Eleven Republican presidential candidates met at the Reagan Library for a primetime debate on CNN.
At the debate were 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, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
The moderators were Washington correspondents Jake Tapper and Dana Bash and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Here is a running transcript of what they said, courtesy of CNN.
TAPPER: I’m Jake Tapper. We’re live at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California for the main event. Round 2 of CNN’s presidential debate starts now.
TAPPER: The eleven leading Republican candidates for president are at their podiums. They are ready to face off, and if you’ve been watching this race, you know anything could happen over the next few hours.
TAPPER: To viewers who are just joining us, welcome to the Air Force One Pavilion of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Our thanks to the staff here and especially to former first lady Nancy Reagan for this impressive setting with Ronald Reagan’s presidential plane as our backdrop.
TAPPER: This debate is airing on CNN networks in the United States and around the world. It’s also being broadcast on the Salem Radio Network. I know everyone is very eager to get started.
But first, I want to explain the ground rules tonight. My name is Jake Tapper. I’ll be the moderator. I will be joined in the questioning by Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt. He worked in the Reagan administration for six years. And by CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash.
I will ask follow-up questions, I will attempt to guide the discussion. Candidates, I will try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions. You’ll have one minute to answer and 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. I’ll give you time to respond if you’ve been singled out for criticism.
Our viewers should know we have timing lights that are visible to the candidates to warn them when their time is up. These 11 Republicans are positioned on the stage based on their ranking in recent national polls.
TAPPER: Our goal for this evening is a debate. A true debate, with candidates addressing each other in areas where they differ. Where they disagree — on policy, on politics, on leadership. Now, let’s begin.
I’d like to invite each candidate to take 30 seconds to introduce him or herself to our audience. First to you, Senator Paul.
PAUL: Good evening, everyone. I’m an eye surgeon from Bowling Green, Kentucky. My wife, Kelly, and I have been married for nearly 25 years, and I spend my days defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
I think there’s nothing more important than understanding that the Constitution restrains government, not the people.
HUCKABEE: I’m Mike Huckabee. I’m delighted to be on this stage with some remarkable fellow Republicans.
None of us are a self-professed socialist. None of us on this state are under investigation by the FBI because we destroyed government records, or because we leaked secrets.
I know that there are some in the Wall-Street-to-Washington axis of power who speak of all of us contemptuously. But I’m here to say that I think we are, in fact, the A team.
We have some remarkable people, and, in fact, not only are we the A team; we even have our own Mr. T, who doesn’t mind saying about others, “you’re a fool.”
And I’m delighted to be here with all of these guys, and would put any of them in an administration that I led. Thank you very much.
RUBIO: Thank you. My name is Marco Rubio. I’m from Florida. My wife Jeanette and I are the proud — we’ve been married 17 years, and we’re the proud parents of four children, two of whom were able to join us here this evening.
I’m honored to be here at the Reagan Library, at a place that honors the legacy of a man who inspired not just my interest in public service, but also our love for country.
And I’m also aware that California has a drought, and so that’s why I made sure I brought my own water.
TAPPER: Senator Cruz?
CRUZ: I’m Ted Cruz. I am the son of an Irish-Italian mom and a Cuban immigrant dad who fled oppression and came to America seeking freedom. I’m a husband to my best friend, Heidi, who’s here tonight. I’m a dad to two little girls who are the loves of my life, Caroline and Catherine.
If you’re fed up with Washington, if you’re looking for someone to stand up to career politicians in both parties, I’m the only one on this stage who has done that over and over again, and if we stand together, we can bring America back.
CARSON: Hi, I’m Ben Carson, and I’m a retired pediatric neurosurgeon. I’m here with my wife, Candy, of 40 years, and two of my sons, and their wives.
I stress the pediatric part of my career because the reason that I’ve gotten involved in this race is because I’m very concerned about the future of our children, and the direction of our country is one that does not portend well, unless we, the people, intervene and retake our rightful place at the pinnacle.
CARSON: And I just want to be — make it clear that I’m grateful to be here with all of you again, and welcome the addition of Carly Fiorina, as well.
TRUMP: I’m Donald Trump. I wrote “The Art of the Deal”. I say not in a braggadocious way, I’ve made billions and billions of dollars dealing with people all over the world, and I want to put whatever that talent is to work for this country so we have great trade deals, we make our country rich again, we make it great again. We build our military, we take care of our vets, we get rid of Obamacare, and we have a great life altogether.
Thank you. Thank you.
BUSH: I’m Jeb Bush, and I believe America’s on the verge of its greatest century, and I’m ready to lead. I’m a committed, conservative reformer that cut taxes, that balanced budgets, that took on the special interest in Florida, and we won.
I look forward to talking tonight about how we can fix a broken Washington D.C., and create an environment where people can rise up again in this great country.
WALKER: Good evening, I’m Scott Walker, and tonight, I want to thank and Mrs. Reagan, and the Reagan Library for hosting us. You see, in my lifetime, the greatest president was a governor from California. Ronald Reagan knew how to go big, and go bold. He understood the essence of moving this country forward, and that’s what I did when I took on the status quo in my state, and the Washington based special interest.
Now, more than ever, America needs a leader who will go big and bold again. Someone who’s been tested. I’m ready to be that leader. Thank you.
