Ten Republican presidential candidates met in Cleveland for a primetime debate on Fox News.
At the debate, real estate mogul Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
The moderators were Fox News anchors Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace.
Here is a running transcript of what they said.
KELLY: It is nine p.m. on the East Coast, and the moment of truth has arrived.
KELLY: Welcome to the first debate night of the 2016 presidential campaign, live from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
I’m Megyn Kelly…
… along with my co-moderators, Brett Baier and Chris Wallace.
Tonight, thousands of people here in the Q, along with millions of voters at home will get their very first chance to see the candidates face off in a debate, answering the questions you want answered.
BAIER: Less than a year from now, in this very arena, one of these 10 candidates or one of the seven on the previous debate tonight will accept the Republican party’s nomination.
Tonight’s candidates were selected based on an average of five national polls. Just a few hours ago, you heard from the candidates ranked 11th through 17. And now, the prime-time event, the top 10.
WALLACE: Also of note, Fox News is partnering for tonight’s debate with Facebook. For the past several weeks, we’ve been asking you for questions for the candidates on Facebook. Nearly 6 million of you, 6 million, viewed the debate videos on our site, and more than 40,000 of you submitted questions: some of which you will hear us asking the candidates tonight.
KELLY: As for the candidates who will be answering those questions? Here they are.
Positioned on the stage by how they stand in the polls, in the center of the stage tonight, businessman Donald Trump.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
BAIER: Neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
WALLACE: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
(APPLAUSE) And your very own governor of Ohio…
… John Kasich.
WALLACE: Brett — Brett, I think you would call that a home field advantage.
BAIER: It might be. It might be. We’ll see.
(UNKNOWN): Is this in the rules? An objection’s coming.
BAIER: It might be. The rules for tonight are simple. One minute for answers, 30 seconds for follow-ups. And if a candidate runs over, you’ll hear this.
We also have a big crowd here with us tonight in the home of the Cavaliers, as I mentioned.
And while we expect them…
… we expect them to be enthusiastic, as you heard, we don’t want to take anything away from the valuable time for the candidate. So, we’re looking for somewhere between a reaction to a LeBron James dunk and the Cleveland Public Library across the street.
Somewhere there, we’ll find a balance tonight.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
BAIER: Gentlemen, we know how much you love hand-raising questions. So we promise, this is the only one tonight: the only one. Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person.
Again, we’re looking for you to raise your hand now — raise your hand now if you won’t make that pledge tonight.
Mr. Trump to be clear, you’re standing on a Republican primary debate stage.
TRUMP: I fully understand.
BAIER: The place where the RNC will give the nominee the nod.
TRUMP: I fully understand.
BAIER: And that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton.
You can’t say tonight that you can make that pledge?
TRUMP: I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.
BAIER: So tonight, you can’t say if another one of these…
PAUL: This is what’s wrong!
PAUL: I mean, this is what’s wrong. He buys and sells politicians of all stripes, he’s already…
BAIER: Dr. Paul.
PAUL: Hey, look, look! He’s already hedging his bet on the Clintons, OK? So if he doesn’t run as a Republican, maybe he supports Clinton, or maybe he runs as an independent…
PAUL: …but I’d say that he’s already hedging his bets because he’s used to buying politicians.
TRUMP: Well, I’ve given him plenty of money.
BAIER: Just to be clear, you can’t make a — we’re gonna — we’re going to move on.
You’re not gonna make the pledge tonight?
TRUMP: I will not make the pledge at this time.
BAIER: OK. Alright.
KELLY: Gentlemen, our first round of questions is on the subject of electability in the general election, and we start tonight with you, Dr. Carson.
You are a successful neurosurgeon, but you admit that you have had to study up on foreign policy, saying there’s a lot to learn.
Your critics say that your inexperience shows. You’ve suggested that the Baltic States are not a part of NATO, just months ago you were unfamiliar with the major political parties and government in Israel, and domestically, you thought Alan Greenspan had been treasury secretary instead of federal reserve chair.
Aren’t these basic mistakes, and don’t they raise legitimate questions about whether you are ready to be president?
CARSON: Well, I could take issue with — with all of those things, but we don’t have time.
But I will say, we have a debate here tonight, and we will have an opportunity to explore those areas, and I’m looking very much forward to demonstrating that, in fact, the thing that is probably most important is having a brain, and to be able to figure things out and learn things very rapidly.
So, you know, experience comes from a large number of different arenas, and America became a great nation early on not because it was flooded with politicians, but because it was flooded with people who understood the value of personal responsibility, hard work, creativity, innovation, and that’s what will get us on the right track now, as well.
WALLACE: Senator Rubio, when Jeb Bush announced his candidacy for presidency, he said this: “There’s no passing off responsibility when you’re a governor, no blending into the legislative crowd.”
Could you please address Governor Bush across the stage here, and explain to him why you, someone who has never held executive office, are better prepared to be president than he is, a man who you say did a great job running your state of Florida for eight years.
RUBIO: Well, thank you for the question, Chris, and it’s great to be here tonight. Let me begin by saying this: I’m not new to the political process; I was making a contribution as the speaker of the third largest and most diverse state in the country well before I even got into the Senate.
I would add to that that this election cannot be a resume competition. It’s important to be qualified, but if this election is a resume competition, then Hillary Clinton’s gonna be the next president, because she’s been in office and in government longer than anybody else running here tonight.
Here’s what this election better be about: This election better be about the future, not the past. It better be about the issues our nation and the world is facing today, not simply the issues we once faced.
This country is facing an economy that has been radically transformed. You know, the largest retailer in the country and the world today, Amazon, doesn’t even own a single store? And these changes have been disruptive. They have changed people’s lives. The jobs that once sustained our middle class, they either don’t pay enough or they are gone, and we need someone that understands that as our nominee.
If I’m our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton gonna lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck? I was raised paycheck to paycheck. How is she — how is she gonna lecture me — how is she gonna lecture me about student loans? I owed over $100,000 just four years ago.
If I’m our nominee, we will be the party of the future.
BAIER: Governor Bush, you have insisted that you’re your own man. You say you have a life experience uniquely your own. Not your father’s, not your brother’s.
But there are several opponents on this stage who get big- applause lines in early voting states with this line: quote, “the last thing the country needs is another Bush in the Oval Office.”
So do you understand the real concern in this country about dynastic politics?
BUSH: Absolutely, I do, and I’m gonna run hard, run with heart, and run to win.
I’m gonna have to earn this. Maybe the barrier — the bar’s even higher for me. That’s fine.
I’ve got a record in Florida. I’m proud of my dad, and I’m certainly proud of my brother. In Florida, they called me Jeb, because I earned it.
I cut taxes every year, totaling $19 billion. We were — we had — we balanced every budget. We went from $1 billion of reserves to $9 billion of reserves.
We were one of two states that went to AAA bond rating.
BUSH: They keep — they called me Veto Corleone. Because I vetoed 2,500 separate line-items in the budget.
I am my own man. I governed as a conservative, and I govern effectively. And the net effect was, during my eight years, 1.3 million jobs were created. We left the state better off because I applied conservative principles in a purple state the right way, and people rose up.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women.
You’ve called women you don’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”
Your Twitter account…
TRUMP: Only Rosie O’Donnell.
KELLY: No, it wasn’t.
Your Twitter account…
TRUMP: Thank you.
KELLY: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.
TRUMP: Yes, I’m sure it was.
KELLY: Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?
TRUMP: I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct.
I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either. This country is in big trouble. We don’t win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico both in trade and at the border. We lose to everybody.
And frankly, what I say, and oftentimes it’s fun, it’s kidding. We have a good time. What I say is what I say. And honestly Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.
But you know what, we — we need strength, we need energy, we need quickness and we need brain in this country to turn it around. That, I can tell you right now.
WALLACE: Senator Cruz, your colleague, Senator Paul, right there next to you, said a few months ago he agrees with you on a number of issues, but he says you do nothing to grow the party. He says you feed red meat to the base, but you don’t reach out to minorities. You have a toxic relationship with GOP leaders in Congress. You even called the Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell a liar recently.
How can you win in 2016 when you’re such a divisive figure?
CRUZ: Chris, I believe the American people are looking for someone to speak the truth.
If you’re looking for someone to go to Washington, to go along to get along, to get — to agree with the career politicians in both parties who get in bed with the lobbyists and special interests, then I ain’t your guy.
There is a reason…
…. that we have $18 trillion in debt. Because as conservatives, as Republicans, we keep winning elections. We got a Republican House, we’ve got a Republican Senate, and we don’t have leaders who honor their commitments. I will always tell the truth and do what I said I would do.
BAIER: Governor Christie, you’re not exactly the darling of conservatives. You tout your record as a Republican governor in a blue state. On Facebook, the most people talking about you, not surprisingly, come from your state of New Jersey, and one of the top issues they are talking about is the economy.
This — this may be why. Under your watch, New Jersey has undergone nine credit rating downgrades. The state’s 44th in private sector growth. You face an employee pension crisis and the Garden State has the third highest foreclosure rate in the country. So why should voters believe that your management of the country’s finances would be any different?
CHRISTIE: If you think it’s bad now, you should’ve seen it when I got there.
The fact is — the fact is, in the eight years before I became governor, taxes and fees were raised at the state level 115 times. In the eight years before I became governor, spending was increased 56 percent. And in the eight years before I become governor, taxes and fees were raised at the state level 115 times.
In the eight years before I became Governor, spending was increased 56 percent, and in the eight years before I became governor, there was zero net private sector job growth in New Jersey. Zero. For eight years.
So, what did we do? We came in, we balanced an $11 billion deficit on a $29 billion budget by cutting over 800 programs in the state budget. We brought the budget into balance with no tax increases. In fact, we vetoed five income tax increases during my time as governor. We cut business taxes $2.3 billion, and we cut regulation by one-third of what my predecessor put in place.
And, what’s happened since? A hundred ninety-two thousand private sector jobs in the five and a half years I’ve been governor. We have a lot of work to do in New Jersey, but I am darn proud we’ve brought our state back.
KELLY: Governor Walker, you’ve consistently said that you want to make abortion illegal even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. You recently signed an abortion law in Wisconsin that does have an exception for the mother’s life, but you’re on the record as having objected to it. Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion, and with 83 percent of the American public in favor of a life exception, are you too out of the mainstream on this issue to win the general election?
