE: No, you’re not, sir. Let’s put up full screen number 2.
You say that Medicare could save $300 billion a year negotiating lower drug prices. But Medicare total only spends $78 billion a year on drugs. Sir, that’s the facts. You are talking about saving more money on Medicare prescription drugs…
TRUMP: I’m saying saving through negotiation throughout the economy, you will save $300 billion a year.
WALLACE: But that doesn’t really cut the federal deficit.
TRUMP: And that’s a huge — of course it is. We are going to buy things for less money. Of course it is. That works out…
WALLACE: That’s the only money that we buy — the only drugs that we pay for is through Medicare.
TRUMP: I’m not only talking about drugs, I’m talking about other things. We will save $300 billion a year if we properly negotiate. We don’t do that. We don’t negotiate. We don’t negotiate anything.
KASICH: Can I…
WALLACE: No. I promise I will get to you in a moment, sir.
Senator Cruz, one of centerpieces of your campaign, in fact, you mentioned it again tonight, is that you will abolish the IRS. Question though, who will collect the taxes that you are still calling for? Who will oversee to make sure that people pay the taxes that they rightfully owe? And who will check on the various tax deductions and tax credits that you still want?
CRUZ: So my simple flat tax I have rolled out in precise detail how it will operate where every American can fill out our taxes on a postcard. And if you want to actually see the postcard, see all the details, you can find them on our Web site. It’s tedcruz.org.
When he we get rid of all the corporate welfare, all the subsidies, all the carve-outs in the IRS code, it dramatically simplifies it. And under Obama, the IRS has become so corrupt and so politicized we need to abolish it all together.
Now, at the end of that there will still be an office in the Treasury Department to receive the postcards but it will be dramatically simpler.
CRUZ: And let me take a moment, Chris, to go back to go back to this exchange that was going on.
In between all of the insults, let me point out the specificity that was lacking. It’s very easy to say, “Let’s cut waste, fraud, and abuse.” I’ve rolled out a detailed plan to cut $500 billion in federal spending, specifying exactly what I would cut.
It’s easy to say it, but one of the great disconnects to all the people, all of the voters, I understand the folks who are supporting Donald right now. You’re angry. You’re angry at Washington, and he uses angry rhetoric.
But for 40 years, Donald has been part of the corruption in Washington that you’re angry about.
And you’re not going to stop the corruption in Washington by supporting someone who has supported liberal Democrats for four decades, from Jimmy Carter to John Kerry to Hillary Clinton. You’re not going to stop the corruption and the cronyism by supporting someone who has used government power for private gain. Instead, we need a president who stands with the American people.
WALLACE: Governor Kasich, I promise I will get to you. But you do get 30 seconds to respond, Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: Well, all of a sudden, I hear for 40 years I’ve been involved in Washington. I have been supporting people for many years. And these people have been politicians, and they’ve been on both sides, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives. I’ve supported everybody, because, until recently, I wasn’t a politician, and I hope maybe you don’t all consider me a politician right now. I hate the term politician.
But I’ve been supporting politicians. A recent article somewhere said Donald Trump is a world-class businessman who goes out and he does get along with everybody. I’ve supported Democrats, and I’ve supported Republicans. And as a businessman, I owed that to my company, to my family, to my workers, to everybody to get along.
Part of the problem we have in Washington, Chris…
WALLACE: Mr. Trump…
TRUMP: … is it’s total gridlock. Nobody gets along. We need people to get along. We need to be able to get things done.
WALLACE: Governor Kasich, Democrats, as you know, will make income inequality a big issue in the general election. You support raising the minimum wage, although you say not to the $15 an hour that Democrats are talking about. Mr. Trump opposes any increase because he says it will price American workers out of the world market. Is he wrong about that? No increase in the minimum wage?
KASICH: Well, well, wait a minute, first of all, I didn’t say I was for an increase in the federal minimum wage. I said in Ohio we increased it modestly every single year. So I’m not for a federal minimum wage increase.
WALLACE: But you did talk about states doing it.
KASICH: Well, states — if states want to do it, they ought to sit down with businesspeople and the lawmakers and figure out what will work. But hold on a second here with everything else.
I’m the only person on this stage who actually was the chief architect of balancing the federal budget. It’s not a theory for me. It’s not — it’s not some — you have to know how to put everything together. And you know, I spent 10 years of my life to get there, and I did not do that because I’m worshiping at some balanced budget shrine.
The reason I did it is when you have commonsense regulations, lower taxes on individuals and businesses, and you have a fiscal plan that makes sense, the job creators will expand employment. And what happened? When I was there, the jobs were exploding. Bill Clinton’s tried to take credit for it. When I went to Ohio, we’re up 400,000 jobs. It’s the same formula.
But it isn’t easy. I fought the entire Washington establishment and won, because when you balance a budget, you must affect every single thing. Everything in the federal government specifically. You cannot get there with theories or broad statements, and you have to be willing to take the heat. In fact, I fought a Republican president, who I thought was not offering constructive proposals to fix this economy.
So when we talk about all this, there’s one person on this stage and one person who’s been a candidate for president in either party that restored economic strength, growth, a balanced budget, paid down debt, cut taxes, the things that people in this country want. No theories. Reality.
WALLACE: Thank you, Governor.
KELLY: All right. Let’s talk immigration for a little bit. Senator Cruz, let’s start with you. You have repeatedly touted how you have stood shoulder to shoulder with Senator Jeff Sessions to fight illegal immigration and amnesty. But Senator Sessions just endorsed Donald Trump. If voters want Jeff Sessions-style immigration policies, isn’t their choice rather clear?
CRUZ: Yes, their choice is very clear. If you look to the actual record — you know, Donald mentioned a moment ago that he was just doing business when he was writing checks to liberal Democrats. But that’s not, in fact, the checks he was writing.
Listen, we could all understand if you write a check to a city commission because you’re looking for a zoning waiver on building a building. That may be corrupt, but you could understand real estate developers doing that.
CRUZ: That’s not what Donald Trump did. Donald Trump supported Jimmy Carter over Ronald Reagan. Donald supported John Kerry over George W. Bush. If you don’t like Obamacare, Donald Trump funded Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi taking over Congress to pass Obamacare.
On immigration, if you don’t like amnesty, if you don’t like the Gang of Eight, Donald Trump funded five of the eight members of the Gang of Eight $50,000.
And let’s talk about this election. The choice Republican primary voters are making is who is best prepared to stand up to Hillary Clinton and beat Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump has written checks to Hillary Clinton not once, not twice, not three times. Ten times. And four of those checks were not to her Senate campaign. It wasn’t that she was the New York senator and it was a cost of doing business. It was to her presidential campaign.
Donald Trump in 2008 wrote four checks to elect Hillary Clinton as president.
CRUZ: So I’d like to ask Donald, why did you write checks to Hillary Clinton to be president in 2008? It wasn’t for business. And how can you stand on a debate stage now with her and say you don’t think she should be president?
TRUMP: Actually, it was for business. It was. It was. It was for business. I pride myself, including outside of the United States. I’m doing almost 120 deals outside of the — which I hope to be able to stop very soon and let my children handle it — but we’re doing many, many deals outside of the United States.
I support politicians. In 2008, I supported Hillary Clinton. I supported many other people, by the way. And that was because of the fact that I’m in business. I did support very heavily Ronald Reagan. I also supported George Bush, by the way.
KELLY: All right. Mr. Trump…
CRUZ: But what would you say…
KELLY: Well, stand by — stand by, Senator Cruz.
CRUZ: … to Hillary Clinton on the debate stage when you wrote her a check in 2008, wrote her four checks to be president?
TRUMP: Let me tell you, something, Ted. The last person that Hillary Clinton wants to face is Donald Trump. That I can…
KELLY: Let’s move on. And with all due respect, we have — we have questions. We have questions.
TRUMP: That I can tell you.
KELLY: No, no, no. Hold on. Hold on. We can do more of this later. Mr. Trump, hi.
KELLY: How are you doing?
TRUMP: Nice to be with you, Megyn.
KELLY: Great to have you here.
TRUMP: You’re looking well. You’re looking well.
KELLY: As are you.
Back in January, you gave an off-the-record interview to the New York Times. It was apparently audiotaped. Now, a recent report in Buzzfeed citing sources at the Times reports that in that interview you expressed flexibility when it comes to your immigration policy, specifically with respect to your promise to deport the 11 million people who are now living here illegally. You have suggested that you may have expressed some flexibility when it comes to the size of the wall that you want to build. But did you tell them, specifically, that you are flexible when it comes to your deportation plan?
TRUMP: I don’t know exactly what — when you talk about off the record. First of all, Buzzfeed? They were the ones that said under no circumstances will I run for president. And were they wrong. But a lot of people said that.
Then, I did have a meeting with the editorial board of the New York Times, a very nice meeting. Many of those things were off the record, I think at their suggestion and my suggestion. And I think being off the record is a very important thing. I think it’s a very, very powerful thing.
And I will say this. These three gentlemen have gone off the record many times with reporters. And I think they want to honor it, and I would always honor that.
I will say, though, in terms of immigration — and almost anything else — there always has to be some, you know, tug and pull and deal. And, you know, when I watch Ted stand on the Senate floor, I had great respect for what he did. He stood there for a day-and-a- half or something. In the meantime, what came of it? Nothing. You have to be able to have some flexibility, some negotiation.
Now, sometimes you ask for more than you want and you negotiate down to the point. I may have discussed something like that with the New York Times, but I would never release off-the-record conversations. I don’t think it’s fair, frankly, to do that to anybody.