FIORINA: Good evening. My story, from secretary to CEO, is only possible in this nation, and proves that everyone of us has potential. My husband, Frank, of 30 years, started out driving a tow truck for a family owned auto body shop. We have come to a pivotal point in our nation’s history where this nation’s possibilities and potential are being crushed by a government grown so big, so powerful, so inept, so corrupt, and a political class that refuses to do anything about it.
I am prepared to lead the resurgence of this great nation.
KASICH: Hello, I’m John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio. Emma, and Reese, my children, and Karen, love ‘ya girls. Thanks for watching tonight.
By the way, I think I actually flew on this plane with Ronald Reagan when I was a congressman, and his goals, and mine, really much — are pretty much the same. Lift Americans, unify, give hope, grow America, and restore it is to that great, shining city on a hill.
Yes, he was a great one, and I learned much from watching him. The most important thing, hope to Americans, unify, lift everyone in America.
CHRISTIE: Hi, my name is Chris Christie, and I’d like to you take the camera off me and put it on the audience because I’d like to ask all of you, how many of you, raise your hand, believe that in today’s Barak Obama America your children will have a better life than you’ve had?
You see? That’s why I’m running for President. because leadership is not about me, it’s about our country. And, what we talk about tonight, it’s not about us, it’s about the people in the audience tonight, because in seven short years this president has stripped away their trust, and their faith, and their belief that the next generation will have a better life. He’s stolen that from us, and when I’m president, I’m going to take it back.
TAPPER: Thank you one and all for being here. There are many important policy issues facing our nation. We’re going to get to many of them tonight, but I do want to start off with some current events in the news, and also some of the comments the candidates have recently made on the campaign trail.
TAPPER: Mrs. Fiorina, I want to start with you. Fellow Republican candidate, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, has suggested that your party’s frontrunner, Mr. Donald Trump, would be dangerous as President. He said he wouldn’t want, quote, “such a hot head with his finger on the nuclear codes.”
You, as well, have raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s temperament.
You’ve dismissed him as an entertainer. Would you feel comfortable with Donald trump’s finger on the nuclear codes?
FIORINA: You know, I think Mr. Trump is a wonderful entertainer. He’s been terrific at that business.
I also think that one of the benefits of a presidential campaign is the character and capability, judgment and temperament of every single one of us is revealed over time and under pressure. All of us will be revealed over time and under pressure. I look forward to a long race.
TAPPER: You didn’t answer my question. Would you feel comfortable with Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear codes? It’s an issue that one of your fellow candidates has raised.
FIORINA: That’s not for me to answer; it is for the voters of this country to answer, and I have a lot of faith in the common sense and good judgment of the voters of the United States of America.
TAPPER: Mr. Trump?
TRUMP: Well, first of all, Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage. He’s number 11, he’s got 1 percent in the polls, and how he got up here, there’s far too many people anyway.
As far as temperament — and we all know that — as far as temperament, I think I have a great temperament. I built a phenomenal business with incredible, iconic assets, one of the really truly great real-estate businesses.
And I may be an entertainer, because I’ve had tremendous success with number-one bestsellers all over the place, with “The Apprentice” and everything else I’ve done.
But I will tell you this: What I am far and away greater than an entertainer is a businessman, and that’s the kind of mindset this country needs to bring it back, because we owe $19 trillion right now, $19 trillion, and you need this kind of thinking to bring our country back.
And believe me, my temperament is very good, very calm. But we will be respected outside of this country. We are not respected now.
TAPPER: Mr. — Senator Paul, your name has been invoked.
PAUL: I kind of have to laugh when I think of, “Mmm, sounds like a non sequitur.” He was asked whether or not he would be capable and it would be in good hands to be in charge of the nuclear weapons, and all of a sudden, there’s a sideways attack at me.
I think that really goes to really the judgment. Do we want someone with that kind of character, that kind of careless language to be negotiating with Putin? Do we want someone like that to be negotiating with Iran?
I think really there’s a sophomoric quality that is entertaining about Mr. Trump, but I am worried. I’m very concerned about him — having him in charge of the nuclear weapons, because I think his response, his — his visceral response to attack people on their appearance — short, tall, fat, ugly — my goodness, that happened in junior high. Are we not way above that? Would we not all be worried to have someone like that in charge of the nuclear arsenal?
TAPPER: Mr. Trump?
TRUMP: I never attacked him on his look, and believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter right there.
That I can tell you.
WALKER: But Jake, Jake, Jake, Jake…
TAPPER: I want to — I want to give Mr. Trump…
WALKER: But Jake, this — this is — this…
TAPPER: … Mr. Trump, I want to give you another chance — Mr. Trump, I want to give you a chance to respond to something that your rival to your left, Governor Bush, said.
Governor Bush told me last week when I read him the quote from Governor Jindal that he agrees you’re not a serious candidate.
Tell Governor Bush why you are a serious candidate and what your qualifications are to be commander-in-chief. TRUMP: I’ve actually been in politics all my life, although I’ve been on that side as opposed to this side. I’m now a politician for about three months. Obviously, I’m doing pretty well. I’m number one in every polls (sic) by a lot.
But the qualification is that I’ve dealt with people all over the world, been successful all over the world. Everything I’ve done virtually has been a tremendous success.