WALKER: Well, I’m pro-life, I’ve always been pro-life, and I’ve got a position that I think is consistent with many Americans out there in that…
(APPLAUSE) WALKER: …in that I believe that that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there, and I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven.
Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has a radical position in terms of support for Planned Parenthood, I defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago, long before any of these videos came out…
WALKER: …I’ve got a position that’s in line with everyday America.
WALLACE: Governor Huckabee, like Governor Walker, you have staked out strong positions on social issues. You favor a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. You favor a constitutional amendment banning abortions, except for the life of the mother. Millions of people in this country agree with you, but according to the polls, and again this an electability question, according to the polls, more people don’t, so how do you persuade enough Independents and Democrats to get elected in 2016?
HUCKABEE: Chris, I disagree with the idea that the real issue is a constitutional amendment. That’s a long and difficult process. I’ve actually taken the position that’s bolder than that.
A lot of people are talking about defunding planned parenthood, as if that’s a huge game changer. I think it’s time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception.
The reason we know that it is is because of the DNA schedule that we now have clear scientific evidence on. And, this notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child’s Fifth and 14th Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law.
It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.
BAIER: Senator Paul, you recently blamed the rise of ISIS on Republican hawks. You later said that that statement, you could have said it better. But, the statement went on, and you said, quote, “Everything they’ve talked about in foreign policy, they’ve been wrong for the last 20 years.”
Why are you so quick to blame your own party?
PAUL: First of all, only ISIS is responsible for the terrorism. Only ISIS is responsible for the depravity. But, we do have to examine, how are we going to defeat ISIS?
I’ve got a proposal. I’m the leading voice in America for not arming the allies of ISIS.
PAUL: I’ve been fighting amidst a lot of opposition from both Hillary Clinton, as well as some Republicans who wanted to send arms to the allies of ISIS. ISIS rides around in a billion dollars worth of U.S. Humvees. It’s a disgrace. We’ve got to stop — we shouldn’t fund our enemies, for goodness sakes.
PAUL: So, we didn’t create ISIS — ISIS created themselves, but we will stop them, and one of the ways we stop them is by not funding them, and not arming them.
KELLY: Governor Kasich, You chose to expand Medicaid in your state, unlike several other governors on this stage tonight, and it is already over budget by some estimates costing taxpayers an additional $1.4 billion in just the first 18 months.
You defended your Medicaid expansion by invoking God, saying to skeptics that when they arrive in heaven, Saint Peter isn’t going to ask them how small they’ve kept government, but what they have done for the poor.
Why should Republican voters, who generally want to shrink government, believe that you won’t use your Saint Peter rationale to expand every government program?
KASICH: Well, first of all…
KASICH: — first of all, Megyn, you should know that — that President Reagan expanded Medicaid three or four times.
Secondly, I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio to do what?
To treat the mentally ill. Ten thousand of them sit in our prisons. It costs $22,500 a year…
KASICH: — to keep them in prison. I’d rather get them their medication so they could lead a decent life.
Secondly, we are rehabbing the drug-addicted. Eighty percent of the people in our prisons have addictions or problems. We now treat them in the prisons, release them in the community and the recidivism rate is 10 percent and everybody across this country knows that the tsunami of drugs is — is threatening their very families.
So we’re treating them and getting them on their feet. And, finally, the working poor, instead of them having come into the emergency rooms where it costs more, where they’re sicker and we end up paying, we brought a program in here to make sure that people could get on their feet.
And do you know what?
Everybody has a right to their God-given purpose.
And finally, our Medicaid is growing at one of the lowest rates in the country. And, finally, we went from $8 billion in the hole to $2 billion in the black. We’ve cut $5 billion in taxes…
KASICH: — and we’ve grown 350,000 jobs.
WALLACE: Gentlemen, we’re turning to a new subject that all of you have been talking about and some of you have been disagreeing about, and that is the issue of immigration.
Governor Bush, you released a new plan this week on illegal immigration focusing on enforcement, which some suggest is your effort to show that you’re not soft on that issue.
I want to ask you about a statement that you made last year about illegal immigrants. And here’s what you said. “They broke the law, but it’s not a felony, it’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family.”
Do you stand by that statement and do you stand by your support for earned legal status?
BUSH: I do. I believe that the great majority of people coming here illegally have no other option. They want to provide for their family.
But we need to control our border. It’s not — it’s our responsibility to pick and choose who comes in. So I — I’ve written a book about this and yet this week, I did come up with a comprehensive strategy that — that really mirrored what we said in the book, which is that we need to deal with E-Verify, we need to deal with people that come with a legal visa and overstay.
We need to be much more strategic on how we deal with border enforcement, border security. We need to eliminate the sanctuary cities in this country. It is ridiculous and tragic…
BUSH: — that people are dying because of the fact that — that local governments are not following the federal law. There’s much to do. And I think rather than talking about this as a wedge issue, which Barack Obama has done now for six long years, the next president — and I hope to be that president — will fix this once and for all so that we can turn this into a driver for high sustained economic growth.
And there should be a path to earned legal status…
BUSH: — for those that are here. Not — not amnesty, earned legal status, which means you pay a fine and do many things over an extended period of time.
WALLACE: Thank you, sir.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody’s notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals — rapists, drug dealers, across the border.
Governor Bush has called those remarks, quote, “extraordinarily ugly.”
I’d like you — you’re right next to him — tell us — talk to him directly and say how you respond to that and — and you have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have evidence you have refused or declined to share.
Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?
TRUMP: So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn’t even be talking about it.
TRUMP: This was not a subject that was on anybody’s mind until I brought it up at my announcement. And I said, Mexico is sending. Except the reporters, because they’re a very dishonest lot, generally speaking, in the world of politics, they didn’t cover my statement the way I said it.
The fact is, since then, many killings,murders, crime, drugs pouring across the border, are money going out and the drugs coming in. And I said we need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly.
And I don’t mind having a big beautiful door in that wall so that people can come into this country legally. But we need, Jeb, to build a wall, we need to keep illegals out.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I’ll give you 30 seconds — I’ll give you 30 seconds to answer my question, which was, what evidence do you have, specific evidence that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border? Thirty seconds.
TRUMP: Border Patrol, I was at the border last week. Border Patrol, people that I deal with, that I talk to, they say this is what’s happening. Because our leaders are stupid. Our politicians are stupid.
And the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. And they send the bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them. They don’t want to take care of them.
Why should they when the stupid leaders of the United States will do it for them? And that’s what is happening whether you like it or not.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WALLACE: All right. Obviously there’s a lot more to talk about this. We’re going to have more questions for the candidates on illegal immigration, plus other key topics including your questions on Facebook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will be your plan on making immigration easier for those that want to do it legally?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What specific steps would you take to contain the growth of ISIS?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’d like to know what the candidates are going to do so that I feel safe in my own country again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Welcome back to FOX News/Facebook Republican Debate Night. We’re going to continue the questions now on illegal immigration. We kind of ended with a cliffhanger there. So let’s continue the conversation.
WALLACE: Governor Kasich, I know you don’t like to talk about Donald Trump. But I do want to ask you about the merit of what he just said. When you say that the American government is stupid, that the Mexican government is sending criminals, that we’re being bamboozled, is that an adequate response to the question of illegal immigration?
KASICH: Chris, first of all, I was just saying to Chris Christie, they say we’re outspoken, we need to take lessons from Donald Trump if we’re really going to learn it. Here is the thing about Donald Trump. Donald Trump is hitting a nerve in this country. He is. He’s hitting a nerve. People are frustrated. They’re fed up. They don’t think the government is working for them. And for people who want to just tune him out, they’re making a mistake.
Now, he’s got his solutions. Some of us have other solutions. You know, look, I balanced the federal budget as one of the chief architects when I was in Washington. Hasn’t been done since. I was a military reformer. I took the state of Ohio from an $8 billion hole and a 350,000 job loss to a $2 billion surplus and a gain of 350,000 jobs.
WALLACE: Respectfully, can we talk about illegal immigration?
KASICH: But the point is that we all have solutions. Mr. Trump is touching a nerve because people want the wall to be built. They want to see an end to illegal immigration. They want to see it, and we all do. But we all have different ways of getting there. And you’re going to hear from all of us tonight about what our ideas are.
WALLACE: All right, well, Senator Rubio, let me see if I can do better with you. Is it as simple as our leaders are stupid, their leaders are smart, and all of these illegals coming over are criminals?
RUBIO: Let me set the record straight on a couple of things. The first is, the evidence is now clear that the majority of people coming across the border are not from Mexico. They’re coming from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras. Those countries are the source of the people that are now coming in its majority.
I also believe we need a fence. The problem is if El Chapo builds a tunnel under the fence, we have to be able to deal with that too. And that’s why you need an e-verify system and you need an entry-exit tracking system and all sorts of other things to prevent illegal immigration. But I agree with what Governor Kasich just said. People are frustrated. This is the most generous country in the world when it comes to immigration. There are a million people a year who legally immigrate to the United States, and people feel like we’re being taken advantage of. We feel like despite our generosity, we’re being taken advantage of.
And let me tell you who never gets talked about in these debates. The people that call my office, who have been waiting for 15 years to come to the United States. And they’ve paid their fees, and they hired a lawyer, and they can’t get in. And they’re wondering, maybe they should come illegally.
RUBIO: And so these are important issues, and we should address it. It’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and otherwise we’re going to keep talking about this for the next 30 years, like we have for the last 30 years.
WALLACE: Governor Walker.
WALLACE: Governor Walker, from 2002 until as recently as 2013, just two years ago, you supported comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. Now you say that was a quick reaction to something you hadn’t really thought about, and that you’ve changed your mind. Other than politics, could you explain why in the last two years you’ve changed your position on a path to citizenship, and are there other past positions that we shouldn’t hold you to?
WALKER: Chris, I actually said that on your show earlier this year.
WALKER: I acknowledged that. I said I actually listened to the American people. And I think people across America want a leader who’s actually going to listen to them.
I talked to border state governors and other elected officials. I look at how this president, particularly through last November, messed up the immigration system in this country. Most importantly, I listened to the people of America.