KELLY: How flexible are you on this issue?
TRUMP: Not very flexible. No, not very flexible. I give the example — I’m going to build a wall. I’m the one that wants the wall. I’m the one that can build the wall.
It’s going to get built. And by the way, Mexico is going to pay for the wall. I can tell you that. Mexico is going to pay for the wall.
But — and I used an example. And this isn’t necessarily what was said, but whatever was said, the wall’s 50 feet high. Is it going to be 45 feet or 40 feet? That could very well be. That could very well — he wants it to be higher.
That could very well be. But there’s always give and take. There’s always negotiation. And the best negotiator that knows what he’s doing will make a great deal. But we need give and take in government. If you don’t have give and take, you’re never going to agree on anything.
KELLY: Senator Rubio, you not only supported the failed immigration reform effort through the Gang of Eight, but you’re still on record as favoring an eventual path to citizenship for those who are here illegally. And in addition…
… you favored in-state tuition for Florida illegal immigrants. You’ve been hitting Mr. Trump hard on this flexibility discussion with the New York Times, but his supporters might say at least his opening stance was tough.
RUBIO: Well, first of all, let me say that on the issue of the off-the-record, that’s not up to the New York Times. That’s up to you, Donald. If tonight you tell the New York Times to release the audio, they will do it, and we can exactly see what your true views are on immigration…
TRUMP: Fine (ph).
RUBIO: … because it is a major issue, in your campaign that you’ve made a center issue. Now, as far as my record on it is concerned, I absolutely want to solve this issue. And I did the best we could in a Senate that was controlled by liberal Democrats and Harry Reid in the hopes that the House, made up of conservatives, would take it up and make it even stronger. And I said that repeatedly at the time.
I’m not just saying that now; I said it throughout that process. We do need to do with this issue.
RUBIO: When I’m president it will not be dealt with the way it was done in the Senate.
It will be done first and foremost by bringing illegal immigration under control and proving it to the American people. And only after that is done can anything else happen.
And it will be something the American people support. We’ll see what they are willing to support. It’s not going to be an executive order and we’re not going to ram it down their throats.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, we will let respond, but will you release the tapes? Will you authorize of The Times to release the tapes?
TRUMP: I will say one thing, what Marco said is — I understand it. He is talking about a little give and take and a little negotiation. And you know what? That’s OK. That’s not the worst thing in the world.
There is nothing wrong with that. I happen to be much stronger on illegal immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio endorsed me. And if he endorses you, believe me, you are the strongest, from Arizona.
But give and take is OK. And I thought what he said is OK. We may differ on the degree. But what he said to me is OK.
KELLY: Will you release the tapes?
TRUMP: No. I never do that. I would not do that. I don’t think — I have too much respect — if I deal with you off the record, if I deal with Bret or Chris off the record, I have too much respect for that process to say, just release everything. I would not do that.
KELLY: OK. Stand by. We’re going to continue this right after the break. We have more.
BAIER: Coming up, more with Megyn on immigration, plus questions on other top issues, including the war on terror. The “FOX News Republican Presidential Debate Live from Detroit” continues after a quick break.
KELLY: Welcome back everybody to the FOX News Republican presidential debate, live from the FOX theater here in Detroit. Let’s get back now to the questions.
Mr. Trump, your campaign website to this day argues that more visas for highly skilled workers would, quote, “decimate American workers”. However, at the CNBC debate, you spoke enthusiastically in favor of these visas. So, which is it?
TRUMP: I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can’t do it, we’ll get them in. But, and we do need in Silicon Valley, we absolutely have to have.
So, we do need highly skilled, and one of the biggest problems we have is people go to the best colleges. They’ll go to Harvard, they’ll go to Stanford, they’ll go to Wharton, as soon as they’re finished they’ll get shoved out. They want to stay in this country. They want to stay here desperately, they’re not able to stay here. For that purpose, we absolutely have to be able to keep the brain power in this country.
KELLY: So you abandoning the position on your website…
TRUMP: … I’m changing it, and I’m softening the position because we have to have talented people in this country.
KELLY: And you’re not releasing the discussion with the New York Times behind closed doors…
TRUMP: … That is correct.
KELLY: Which will have some asking whether, on your immigration policies, you’re really just playing to people’s fantasies, which is a tactic…
TRUMP: … No, I’m not playing.
KELLY: … you praised in your book, The Art of the Deal.
TRUMP: I’m not playing to anybody’s fantasies, I’m playing to the fact that our country is in trouble, that we have a tremendous problem with crime. The border is a disaster, it’s like a piece of Swiss cheese. We’re going to stop it, we’re going to stop people from coming into our country illegally. We’re going to stop it.
KELLY: Senator Cruz, not long ago you propose quintupling the number of these foreign worker visas. After you announced for president, you reversed yourself, citing reports that the program was being abused. But, that abuse had been around long before your 180. In fact, it was so bad that just a few months earlier that a bipartisan group of senators called for an investigation and you declined to join them.
Isn’t it a good thing that the American public didn’t trust Ted on that one?
CRUZ: Well, the abuse of the H1-B program has been rampant. On the face of that H1-B abuse, I have proposed, and promised as president that I will impose a 180 day moratorium on the H1B program to implement a comprehensive investigation and audit because you got U.S. companies that are firing American workers, bringing in foreign workers, and forcing them to train their replacements.
And, I would note that is not dissimilar to what we discovered at the last debate concerning the hotel that Donald owns down in Florida. Down in Florida that hotel has brought in hundreds of foreign workers, and afterwards it was really striking.
I watched the CNN interview Donald did where he explained, he said, well the problem is you can’t find Americans who are qualified, or who want to work as waiters and waitresses. Now, let me ask the people here, how many people have worked as a waiter or waitress?
CRUZ: Millions across this country. That is an astonishing statement. You know, Marco’s Dad started as a bartender. My Dad started washing dishes, and yet, you know how many Americans wanted those jobs?
CRUZ: Roughly 300 applied, Donald hired 17. And, that’s why this New York Times tape is so troubling because what’s been reported is that Donald told the Editorial Board of the New York Times what I’m saying on immigration, I don’t believe. I’m not going to build a wall, I’m not going to deport people, this is all just rhetoric for the voters.
Now, if he didn’t say that, he has an easy solution. Simply release the tape.
But, for everyone at home who’s mad at politicians that lied to us, Donald’s record right now as he standing here…
KELLY: … OK.
CRUZ: … His record right now is one of repeatedly hiring illegal aliens…
KELLY: … Times up, sir…
CRUZ: … abusing (ph) American workers…
KELLY: … Go ahead, Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: First of all I’ve had tens of thousands of people working for me, most of which are — 98, 97, 98 percent of the people in this country, from this country. I’m very proud of it. You have a club in Palm Beach, Florida called the Mar-a-Lago Club, it’s a very, very successful club. It has a very short season, it’s called, the Season, and it goes from November until March.
It’s a few months, five months at the most. People don’t want a short-term job. They don’t want — so, we will bring people in, and we will send the people out. All done legally, all done with the process that’s…
TRUMP: … Approved by government in Palm Beach, or West Palm Beach. We bring people in, we bring them out. We want to hire as many Americans as we can, but they don’t want part-time, very short part-time jobs.
KELLY: Understood. Thank you.
RUBIO: That’s not accurate. I’m sorry, Megyn, that’s not accurate. That’s my — there were at least 300 Americans that applied last year, none of them were hired. Some of them…
TRUMP: … Wrong…
RUBIO: … have been interviewed…
TRUMP: … That’s wrong.
RUBIO: … They were not hired…
TRUMP: … Wrong…
RUBIO: … And, here’s why he does it this way, let me explain why he (INAUDIBLE) H2-B…
TRUMP: … Wrong…
RUBIO: … Because when you bring them in this way, when you bring someone in on one of these visas they can’t go work for anybody else. They either work for you or they have to go back home. You basically have them captive, so you don’t have to worry about competing for higher wages with another hotel down the street. And, that’s why you bring workers from abroad.
You argue that you’re here to fight on behalf of the American worker, but when you have chances to help the American worker…
RUBIO: … but when you have chances to help the American workers, you’re making your clothes overseas and you’re hiring your workers from overseas.
KELLY: Go ahead, sir.
TRUMP: The — the — the other hotels during the season, they do the same thing. They take in a lot of people, because you can’t get them. They take in a lot of people. Long-term employees, we don’t do that, but short-term employees, we have no choice but to do it, and other hotels in that very, very hot area. It is a very hot area.
RUBIO: There were Americans in that hot area.
TRUMP: It’s very, very hard to get people. But other hotels do the exact same thing. And just so you understand, just again, this is a legal process. This is a procedure. It’s part of the law. I take advantage of that. There’s nothing wrong with it. We have no choice.
KELLY: All right.
CRUZ: Donald, you could resolve this issue very quickly by simply…
… releasing the New York Times tape. Because, listen, maybe it’s right.
TRUMP: This wasn’t on the subject.
CRUZ: … that you didn’t tell them you’re misleading the American people. If that’s the case…
TRUMP: Tapes were not on the subject, but that’s…
CRUZ: If you didn’t tell them that, the tapes will prove you’re innocent.
CRUZ: But if, in fact, you went to Manhattan and said I’m lying to the American people, then the voters have a right to know.
TRUMP: No, no. You’re the liar. You’re the lying guy up here.
CRUZ: Because we’ve been lied to too many times.
TRUMP: You’re the — you’re the one. You’re the one.
CRUZ: Why don’t you release the tapes? Release the tapes.