When markets changed, when things turned, I heard Governor Pataki, who, by the way, was a failed governor in New York, a very seriously failed — he wouldn’t be elected dog catcher right now. I heard what he had to say.
And I will tell you this: Atlantic City, I’ve made a tremendous amount of money in Atlantic City. I left seven years ago, I’ve gotten great credit for my timing, and that’s what I’m all about.
I’m a businessman, did really well, really well, and Jeb, what I want to do is put that ability into this country to make our country rich again. And I can do that, and I’m not sure that anybody else in the group will be able to do that.
TAPPER: Governor Bush, would you feel comfortable with Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear codes?
BUSH: I think the voters will make that determination.
But what I know to be true is that the next president of the United States is going to have to fix an extraordinary difficult situation. This administration, with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, has created insecurity the likes of which we never would’ve imagined. There’s not a place in the world where we’re better off today than six and a half years ago.
And that requires a steadiness. That requires an understanding of how the world works. That requires an understanding and appreciation of American leadership in the world.
You can’t just, you know, talk about this stuff and insult leaders around the world and expect a good result. You have to do this with a steady hand, and I believe I have those skills.
WALKER Jake, this is — this is — this is…
TRUMP: But I have to say…
WALKER This is actually what’s wrong — this is what’s wrong with this debate. We’re not talking about real issues.
And Mr. Trump, we don’t need an apprentice in the White House.
We don’t need an apprentice in the White House. We have one right now. He told us all the things we wanted to hear back in 2008. We don’t know who you are or where you’re going. We need someone who can actually get the job done.
And you talked about business.
TRUMP: Well, in Wisconsin…
WALKER You — you — let me finish…
TRUMP: Excuse me.
WALKER No, no…
TRUMP: In Wisconsin, you’re losing $2.2 billion right now.
WALKER You’re using the talking…
TRUMP: I would do so much better than that.
WALKER Mr. Trump, you’re using the talking points of the Democrats…
WALKER … and as we all know…
TRUMP: I’m using facts.
WALKER … that failed three times in four and a half years when I got elected, because it is working. We balanced a budget.
You want to talk about balanced budgets? You took four major projects into bankruptcy over and over and over again. You can’t take America into bankruptcy. That’s what’s wrong with the politicians in Washington right now. They think we can take a country into bankruptcy.
TRUMP: Every major business leader has used the — I never went bankrupt, by the way, as you know, everybody knows. But we — hundreds of companies, hundreds of deals, I’ve used
TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson.
CHRISTIE: See, Jake, it wasn’t me.
FIORINA: Jake, I’ll tell you — I’ll tell you why people are supporting outsiders. It’s because you know what happens if someone’s been in the system their whole life, they don’t know how broken the system is. A fish swims in water, it doesn’t know it’s water. It’s not that politicians are bad people, it’s that they’ve been in that system forever.
The truth is 75 percent of the American people think the government is corrupt; 82 percent of the American people think these problems that have festered for 50 years in some cases, 25 years in other cases. The border’s been insecure for 25 years; 307,000 veterans have died waiting for health care. These things have gone on for so long because no one will challenge the status quo.
You know what a leader does? They challenge the status quo, they solve problems that have festered for a long time and they produce results. That is what my whole life has been about. People know this is about far more than replacing a D with an R —
TAPPER: Thank you.
FIORINA: — this is about changing the system.
TAPPER: Thank you. Thank you Ms. Fiorina.
Governor Bush, in addition to the fact that he’s an outsider, one of the reasons Mr. Trump is a frontrunner, Republican voters say, is because they like the fact that he is not bought and paid for by wealthy donors. Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that the $100 million you’ve raised for your campaign makes you a puppet for your donors. Are you?
BUSH: No. Absolutely not. People are supporting me because I have a proven record of conservative leadership where I cut taxes $19 billion over eight years. We shrunk the state government workforce, we created a climate that led the nation in job growth seven out of eight years. We were one of two states to go to AAA bond rating. People know that we need principle-centered leadership, a disrupter to go to Washington, D.C. The one guy that had some special interests that I know of that tried to get me to change my views on something — that was generous and gave me money — was Donald Trump. He wanted casino gambling in Florida —
TRUMP: I didn’t —
BUSH: Yes you did.
TRUMP: Totally false.
BUSH: You wanted it and you didn’t get it because I was opposed to —
TRUMP: I would have gotten it.
BUSH: — casino gambling before —
TRUMP: I promise I would have gotten it.
BUSH: during and after. And that’s not — I’m not going to be bought by anybody.
TRUMP: I promise if I wanted it, I would have gotten it.
BUSH: No way. Believe me.
TRUMP: I know my people.
BUSH: Not even possible.
TRUMP: I know my people.
TAPPER: Is there anything else you want to say about this?
TRUMP: No. I just will tell you that, you know, Jeb made the statement. I’m not only referring to him. I — a lot of money was raised by a lot of different people that are standing up here. And the donors, the special interests, the lobbyists have very strong power over these people.
I’m spending all of my money, I’m not spending — I’m not getting any — I turned down — I turn down so much, I could have right now from special interests and donors, I could have double and triple what he’s got. I’ve turned it down. I turned down last week $5 million from somebody.