I believe we need to secure the border. I’ve been to the border with Governor Abbott in Texas and others, seeing the problems that they have there. There is international criminal organizations penetrating our southern based borders, and we need to do something about it. Secure the border, enforce the law, no amnesty, and go forward with the legal immigration system that gives priority to American working families and wages.
(APPLAUSE) WALLACE: Senator Cruz, some 1,400 people submitted questions on this very hot topic of illegal immigration on Facebook, and a number of them were about the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, allegedly shot down by an illegal. Doug Bettencourt sent this question, “will you support Kate Steinle’s Law,” which would impose a mandatory five-year prison term for an illegal who is deported and then returns to this country? “And will you defund sanctuary cities for violating federal law?”
CRUZ: Chris, absolutely yes. And not only will I support it–
CRUZ: — I have authored Kate’s law in the United States Senate and filed that legislation. I tried to get the Senate to vote to pass Kate’s law on the floor of the Senate just one week ago, and the leader of our own party blocked a vote on Kate’s law.
You know, there was reference made to our leaders being stupid. It’s not a question of stupidity. It’s that they don’t want to enforce the immigration laws. That there are far too many in the Washington cartel that support amnesty.
CRUZ: President Obama has talked about fundamentally transforming this country. There’s 7 billion people across the face of the globe, many of whom want to come to this country. If they come legally, great. But if they come illegally and they get amnesty, that is how we fundamentally change this country, and it really is striking.
A majority of the candidates on this stage have supported amnesty. I have never supported amnesty, and I led the fight against Chuck Schumer’s gang of eight amnesty legislation in the Senate.
KELLY: Alright, gentlemen, we’re gonna switch topics now and talk a bit about terror and national security.
Governor Christie. You’ve said that Senator Paul’s opposition to the NSA’s collection of phone records has made the United States weaker and more vulnerable, even going so far as to say that he should be called before Congress to answer for it if we should be hit by another terrorist attack.
Do you really believe you can assign blame to Senator Paul just for opposing he bulk collection of people’s phone records in the event of a terrorist attack?
CHRISTIE: Yes, I do. And I’ll tell you why: because I’m the only person on this stage who’s actually filed applications under the Patriot Act, who has gone before the federal — the Foreign Intelligence Service court, who has prosecuted and investigated and jailed terrorists in this country after September 11th.
I was appointed U.S. attorney by President Bush on September 10th, 2001, and the world changed enormously the next day, and that happened in my state.
This is not theoretical to me. I went to the funerals. We lost friends of ours in the Trade Center that day. My own wife was two blocks from the Trade Center that day, at her office, having gone through it that morning.
When you actually have to be responsible for doing this, you can do it, and we did it, for seven years in my office, respecting civil liberties and protecting the homeland.
And I will make no apologies, ever, for protecting the lives and the safety of the American people. We have to give more tools to our folks to be able to do that, not fewer, and then trust those people and oversee them to do it the right way. As president, that is exactly what I’ll do.
PAUL: Megyn, may I respond?
PAUL: May I respond?
KELLY: Go ahead, sir.
PAUL: I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from innocent Americans. The Fourth Amendment was what we fought the Revolution over! John Adams said it was the spark that led to our war for independence, and I’m proud of standing for the Bill of Rights, and I will continue to stand for the Bill of Rights.
CHRISTIE: And — and, Megyn? Megyn, that’s a — that, you know, that’s a completely ridiculous answer. “I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from other people.” How are you supposed to know, Megyn?
PAUL: Use the Fourth Amendment!
CHRISTIE: What are you supposed to…
PAUL: Use the Fourth Amendment!
CHRISTIE: …how are you supposed to — no, I’ll tell you how you, look…
PAUL: Get a warrant!
CHRISTIE: Let me tell you something, you go…
PAUL: Get a judge to sign the warrant!
CHRISTIE: When you — you know, senator…
KELLY: Governor Christie, make your point.
CHRISTIE: Listen, senator, you know, when you’re sitting in a subcommittee, just blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that.
When you’re responsible for protecting the lives of the American people, then what you need to do is to make sure…
PAUL: See, here’s the problem.
CHRISTIE: …is to make sure that you use the system (ph) the way it’s supposed to work.
PAUL: Here’s the problem, governor. Here’s the problem, governor. You fundamentally misunderstand the Bill of Rights.
Every time you did a case, you got a warrant from a judge. I’m talking about searches without warrants…
CHRISTIE: There is no…
PAUL: …indiscriminately, of all Americans’ records, and that’s what I fought to end.
I don’t trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug, and if you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.
KELLY: Go ahead, governor.
CHRISTIE: And you know — you know, Senator Paul? Senator Paul, you know, the hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the families who lost their people on September 11th.
Those are the hugs I remember, and those had nothing to do — and those had nothing to do with politics, unlike what you’re doing by cutting speeches on the floor of the Senate, then putting them on the Internet within half an hour to raise money for your campaign…
CHRISTIE: …and while still putting our country at risk.
KELLY: Alright, we’ve gotta cut it off there.
We have plenty more we want to get to. That was an interesting exchange, thank you for that.
CHRISTIE: You know what, Megyn, can I…
KELLY: Well, I want to move on, because I have — we’re gonna get to you, governor, but I — I really wanna get to a Facebook questioner. His name is Alex Chalgren, and he has the following question:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: My question is, how would the candidates stop the treacherous actions of ISIS — ISIL and its growing influence in the U.S., if they were to become president?
(END VIDEO CLIP) KELLY: Senator Cruz, I wanna talk to you about this, because many of the Facebook users and — and — the — the folks on Facebook wanted the candidates to speak to ISIS tonight.
You asked the chairman of the joint chiefs a question: “What would it take to destroy ISIS in 90 days?” He told you “IISIS will only be truly destroyed once they are rejected by the populations in which they hide.” And then you accused him of pushing Medicaid for the Iraqis.
How would you destroy ISIS in 90 days?
CRUZ: Megyn, we need a commander in chief that speaks the truth. We will not defeat radical Islamic terrorism so long as we have a president unwilling to utter the words, “radical Islamic terrorism”.
When I asked General Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs, what would be required militarily to destroy ISIS, he said there is no military solution. We need to change the conditions on the ground so that young men are not in poverty and susceptible to radicalization. That, with all due respect, is nonsense.
It’s the same answer the State Department gave that we need to give them jobs. What we need is a commander in chief that makes — clear, if you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your death warrant.
KELLY: You don’t see it as…
KELLY: …an ideological problem — an ideological problem in addition to a military one?
CRUZ: Megyn, of course it’s an ideological problem, that’s one of the reasons I introduce the Expatriate Terrorist Act in the Senate that said if any American travels to the Middle East and joining ISIS, that he or she forfeits their citizenship so they don’t use a passport to come back and wage jihad on Americans.
CRUZ: Yes, it is ideological, and let me contrast President Obama, who at the prayer breakfast, essentially acted as an apologist. He said, “Well, gosh, the crusades, the inquisitions–”
We need a president that shows the courage that Egypt’s President al-Sisi, a Muslim, when he called out the radical Islamic terrorists who are threatening the world.
KELLY: Governor Bush, for days on end in this campaign, you struggled to answer a question about whether knowing what we know now…
BUSH: …I remember…
KELLY: …we would’ve invaded Iraq…
BUSH: …I remember, Megyn.
KELLY: I remember it too, and ISIS, of course, is now thriving there.
You finally said, “No.”
To the families of those who died in that war who say they liberated and deposed a ruthless dictator, how do you look at them now and say that your brothers war was a mistake?
BUSH: Knowing what we know now, with faulty intelligence, and not having security be the first priority when — when we invaded, it was a mistake. I wouldn’t have gone in, however, for the people that did lose their lives, and the families that suffer because of it — I know this full well because as governor of the state of Florida, I called every one of them. Every one of them that I could find to tell them that I was praying for them, that I cared about them, and it was really hard to do.
And, every one of them said that their child did not die in vain, or their wife, of their husband did not die in vain.
So, why it was difficult for me to do it was based on that. Here’s the lesson that we should take from this, which relates to this whole subject, Barack Obama became president, and he abandoned Iraq. He left, and when he left Al Qaida was done for. ISIS was created because of the void that we left, and that void now exists as a caliphate the size of Indiana.
To honor the people that died, we need to — we need to — stop the — Iran agreement, for sure, because the Iranian mullahs have their blood on their hands, and we need to take out ISIS with every tool at our disposal.
KELLY: Governor Walker, in February you said that we needed to gain partners in the Arab world. Which Arab country not already in the U.S. led coalition has potential to be our greatest partner?
WALKER: What about then (ph), we need to focus on the ones we have. You look at Egypt, probably the best relationship we’ve had in Israel, at least in my lifetime, incredibly important.
You look at the Saudis — in fact, earlier this year, I met with Saudi leaders, and leaders from the United Arab Emirates, and I asked them what’s the greatest challenge in the world today? Set aside the Iran deal. They said it’s the disengagement of America. We are leading from behind under the Obama-Clinton doctrine — America’s a great country. We need to stand up and start leading again, and we need to have allies, not just in Israel, but throughout the Persian Gulf.
KELLY: Dr. Carson, in one of his first acts as commander in chief, President Obama signed an executive order banning enhanced interrogation techniques in fighting terror. As president, would you bring back water boarding?
CARSON: Well, thank you, Megyn, I wasn’t sure I was going to get to talk again.
KELLY: We have a lot for you, don’t worry.
KELLY: Fear not, you may rue that request.
CARSON: Alright. You know, what we do in order to get the information that we need is our business, and I wouldn’t necessarily be broadcasting what we’re going to do.
CARSON: We’ve gotten into this — this mindset of fighting politically correct wars. There is no such thing as a politically correct war.
CARSON: The left, of course, will say Carson doesn’t believe in the Geneva Convention, Carson doesn’t believe in fighting stupid wars. And — and what we have to remember is we want to utilize the tremendous intellect that we have in the military to win wars.
And I’ve talked to a lot of the generals, a lot of our advanced people. And believe me, if we gave them the mission, which is what the commander-in-chief does, they would be able to carry it out.
And if we don’t tie their hands behind their back, they will do it…
CARSON: — extremely effectively.