TRUMP: You’re the one. Now, let me just tell you. Let me just tell you.
TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me. I’ve given my answer, Lyin’ Ted. I’ve given my answer.
KELLY: All right. Let’s leave it at that.
Let’s leave it at that. We have more to get to.
BAIER: Gentlemen, the next topic to discuss is terrorism. Senator Rubio, ISIS is a big topic of conversation on Facebook. We have a map that shows the conservation about ISIS around the country. You proposed sending a larger number of American ground troops to help defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq…
RUBIO: That’s correct, and Libya.
BAIER: … but military commanders say the biggest ISIS threat to Europe in particular now is coming from Libya, not Syria.
BAIER: So just to be clear, if you’re for putting more U.S. ground troops in Iraq and Syria, are you also ready to send U.S. ground troops on the ground in Libya?
RUBIO: Well, Bret, what I’ve argued from the very beginning is ISIS — in order to defeat ISIS, you must deny them operating spaces. This is how ISIS or any radical group, for that matter, can grow. It’s how Al Qaida was able to carry out 9/11, is that the Taliban gave them an operating space in Afghanistan.
Today that operating space has largely been based in Iraq and Syria, but I’ve been warning about the Libyan presence for the better part of two years. So they need to be targeted wherever they have an operating space. They do need to be defeated on the ground by a ground force made up primarily of Sunni Arabs themselves. This is a radical Sunni movement. They can only be defeated if they are driven out and the territory is held by Sunni Arabs. But it will require a specific number of American special operators, in combination with an increase in air strikes. And that will include, if necessary, operating spaces in Libya, which, in fact, they are using to project into the Sinai against Egypt and ultimately into Europe, as well.
BAIER: Governor Kasich, would you put ground troops in Libya?
KASICH: Well, first of all, just to be clear, not only did I serve for 18 years on the Defense Committee, more than anybody on this stage, but, secondly, I was called into the Pentagon after 9/11 to help Secretary Rumsfeld with some of his difficulties.
I will say, look, let me tell you what happened with Libya. And I pointed out in the last debate — Hillary Clinton worked aggressively to depose Moammar Gadhafi. We had no business doing it. He was working with us. He was cooperating with us. He denuclearized. And now they pushed him out, and now we have a fertile ground for ISIS.
Fortunately in Libya, there’s only a few cities on the coast, because most of Libya is a desert. The fact of the matter is, we absolutely have to be — and not just with special forces. I mean, that’s not going to work. Come on. You’ve got to go back to the invasion when we pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. We have to be there on the ground in significant numbers. We do have to include our Muslim Arab friends to work with us on that. And we have to be in the air.
And we — it should be a broad coalition, made up of the kinds of people that were involved when we defeated Saddam. Now, you’ve got to be on the ground and in the air both in Syria and Iraq. And at some point, we will have to deal with Libya. I am very concerned about ISIS getting their hands on the oilfields in Libya and being able to fund their operations. The fact is cool, calm, deliberate, effective, take care of the job, and then come home. That’s what we need to do with our military foreign policy.
BAIER: Mr. Trump, just yesterday, almost 100 foreign policy experts signed on to an open letter refusing to support you, saying your embracing expansive use of torture is inexcusable. General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, NSA director, and other experts have said that when you asked the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorists’ families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding, the military will refuse because they’ve been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders.
So what would you do, as commander-in-chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?
TRUMP: They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.
BAIER: But they’re illegal.
TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you look at the Middle East. They’re chopping off heads. They’re chopping off the heads of Christians and anybody else that happens to be in the way. They’re drowning people in steel cages. And he — now we’re talking about waterboarding.
This really started with Ted, a question was asked of Ted last — two debates ago about waterboarding. And Ted was, you know, having a hard time with that question, to be totally honest with you. They then came to me, what do you think of waterboarding? I said it’s fine. And if we want to go stronger, I’d go stronger, too, because, frankly…
… that’s the way I feel. Can you imagine — can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we’re having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That’s my opinion.
BAIER: But targeting terrorists’ families?
TRUMP: And — and — and — I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.
BAIER: Even targeting terrorists’ families?
TRUMP: Well, look, you know, when a family flies into the World Trade Center, a man flies into the World Trade Center, and his family gets sent back to where they were going — and I think most of you know where they went — and, by the way, it wasn’t Iraq — but they went back to a certain territory, they knew what was happening. The wife knew exactly what was happening.
They left two days early, with respect to the World Trade Center, and they went back to where they went, and they watched their husband on television flying into the World Trade Center, flying into the Pentagon, and probably trying to fly into the White House, except we had some very, very brave souls on that third plane. All right?
BAIER: Senator Cruz, you were mentioned.
TRUMP: I have no problem with it.
BAIER: Senator Cruz?
CRUZ: Bret, you know, I think the American people understand that yelling and cursing at people doesn’t make you a tough guy. We need a commander-in-chief that, number one, will rebuild the military, just like Ronald Reagan did in 1981 coming out of the weak Jimmy Carter administration. He passed tax reform and regulatory reform. The economy took off. It generated millions in high-paying jobs, trillions in new revenue. He rebuilt the military, bankrupted the Soviet Union, and won the Cold War.
As president, I will do the exact same thing with radical Islamic terrorism. We will rebuild this military so that it remains the mightiest fighting force on the face of the planet. And then, when I am commander-in-chief, every militant on the face of the Earth will understand that if they go and join ISIS, if they wage jihad against the United States of America, they are signing their death warrant.
BAIER: But, Senator Cruz, in 2013, you said you were open — you were open to the possibility that Edward Snowden had performed a considerable public service, you said back then, in revealing certain aspects of the NSA procedures. Many of your colleagues in the Senate, including Senator Rubio, called him a traitor. It took you until January of this year to call him a traitor and say he should be tried for treason. Why the change of heart? And why did it take you so long?
CRUZ: Well, Bret, as someone who spent much of his life in law enforcement, I believe you should start with the facts and evidence first before ending up with the verdict. When the news first broke of the United States government engaging in massive surveillance on American citizens, that was a very troubling development, and it’s why the United States Congress acted to correct it.
Now, at the same time, I said in that initial statement that if the evidence indicated that Edward Snowden violated the law, he should be prosecuted for violating the law. And, indeed, since then, the evidence is clear that not only does Snowden violate the law, but it appears he committed treason. Treason is defined under the Constitution as giving aid and comfort to the enemies of America, and what Snowden did made it easier for terrorists to avoid detection.
And Snowden’s comments afterwards, and his behavior afterwards, he fled to Russia, he fled to China. His conducts afterwards indicates that he was not a whistleblower, but instead he was undermining the ability to defend this country. But we need a president who isn’t rash, who doesn’t just pop off at the — at the hip, but waits to see what the facts are and then acts to defend this country.
BAIER: Mr. Trump, you’ve repeatedly deflected calls for specific national security or defense policy plans with the claim that you’ll ask the best people when you become president, and take their advice.
So who are the best people? Can you reveal two or three names that you trust for national security?
TRUMP: I think Richard Haass is excellent. I have a lot of respect for him. I think General Keane is excellent. I think that there are — I like Colonel Jacobs very much. I see him. I know him. I have many people that I think are really excellent but in the end it’s going to be my decision.
When you just asked the question about Snowden, I will tell you right from the beginning, I said he was a spy and we should get him back. And if Russia respected our country, they would have sent him back immediately, but he was a spy. It didn’t take me a long time to figure that one out. Believe me.
But I would get the best people, people that I’d be comfortable with. And we will do the right thing.
KASICH: Bret, it’s very interesting to note, I think it’s for the good of the record here that they took a survey of foreign policy magazines, 700 foreign policy experts, who would be the best person to conduct foreign policy of all the candidates in the race?
I received 55 percent of the vote. Jeb Bush received 30 percent of the vote. And everybody else, none of them made double digits. And that’s because you have to have the experience.
And you know, we hear about Ronald Reagan rebuilding the military. I was there when Ronald Reagan rebuilt the military. I worked with him. I was there when Ronald Reagan rebuilt the economy. I was there, and I worked with him. I knew Ronald Reagan.
And I’ll leave it right there with what comes after that. You can figure that one out.
BAIER: Governor Kasich, thank you.
KELLY: We’re going to have more questions for the candidates right after this break. And during the commercial break, join us for a — Facebook live on the FOX News Facebook page and tell us what you think about tonight’s debate in the comment section.
BAIER: Welcome back to the historic Fox Theater in downtown Detroit and the Republican presidential debate. Let’s get right back to the questions.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is they believe you tell it like it is. But time and time again in this campaign, you have actually told the voters one thing only to reverse yourself within weeks or even sometimes days. We’ve teed up just three examples in a videotape, similar to those we used with Senator Rubio and Senator Cruz in the last debate. The first is on whether the war in Afghanistan was a mistake. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: What about in Afghanistan? Do you believe that American boots should stay on the ground in Afghanistan to stabilize the situation?
TRUMP: We’ve made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. That thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave. Just as I said that Iraq was going to collapse after we leave.
(UNKNOWN): About Afghanistan, you said we made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place.
TRUMP: We made a mistake going into Iraq. I’ve never said we made a mistake…
(UNKNOWN): Our question was about Afghanistan. That day on October…
TRUMP: Well, OK, I never said that.
(UNKNOWN): … was on Afghanistan.
TRUMP: OK. Wouldn’t matter. I never said it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Next, on whether we should accept…
TRUMP: Should I respond to that first?