So I will tell you I understand the game, I’ve been on the other side all of my life. And they have a lot of control over our politicians. And I don’t say that favorably, and I’m not sure if there’s another system, but I say this. I am not accepting any money from anybody. Nobody has control of me other than the people of this country. I’m going to do the right thing.
TAPPER: Governor — BUSH: You’ve got, according to your — to what you said on one of the talk shows, you got Hillary Clinton to go to your wedding —
TRUMP: That’s true. That’s true.
BUSH: — because you gave her money. Maybe it works for Hillary Clinton —
TRUMP: I was — excuse me, Jeb.
BUSH: — it doesn’t work for anybody on this — on stage.
TRUMP: I was a businessman, I got along with Clinton, I got along with everybody. That was my job, to get along with people.
BUSH: But the simple fact is —
TRUMP: I didn’t want to — excuse me. One second.
BUSH: No. The simple fact is, Donald, you could not take —
TRUMP: OK, more energy tonight. I like that.
BUSH: I was asked the question.
TRUMP: I didn’t want — it was my obligation as a businessman to my family, to my company, to my employees, to get along with all politicians. I get along with all of them, and I did a damn good job in doing it. Go ahead.
BUSH: So he supports Pelosi, he supports Schumer, he supports Clinton —
TRUMP: Got along with everybody.
BUSH: When he — and he — when he asked — when he asked Florida to have casino gambling, we said no.
BUSH: We said no. And that’s the simple fact. The simple fact is —
TRUMP: Don’t make things up. Jeb, don’t make things up. Come on.
BUSH: Don’t cut me off.
TRUMP: Don’t make things up.
CARSON: Jake, can I say something about that?
TAPPER: Sure Dr. Carson.
CARSON: You know, when I entered this race, all the political pundits said it’s impossible; you can’t do it because you’re not connected with the money. And there’s no way that you can raise what you need in order to compete successfully.
I in no way am willing to get in the bed with special interest group or lick the boots of billionaires. I have said to the people if they want me to do this, please get involved. And we now have over 500,000 donations, and the money is coming in.
But the pundits forgot about one thing, and that is the people. And they are really in charge.
TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson. Let’s move to Russia if we could.
Russia is sending troops and tanks into Syria right now to prop up a U.S. enemy, Bashar al-Assad. President Obama’s incoming top general says, quote, “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.”
Mr. Trump, you say you can do business with President Vladimir Putin, you say you will get along, quote, “very well.” What would you do right now if you were president, to get the Russians out of Syria?
TRUMP: So, number one, they have to respect you. He has absolutely no respect for President Obama. Zero.
Syria’s a mess. You look at what’s going on with ISIS in there, now think of this: we’re fighting ISIS. ISIS wants to fight Syria. Why are we fighting ISIS in Syria? Let them fight each other and pick up the remnants.
I would talk to him. I would get along with him. I believe — and I may be wrong, in which case I’d probably have to take a different path, but I would get along with a lot of the world leaders that this country is not getting along with.
We don’t get along with China. We don’t get along with the heads of Mexico. We don’t get along with anybody, and yet, at the same time, they rip us left and right. They take advantage of us economically and every other way. We get along with nobody.
I will get along — I think — with Putin, and I will get along with others, and we will have a much more stable — stable world.
TAPPER: So, you — just to clarify, the only answer I heard to the question I asked is that you would — you would reach out to Vladimir Putin, and you would do what? You would…
TRUMP: I believe that I will get along — we will do — between that, Ukraine, all of the other problems, we won’t have the kind of problems that our country has right now with Russia and many other nations. TAPPER: Senator Rubio, you’ve taken a very different approach to the — the question of Russia. You’ve called Vladimir Putin a, quote, “gangster.”
Why would President Rubio’s approach be more effective than President Trump’s?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I have an understanding of exactly what it is Russia and Putin are doing, and it’s pretty straightforward. He wants to reposition Russia, once again, as a geopolitical force.
He himself said that the destruction of the Soviet Union — the fall of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, and now he’s trying to reverse that.
He’s trying to destroy NATO. And this is what this is a part of. He is exploiting a vacuum that this administration has left in the Middle East.
Here’s what you’re gonna see in the next few weeks: the Russians will begin to fly — fly combat missions in that region, not just targeting ISIS, but in order to prop up Assad.
He will also, then, turn to other countries in the region and say, “America is no longer a reliable ally, Egypt. America is no longer a reliable ally, Saudi Arabia. Begin to rely on us.”
What he is doing is he is trying to replace us as the single most important power broker in the Middle East, and this president is allowing it. That is what is happening in the Middle East. That’s what’s happening with Russia, and…
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Rubio.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Carly Fiorina.
TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina, you have met…
FIORINA: Having met Vladimir Putin, if I may…
TAPPER: …yeah, you’ve met Vladimir Putin. Yes.
FIORINA: Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all. We’ve talked way too much to him.
What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message. By the way, the reason it is so critically important that every one of us know General Suleimani’s name is because Russia is in Syria right now, because the head of the Quds force traveled to Russia and talked Vladimir Putin into aligning themselves with Iran and Syria to prop up Bashar al- Assad.
Russia is a bad actor, but Vladimir Putin is someone we should not talk to, because the only way he will stop is to sense strength and resolve on the other side, and we have all of that within our control.