BAIER: Gentlemen, the next series of questions deals with ObamaCare and the role of the federal government.
Mr. Trump, ObamaCare is one of the things you call a disaster.
TRUMP: A complete disaster, yes.
BAIER: Saying it needs to be repealed and replaced.
BAIER: Now, 15 years ago, uncalled yourself a liberal on health care. You were for a single-payer system, a Canadian-style system.
Why were you for that then and why aren’t you for it now?
TRUMP: First of all, I’d like to just go back to one. In July of 2004, I came out strongly against the war with Iraq, because it was going to destabilize the Middle East. And I’m the only one on this stage that knew that and had the vision to say it. And that’s exactly what happened.
BAIER: But on ObamaCare…
TRUMP: And the Middle East became totally destabilized. So I just want to say.
As far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.
What I’d like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state. I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees. And if I’m negotiating in New York or in New Jersey or in California, I have like one bidder. Nobody can bid.
You know why?
Because the insurance companies are making a fortune because they have control of the politicians, of course, with the exception of the politicians on this stage.
But they have total control of the politicians. They’re making a fortune.
Get rid of the artificial lines and you will have…
TRUMP: — yourself great plans. And then we have to take care of the people that can’t take care of themselves. And I will do that through a different system.
BAIER: Mr. Trump, hold up one second.
PAUL: I’ve got a news flash…
BAIER: All right, now, hold on, Senator Paul…
PAUL: News flash, the Republican Party’s been fighting against a single-payer system…
PAUL: — for a decade. So I think you’re on the wrong side of this if you’re still arguing for a single-payer system.
TRUMP: I’m not — I’m not are — I don’t think you heard me. You’re having a hard time tonight.
BAIER: All right, let me…
BAIER: Mr. Trump, it’s not just your past support for single- payer health care. You’ve also supported a host of other liberal policies. Use — you’ve also donated to several Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton included, Nancy Pelosi.
You explained away those donations saying you did that to get business-related favors.
And you said recently, quote, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”
TRUMP: You’d better believe it.
BAIER: So what specifically did…
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s true.
BAIER: — they do?
TRUMP: If I ask them, if I need them, you know, most of the people on this stage I’ve given to, just so you understand, a lot of money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you’re welcome to give me (INAUDIBLE) Donald if you’d like.
TRUMP: Many of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, to be clear…
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: — he supported Charlie Crist.
TRUMP: Not much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Charlie…
TRUMP: But I…
TRUMP: — Donald, if you…
(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: I have good…
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: — this campaign, I hope you will give to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
TRUMP: Sounds good. Sounds good to me, Governor.
I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give.
And do you know what?
When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what did you get?
TRUMP: And that’s a broken system.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you get from Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi?
TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you what, with Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding.
You know why?
She didn’t have a choice because I gave. I gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good. I didn’t know her money would be used on private jets going all over the world. It was.
BAIER: Hold on.
We’re going to — we’re going to move on.
BAIER: We’ll come back to you, Governor Walker.
WALKER: Just one second on this, though.
We — we spent a lot of time talking about Hillary Clinton and —and pitting us back and forth.
Let’s be clear, we should be talking about Hillary Clinton on that last subject, because everywhere in the world that Hillary Clinton touched is more messed up today than before she and the president (INAUDIBLE).
BAIER: We have many questions to come.
WALKER: It’s true.
BAIER: Many questions to come.
BAIER: Governor Huckabee, on Facebook, John Pietricone asked this, “Will you abolish or take away the powers and cut the size of the EPA, the IRS, the Department of Education?”
BAIER: — broadly, the size of government is a big concern for Facebook users, Facebook persons, as well as, obviously, conservatives.
But year after year, decade after decade, there are promises from Republicans to shrink government. But year after year, decade after decade, it doesn’t happen.
In fact, it gets bigger, even under Republican politicians.
So the question is, at this point, is the government simply too big for any one person, even a Republican, to shrink?
HUCKABEE: It’s not too big to shrink. But the problem is we have a Wall Street-to-Washington access of power that has controlled the political climate. The donor class feeds the political class who does the dance that the donor class wants. And the result is federal government keeps getting bigger.
Every person on this stage who has been a governor will tell that you the biggest fight they had was not the other party. Wasn’t even the legislature. It was the federal government, who continually put mandates on the states that we had to suck up and pay for.
And the fact is there are a lot of things happening at the federal level that are absolutely beyond the jurisdiction of the Constitution. This is power that should be shifted back to the states, whether it’s the EPA, there is no role at the federal level for the Department of Education.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HUCKABEE: And I’m still one who says that we can get rid of the Internal Revenue Service if we would pass the fair tax, which is a tax on consumption rather than a tax on people’s income, and move power back where the founders believed it should have been all along.
BAIER: Dr. Carson…
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bret, Bret, Bret…
BAIER: Dr. Carson, do you agree with that?
CARSON: What I agree with is that we need a significantly changed taxation system. And the one that I’ve advocated is based on tithing, because I think God is a pretty fair guy.
And he said, you know, if you give me a tithe, it doesn’t matter how much you make. If you’ve had a bumper crop, you don’t owe me triple tithes. And if you’ve had no crops at all, you don’t owe me no tithes. So there must be something inherently fair about that.
And that’s why I’ve advocated a proportional tax system. You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. And everybody gets treated the same way. And you get rid of the deductions, you get rid of all the loopholes, and…
(DOUBLE BELL RINGS)
BAIER: Governor Bush?
CARSON: And I have a lot more to say about it.
BAIER: We’re going to come back to you, Dr. Carson.
Governor Bush, you are one of the few people on the stage who advocates for Common Core education standards, reading and math. A lot of people on this stage vigorously oppose federal involvement in education. They say it should all be handled locally.
President Obama’s secretary of education, Arnie Duncan, has said that most of the criticism of Common Core is due to a, quote, “fringe group of critics.” Do you think that’s accurate?
BUSH: No, I don’t. And I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards directly or indirectly, the creation of curriculum or content. It is clearly a state responsibility.
I’m for higher standards…
BUSH: … measured in an intellectually honest way, with abundant school choice, ending social promotion. And I know how to do this because as governor of the state of Florida I created the first statewide voucher program in the country, the second statewide voucher program, in the country and the third statewide voucher program in the country.
And we had rising student achievement across the board, because high standards, robust accountability, ending social promotion in third grade, real school choice across the board, challenging the teachers union and beating them is the way to go.
And Florida’s low income kids had the greatest gains inside the country. Our graduation rate improved by 50 percent. That’s what I’m for.
BAIER: Senator Rubio, why is Governor Bush wrong on Common Core?
RUBIO: Well, first off, I too believe in curriculum reform. It is critically important in the 21st Century. We do need curriculum reform. And it should happen at the state and local level. That is where educational policy belongs, because if a parent is unhappy with what their child is being taught in school, they can go to that local school board or their state legislature, or their governor and get it changed.
Here’s the problem with Common Core. The Department of Education, like every federal agency, will never be satisfied. They will not stop with it being a suggestion. They will turn it into a mandate.
In fact, what they will begin to say to local communities is, you will not get federal money unless do you things the way we want you to do it. And they will use Common Core or any other requirements that exists nationally to force it down the throats of our people in our states.
BAIER: And do you agree with your old friend?
BUSH: He is definitely my friend. And I think the states ought to create these standards. And if states want to opt out of Common Core, fine. Just make sure your standards are high.
Because today in America, a third of our kids, after we spend more per student than any country in the world other than a couple rounding errors, to be honest with you, 30 percent are college- and/or career-ready.
BUSH: If we are going to compete in this world we’re in today, there is no possible way we can do it with lowering expectations and dumbing down everything. Children are going to suffer and families’ hearts are going to be broken that their kids won’t be able to get a job in the 21st Century.
BAIER: We have many more questions coming on a host of topics, here from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would make stand out as the best choice for the Republican nomination?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you intend to go about student loan reform?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will be the first thing you will do to stimulate economic growth in our country and bring more jobs to the United States?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: We have many more questions coming on a host of topics. Here from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would make you stand out as the best choice for the Republican nomination?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you intend to go about student loan reform?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will be the first thing you will do to stimulate economic growth in our country and bring more jobs to the United States?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KELLY: It’s just before 10:00 p.m. on the East Coast. Welcome back to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, and the very first Republican primary debate of the 2016 presidential campaign. Ten candidates on the stage, selected based on their standing in five national polls. And tonight they are facing off, answering the questions you want asked. We hope.
WALLACE: Gentlemen, we’re obviously digging into some subjects in depth, but we’re also going to change it up every once in a while throughout the next hour and have many rounds where we ask, you are not going to like it, only a couple of candidates questions on those subjects. This is the first of the many rounds, and it’s about somebody whose name probably hasn’t been mentioned enough so far tonight.
Governor Kasich, let me start with you. Whoever the Republican nominee —
WALLACE: Whoever the Republican nominee is, it looks at least for now like whoever that nominee is, he or she, will be facing off against Hillary Clinton. You know how she will come after whoever the Republican nominee is. She will say that you, whoever it is, support the rich while she supports the middle class. That you want to suppress the rights of women and minorities. She wants to move the country forward while you, the Republicans, want to take the country back to the past.
How will you, if you’re the nominee, how will you answer that and take Hillary Clinton on?
KASICH: Let’s start off with my father being a mailman. So I understand the concerns of all the folks across this country, some of whom having trouble, you know, making ends meet. But I think she will come in a narrow way. The nominee of this party, if they’re going to win, has got to come at it in a big way, which is pro-growth. Which is balancing budgets. You know, we were talking about it. People were saying, could we do it? I was the chairman of the Budget Committee and the lead architect the last time it happened in Washington, and when we did it we had great economic growth, we cut taxes, and we had a big surplus.
Economic growth is the key. Economic growth is the key to everything. But once you have economic growth, it is important that we reach out to people who live in the shadows, the people who don’t seem to ever think that they get a fair deal. And that includes people in our minority community; that includes people who feel as though they don’t have a chance to move up.
You know, America is a miracle country. And we have to restore the sense that the Amiracle (ph) will apply to you. Each and every one of the people in this country who’s watching tonight, lift everybody, unite everybody and build a stronger United States of America again. It will be and can be done.