KELLY: Two more, and then you’ll have the floor. Next on whether we should accept the Syrian refugees…
TRUMP: You’ll be here a long time.
KELLY: On whether we should accept the Syrian refugees.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O’REILLY: Do you object to migrants who are getting out of the Middle East and North Africa? Do you object to them coming to the USA?
TRUMP: I hate the concept of it, but on a humanitarian basis, with what’s happening, you have to. It’s living in Hell in Syria; there’s no question about it. They’re living in Hell.
HANNITY: Are you saying absolutely people from Syria, the Middle East, should we allow any of them into this country?
TRUMP: Look, from a humanitarian standpoint, I’d love to help, but we have our own problems. We have so many problems that we have to solve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Most recently, on whether President George W. Bush lied to get us into the Iraq war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction; there were none. And they knew there were none.
I don’t know if he lied or not. He could have lied. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. I guess you’d have to ask him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: And there are many other examples. So how is any of this “telling it like it is”?
TRUMP: Well, on Afghanistan, I did mean Iraq. I think you have to stay in Afghanistan for a while, because of the fact that you’re right next to Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, and we have to protect that. Nuclear weapons change the game.
And I was always against going into Iraq. In fact, I — believe me, I was always against it. There was some cases where I sort of — in one interview with a great friend of mine, and yours, Howard Stern — said that — said that…
I said very meekly, long before we went in, I said very meekly, well, maybe, maybe, I don’t know. By the time it got to that point, I was always against Iraq. But Afghanistan, I felt — and in that one, if you notice, I corrected it the second day. OK? Second question? KELLY: There are several examples, Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: No, no. But…
KELLY: We went through the Afghanistan being a mistake. Within one day, you reversed yourself on Syrian refugees.
TRUMP: Now on — let me explain that. You’re right. Let me explain. First time the question had been put to me, it was very early on. The migration had just started. And I had heard that the number was a very, very small number.
By the second day, two or three days later, I heard the number was going to be thousands and thousands of people. You know, when they originally heard about it, they were talking about bringing very, very small numbers in.
And I said, begrudgingly, well, I guess maybe that’s OK. It was not like, “Let’s bring them in,” because I think we should build a safe zone in — we should really — what we should be doing is building safe zones so they can stay in their own country and not go all over, and at least this way we’re not going to have the problem. That’s what we have to do.
But just — just to set — because I fully understand what you’re asking. When I first heard the question, first time the question was ever asked to me, first time I really had known about the question, the migration had just started. I was very much like, OK, by the time I went back and studied it, and they were talking about bringing thousands and thousands, I changed my tune. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
KELLY: But the point I’m going for is you change your tune on so many things, and that has some people saying, what is his core?
TRUMP: Megyn, I have a very strong core.
I have a very strong core. But I’ve never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible, who didn’t have a certain degree of flexibility. You have to have a certain degree of flexibility.
You can’t — for instance, let’s say, on — on the second question, you can’t say it’s OK, and then you find out it’s not OK, and you don’t want to do anything. You have to be flexible, because you learn. I mean, before I knew the question was asked by Bill, and the next day, or the couple of days later, the question was asked by, by — you know — I was asked by a number of people, actually. I was asked by Sean, but I was asked by a number of people. But by that time, the number had increased significantly.
KELLY: Sean was the next day after Bill.
TRUMP: The next day. But I had learned. I mean, nobody had ever asked me the question. This was brand new. But — and I really mean it. You have to show a degree of flexibility. If you’re going to be one way and you think it’s wrong, does that mean the rest of your life you have to go in the wrong direction because you don’t want to change?
KELLY: Go ahead, Governor.
KASICH: I did 200 meetings in New Hampshire, I don’t know how many in Michigan now. In these townhalls people come in and they’re very emotional meetings. And, you know what they really want to know? If somebody tells them something, can they believe it?
And, the reason why people are so upset in this country is because politicians all the time tell them what they want to hear. And, they go to Washington, or they go to the state capital, wherever, and they don’t deliver on those promises.
You know, when I ran for Governor of Ohio, I said not only would we balance the budget, but we would cut taxes. People said that can’t be done. I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t believe it.
We cut taxes in Ohio more than any governor in the country, and $5 billion dollars worth of tax cuts — we’re not running a surplus in Ohio. But, you see, what’s getting in the hearts and souls of the people is they want change, and they keep putting outsiders in to bring about the change, then the change doesn’t come. Then they put more outsiders in because we’re putting people in that don’t understand compromise. They don’t understand policy…
KASICH: … They’re getting more and more frustrated with the system which is why we must pick somebody that has a record of achievement, not just talk.
KASICH: Not just talk, but a record of achievement. That’s how we’ll restore credibility..
RUBIO: … This isn’t just about flexibility.
KELLY: Go ahead, Senator. RUBIO: There’s a difference between flexibility and telling people whatever you think you need to say to get them to do what you want them to do.
RUBIO: And, that’s what Donald has done throughout his career.
RUBIO: Well, he did, and that’s why Trump University…
TRUMP: … That’s not right…
RUBIO: … Is so relevant here. I saw this video last week where he’s sitting in front of a camera saying we’re going to hire the best people, and I’m going to hand pick them. There are going to be hand picked and instructors, the best instructors in the world. One of them, but the way, was the manager at a Buffalo Wild Wing. And, that’s who they hired to do this, and people borrowed money, and they signed up for this fake university.
And, these people owe all this money now, and they got nothing in return for it, but you are willing to say whatever you had to say…
RUBIO: … To get them to give you their money…
KELLY: … Go ahead, Mr. Trump…
TRUMP: … We’ll find out when we have the (INAUDIBLE)…
RUBIO: … And, we’re not going to do that to our country…
TRUMP: … And, by the way, just so you understand…
TRUMP: … This is a case I could have settled very easily, but I don’t settle cases very easily when I’m right. Ninety-eight percent approval rating, we have an “A” from the Better Business Bureau…
RUBIO: … That’s false…
TRUMP: … We have a 98 percent approval rating from the people who took the course. We have an “A” from the Better Business Bureau. And, people like it. Now, he’s saying they didn’t learn.
We have many, many people that will be witnesses. Again, I don’t settle cases. I don’t do it because that’s why I don’t get sued very often, because I don’t settle, unlike a lot of other people.
We have a situation where we will win in court…
(BELL RINGING) TRUMP: But, many of the people that are witnesses did tremendously well, and made a lot of money…
RUBIO: … That’s false…
TRUMP: … By taking the course.
KELLY: Go ahead, Senator.
TRUMP: You’re going to see, you don’t know…
RUBIO: … The Better Business Bureau gave it a “D” minus.
TRUMP: You’re going to see, you’re going to see.
KELLY: … It’s Senator Rubio’s turn…
TRUMP: … No, no. Before they had the information…
RUBIO: … Go on my website, Marco Rubio.com…
TRUMP: … Before they had the information…
KELLY: … Senator Rubio, standby, let him finish his point, and then I’ll give you the floor…
TRUMP: … Before they had the information it got — it is right now an “A”, once they had the information…
RUBIO: … (INAUDIBLE) this anymore.
TRUMP: … The only reason that is was a “D” was because we didn’t care — we didn’t give them the information…
RUBIO: … A third of the people (INAUDIBLE)…
TRUMP: … When they got the information it became an “A”…
KELLY: … With respect — wait. With respect…
TRUMP: … Marco you don’t know (INAUDIBLE)…
KELLY: … With respect, we went back and looked at this…
TRUMP: … Yes.
KELLY: The rating from the Better Business Bureau was a “D” minus…
(CHEERING) (APPLAUSE) TRUMP: … (INAUDIBLE)
KELLY: … that’s the last publicly available rating in 2010, and it was the result of a number of complaints they had…
TRUMP: … But it was elevated to an “A”…
UNIDENTIFIABLE MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
KELLY: … That’s never been publicly available.
TRUMP: … I can give it to you. I can give it to you tomorrow..
KELLY: … Let’s just bring the viewers up to speed, let’s just bring the viewers up to speed.
TRUMP: … It was elevated to an “A”.
KELLY: Let me just set the record, and then you guys can have at it. There was Trump University, which was a business that you started, and it was marketed…
TRUMP: … Small business…
KELLY: … to many people, and now there is a class-action of over 5,000 plaintiffs against you, Mr. Trump…
TRUMP: … Right…
KELLY: … And, it involves veterans, and it involves teachers, and it involves so-called little guys, working class, and lower- working class and middle class who say that they were fleeced, who say that it was as scam. The class has been certified, and in that case you counter-sued the lead plaintiff alleging that you were being defamed.
That case was thrown out against her…
TRUMP: … The lead plaintiff is now getting out of the case because it’s so bad for her…
KELLY: … But, what happened was…
TRUMP: … Excuse me, the lead plaintiff signed a letter saying how great it was, and it on tape saying how great it was.
KELLY: OK, no, but — standby. But, what happened in that case was you counter-sued her. The court threw out your counter-suit, and made you pay almost $800,000 dollars in legal fees of hers, and you made the same argument about 98 percent of the people being happy with Trump University. And, that woman in particular signing a survey saying she liked it while someone was standing over her shoulder…
TRUMP: … She’s trying to get out of the case. She’s trying to get out of the case…
KELLY: … And this is what — standby, this is what the Court of Appeals found. They said that the plaintiffs against you are like the Madoff victims…
TRUMP: Oh, give me a break… KELLy: … This is what the Court of Appeals said.
TRUMP: Give me a break.
KELLY: This is what the court of appeals said.
TRUMP: Give me a break.