We could rebuild the Sixth Fleet. I will. We haven’t. We could rebuild the missile defense program. We haven’t. I will. We could also, to Senator Rubio’s point, give the Egyptians what they’ve asked for, which is intelligence.
We could give the Jordanians what they’ve asked for…
TAPPER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.
FIORINA: …bombs and materiel. We have not supplied it…
TAPPER: Thank you.
FIORINA: …I will. We could arm the Kurds. They’ve been asking us for three years. All of this is within our control.
TAPPER: Thank you. Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.
While you’re — while you brought up the subject of General Suleimani of the Quds forces from Iran, the next president, no matter who he or she may be, will inherit President Obama’s Iran deal.
Senator Cruz, Governor Kasich says that anyone who is promising to rip up the Iran deal on day one, as you have promised to do, is, quote, “inexperienced,” and, quote, “playing to a crowd.” Respond to Governor Kasich, please.
CRUZ: Well, let me tell you, Jake, the single biggest national security threat facing America right now is the threat of a nuclear Iran. We’ve seen six and a half years of President Obama leading from behind. Weakness is provocative, and this Iranian nuclear deal is nothing short of catastrophic.
This deal, on its face, will send over $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khamenei, making the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.
CRUZ: This deal abandons four American hostages in Iran, and this deal will only accelerate Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons. You’d better believe it. If I am elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.
TAPPER: Why is that not, as Governor Kasich says, playing to the crowd and an example of you being inexperienced?
CRUZ: Well, let’s be clear when it comes to experience. What President Obama wants to do is he’s run to the United Nations, and he wants to use the United Nations to bind the United States, and take away our sovereignty. Well, I spent five and a half years as a Solicitor General of Texas, the lead lawyer for the state, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and I went in front of the Supreme Court, and took on the world court of the United Nations in a case called Medellin v. Texas, and we won a historic victory saying the World Court, and the U.N., has no power to bind the United States, and no President of the United States, Republican or Democrat, has the authority to give away our sovereignty.
And, so, if there’s anyone up here who would be bound by this catastrophic deal with Iran, they’re giving up the core responsibility of commander in chief, and as president, I would never do that.
TAPPER: Governor Kasich…
KASICH: …Yeah, well…
TAPPER: …Did Senator Cruz just play to the crowd?
KASICH: Well, let me just say this. First of all, I think it’s a bad agreement, I would never have done it. But, you know, a lot of our problems in the world today is that we don’t have the relationship with our allies. If we want to go everywhere alone, we will not have the strength as (ph) if we could rebuild with our allies.
Now, this agreement, we don’t know what’s going to happen in 18 months. I served on the Defense Committee for 18 years. I’ve seen lots of issues in foreign affairs, and foreign — in terms of global politics, you have to be steady.
Now, here’s the — if they cheat, we slap the sanctions back on. If they help Hamas, and Hezbollah, we slap the sanctions back on. And, if we find out that they may be developing a nuclear weapon, than the military option is on the table. We are stronger when we work with the Western civilization, our friends in Europe, and just doing it on our own I don’t think is the right policy.
TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor. I want to go to Senator Paul.
TRUMP(?): …Slow (ph) and steady, (inaudible) chicken…
TAPPER: I want to go to Senator Paul. Senator Paul, the White House is rolling out the red carpet next week for the President of China, President Xi. Governor Walker says that President Obama should cancel the state dinner because of China’s currency manipulation, and because of China’s alleged cyber attacks against the United States.
Is Governor Walker right?
PAUL: I think this goes back to essentially what we’ve been saying for the last two or three questions. Carly Fiorina also said we’re not going to talk with Putin. Well, think if Reagan had said that during the Cold War? We continued to talk with the Russians throughout the Cold War which is much more significant that where we are now.
Should we continue to talk with Iran? Yes. Should we cut up the agreement immediately? That’s absurd. Wouldn’t you want to know if they complied? Now, I’m going to vote against the agreement because I don’t think there’s significant leverage, but it doesn’t mean that I would immediately not look at the agreement, and cut it up without looking to see if whether or not Iran has complied.
The same goes with China. I don’t think we need to be rash, I don’t think we need to be reckless, and I think need to leave lines of communication open. Often we talk about whether we should be engaged in the world, or disengaged in the world, and I think this is an example of some who want to isolate us, actually, and not be engaged.
We do need to be engaged with Russia. It doesn’t mean we give them a free pass, or China a free pass, but, to be engaged, to continue to talk. We did throughout the Cold War, and it would be a big mistake not to do it here.
TAPPER: Governor Walker, Senator Paul seemed to suggest…
TAPPER: …that canceling the state dinner would be rash, and reckless.
WALKER: Two parts to that, one on China, one back for a second on Iran.
When it comes to China, why would we be giving an official state visit to a country that’s been involved in a massive cyber attack against the United States? That’s not just a visit, that’s a 21 gun salute on the South Lawn of the White House. It just doesn’t make any sense. If we’re ever going to send a message to them, wouldn’t this be the time, when they’ve issued this, sort of, massive attack against us?
And, Jake, for the question, I was one of the first ones to call for terminating the bad deal with Iran on day one. The President came after me and said I need to bone up. You know, the President who called ISIS the JV squad said I needed to bone up.
The reality is it’s a bad deal on day one, and it’s a bad deal because this president has allowed Iran to go closer, and closer.