WALLACE: I know that all of you would like to answer this question, but we’re only going to ask one other candidate before we move on to a different subject, Dr. Carson.
Basically, same question to you. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee and she comes at you with that kind of line of attack, how will you take Iraq?
CARSON: If Hillary is the candidate, which I doubt, that would be a dream come true.
But you know, the fact of the matter is, she is the epitome of the progressive — the secular progressive movement. And she counts on the fact that people are uninformed, the Alinsky Model, taking advantage of useful idiots.
Well, I just happen to believe that people are not stupid.
(APPLAUSE) And the way I will come at it is to educate people, help people to actually understand that it is that progressive movement that is causing them the problems.
You know, you look at the — the national debt and how it’s being driven up. If I was trying to destroy this country, what I would do is find a way to drive wedges between all the people, drive the debt to an unsustainable level, and then step off the stage as a world leader and let our enemies increase while we decreased our capacity as a military person. And that’s what she’s doing.
WALLACE: Gentlemen, we’re going to turn now to the subject of the economy, jobs and money and the government. And Governor Bush, I’m going to start with you.
You have made a bold promise in your announcement. You have promised four percent economic growth and 19 million new jobs if you are fortunate enough to serve two terms as president.
That many jobs, 19 million, would be triple what your father and your brother accomplished together. And four percent growth, the last president to average that was Lyndon Johnson during the height of the Vietnam War. So question, how on Earth specifically would you pull that off?
BUSH: We’ve done it 27 times since World War II. I think we need to lift our spirits and have high, lofty expectations for this great country of ours.
The new normal of two percent that the left is saying you can’t do anything about is so dangerous for our country. There’s 6 million people living in poverty today, more than when Barack Obama got elected. 6.5 million people are working part-time, most of whom want to work full-time. We’ve created rules and taxes on top of every aspiration of people, and the net result is we’re not growing fast, income is not growing. A four percent growth strategy means you fix a convoluted tax code. You get in and you change every aspect of regulations that are job killers. You get rid of Obamacare and replace it with something that doesn’t suppress wages and kill jobs.
You embrace the energy revolution in our country. This president and Hillary Clinton, who can’t even say she’s for the X.L. pipeline even after she’s left? Give me a break. Of course we’re for it. We should be for these things to create high sustained economic growth. And frankly, fixing our immigration system and turning it into an economic driver is part of this as well. We can do this.
WALLACE: Governor Walker.
(APPLAUSE) Governor Walker, when you ran for governor of Wisconsin back in 2010, you promised that you would create 250,000 jobs in your first term, first four years. In fact, Wisconsin added barely half that and ranked 35th in the country in job growth. Now you’re running for president, and you’re promising an economic plan in which everyone will earn a piece of the American dream.
Given your record in Wisconsin, why should voters believe you?
WALKER: Well, the voters in Wisconsin elected me last year for the third time because they wanted someone who aimed high, not aimed low.
Before I came in, the unemployment rate was over eight percent. It’s now down to 4.6 percent. We’ve more than made up for the jobs that were lost during the recession. And the rate in which people are working is almost five points higher than it is nationally.
You know, people like Hillary Clinton think you grow the economy by growing Washington. One report last year showed that six of the top 10 wealthiest counties in America were in or around Washington, D.C.. I think most of us in America understand that people, not the government creates jobs. And one of the best things we can do is get the government out of the way, repeal Obamacare, put in — reign in all the out of control regulations, put in place and all of the above energy policy, give people the education, the skills that the need to succeed, and lower the tax rate and reform the tax code. That’s what I’ll do as president, just like I did in Wisconsin.
WALLACE: Governor Christie, I want to engage you and Governor Huckabee in a subject that is a big issue in both of your campaigns, and that is entitlement reform.
You say that you — to save the system that you want to raise the retirement age — have to raise the retirement age, and to cut benefits for Social Security and Medicare, and you say that some of the candidates here on the stage are lying.
Governor Huckabee says he can save Social Security and Medicare without doing any of that. Is he lying?
CHRISTIE: No, he’s not lying, he’s just wrong.
I mean, so, there’s a difference — I’m the only guy on this stage who’s put out a detailed, 12 point plan on entitlement reform and here’s why — because 71% of federal spending right now is on entitlements, and debt service, 71%. And we have spent the last hour and five minutes talking about the other 29%, and no time on the 71%, and that makes no sense.
Now, let me tell you exactly what we would do on Social Security. Yes, we’d raise the retirement age two years, and phase it in over 25 years, that means we’d raise it one month a year for 25 years when we’re all living longer, and living better lives.
Secondly, we would needs (ph) test Social Security for those who are making over $200,000 dollars a year in retirement income, and have $4 to $5 million dollars in liquid assets saved. They don’t need that Social Security check. Social Security is meant to be — to make sure that no one who’s worked hard, and played by the rules, and paid into the system grows old in poverty in America.
If we don’t deal with this problem, it will bankrupt our country, or lead to massive tax increases, neither one that we want in this country.
WALLACE: Governor Huckabee?
You say that changing entitlements, the kind of thing that Governor Christie is talking about, would be breaking a promise to the American people, and you say that you can keep those programs, save Social Security, save Medicare, without those kinds of reforms through a Fair (ph) tax, which is a broad tax on consumption. Please explain to Governor Christie how that would work, and how you could save these programs without the kind of painful reforms he says we need?
HUCKABEE: Well, lets all be reminded, 60 million Americans are on Social Security, 60 million. A third of those people depend on 90% of their income from Social Security. Nobody in this country is on Social Security because they made the decision when they were starting work at 14 that they wanted to trust some of their money with the government.
The government took it out of their check whether they wanted them to or not. And, if person goes to 65, they’re going to spend 51 years with the government reaching into their pocket at every paycheck.
Now, here’s the point, whose fault is it that the system is screwed up? Is it the recipients, or is it the government? And, if Congress wants to mess with the retirement program, why don’t we let them start by changing their retirement program, and not have one, instead of talking about getting rid of Social Security and Medicare that was robbed $700 billion dollars to pay for Obamacare.
It’s always that the government figures that they can do this off the backs of people, many of whom are poor, and depend on that money, and I just think it’s fundamentally lying to people and stealing from them, and we shouldn’t be doing it.
WALLACE: …Thirty seconds.
CHRISTIE: Yeah, sure. And, I don’t disagree with ending Congress’ retirement program. I’m a governor, I don’t have a retirement program in my state, and I don’t disagree with that. But, here’s the news to the American people, he’s complaining about the lying and stealing. The lying and stealing has already occurred. The trust fund is filled with IOU’s. We can’t fix the problem just by ending (ph) Congress’ retirement, that’s worth about, “this” much.
We need to go at the fundamental problem, and the fundamental problem is that this system is broken. It has been stolen from. We have been lied to, and we need a strong leader to tell the truth and fix…
WALLACE: …Alright, this is it. Thirty Seconds, finally.
HUCKABEE: Well, you ask about how we fund it. One of the reasons that Social Security is in so much trouble is that the only funding stream comes from people who get a wage. The people who get wages is declining dramatically. Most of the income in this country is made by people at the top who get dividends and — and capital gains.
HUCKABEE: The fair (ph) transforms the process by which we fund Social Security and Medicare because the money paid in consumption is paid by everybody, including illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, all the people that are freeloading off the system now.
That’s why it ought to be a transformed system.
WALLACE: All right. Enough.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump.
KELLY: (OFF MIKE) Sounds like somebody’s a little R-rated.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, you talk a lot about how you are the person on this stage to grow the economy. I want to ask you about your business record. Trump corporations — Trump corporations, casinos and hotels, have declared bankruptcy four times over the last quarter-century.
In 2011, you told Forbes Magazine this: “I’ve used the laws of the country to my advantage.” But at the same time, financial experts involved in those bankruptcies say that lenders to your companies lost billions of dollars.
Question sir, with that record, why should we trust you to run the nation’s business?
TRUMP: Because I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetera.
I have never gone bankrupt, by the way. I have never.
But out of hundreds of deals…
WALLACE: No, but the concept sir…
TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me.
WALLACE: … that’s your line, but your companies have gone bankrupt.
TRUMP: Excuse me, what am I saying? Out of hundreds of deals that I’ve done, hundreds, on four occasions I’ve taken advantage of the laws of this country, like other people. I’m not going to name their names because I’m not going to embarrass, but virtually every person that you read about on the front page of the business sections, they’ve used the law.
The difference is, when somebody else uses those laws, nobody writes about it. When I use it, they say, “Trump, Trump, Trump.” The fact is, I built a net worth of more than $10 billion. I have a great, great company. I employ thousands of people. And I’m very proud of the job I did.
Again Chris, hundreds and hundreds of deals. Four times, I’ve taken advantage of the laws. And frankly, so has everybody else in my position.
WALLACE: Well sir, let’s just talk about the latest example…
… which is Trump Entertainment Resorts, which went bankrupt in 2009. In that case alone, lenders to your company lost over $1 billion and more than 1,100 people were laid off.
TRUMP: Well, I…
WALLACE: Is that the way that you’d run the country?
TRUMP: Let me just tell you about the lenders. First of all, these lenders aren’t babies. These are total killers. These are not the nice, sweet little people that you think, OK?
You know, I mean you’re living in a world of the make-believe, Chris, you want to know the truth.
And I had the good sense to leave Atlantic City, which by the way, Caesars just went bankrupt. Every company, Chris can tell you, every company virtually in Atlantic City went bankrupt.
And let me just tell you. I had the good sense, and I’ve gotten a lot of credit in the financial pages, seven years ago I left Atlantic City before it totally cratered, and I made a lot of money in Atlantic City, and I’m very proud of it. I want to tell you that. Very, very proud of it.
TRUMP: And by the way, this country right now owes $19 trillion. And they need somebody like me to straighten out that mess.
WALLACE: Senator Rubio.
Senator Rubio, more than 3,000 people sent us questions about the economy and jobs on Facebook. And here is a video question from Tania Cioloko from Philadelphia. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Please describe one action you would do to make the economic environment more favorable for small businesses and entrepreneurs and anyone dreaming of opening their own business.
(CLOSE VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: That’s a great question.
WALLACE: Senator, how do you answer Tania?