KELLY: They found that victims of con artists often sing the praises of their victimizers until they realize they have been fleeced.
TRUMP: You know what, let’s see what happens in court. This is a civil case. Very easy to have settled. Could settle it now. Very easy to have settled. Let’s see what happens at the end of a couple years when this case is over, OK?
KELLY: It has been going for five years.
TRUMP: Yes, it has been going for a long time.
KELLY: Go ahead, Senator.
RUBIO: I spoke to one of the victims yesterday.
TRUMP: We’ll win the case.
RUBIO: I spoke to one of the victims yesterday.
TRUMP: One, one of the victims.
RUBIO: No, there are several. Obviously there are so many, I can’t talk to them every day. I spoke to one of them, he told me exactly what happened. They signed up for this course because they believed Mr. Trump was this fantastic businessman, that Donald is going to teach them the tricks of the trade.
They signed up. They paid $15,000 for this course. They were asked for additional money for this course. If they really wanted the real secrets of success, they had to pay even more money, and so they did.
And you know what they got in these courses? Stuff you can pull off of Zillow. When they finally realized what a scam it was, they asked for their money back.
And you refused to give them their money back. Why don’t you tonight…
TRUMP: I gave many people their money back. RUBIO: Then why don’t you tonight say you’re going to give the money back to everybody who wants…
TRUMP: Let me just…
KELLY: OK. Senator Rubio, let him answer.
KELLY: Let him answer.
Go ahead, Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: We will see who’s right at the end of a few years. But all of the — almost all of the people, many, many people signed what’s called the report card at the end, did you like the course, how did you like it.
Almost all of them said it was terrific, OK? With letters, with this. Some of them are on tape saying it was terrific. Let’s see what happens at the end of three years.
KELLY: With respect, Mr. Trump, one-third of the plaintiffs in that case demanded refunds. So it’s not the case that 98 percent were…
TRUMP: I gave some refunds to people because if they asked for the refunds in a certain period of time, and we gave refunds to people.
TRUMP: But let’s see what happens at the end of three years. Let’s see who’s right.
KELLY: Still a pending litigation.
TRUMP: It’s called pending litigation.
RUBIO: Megyn, this is why this is relevant to this election.
KELLY: All right. Senator Rubio then Senator Cruz. Go ahead.
RUBIO: This is why, because he’s trying to do to the American voter what he did to the people that signed up for this course. He’s making promises he has no intention of keeping. And it won’t just be $36,000 that they lose, it’s our country that’s at stake here.
The future of the United States and the most important election in a generation, and he’s trying to con people into giving them their vote just like he conned these people into giving him their money. TRUMP: Let me tell you the real con artist. Excuse me. Excuse me. The real con artist is Senator Marco Rubio who was elected in Florida and who has the worst voting record in the United States Senate.
He doesn’t go to vote. He’s absent. He doesn’t go. Now, the people of Florida can’t stand him. He couldn’t get elected dogcatcher. The people of Florida — the people of Florida — and by the way, I know he’s going to spend $25 million on ads. Without that he wouldn’t have a chance. He’s 20 points south.
The people in Florida wouldn’t elect him dogcatcher. He couldn’t get any — he’s right now 21 points down to me. And, you know…
TRUMP: … again, there will be a lot of advertising. It’s the only thing that might save him. But I doubt it.
RUBIO: Notice that’s not an answer.
KELLY: I’m coming to you next. But go ahead.
TRUMP: He scammed the people of Florida. He scammed people. He doesn’t vote. He doesn’t show up for the U.S. Senate. He doesn’t vote. He scammed the people. He defrauded the people of Florida.
KELLY: With respect, you’ve made that point.
RUBIO: There’s no — as you can see in his answer, it’s always the same thing.
TRUMP: You defrauded the people of Florida, little Marco.
RUBIO: He has defrauding people out of things, and not just — and not just, by the way, on the issue of Trump University. He had another development in Mexico that he had nothing to do with except his name on the building. People put money into that building.
TRUMP: That was licensing.
RUBIO: They lost their money. Yes, licensing, but you told them you owned the building. So they gave him his money. They lost their money. Time and again…
KELLY: All right. Stand by. I will come back to you. Senator Cruz wants to weigh in. You’re coming back.
CRUZ: Megyn, let me ask the voters at home, is this the debate you want playing out in the general election? The stakes in this election are too high. For seven years, millions of Americans, we’ve been struggling, wages have been stagnating, people are hurting, our constitutional rights are under assault.
And if we nominate Donald, we’re going to spend the spring, the fall, and the summer with the Republican nominee facing a fraud trial…
TRUMP: Oh, stop it.
CRUZ: … with Hillary Clinton saying…
TRUMP: It’s just a minor case. It’s a minor case.
CRUZ: … why did you give my campaign and my foundation $100,000?
TRUMP: It’s a minor civil case.
CRUZ: And with Hillary Clinton…
TRUMP: Give me a break.
CRUZ: … pointing out that he supported her four times in her presidential race.
TRUMP: It’s a minor civil case.
CRUZ: Donald, learn not to interrupt. It’s not complicated.
TRUMP: There are many, many civil cases.
CRUZ: Count to 10, Donald. Count to 10.
TRUMP: Give me a break.
CRUZ: Count to 10. The stakes are too high and if you are one of the 65 to 70 percent of Republicans who recognize that nominating Donald would be a disaster, then I ask you to come join us. If you’re supporting other candidates, come join us.
We welcome you to our team because we’ve demonstrated not once, not twice, not three times, but five separate times we have beat Donald. And if you don’t want him to be the nominee, then I ask you to stand with us as a broad coalition of people who believe in the Constitution, believe in freedom, and want to turn this country around.
KELLY: Go ahead, Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: I don’t believe these politicians. All talk, no action. I’m standing here listening to — I’m hearing him say about a percentage. CNN, he gets 15. That means 85 percent, based on what you’re saying, of the people don’t dig you, number one, number one. Is that a correct statement? How do you get — are you at 15 in the new CNN poll? Do you believe in CNN? I mean, I know we’re with FOX. But CNN spent — CNN…
CRUZ: All right, I’ll respond…
TRUMP: CNN spent a lot of money on a poll, just came out. I’m at 49. He’s at 15. He tells me about 65 percent of the people. It’s not 65 percent of the people. If you go by that, 85 percent of the people.
Then he goes, we have five. And — well, excuse me, I won 10. I won 10 states. If you listen to him, it’s like — I won 10 states. Everybody knows that on Super Tuesday Trump was the winner. There wasn’t one person that didn’t say that. Even the two people on your left and right said we did a great job. So how does he take — how does he take five and say it’s better than 10?
KELLY: Go ahead, Senator.
TRUMP: I am by far the leader. But if you listen to a politician, he’ll try and convince you otherwise.
KELLY: Senator Cruz, go.
CRUZ: All right, well, Donald lives by the polls every day. He tweets about the polls.
TRUMP: No, I don’t. No, I don’t.
CRUZ: He’s told us to look to the CNN poll. Well, that’s a very good poll to look to, because that CNN poll showed that head to head Donald Trump loses to Hillary Clinton by 8 points. He doesn’t just lose close; he loses by 8 points. That same poll he told you to look at shows me beating Hillary Clinton.
We cannot mess this up. And, by the way, the last four polls in a row, when you nominate a candidate who literally has been on every side of every issue, and in the course of this debate may be on two other sides before we’re done, that’s not how you win. And the stakes are too high. (CROSSTALK)
KELLY: All right. I’m going to let Mr. Trump — I’m going to let — let me just…
TRUMP: According to your poll…
KELLY: I’m going to let you respond to that, Mr. Trump. I’m going to then go to you, Governor. You’re up next.
TRUMP: … I know, but your recent polls have me beating Hillary Clinton, and very, very easily.
KELLY: OK. Do you want to weigh in?
KASICH: All right, look, honestly, when I see people at these meetings, these town halls, where we take massive questions, and I get to spend time with them. Last night, there was a woman that came to tell me about the loss of her 15-year-old son, who took his own life.
See, there’s people in this country — and Ted’s right — their wages haven’t gone up for so long, they see the rich get richer, they believe, and they’re not moving. And they put their money in the bank, and they got no interest on their money. They receive none. And their sons or daughters are living in the basement because they can’t get a good job after they rang up so much college debt.
What people are hungry for is, who can fix this? People want to know who — what can you do to solve the problems in Washington, to make sure that we have stronger job growth and better wages? But you know what else they’re yearning for? They want to believe that they have the power to fix things where they live, and they want the power back, so they can begin to do things in their community.
Now, listen, this has been going on for a long time here. And I appreciate the discussion back and forth. But there are a lot of people out there yearning for somebody who’s going to bring America back, both at the leadership level and in the neighborhood, where we can begin to reignite the spirit of the United States of America. And let’s stop fighting.
KELLY: Governor, thank you. Gentlemen, thank you.
WALLACE: Much more to come live from the Fox Theater, including where the candidates stand on the social issues facing the country. The Republican presidential debate continues in a moment.
KELLY: Welcome back, everybody, to the Fox News Republican presidential debate. We want to get right back to the questions.
BAIER: We are here in Detroit. The top issues in Michigan, according to Facebook, are displayed in a word cloud you’re taking a look at. The second biggest issue is clean water. That, of course, is directly tied with the situation in Flint.
Senator Rubio, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both been to Flint. They are both running ads in this state focusing on that, focusing on supporting Flint and fixing the problems, showing images of people in Flint thankful that they’re there.