I’d love to play cards with this guy because Barack Obama folds on everything with Iran. We need a leader who’s going to stand up, and actually (INAUDIBLE)…
TAPPER: …Governor Bush…
TAPPER: Governor Bush, your father was the chief diplomatic envoy to China back when Nixon opened relations to China. Is Scott Walker’s approach the right one, canceling the state dinner?
BUSH: No, I don’t think so, but we need to be strong against China. We should use offensive tactics as it relates to cyber security, send a deterrent signal to China. There should be super sanctions in what President Obama has proposed. There’s many other tools that we have without canceling a dinner. That’s not going to change anything, but we can be much stronger as it relates to that.
As it relates to Iran, it’s not a strategy to tear up an agreement. A strategy would be how do we confront Iran? And, the first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel which has been altered by this administration. And, make sure that they have the most sophisticated weapons to send a signal to Iran that we have Israel’s back.
BUSH: If we do that, it’s going to create a healthier deterrent effect than anything else I can think of.
TAPPER: I want to turn…
FIORINA: …Jake, (INAUDIBLE)…
TAPPER: …I want to turn to Governor Huckabee who has been very patient. Somebody had to be 11th, and he is, but, I do want to change the subject to the event that you had…
HUCKABEE: I would certainly love to get in on this, because I think the single…
TAPPER: … however you want, but I want to ask this question.
HUCKABEE: I’ve been patiently waiting, and I’m going to just say this about Iran.
TAPPER: All right, sir, go ahead.
HUCKABEE: Because I think it is incredibly important. This is really about the survival of Western civilization. This is not just a little conflict with a Middle Eastern country that we’ve just now given over $100 billion to, the equivalent in U.S. terms is $5 trillion.
This threatens Israel immediately, this threatens the entire Middle East, but it threatens the United States of America. And we can’t treat a nuclear Iranian government as if it is just some government that would like to have power. This is a government for 36 years has killed Americans, they kidnapped Americans, they have maimed Americans. They have sponsored terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, and they threaten the very essence of Western civilization.
To give them this agreement, that the president treats like the Magna Carta, but Iranians treat it like it’s toilet paper, and we must, simply, make it very clear that the next president, one of us on this stage, will absolutely not honor that agreement, and will destroy it and will be tough with Iran, because otherwise, we put every person in this world in a very dangerous place.
(UNKNOWN): Jake, I’d like to…
TAPPER: We’re going to turn now to Hugh Hewitt, from Salem Radio Network.
HEWITT: Thank you, Jake.
Mr. Trump, two years ago, President Obama drew a red line that the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad crossed, President Obama threatened to strike. He did not, his knees buckled.
We now have 4 million refugees, Syria is a living hell, and he turned to the Congress for the authority to back him up. You have three senators to your right that said, no. Do they bear responsibility for this refugee crisis, and what would you have done when Bashar Assad crossed the line?
TRUMP: I wouldn’t have drawn the line, but once he drew it, he had no choice but to go across. They do bear some responsibility, but I think he probably didn’t do it, not for that reason.
Somehow, he just doesn’t have courage. There is something missing from our president. Had he crossed the line and really gone in with force, done something to Assad — if he had gone in with tremendous force, you wouldn’t have millions of people displaced all over the world.
HEWITT: How much responsibility, Mr. Trump, do the senators hold?
TRUMP: They had a responsibility, absolutely. I think we have three of them here…
HEWITT: Senator Rubio…
TRUMP: I think they had a responsibility, yes.
RUBIO: Let me tell you — I will tell you we have zero responsibility, because let’s remember what the president said. He said the attack he would conduct would be a pinprick. Well, the United States military was not build to conduct pinprick attacks.
If the United States military is going to be engaged by a commander-in-chief, it should only be engaged in an endeavor to win. And we’re not going to authorize use of force if you’re not put in a position where they can win.
And quite frankly, people don’t trust this president as commander-in-chief because of that.
HEWITT: Senator Paul? PAUL: I think this gets to the point of wisdom on when to intervene and when we shouldn’t. Had we bombed Assad at the time, like President Obama wanted, and like Hillary Clinton wanted and many Republicans wanted, I think ISIS would be in Damascus today. I think ISIS would be in charge of Syria had we bombed Assad.
Sometimes both sides of the civil war are evil, and sometimes intervention sometimes makes us less safe. This is real debate we have to have in the Middle East.
Every time we have toppled a secular dictator, we have gotten chaos, the rise of radical Islam, and we’re more at risk. So, I think we need to think before we act, and know most interventions, if not a lot of them in the Middle East, have actually backfired on us.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Paul.
I want to turn now to my colleague Dana Bash.
RUBIO: Hold on, a second, Jake, he asked me, as well. I’d like to actually…
TAPPER: That would be fair, you’re right. You’re the third senator.
RUBIO: … respond. I think I’m the first senator.
The No. 1 test for use of military force should be the vital national security interest of the United States. The reason why I opposed President Obama bombing Syria, is because he couldn’t answer the question what do you do if chemical weapons end up in the hands of radical Islamic terrorists like al-Nusra, like Al Qaida, like ISIS?
Now, I also want to respond to several folks up here who said we should trust this Iranian deal, see if the Iranians will comply.