RUBIO: That’s a great question.
First of all, it begins by having leaders that recognize that the economy we live in today is dramatically different from the one we had five years ago. It’s an economy that now has placed us in global competition with dozens of other countries around the world.
Now, the big companies that have connections with Washington, they can affect policies to help them, but the small companies like the one Tania is talking about, they’re the ones that are struggling.
The first thing we need to do is we need to even out the tax code for small businesses so that we lower their tax rate to 25 percent, just as we need to lower it for all businesses.
We need to have a regulatory budget in America that limits the amount of regulations on our economy. We need to repeal and replace Obamacare and we need to improve higher education so that people can have access to the skills they need for 21st century jobs.
And last but not least, we need to repeal Dodd-Frank. It is eviscerating small businesses and small banks.
20 — over 40 percent of small and mid-size banks that loan money to small businesses have been wiped out over the — since Dodd-Frank has passed. We need to repeal and replace Dodd-Frank. We need to make America fair again for all businesses, but especially those being run by small business owners.
WALLACE: Senator Rubio, thank you.
BAIER: Gentlemen, another question for a few of you.
Yesterday, just yesterday, President Obama criticized Republican lawmakers trying to block the Iran deal, calling them knee-jerk partisans, adding that hardliners in Iran who chant “death to America” were quote, “making common cause with the Republican caucus.”
Here’s what two of your opponents on the five p.m. debate stage said about Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: I will tell you one thing. I would’ve a whole lot rather had Carly Fiorina over there doing our negotiation than John Kerry. Maybe we would’ve gotten a deal where we didn’t give everything away.
But the issue for us is to have a Congress that stands up and says not only no, but hell no, to this money going to a regime that is going to use it for terror…
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FIORINA: When America does not lead, the world is a dangerous and a tragic place. This is a bad deal. Obama broke every rule of negotiation.
Yes, our allies are not perfect, but Iran is at the heart of most of the evil that is going on in the Middle East through their proxy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Now, I wanna ask a few of you this. First, Governor Walker.
You’ve said that you would tear up the Iran deal on day one. If this deal is undone, what then?
WALKER: Well, first off, let’s remember. I still remember, as a kid, tying a yellow ribbon around a tree in front of my house during the 444 days that Iran held 52 Americans hostage. Iran is not a place we should be doing business with.
To me, you terminate the deal on day one, you reinstate the sanctions authorized by Congress, you go to Congress and put in place even more crippling sanctions in place, and then you convince our allies to do the same.
This is not just bad with Iran, this is bad with ISIS. It is tied together, and, once and for all, we need a leader who’s gonna stand up and do something about it.
It’s yet another example of the failed foreign policy of the Obama-Clinton doctrine.
BAIER: Senator Paul, would you tear up the deal on day one?
PAUL: I oppose the Iranian deal, and will vote against it. I don’t think that the president negotiated from a position of strength, but I don’t immediately discount negotiations.
I’m a Reagan conservative. Reagan did negotiate with the Soviets. But you have to negotiate from a position of strength, and I think President Obama gave away too much, too early.
If there’s going to be a negotiation, you’re going to have to believe somehow that the Iranians are going to comply. I asked this question to John Kerry, I said “do you believe they’re trustworthy?” and he said “No.”
And I said, “well, how are we gonna get them to comply?” I would have never released the sanctions before there was consistent evidence of compliance.
BAIER: Governor Huckabee, what do you think about what Senator Paul just said?
HUCKABEE: Ronald Reagan said “trust, but verify.” President Obama is “trust, but vilify.” He trusts our enemies and vilifies everyone who disagrees with him.
And the reason we disagree with him has nothing ot do with party.
HUCKABEE: It has to do with the incredibly dangerous place that this world is gonna be as a result of a deal in which we got nothing.
We didn’t even get four hostages out. We got nothing, and Iran gets everything they want.
We said we would have anywhere, anytime negotiations and inspections, we gave that up. We said that we would make sure that they didn’t have any nuclear capacity, we gave that up.
The president can’t tell you what we got. I’ll tell you what the world got. The world has a burgeoning nuclear power that didn’t, as the Soviets, say “we might defend ourselves in a war.”
What the Iranians have said is, “we will wipe Israel off the face of the map, and we will bring death to America.” When someone points a gun at your head and loads it, by God, you ought to take them seriously, and we need to take that seriously.
BAIER: Thank you, gentlemen.
KELLY: Well, the first debate night of the 2016 presidential campaign continues from Cleveland after a short time-out. Stick around. Social issues, next.
KELLY: Welcome back, gentleman. We’re going to move on now to discuss some social issues across the board.
Governor Bush, let’s start with you. Many Republicans have been outraged recently by a series of videos on Planned Parenthood. You now say that you support ending federal funding for this organization.
However, until late 2014, right before you started your campaign, you sat on the board of a Bloomberg charity that quite publicly gave tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood while you were a director.
How could you not know about these well publicized donations, and if you did know, how could you help a charity so openly committed to abortion rights?
BUSH: I joined the Bloomberg Foundation because of Mike Bloomberg’s shared commitment for meaningful education reform. That’s why I was on it. We never had a debate about the budget. It was presented and we approved it. Not item by item.
Here’s my record: As governor of the state of Florida, I defunded Planned Parenthood. I created a culture of life in our state.
BUSH: We were the only state to appropriate money for crisis pregnancy centers. We expand dramatically the number adoptions out of our foster care system. We did parental notification laws. We ended partial-birth abortion. We did all of this and we were the first state to do a “choose life” license plate. Now 29 states have done it, and tens of millions of dollars have gone to create a culture where more people, more babies are adopted.
KELLY: Did you know it?
BUSH: No, I didn’t know. But it doesn’t matter. I was working on the board because of education.
My record is clear. My record as a pro-life governor is not in dispute. I am completely pro-life, and I believe that we should have a culture of life. It’s informed by my faith from beginning to end.
And I this not just as it related to unborn babies, I did it at the end of life issues as well. This is something that goes way beyond politics. And I hope one day we get to the point where we respect life in its fullest form across the board.
KELLY: Senator Rubio, you favor a rape and incest exception to abortion bans. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York just said yesterday those exceptions are preposterous. He said they discriminate against an entire class of human beings. If you believe that life begins at conception, as you say you do, how do you justify ending a life just because it begins violently, through no fault of the baby?
RUBIO: Well, Megyn, first of all, I’m not sure that that’s a correct assessment of my record. I would go on to add that I believe all–
KELLY: You don’t favor a rape and incest exception?
RUBIO: I have never said that. And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection.
In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.
RUBIO: And let me go further. I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws, whether they can vote or not. Whether they can speak or not. Whether they can hire a lawyer or not. Whether they have a birth certificate or not. And I think future generations will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, in 1999, you said you were, quote, “very pro- choice.” Even supporting partial-birth abortion. You favored an assault weapons ban as well. In 2004, you said in most cases you identified as a Democrat. Even in this campaign, your critics say you often sound more like a Democrat than a Republican, calling several of your opponents on the stage things like clowns and puppets. When did you actually become a Republican?
TRUMP: I don’t think they like me very much. I’ll tell you what. I’ve evolved on many issues over the years. And you know who else has? Is Ronald Reagan evolved on many issues.
And I am pro-life. And if you look at the question, I was in business. They asked me a question as to pro-life or choice. And I said if you let it run, that I hate the concept of abortion. I hate the concept of abortion. And then since then, I’ve very much evolved.
And what happened is friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances.
And I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.
As far as being a Republican is concerned, I come from a place, New York City, which is virtually, I mean, it is almost exclusively Democrat. And I have really started to see some of the negatives — as an example, and I have a lot of liking for this man, but the last number of months of his brother’s administration were a catastrophe. And unfortunately, those few months gave us President Obama. And you can’t be happy about that.
KELLY: Governor Bush, I want to ask you, on the subject of name calling of your fellow candidates, a story appeared today quoting an anonymous GOP donor who said you called Mr. Trump a clown, a buffoon, something else that cannot be repeated on television.
BUSH: None of which is true.
KELLY: Is it true?
BUSH: No. It’s not true. But I have said that Mr. Trump’s language is divisive.
I want to win. I want one of these people here or the ones at 5:00, to be the next president of the United States.
We’re not going on win by doing what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton do each and every day. Dividing the country. Saying, creating a grievance kind of environment. We’re going to win when we unite people with a hopeful, optimistic message. I have that message because I was a governor of a state that saw people lifted up, because we had high sustained economic growth. Our economy grew at double the rate of the nation. We created 1.3 million jobs. We led the nation seven out of those eight years. We were only one of two states that went to AAA bond rating. I cut taxes, $19 billion. If you do that and apply conservative principles the right way, you create an environment where everybody rises up. That’s how we’re going to win. Campaigning in places to give people hope that their life is better because too many people are suffering today in America.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, 30 seconds.
TRUMP: First of all, Jeb, I am very happy that you denied that, and I appreciate that very much. He is a true gentleman. He really is.
One thing he did say, and I mean that. The one thing he did say about me, however, was my tone. And I also understand that. But when you have people that are cutting Christians’ heads off, when you have a world that the border and at so many places, that it is medieval times, we’ve never — it almost has to be as bad as it ever was in terms of the violence and the horror, we don’t have time for tone. We have to go out and get the job done.
KELLY: The subject of gay marriage and religious liberty. Governor Kasich, if you had a son or daughter who was gay or lesbian, how would you explain to them your opposition to same-sex marriage?
KASICH: Well, look, I’m an old-fashioned person here, and I happen to believe in traditional marriage. But I’ve also said the court has ruled —
KELLY: How would you — how would you explain it to a child?
KASICH: Wait, Megyn, the court has ruled, and I said we’ll accept it. And guess what, I just went to a wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay. Because somebody doesn’t think the way I do, doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or can’t love them. So if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them and I would accept them. Because you know what?
KASICH: That’s what we’re taught when we have strong faith.
KASICH: So the issues like that, issues like that are planted to divide us. I think the simple fact of the matter is, and this is where I would agree with Jeb, and I’ve been saying it all along, we need to give everybody a chance, treat everybody with respect, and let them share in this great American dream that we have, Megan. So, look, I’m going to love my daughters, I’m going to love them no matter what they do. Because, you know what, God gives me unconditional love. I’m going to give it to my family and my friends and the people around me.