Without getting into the political blame game here, where are the national Republicans’ plans on infrastructure and solving problems like this? If you talk to people in this state, they are really concerned about Flint on both sides of the aisle. So why haven’t GOP candidates done more or talked more about this?
RUBIO: Well, I know I’ve talked about it, and others in our campaign have talked about it, and other candidates have talked about it, as well. What happened in Flint was a terrible thing. It was systemic breakdown at every level of government, at both the federal and partially the — both the state and partially at the federal level, as well.
And by the way, the politicizing of it I think is unfair, because I don’t think that someone woke up one morning and said, “Let’s figure out how to poison the water system to hurt someone.”
But accountability is important. I will say, I give the governor credit. He took responsibility for what happened. And he’s talked about people being held accountable…
… and the need for change, with Governor Snyder. But here’s the point. This should not be a partisan issue. The way the Democrats have tried to turn this into a partisan issue, that somehow Republicans woke up in the morning and decided, “Oh, it’s a good idea to poison some kids with lead.” It’s absurd. It’s outrageous. It isn’t true.
All of us are outraged by what happened. And we should work together to solve it. And there is a proper role for the government to play at the federal level, in helping local communities to respond to a catastrophe of this kind, not just to deal with the people that have been impacted by it, but to ensure that something like this never happens again.
BAIER: Thank you, Senator.
KELLY: Governor Kasich, the city of Detroit has long suffered with urban blight, broken street lights, dilapidated and vacant houses, and so on. In 2013, Detroit actually declared bankruptcy, which helped, but the schools here remain a big problem. They’re $3.5 billion in debt and are some of the most troubled and poorly testing in the country. The kids too often go to classrooms that are unsafe, falling apart, infested with rodents and insects. Experts say the schools could go bankrupt by next month.
Question to you. If the federal government bailed out the auto industry here in Detroit, should it also bail out the Detroit schools?
KASICH: Well, look, first of all, I think the mayor now is controlling the schools. This is not much different than what happened in Cleveland, Ohio, where the African-American Democrat mayor, the union, and business leaders came to see me and said, “Would you help us to pass legislation to really create a CEO environment so that we can take control of the schools?”
We even invested in a buyout plan, where we bought out the teachers who had been there a long time, because there were so many young teachers who had been laid off who were so enthusiastic to get back in the schools. It worked beautifully. Cleveland’s coming back. The Cleveland schools are coming back because of a major overhaul.
It’s the same thing that has to happen in all of our urban schools. And, frankly, look, if I were president, I’d take 104 federal programs, bundle them into four buckets, and send it to the states, because fixing schools rests at the state and the local level, and particularly at the school board level.
KASICH: Now, I also believe — I also believe that you need to introduce vocational education in those schools. You need mentoring in those schools. And you need to have a situation where people can have an alternative forum to get a degree. And you need school choice, both vouchers and charter schools. All of those things can come together to help, Megyn.
But here’s the bottom line. And I’ll go quickly. We as adults have to fight in our neighborhoods, in our communities, for our children’s education. Put the politics aside, and everyone in this room can play a role in lifting their schools and lifting the students who are in those schools, because too much politics gets in the middle of it, and where we focus as adults, and put children first, we see tremendous results. And the people of this town are going to rise. And they need to be involved. Thank you.
WALLACE: For — for half a century, as you all know, Detroit was the symbol of America’s industrial might: 300,000 manufacturing jobs in this city. At last count, there are now fewer than 30,000 manufacturing jobs here, and the unemployment rate in this city is 11 percent, twice the national average.
Senator Cruz, I know that you have general plans for tax reform, but what specifically would you do to bring manufacturing jobs back to America and train residents of cities like Detroit to do those jobs?
CRUZ: Well, Chris, thank you for that question. Let me start by observing that Detroit is a great city with a magnificent legacy that has been utterly decimated by 60 years of failed left-wing policy.
You know, Henry Ford revolutionized automobile manufacturing and brought automobiles to the middle class. During World War II, Detroit provided — funded the arsenals of democracy to help us win World War II. In — in the 1960s, Detroit was the Silicon Valley of America. It had a population of 2 million people, had the highest per capita income in the country.
And then, for 50 years, left-wing Democrats have pursued destructive tax policies, weak crime policies, and have driven the citizens out. (APPLAUSE)
This city now has just 700,000 citizens. There are vacant homes, one after the other after the other. Crime has been rampant, and it is an outrage. And let me say to folks in the media: That is a story that the media ought to be telling over and over again, the destruction of left-wing policies and the millions who have hurt because of it.
WALLACE: Well, I was going to say, I’ll give you 30 seconds to try to answer my question. What specifically would you do to bring manufacturing jobs back to Detroit and to train the residents here to do those jobs?
CRUZ: The way you bring manufacturing back to America is, number one, you lift the regulations. As president, I will repeal Obamacare, the biggest job-killer in America.
I will pull back the federal regulators, the EPA and all the regulators that are killing small businesses and manufacturing.
And my tax plan, which is a very, very detailed plan on the website, tedcruz.org, is what’s called border adjustable. We get rid of all the taxes. We get rid of the corporate income tax and the death tax and the Obamacare taxes and the payroll tax. And we replace it with a 16 percent business flat tax that is border adjustable, which means all exports are entirely tax-free and all imports pay the 16 percent business flat tax. That’s a 32 percent differential.
What that will do, Chris, is bring millions of manufacturing jobs back to this country, bring the steel industry back to this country, create an environment where when we compete on a fair and level playing field, American ingenuity can beat anyone. But right now, the federal government isn’t giving us a level playing field.
WALLACE: Thank you, Senator.
BAIER: Gentlemen, the next series of questions will be on social issues. Governor Kasich, the last debate, you were asked a question about religious liberty, in a hypothetical situation where a same-sex couple approaches a cupcake maker to do their wedding. Here’s what you said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASICH: If you’re in the business of selling things, if you’re not going to sell to somebody you don’t agree with, today I’m not going to sell to somebody who’s gay, then tomorrow maybe I won’t sell to somebody who’s divorced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Governor, some faith leaders got nervous about that answer. Do gay marriage dissenters have rights?
KASICH: Well, look, first of all, I try to be a man of faith every day as best as I can, and I try to focus in my faith on the dos and I think the don’ts will take care of themselves once I get the dos right, which is humility, and loving my enemy, and caring for my neighbor.
But secondly, look, you’re in the commerce business, you want to sell somebody a cupcake, great. OK? But now if they ask you to participate in something you really don’t like, that’s a whole ‘nother issue, OK? Another issue.
Here’s what I’d like to see happen. The Supreme Court ruled, I don’t agree with the ruling. I’m of favor of marriage between — you know, traditional marriage, a man and a woman. What I hope was going to happen after the Supreme Court ruling is things would settle down.
If you go to a photographer to take pictures at your wedding, and he says, I’d rather not do it, find another photographer, don’t sue them in court. You know what, the problem is in our country — in our country, we need to learn to respect each other and be a little bit more tolerant for one another.
And at the end of the day, don’t go to court. Can’t we have common sense in America? That’s the way it used to be. And there was a book written called “The Death of Common Sense.” We need to bring it back.
But at the end of the day, if somebody is being pressured to participate in something that is against their deeply-held religious beliefs, then we’re going to have to think about dealing with the law.
But you know what, I’d rather people figure this out without having to put another law on the books and have more arguments in this country. Why don’t we come together as a country, respect one another, love one another and lift this country? I think that’s what people want.
So thanks for asking.
BAIER: Senator Cruz, the U.S. Supreme Court obviously declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, a decision you have criticized. Given the current status of the law, do you believe a gay couple should be able to adopt?
CRUZ: Well, listen, adoption is decided at the state level and I am a believer in the 10th Amendment in the Constitution, I would leave the question of marriage to the states, I would leave the question of adoption to the states.
That’s the way it has been for two centuries of our nation’s history until five unelected judges in an illegitimate and wrong decision decided to seize the authority over marriage and wrongfully tear down the marriage laws of all 50 states.
Now, interconnected to this is the question of religious liberty. And at the last debate, one of my colleagues on this stage said on the question of religious liberty and Supreme Court nominees that he’d be willing to compromise and negotiate.
I can tell you, for me, there are areas that we should compromise on. Marginal tax rates, we can reach a middle ground on. But when it comes to core principles and convictions, when it comes to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, I can tell the men and women at home I will never compromise away your religious liberty.
And for me, Bret, religious liberty has been a lifelong passion. I’ve spent two decades defending religious liberty, including defending the Ten Commandments before the U.S. Supreme Court and winning. Defending the Pledge of Allegiance before the Supreme Court and winning.
And defending the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial, a lone white Latin cross that was erected to honor the men and women who gave their lives in World War I. I represented 3 million veterans for free defending that memorial and we won 5-4 before the Supreme Court.
BAIER: Senator, thank you.
Senator Cruz definitely avoided saying your name, Mr. Trump, but I think he was referring to you and your religious liberty answer. Would you like to respond?
TRUMP: I have nothing to say. I mean, generally speaking, agree with what he said. I would have certainly have rather left it to the states. I was always in favor — I was very surprised when they came up with that decision.
I would have certainly — I would have preferred had it been left to the states and I think most people would have preferred that.
BAIER: Senator Rubio, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon, obviously, pointed out, in the United States versus Heller, that like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.
Just like the First Amendment doesn’t allow you to go into a theater and yell fire, he said the Second Amendment leaves room to regulate guns. So do you agree with Justice Scalia? And if so, what limits would you draw around the Second Amendment?