Anyone who is paying attention to what Khamenei says knows that they will not comply. There is a reason Khamenei refers to Israel as the little Satan, and America as the great Satan.
RUBIO: In the middle of negotiating this treaty, Khamenei led the assembled masses in chanting, death to America. I’m reminded of a great editorial cartoon. It shows the Ayatollah Khamenei saying, “Death to all Americans,” and then it shows John Kerry coming back, saying, “Can we meet ya half way?”
We need a commander-in-chief who will stand up and protect this country. And I’ll tell you, I can’t wait to stand on that debate stage with Hillary Clinton and to make abundantly clear if you vote for Hillary, you are voting for the Ayatollah Khomeini to possess a nuclear weapon and if you elect me as president, under no circumstances will a theocratic ayatollah who chants death to America ever be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.
TAPPER: We’re going to go to Dana Bash…
KASICH: No, no, no. I want to — I want to — I want to say something about what the senator just said.
FIORINA: And then it’ll be my turn.
KASICH: No one is — no — let me — let me suggest to you we believe that we operate better in the world when our allies work with us. President Bush did it in the Gulf War. We work better when we are unified.
Secondly, nobody’s trusting Iran. They violate the deal, we put on the sanctions, and we have the high moral ground to talk to our allies in Europe to get them to go with us.
If they don’t go with us, we slap the sanctions on anyway. If they fund these radical groups that threaten Israel and all of the West, then we should rip up the deal and put the sanctions back on.
And let me make it clear — let me make it clear…
KASICH: … if we think — if we think they’re getting close to a — to developing a nuclear weapon and we get that information, you better believe that I would do everything in my power as the commander-in-chief to stop them having a nuclear weapon.
CRUZ: Jake, Jake…
KASICH: We can have it, and we can have our allies, and we can be strong as a country, and we can project across this globe with unity, not just doing it alone. That is not what gets us where we want to get as a nation.
TAPPER: Senator Cruz?
CRUZ: Jake, there is no more important topic in 2016 than this topic right here, and I’ve listened to several folks saying, “Well, gosh, if they cheat, we’ll act.”
We won’t know under this agreement — there are several facilities in Iran they designate as military facilities that are off limit all together. Beyond that, the other facilities, we give them 24 days notice before inspecting them. That is designed to allow them to hide the evidence.
And most astonishingly, this agreement trusts the Iranians to inspect themselves. That makes no sense whatsoever.
And let me know — President Obama is violating federal law…
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
CRUZ: … by not handing over the side deals, and we ought to see the United States Congress…
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
CRUZ: … stand up together and say, “Hand over this treaty, and protect this country.”
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. I want to…
TAPPER: … turn back to Governor Huckabee…
TAPPER: I want to turn back to Governor Huckabee.
Governor Huckabee, last week, you held a rally for a county clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as I don’t need to tell you.
You’ve called what happened to Kim Davis, that clerk, “an example of the criminalization of Christianity.” There are several people on the stage who disagree with you.
Governor Bush, for example, says that that clerk is sworn to uphold the law. Is Governor Bush on the wrong side of the criminalization of Christianity? HUCKABEE: No, I don’t think he’s on the wrong side of such an issue. Jeb is a friend. I’m not up here to fight with Jeb or to fight with anybody else.
But I am here to fight for somebody who is a county clerk elected under the Kentucky constitution that 75 percent of the people of that state had voted for that said that marriage was between a man and a woman.
The Supreme Court in a very, very divided decision decided out of thin air that they were just going to redefine marriage. It’s a decision that the other justices in dissent said they didn’t have and there wasn’t a constitutional shred of capacity for them to do it.
I thought that everybody here passed ninth-grade civics. The courts cannot legislate. That’s what Roberts said. But heck, it’s what we learned in civics.
The courts can’t make a law. They can interpret one. They can review one. They can’t implement it. They can’t force it.
But here’s what happened: Because the courts just decided that something was going to be and people relinquished it and the other two branches of government sat by silently — I thought we had three branches of government, they were all equal to each other, we have separation of powers, and we have checks and balances.
If the court can just make a decision and we just all surrender to it, we have what Jefferson said was judicial tyranny.
The reason that this is a real issue that we need to think about…
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
HUCKABEE: No, no. Let me finish this one thought, Jake. I haven’t gotten that much time, so I’m going to take just what little I can here.
We made accommodation to the Fort Hood shooter to let him grow a beard. We made accommodations to the detainees at Gitmo — I’ve been to Gitmo, and I’ve seen the accommodations that we made to the Muslim detainees who killed Americans.
HUCKABEE: You’re telling me that you cannot make an accommodation for an elected Democrat county clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky? What else is it other than the criminalization of her faith and the exaltation of the faith of everyone else who might be a Fort Hood shooter or a detainee at Gitmo?
TAPPER: Well, I’m not telling you that, Governor. But Governor Bush is, because he — because he disagrees. He thinks that Kim Davis swore to uphold the law.
You disagree? You’re not — you don’t…
BUSH: I don’t think — you’re not stating my views right.
TAPPER: OK. Please do.
BUSH: I think there needs to be accommodation for someone acting on faith. Religious conscience is — is — is a first freedom. It’s — it’s a powerful part of our — of our Bill of Rights.