MEGAN: Senator Paul, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage, Carol Fox on Facebook want to know the following. Quote, what will you do to ensure Christians are not prosecuted for speaking out against gay marriage and will Christians be forced to conduct business that conflicts with their religious beliefs?
PAUL: Look, I don’t want my marriage or my guns registered in Washington. And if people have an opinion, it’s a religious opinion that is heartly felt, obviously they should be allowed to practice that and no government should interfere with them. One of the things, one of the things that really got to me was the thing in Houston where you had the government, the mayor actually, trying to get the sermons of ministers. When the government tries to invade the church to enforce its own opinion on marriage, that’s when it’s time to resist.
MEGAN: Governor Walker, many in the Black Live Matter movement, and beyond, believe that overly-aggressive police officers targeting young African Americans is the civil rights issue of our time. Do you agree? And if so, how do you plan to address it? And if not, why not?
WALKER: Well, I think the most important thing we can do when it comes to policing — it’s something you’ve had a guest on who’s a friend of mine Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clark, who’s talked to me about this many times in the past — it’s about training. It’s about making sure that law enforcement professionals, not only in the way in to their positions but all the way through their time, have the proper training, particularly when it comes to the use of force. And that we protect and stand up and support those men and women who are doing their jobs in law enforcement. And for the very few that don’t, that there are consequences to show that we treat everyone the same here in America.
KELLY: Thank you.
BAIER: Welcome back to Cleveland. Our next topic is foreign policy. Candidates, you may not have seen the late developing news today our Fox Pentagon team broke earlier this evening about a top Iranian general traveling to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
His name is General Qassem Soleimani, he’s blamed for hundreds of U.S. troops death in Iraq, and Afghanistan. His trip to Russia appears to directly violate U.N. Security Council resolutions to confine him to Iran.
So, Mr. Trump, if you were president, how would you respond to this?
TRUMP: I would be so different from what you have right now. Like, the polar opposite. We have a president who doesn’t have a clue. I would say he’s incompetent, but I don’t want to do that because that’s not nice.
TRUMP: But if you look at the deals we make, whether it’s the nuclear deal with 24 hour periods — and by the way, before you get to the 24 hours, you have to go through a system. You look at Sergeant Bergdahl, we get Bergdahl, a traitor, and they get five of the big, great killers leaders that they want. We have people in Washington that don’t know what they’re doing. Now…
TRUMP: I agree.
TRUMP: Now, with Iran, we’re making a deal, you would say, we want him. We want out our prisoners. We want all these things, and we don’t get anything. We’re giving them $150 billion dollars plus, they are going to be — I’ll tell you what, if Iran was a stock, you folks should go out and buy it right now because you’ll quadruple — this, what’s happening in Iran, is a disgrace, and it’s going to lead to destruction in large portions of the world.
BAIER: Another new development today, Senior Defense officials tell Fox they strongly suspect Russia was behind the cyber attack on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs office…
BAIER: …email. This comes in the wake of the director of national intelligence blaming the Chinese for the largest ever cyber attack, stealing personal data of tens of millions of Americans.
Senator Cruz, in your view, have Russia and China committed of cyber war, and if you were president, what would you do about it?
CRUZ: Well, Bret, of course they have, and over the last six and a half years we’ve seen the consequences of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy. Leading from behind is a disaster. We have abandoned and alienated our friends and allies, and our enemies are stronger. Radical Islam is on the rise, Iran’s on the verge of acquiring a nuclear weapon, China is waging cyber warfare against America, Russia — General Soleimani, you just mentioned, the Iranian general is the head of the al Quds forces.
He’s directly responsible for the murder of over 500 American servicemen in Iraq, and part of this Iranian deal was lifting the international sanctions on General Soleimani. The day General Soleimani flew back from Moscow to Iran was the day we believed that Russia used cyber warfare against the joint chiefs. We need a new commander in chief that will stand up to our enemies, and that will have credibility…
CRUZ: It is worth emphasizing that Iran released our hostages in 1981 the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.
BAIER: Dr. Carson, in August of 2012 President Obama famously declared Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, quote, “that’s a red line for us,” and that there would be enormous consequences.
One year later, and with overwhelming evidence the Assad had, in fact, used chemical weapons and crossed that red line, President Obama declined to use military force against the Assad regime.
As president, would you have used military force there?
CARSON: Well, what we have to stop and think about is that we have weakened ourselves militarily to such an extent that if affects all of our military policies. Our Navy is at its smallest size since 1917; our Air Force, since 1940. In recent testimony, the commandant of the Marine Corps said half of the non-deployed units were not ready and you know, the sequester is cutting the heart out of our personnel. Our generals are retiring because they don’t want to be part of this, and at the same time, our enemies are increasing.
Our — our friends can’t trust us anymore. You know, Ukraine was a nuclear-armed state. They gave away their nuclear arms with the understanding that we would protect them. We won’t even give them offensive weapons.
You know, we turned our back on Israel, our ally. You know, and a situation like that, of course Obama’s not going to be able to do anything. I would shore up our military first, because if you don’t get the military right, nothing else is going to work.
BAIER: Governor Walker, as president, what would you do if Russian President Vladimir Putin started a campaign to destabilize NATO allies Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, mirroring the actions Putin took at the early days of Ukraine?
WALKER: Well first off, for the cyber attack with Russia the other day, it’s sad to think right now, but probably the Russian and Chinese government know more about Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server than do the members of the United States Congress.
And — and that has put our national security at risk. If I am president, he won’t think about that. You know, Putin believes in the old Lenin adage: you probe with bayonets. When you find mush, you push. When you find steel, you stop.
Under Obama and Clinton, we found a lot of mush over the last two years. We need to have a national security that puts steel in front of our enemies. I would send weapons to Ukraine. I would work with NATO to put forces on the eastern border of Poland and the Baltic nations, and I would reinstate, put in place back in the missile defense system that we had in Poland and in the Czech Republic. (APPLAUSE)
We define (ph) steel.
BAIER: Governor — Governor Huckabee, the culture of the American military is definitely changing. Women are moving into combat roles. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has obviously been dropped. And now Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently directed the military to prepare for a moment when it is welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.
As commander in chief, how would you handle that?
HUCKABEE: The military is not a social experiment. The purpose of the military is kill people and break things.
It’s not to transform the culture by trying out some ideas that some people think would make us a different country and more diverse. The purpose is to protect America. I’m not sure how paying for transgender surgery for soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines makes our country safer.
We’ve reduced the military by 25 percent…
… under President Obama. The disaster is that we’ve forgotten why we have a military. The purpose of it is to make sure that we protect every American, wherever that American is, and if an American is calling out for help, whether it’s in Benghazi or at the border, then we ought to be able to answer it.
We’ve not done that because we’ve decimated our military. We’re flying B-52s. The most recent one that was put in service was November of 1962. A lot of the B-52s we’re flying, we’ve only got 44 that are in service combat ready, and the fact is, most of them are older than me. And that’s pretty scary.
BAIER: Senator Paul, the first budget your proposed as senator cut all financial aid to Israel. You have since changed your view on that issue. What made you change your mind.
PAUL: Well, let’s be clear, I’m the only one on the stage who actually has a five-year budget that balances. I’ve put pencil to paper…
(UNKNOWN): I do.
PAUL: … and I’ve said — and I’ve said I would cut spending, and I’ve said exactly where. Each one of my budgets has taken a meat axe to foreign aid, because I think we ought to quit sending it to countries that hate us.
I think we ought to quit sending it to countries that burn our flag. Israel is not one of those. But even Benjamin Netanyahu said that ultimately, they will be stronger when they’re independent. My position is exactly the same.
We shouldn’t borrow money from China to send it anywhere, but why don’t we start with eliminating aid to our enemies.
BAIER: OK. But you still say that Israel could be one of the countries that is cut from financial aid?
PAUL: I still say exactly what my original opinion is. Do you borrow money from China to send it to anyone? Out of your surplus, you can help your allies, and Israel is a great ally. And this is no particular animus of Israel, but what I will say, and I will say over and over again, we cannot give away money we don’t have.
We do not project power from bankruptcy court. We’re borrowing a million dollars a minute.
It’s got to stop somewhere.
BAIER: Governor Christie, what do you think of that answer?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen.
You know, if we want to deal with these issues, we have to deal with them in a way that makes sense.
I agree with what Dr. Carson said earlier. The first thing we need to do to make America stronger is to strengthen our military, and I put out a really specific plan: no less than 500,000 active duty soldiers in the Army. No less than 185,000 active duty marines in the Marine Corps. Bring us to a 350 ship Navy again, and modernize the Ohio class of submarines, and bring our Air Force back to 2,600 aircraft that are ready to go.
Those are the kind of things that are going to send a clear message around the world. Those are the things that we need to start working on immediately to make our country stronger and make it better. Those are the things that we need to be able to be doing. And as we move towards dealing with foreign aid, I don’t disagree with Senator Paul’s position that we shouldn’t be funding our enemies. But I absolutely believe that Israel is a priority to be able to fund and keep them strong and safe after eight years of this administration.
BAIER: Governor, thank you.
CRUZ: Brett, can I — Brett, can I jump in on this one?
BAIER: Senator, we’re going to finish up with some more questions, thank you.
KELLY: We have to stand you by, because after the break, we’re going to let the candidates make their closing statements, their final thoughts, and God.
Stay tuned for that.
KELLY: Welcome back.
In our final moments here together, we’re going to allow the candidates to offer their final thoughts. But first, we want to ask them an interesting closing question from Chase Norton on Facebook, who wants to know this of the candidates: “I want to know if any of them have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.”
Senator Cruz, start from you. Any word from God?
CRUZ: Well, I am blessed to receive a word from God every day in receiving the scriptures and reading the scriptures. And God speaks through the Bible.
CRUZ: I’m the son of a pastor and evangelist and I’ve described many times how my father, when I was a child, was an alcoholic. He was not a Christian. And my father left my mother and left me when I was just three years old.
And someone invited him to Clay Road Baptist Church. And he gave his heart to Jesus and it turned him around. And he got on a plane and he flew back to my mother and me.