RUBIO: As few as possible. The Second Amendment, as I’ve said before, is not a suggestion. It is the constitutional right of every American to protect themselves and their families. It is a right that — it is the Second Amendment for a reason.
It is right after the defense of the freedom of speech for a reason, for clearly the founders of our nation understood and the framers of the Constitution understood that you cannot have life and you cannot have liberty and cannot pursue happiness if you are not safe.
RUBIO: And the Second Amendment — when people talk about gun laws, what they need to realize is, criminals don’t follow gun laws. They’re criminals. By definition, they ignore the law.
But the gun rights of Americans, if you are talking to a law- abiding citizen and a gun-owner like myself, if you pass a law, I will follow whatever the law is. A criminal will not do it. They will continue to pursue these guns on the black market, where they then go out and commit crimes and they steal guns from each other.
Gun laws are not effective. They simply do not provide for safety. But they do, however, ensure that law-abiding people don’t have access to weapons to protect themselves and guns to protect themselves, but criminals always will be well armed. They don’t care about the law; they don’t follow the law. We will protect the Second Amendment when I’m president of the United States.
BAIER: Mr. Trump, you were once a supporter of an assault weapons ban. So do you think there should be any restrictions on the Second Amendment?
TRUMP: No, I’m a big defender of the Second Amendment. And if you look at what’s happened, whether it’s in California, where you had the 14 people killed, whether it’s in Paris — which, by the way, has the toughest gun laws in the world and 130 people killed. Many, many people in the hospital gravely injured. They will be dying. Many people will be dying in addition.
If we had guns, or if they had guns on the other side of the room, with the bullets going in the opposite direction, you would not have had 130 people killed. That I can tell you right now.
So I’m a very, very big supporter of the Second Amendment.
BAIER: But in 2000, you wrote in your book, “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons.”
TRUMP: I don’t support it anymore. I do not support the ban on assault.
BAIER: Senator Cruz? Any limits to the Second Amendment?
CRUZ: Well, listen, unlike Donald, I would not support banning firearms. In that instance, Bill Clinton banned many of the most popular firearms in America. And by the way, the study showed that ban did nothing to reduce violent crime. It just took away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
And let me point out, you know, it is easy for political candidates to have rhetoric and say, “I support the Second Amendment.” But you cannot say that and at the same time say what Donald just said, which is that on the question of Supreme Court nominees he wants to compromise and reach a middle ground with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. That’s what he said in the last debate.
TRUMP: I — I did not say that. I did not say that.
CRUZ: And any justice that Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer sign off on…
TRUMP: I did not say that.
CRUZ: And I would point out, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer are both Democrats that Mr. Trump has written checks to repeatedly. Any justice that those two sign off on is going to be a left-wing judicial activist who will undermine religious liberty, and we are one vote away from the Heller decision being overturned, which would effectively erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights.
If you care about the Second Amendment, then you need to ask who on this stage do you know will appoint principled constitutionalists to the court and not cut a deal with your Second Amendment rights?
BAIER: Mr. Trump…
TRUMP: So we’re listening to the all-talk, no-action politician, and he was the primary supporter of John Roberts, who gave us Obamacare.
CRUZ: That’s flat-out wrong.
TRUMP: No, it’s not. You take a look. He was the primary supporter. He pushed John Roberts, and pushed him, and pushed him, and Bush ultimately appointed him. He got appointed. And when it came his time to raise his hand and kill Obamacare, not once, but twice, he let us down, and he did the wrong thing.
This is the man that was the primary supporter. And you can read law journal, you can read whatever you want to read — I’ve read plenty of it. There was no stronger supporter of John Roberts than him. And it was a very, very big mistake.
BAIER: Quickly, Senator Cruz. CRUZ: You know, Donald has a tenuous relationship with the truth.
I wrote one op-ed supporting President Bush’s nomination after he made it. I would not have made that nomination. But let me point out…
TRUMP: Not what you say in the op-ed.
CRUZ: … if Donald actually cared about…
TRUMP: That is not what you said in the op-ed.
CRUZ: But, Donald, please, I know it’s hard not to interrupt. But try.
TRUMP: Yeah, I know it is. But it’s not what you said in the op-ed.
CRUZ: Breathe, breathe, breathe.
TRUMP: Lyin’ Ted.
CRUZ: You can do it. You can breathe. I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard. But just…
RUBIO: When they’re done with the yoga, can I answer a question?
CRUZ: You cannot.
CRUZ: I really hope that we don’t — we don’t see yoga on this stage.
RUBIO: Well, he’s very flexible, so you never know.
CRUZ: But you cannot, in fact, care about conservative Supreme Court justices and support Jimmy Carter for president. You cannot care about conservative Supreme Court justices and support John Kerry for president, as Donald did. You cannot care about conservative Supreme Court justices and support Harry Reid for Senate majority leader.
And you cannot care about conservative Supreme Court justices and write four checks to Hillary Clinton for her to be president if you care at all about the Second Amendment or religious liberty or anything else.
BAIER: Gentlemen, gentlemen, we’re going to move on. Thank you very much. We want to talk about some more policy questions coming up.
WALLACE: And coming up, the candidates tackle foreign policy. But first, during the commercial break, join us for a Facebook live on the Fox News Facebook page and tell us what you think about tonight’s debate in the comments section. Stay with us. More to come.
KELLY: Welcome back, everybody. We’re going it get right back to the questions.
WALLACE: And gentlemen, we’re going to focus for a bit now on foreign policy.
Senator Rubio, you like to take a shot at Mr. Trump on the campaign trail saying that negotiating a hotel deal in a foreign country is not foreign policy. The other day you even compared him to Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, as lunatics trying to get a hold of nuclear weapons.
Please tell Mr. Trump why he’s unprepared to be commander-in- chief.
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I think, as we’ve seen throughout this campaign, Donald has not shown a seriousness about the issues of foreign policy. He just simply hasn’t.
Whether it was the structure of our military, even today he was asked a question about the issue of commanders not following his lead on killing the family of terrorists. And his answer basically was, if I tell them to do it, they’re going to do it. Now that’s just not true.
Foreign policy is not only consequential, I think much of our future now depends on it. You know, I see a lot of young people at my events around the country. I feel great when they come.
And I always them that despite the hardships of the moment, I honestly believe that today’s Millennials have a chance to be the greatest generation we’ve had in 100 years. I really do.
Because the world today has hundreds of millions of people that can afford to be their clients, their customers, their partners, people they collaborate with. But that won’t happen if the world is dangerous and it’s unstable.
And that will require strong American leadership. The next president of the United States is going to have eight years of a mess of a foreign policy to clean up. That’s why it can’t be Hillary Clinton.
And quite frankly, that’s why it can’t be someone who simply has not shown the intellectual curiosity or the interest in learning about these very complicated issues. And Donald simply hasn’t.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, your response.
TRUMP: Well, let me just say this. I’ve gotten to know Marco over a period of time, believe me, he is not a leader. Believe me.
RUBIO: But that doesn’t answer the question.
WALLACE: He didn’t interrupt you. Let him talk.
TRUMP: He didn’t answer — he’s not a leader. And, frankly, when I say they’ll do as I tell them, they’ll do as I tell them. And that’s very — it’s very simple. It’s very simple.
We are in a very dangerous place. We have a depleted military. Totally depleted. We have — by the way, our vets are treated horribly. We’re going to take care of our vets. We’re going to start taking care of our vets, properly, like we should.
But we’re going to build up our military, and we’re going to get the equipment we want, not the equipment that’s sold to us by somebody that gave him and him and not the governor campaign contributions. OK? We’re going to get the equipment that the generals and the soldiers want.
I will prove to be a great leader. And, you know, it’s very interesting, we talk about the polls. Every single poll when it comes to ISIS and the military and the border say, by far, Trump is the best.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, your time is up.
RUBIO: Yeah, I just want to — a couple points. Once again, he was pressed on a policy issue to show his understanding of the foreign policy, and his reaction was just to attack somebody else with a name.
Here’s the bottom line. And I’m going to repeat it again. The world today is as complicated and as complex as it has been certainly in a very — certainly in the lifetime of anybody here today. You indeed do have a lunatic in North Korea with nuclear weapons. You indeed do have the Chinese government taking over the most important shipping lane in the world. And Vladimir Putin, who you’ve expressed admiration for, Donald…
TRUMP: Wrong. Wrong.
RUBIO: You’ve expressed admiration for him.
RUBIO: Donald, you said he’s a strong leader.
RUBIO: He is now dividing Europe up…
TRUMP: He said very good things about me, and I said…
RUBIO: All right, I’m going to finish my statement here.
TRUMP: Yeah, finish.
RUBIO: And he’s also sowing instability in the Middle East. You have Iran who’s going to get $100 billion of sanctions relief. You have radical jihadists spreading all over the world. This is a time for seriousness on these issues. You have yet to answer a single serious question about any of this. Will you give us a detailed answer about foreign policy any time you’re asked on it?
TRUMP: Let me just tell you, first of all, I’ve been hearing this man so long talking about Putin. Putin said about me — I didn’t say about Putin — Putin said very nice things about me. And I say very nicely, wouldn’t it be nice if actually we could get along with Russia, we could get along with foreign countries, instead of spending trillions and trillions of dollars?
You’re talking about Flint, Michigan. You’re talking about places — we need to rebuild the infrastructure of our country. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got along with the world, and maybe Russia could help us in our quest to get rid of ISIS, et cetera, et cetera?