CRUZ: I would also note that the scripture tells us, “you shall know them by their fruit.” We see lots of “campaign conservatives.” But if we’re going to win in 2016, we need a consistent conservative, someone who has been a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, a national security conservative.
There are real differences among the candidates on issues like amnesty, like Obamacare, like religious liberty, like life and marriage. And I have been proud to fight and stand for religious liberty, to stand against Planned Parenthood, to defend life for my entire career.
And I will be proud to continue to do so as president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KELLY: Governor Kasich, same question.
KASICH: Well, Megyn, my father was a mailman. His father was a coal miner. My mother’s mother could barely speak English. And their son today stands on this podium in the great state of Ohio not only as the governor, but a candidate for president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KASICH: I do believe in miracles. You know, I’ve had a lot of elections. But my elections are really not about campaigns. I tell my people that these are about a movement. And a movement to do what? To restore common sense. A movement to do things like provide economic growth. And a movement not to let anybody be behind.
You know, today the country is divided. You asked a question about the police and the difficulty in communities. We’ve got to unite our country again, because we’re stronger when we are united and we are weaker when we are divided.
And we’ve got to listen to other people’s voices, respect them, but keep in mind, and I believe in terms of the things that I’ve read in my lifetime, the lord is not picking us. But because of how we respect human rights, because that we are a good force in the world, he wants America to be strong.
He wants America to succeed. And he wants America to lead. And nothing is more important to me than my family, my faith, and my friends.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KELLY: Governor Walker, same question.
WALKER: Well, thanks, Megyn.
I’m certainly an imperfect man. And it’s only by the blood of Jesus Christ that I’ve been redeemed from my sins. So I know that God doesn’t call me to do a specific thing, God hasn’t given me a list, a Ten Commandments, if you will, of things to act on the first day.
What God calls us to do is follow his will. And ultimately that’s what I’m going to try to do. And I hope people see it in my state, even in the big challenges I took on when I had over 100,000 protesters in and around our capital, trying to do what I thought was the right thing.
It wasn’t just how I took on those political battles. It was ultimately how I acted. Not responding in kind. Not lashing out. But just being decent going forward and living my life in a way that would be a testimony to him and our faith.
KELLY: Senator Rubio, I want to ask you the same question. But I do want to mention, a woman just came here to the stage and asked, what about the veterans? I want to hear more about what these candidates are going to do for our nation’s veterans.
So I put the question to you about God and the veterans, which you may find to be related.
RUBIO: Well, first, let me say I think God has blessed us. He has blessed the Republican Party with some very good candidates. The Democrats can’t even find one.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
RUBIO: And I believe God has blessed our country. This country has been extraordinarily blessed. And we have honored that blessing. And that’s why God has continued to bless us.
And he has blessed us with young men and women willing to risk their lives and sometimes die in uniform for the safety and security of our people.
Unfortunately today we have a VA that does not do enough for them. I am proud that last year we helped change the law. We changed the law to give the power to the VA secretary the ability to fire any executive that isn’t doing their job.
And it is outrageous they’ve only fired one person to date. When I’m president of the United States, we’re going to have a VA that cares more about our veterans than about the bureaucrats who work at the VA.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KELLY: Dr. Carson, a question to you about God and his role, but also, one of the issues that the public was very interested in, and we touched on it earlier, is race relations in this country, and how divided we seem right now. And what, if anything, you can do — you would do as the next president to help heal that divide.
CARSON: Well, I think the bully pulpit is a wonderful place to start healing that divide. You know, we have the purveyors of hatred who take every single incident between people of two races and try to make a race war out of it, and drive wedges into people. And this does not need to be done.
What we need to think about instead — you know, I was asked by an NPR reporter once, why don’t I talk about race that often. I said it’s because I’m a neurosurgeon. And she thought that was a strange response. And you say — I said, you see, when I take someone to the operating room, I’m actually operating on the thing that makes them who they are. The skin doesn’t make them who they are. The hair doesn’t make them who they are. And it’s time for us to move beyond that.
CARSON: Because —
CARSON: — our strength as a nation comes in our unity. We are the United States of America, not the divided states. And those who want to divide us are trying to divide us, and we shouldn’t let them do it.
KASICH: You know, tonight we hear about what people want to do. I want to tell you what I’ve done. I was a member of the Armed Services Committee for 18 years. I spent a big chunk of my life studying national security issues and our role in the world.
No. 2. I was the chairman of the House Budget Committee and one of the chief architects the last time we balanced a budget, and it was the first time we had done it since man walked on the moon. We had a $5 trillion surplus and we cut taxes.
I spent ten years in the private sector, actually learning how business works. And now I’m the governor of Ohio, and I inherited a state that was on the brink of dying. And we turned it all around with jobs and balanced budgets and rising credit and tax cuts, and the state is unified, and people have hope again in Ohio.
KELLY: Governor Christie?
CHRISTIE: Well, thank you, Megyn. Listen, I was born into a middle class family in New Jersey. My dad came home from serving in the Army after having lost his father, worked in the Breyers ice cream plant in Newark, New Jersey. Was the first person to graduate from college. He put himself through college at night. My mom was a secretary.
I was appointed United States attorney on September 10, 2001. And I spent the next seven years of my career fighting terrorism and putting terrorists in jail.
I’m a conservative, pro-life governor in a state where it is really tough to be both. A state like New Jersey, with lots of Democrats, but still we cut taxes, we balanced budgets. We fought the teacher’s union.
This president has had weak leadership, which has led to bad choices. We have got to stop worrying about being loved and start worrying about being respected. And that’s exactly how I’ll lead our country.
WALLACE: Senator Paul, closing statement.
PAUL: I’m a different kind of Republican. I’ve introduced a five-year balanced budget. I’ve introduced the largest tax cut in our history. I stood for ten and a half hours on the Senate floor to defend your right to be left alone.
PAUL: But I’ve also gone to Chicago. I’ve gone to Detroit. I’ve been to Ferguson, I’ve been to Baltimore, because I want our party to be bigger, better and bolder, and I’m the only one that leads Hillary Clinton in five states that were won by President Obama. I’m a different kind of Republican.
BAIER: Senator Marco Rubio.
RUBIO: Thank you. You know, both of my parents were born into poor families on the island of Cuba. They came to America because it was the only place where people like them could have a chance. Here in this country, they never made it big, but the very purpose of their life was to give us the chance to do all the things they never could.
My father was a bartender. And the journey from the back of that bar to this stage tonight, to me, that is the essence of the American dream. It is what makes our nation different. And I’m running for president because I want that to still be possible for the people trying to do that now. I run for president because I believe that we can’t just save the American dream; we can expand it to reach more people and change more lives than ever before. And that’s why I’m asking for your vote. So we can make America greater than it has ever been. And make this century a new American century.
BAIER: Thank you, Senator.
KELLY: Senator Ted Cruz.
CRUZ: If I’m elected president, let me tell you about my first day in office. The first thing I intend to do is to rescind every illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by Barack Obama.
CRUZ: The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into these videos and to prosecute Planned Parenthood for any criminal violations.
CRUZ: The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice and the IRS to start (sic) persecuting religious liberty, and then intend to cancel the Iran deal, and finally move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. c (APPLAUSE)
I will keep my word. My father fled Cuba, and I will fight to defend liberty because my family knows what it’s like to lose it.
WALLACE: Dr. Carson, closing statement.
CARSON: Well, I haven’t said anything about me being the only one to do anything, so let me try that.
I’m the only one to separate siamese twins…
The — the only one to operate on babies while they were still in mother’s womb, the only one to take out half of a brain, although you would think, if you go to Washington, that someone had beat me to it.
But I — but I’m very hopeful that I’m not the only onel who’s willing to pick up the baton of freedom, because freedom is not free, and we must fight for it every day. Every one of us must fight for it, because we’re fighting for our children and the next generation.
BAIER: Governor Mike Huckabee, closing statement.
HUCKABEE: It seems like this election has been a whole lot about a person who’s very high in the polls, that doesn’t have a clue about how to govern.
A person who has been filled with scandals, and who could not lead, and, of course, I’m talking about Hillary Clinton.
I think America…
(UNKNOWN): Thank you.
HUCKABEE: …is in trouble, but it’s not beyond repair. But it’s going to take leadership who sees the greatness of this country, and who believes that once again we can be one nation, under God.
I’ll be my best to do that, and thank you for your support.
KELLY: Governor Scott Walker.
I’m guy with a wife and two kids, and Harley. One article called me “aggressively normal.”
I ran for governor because I was worried about my kids’ future. Then, I took on the big government union bosses, and we won. They tried to recall me, and we won. They target us again, and we won.
We balanced the budget, cut taxes, and turned our state around with big, bold reforms.
It wasn’t too late for Wisconsin, and it’s not too late for America. That’s why I ask for your vote.
WALLACE: Governor Bush, closing statement, sir.
BUSH: Here’s what I believe. I believe we’re at the verge of the greatest time to be alive in this world.
But Washington is holding us back. How we tax, how we regulate. We’re not embracing the energy revolution in our midst, a broken immigration system that has been politicized rather than turning it into an economic driver.
We’re not protecting and preserving our entitlement system or reforming for the next generation. All these things languish while we have politicians in Washington using these as wedge issues.
Here’s my commitment to you, because I did it as Florida. We can fix these things. We can grow economically and restore America’s leadership in the world, so that everybody has a chance to rise up. I humbly ask for your vote, whenever you’re gonna get to vote, whenever the primary is. Thank you all very much.
BAIER: Mr. Trump, closing statement, sir.
TRUMP: Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t win anymore.
We don’t beat China in trade. We don’t beat Japan, with their millions and millions of cars coming into this country, in trade. We can’t beat Mexico, at the border or in trade.
We can’t do anything right. Our military has to be strengthened. Our vets have to be taken care of. We have to end Obamacare, and we have to make our country great again, and I will do that.
BAIER: Gentlemen, thank you.
KELLY: It’s over!
BAIER: That’s it.
KELLY: Are you relieved? You were nervous before, they — they don’t look relieved. They look “get me outta here.”
Thank you all very much, and that will do it for the first Republican primary <debate> night of the 2016 presidential race. Our thanks to the candidates, who will now be joined by their families on stage.