WALLACE: Gentlemen, you both have had a chance to talk. You both have had a chance to talk a couple of times. I’d like to move on to Senator Cruz. Senator, we have some breaking news tonight. North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, has ordered that country’s nuclear weapons to be made ready at a moment’s notice.
CRUZ: Yes. Yes.
WALLACE: And this comes just hours after the U.N. Security Council announced that — approved the toughest sanctions in two decades against that country. Assume you’re President Cruz tonight. What do you do?
CRUZ: Well, you’re right, the news is very disturbing that Kim Jong-un has put their nuclear weapons on ready state. I’m glad that we’re sending another carrier group to the South China Sea. I’m glad that Congress passed sanctions on North Korea.
But this is all the result of the failures of the Clinton administration two decades ago that negotiated a deal with North Korea lifting the sanctions, allowing billions of dollars to flow in, and they used that money to develop nuclear weapons in the first place.
What we — now we’re in a much harder position. When you have a lunatic with nuclear weapons, to some extent, it constrains your options. We need to be moving the carrier — carrier group to the South China Seas. We — we need to be putting in place missile defense, such as the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.
We need to be pursuing space-based missile defense. One of the advantages of space-based missile defense is that if you have a missile launch in North Korea or you have a missile launch in Iran, a space-based missile defense can take out one or two or three missiles before it can cross over and do damage.
And we also need to be putting pressure on China, because North Korea is effectively a — a client state of China. All of that will happen with a strong commander-in-chief that is devoted to keeping this country safe.
WALLACE: Thank you, Senator.
Governor Kasich, I want to move back to the debate that we heard earlier about Vladimir Putin. In December, after Vladimir Putin had some nice thing to say about Donald Trump, calling him bright and talented, your campaign ran a video suggesting that Trump might name the Russian president as his running mate. Here’s a clip.
KASICH: I’ll have to see this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): If elected, Trump promised that the dictatorial duo would, quote, “make tyranny great again.”
TRUMP: I think I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: That was your campaign video, sir.
KASICH: That was a pretty good one.
WALLACE: Well, OK.
KASICH: No, I…
WALLACE: If I may — sir, if I may ask my question…
KASICH: Of course.
WALLACE: I think you were kidding…
WALLACE: But it was your video and the serious question is, because the suggestion is, do you think that Donald Trump is naive about the threat that Vladimir Putin represents?
KASICH: I’m not biting. Let me take you around the world, OK? Let me — look, I’m going to take you very quickly.
In Russia, we need to tell them we’re going to arm the Ukrainians with defensive lethal weapons. And we’re going to tell Putin if you attack anybody in Eastern Europe in NATO, you attack Finland and Sweden, which is not in NATO, consider it an attack on us. And he will understand that.
Secondly, I would tell the Chinese you don’t own the South China Sea. Stop hacking us. And we’re going to beef up our cyber command. And we’re going to be in a position to be able to take out your systems if you continue to do this.
Now let’s move over into the Middle East. The Egyptians, they know they’re on their last legs there because of the attack from ISIS. The Jordanians are — really have been our friends. They know that they are at risk. So do the Saudis. So do the Gulf states.
They are our allies, really, or have similar aims, we need to bring them closer to us. Turkey a critical avenue to the Middle East. We have to bring them towards the West, and not towards the East.
KASICH: And we have a joint, good human intelligence. That is called a semi-trip around the world. And if you gave me more time, I’d finish the trip.
WALLACE: Governor, thank you.
KASICH: Thank you.
BAIER: Coming up, a final question and closing statements. And take a look at this. The volume of conversation on Facebook surrounding the remaining candidates over the last month. Whether that conversation is good or bad, Donald Trump clearly dominates the field.
We’ll be back with more of the Republican presidential debate live from Detroit.
BAIER: Welcome back to the Republican presidential debate. Let’s get back at it.
Gentlemen, this is the last question of the night. It has been a long time since our first debate, seven months ago in Cleveland. A lot has transpired since then, obviously, including an RNC pledge that all of you signed agreeing to support the party’s nominee and not to launch an independent run. Tonight, in 30 seconds, can you definitively say you will support the Republican nominee, even if that nominee is Donald J. Trump?
Senator Rubio, yes or no?
RUBIO: I’ll support the Republican nominee.
BAIER: Mr. Trump? Yes or no?
RUBIO: I’ll support Donald if he’s the Republican nominee, and let me tell you why. Because the Democrats have two people left in the race. One of them is a socialist. America doesn’t want to be a socialist country. If you want to be a socialist country, then move to a socialist country.
The other one is under FBI investigation. And not only is she under FBI investigation, she lied to the families of the victims of Benghazi, and anyone who lies to the families of victims who lost their lives in the service of our country can never be the commander- in-chief of the United States.
RUBIO: We must defeat Hillary Clinton.
BAIER: Senator Cruz, yes or no, you will support Donald Trump is he’s the nominee?
CRUZ: Yes, because I gave my word that I would. And what I have endeavored to do every day in the Senate is do what I said I would do. You know, just on Tuesday, we saw an overwhelming victory in the state of Texas where I won Texas by 17 percent.
And I will say it was a powerful affirmation that the people who know me best, the people who I campaigned, who made promises that if you elect me, I’ll lead the fight against Obamacare, I’ll lead the fight against amnesty, I’ll lead the fight against our debt, and I will fight for the Bill of Rights and your rights every day, that the people of Texas said you have kept your word, and that’s what I’ll do as president.
BAIER: Governor Kasich, yes or no, would you support Donald Trump as the Republican nominee?
KASICH: Yeah. But — and I kind of think that, before it’s all said and done, I’ll be the nominee. But let me also say…
But let me also say, remember…
BAIER: But your answer is yes?
KASICH: But I’m the little engine that can. And, yeah, look, when you’re in the arena, and we’re in the arena. And the people out here watching — we’re in the arena, we’re traveling, we’re working, we spend time away from our family, when you’re in the arena, you enter a special circle. And you want to respect the people that you’re in the arena with. So if he ends up as the nominee — sometimes, he makes it a little bit hard — but, you know, I will support whoever is the Republican nominee for president.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I’m going to ask you a version of the same question. As we saw today with Mitt Romney, the #NeverTrump movement is gaining steam. Some people are talking about contributing millions of dollars to try to stop you. Again today, you raised the possibility that you might run as an independent if you feel you’re treated unfairly by the Republican Party.
So I’m going to phrase the question that the other three people on this stage just got. Can you definitively say tonight that you will definitely support the Republican nominee for president, even if it’s not you?
TRUMP: Even if it’s not me?
Let me just start off by saying…
WALLACE: Thirty seconds, sir.
TRUMP: … OK — that I’m very, very proud of — millions and millions of people have come to the Republican Party over the last little while. They’ve come to the Republican Party. And by the way, the Democrats are losing people. This is a trend that’s taking place. It’s the biggest thing happening in politics, and I’m very proud to be a part of it. And I’m going to give them some credit, too, even though they don’t deserve it. But the answer is: Yes, I will.
WALLACE: Yes, you will support the nominee of the party? TRUMP: Yes, I will. Yes. I will.
KELLY: Candidates, it’s now time for your closing statements. Governor Kasich, we’ll start with you.
KASICH: Well, ladies and gentlemen, I love being here in Michigan, and I want to say to all of you here that I have a record of being able to solve some of the biggest problems. It’s not just talk, and it’s not theory.
I did it in Washington by helping people get into a healthier economic situation. I’ve done it in Ohio. And as we’ve made progress in Ohio, we’ve left no one behind. We’ve not left behind the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the working poor, the developmental disabled, and we have raised our minority community.
And as president of the United States, I will go back to Washington, I will take the formulas that I used, and I will — I will fix the problems in Washington, and you’ll work with me as I send you power to fix your — your communities, your neighborhoods, your state, and together, we’ll restore the spirit of America. And I know you want that. Thank you.
WALLACE: Senator Rubio, 30 seconds, closing statement.
RUBIO: Well, I know this has been an unusual election cycle, as it continues, and there’s a lot of problems in America, and people are truly hurting. But this election is not just about confronting our problems; it’s also about embracing our opportunities.
I believe the 21st century holds the potential to be the greatest era in the history of the United States, if we get this election right and if we act now. If we do, if we do what needs to be done, we can leave our children as the freest and most prosperous Americans that have ever lived, and the 21st century can be the greatest era in the amazing story of America. So I ask everyone to vote for me and join our effort at marcorubio.com.
BAIER: Senator Cruz, your closing statement?
CRUZ: I want to talk to every soldier and sailor and airman and Marine. I want to talk to every mom and dad and sister and brother and son and daughter of someone fighting for this country. For seven years, you’ve had a commander-in-chief that doesn’t believe in you, that sends you into combat with rules of engagement that tie your arms behind your back. That is wrong. It is immoral. And in January 2017, it will end.
I want to also talk to all the police officers and firefighters and first responders who have been left behind with this president. Starting in January 2017, I will have your back.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, your closing statement.
TRUMP: Thank you. I am going to bring jobs back to the United States like nobody else can. We’re going to fix our very depleted military. We’re going to take care of our vets. We’re going to strengthen our borders. And you’re going to be very, very proud of this country in just a few years if I’m elected president. Thank you.
KELLY: Thank you, sir.
And that will do it for the 11th Republican primary debate of the 2016 presidential race. But the night is not over yet.
WALLACE: Not by a long shot. A special edition of “The O’Reilly Factor” is next. And remember, Fox News has the race for the White House covered, all the way to the conventions and onto the general election.
BAIER: Our thanks to Detroit and the crowd here. Thank you again for joining us. Have a great evening.