And, in a big, tolerant country, we should respect the rule of law, allow people in — in — in this country — I’m a — I was opposed to the decision, but we — you can’t just say, “well, they — gays can’t get married now.”
But this woman, there should be some accommodation for her conscience, just as there should be for people that are florists that don’t want to participate in weddings, or bakers. A great country like us should find a way to have accommodations for people so that we can solve the problem in the right way. This should be solved at the local level…
TAPPER: You did…
BUSH: And so we do agree, Mike.
CHRISTIE: I was —
TAPPER: Governor, you said, quote, “she is sworn to uphold the law.”
CHRISTIE: She is, and so if she, based on conscience, can’t sign that — that marriage license, then there should be someone in her office to be able to do it, and if the law needs to be changed in the state of Kentucky, which is what she’s advocating, it should be changed.
TAPPER: Let me go to my colleague Dana Bash, who has a question.
BASH: Governor Kasich, Senator Cruz is so committed to stripping federal funds from Planned Parenthood that it could result in shutting down the federal government in just about two weeks. Do you agree with Senator Cruz’s tactic?
KASICH: Well, I agree that we should defund Planned Parenthood. I don’t know many people in America who don’t think that we should, and in my state, we’re trying to figure out how to get it done, because we are threatened with the federal government taking all of our Medicaid money away.
I think there is a way to get this done by giving governors the ability to be able to act to defund Planned Parenthood. But when (ph) it comes to closing down the federal government, you gotta be very careful about that.
When we shut the government down — if we have a chance at success and it’s a great principle, yes. The president of the United States is not going to sign this, and all we’re gonna do is shut the government down, and then we’re gonna open up — open it up, and the American people are gonna shake their heads and say, “what’s the story with these Republicans?”
So I think there is a way to get to cutting off the funding for Planned Parenthood. I was in the Congress for 18 years, balanced the budget, cut taxes, got it done. Changed welfare, went around the president to get welfare reform done.
There are ways to do it without having to shut the government down, but I’m sympathetic to the fact that we don’t want this organization to get funding, and the money ought to be reprogrammed for family planning in other organizations that don’t support this tactic.
But I would not be for shutting the government down…
BASH: Thank you.
KASICH: …because I don’t think it’s going to work out.
BASH: Thank you.
Senator Cruz, I would just add that, on this stage not that long ago, Senator Graham said that this tactic that you’re pushing would tank the Republicans’ ability to win in 2016.
CRUZ: Well, let me tell you, Dana, number one, I’m proud to stand for life. These Planned Parenthood videos are horrifying. I would encourage every American to watch the videos. See — seeing your Planned Parenthood officials callously, heartlessly bartering and selling the body parts of human beings, and then ask yourself, “are these my values?”
These are horrifying. On these videos, Planned Parenthood also essentially confesses to multiple felonies. It is a felony with ten years’ jail term to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit. That’s what these videos show Planned Parenthood doing.
Absolutely we shouldn’t be sending $500 million of taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise, and I’ll tell you, the fact that Republican leadership in both houses has begun this discussion by preemptively surrendering to Barack Obama and saying, “we’ll give in because Obama threatens a veto.”
You know, Obama’s committed to his principles. His liberal principles, he will fight for them. He says…
BASH: Thank you, senator.
CRUZ: I will veto any budget that doesn’t fund Planned Parenthood, and Republicans surrender. We need to stop surrendering and start standing…
BASH: Thank you…
CRUZ: …for our principles.
BASH: Governor — governor, I want to go to you. Is it what Senator Cruz says, a surrender by Republicans?
CHRISTIE: We’re not — what I can tell you is this. We didn’t surrender in New Jersey, six years ago, as the brand new first ever pro-life governor of New Jersey since Roe versus Wade, I defended Planned Parenthood.
And I’ve vetoed Planned Parenthood funding, now, eight times in New Jersey. Since the day I walked in as governor, Planned Parenthood has not been funded in New Jersey. We stood up and every one of those vetoes has been sustained.
But here’s the problem, we’re — we’re fighting with each other up here. We agree. Let’s ask Hillary Clinton. She believes in the systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts…
CHRISTIE: …Dana, in a way that maximizes their value for sale for profit. It is disgusting, and the American people need to hear it…
BASH: But is it…
CHRISTIE: …we shouldn’t be fighting with each other. She’s the real opponent, she’s the real problem.
BASH: But, governor, the — but, governor, the reality is, in just two weeks’ time…
BASH: …we are going to be facing a question about whether or not it’s enough to shut down the government to make that statement, because there is still a Democrat in the White House. Do you oppose it or support it?
CHRISTIE: I’ll tell you what — I’ll tell you what I’d be willing to fight for. I’ll tell you what I’d be willing to fight for. Why will (ph) we put tax reform on the president’s desk, so we can simplify this tax system?
BASH: Yes or no, do you support this shutdown?
CHRISTIE: No, no, it’s really important, Dana. We got to talk about what we would be willing to shut down for. Why don’t we put tax reform on this president’s desk, and make him veto it if that’s what he wants to do? Why haven’t we repealed and replaced Obamacare?
Make him veto if that’s what he wants to do.
BASH: We’re talking about Planned Parenthood right now.
CHRISTIE: And why don’t we do the same thing with Planned Parenthood?
BASH: Can you answer yes or no?
CHRISTIE: We elected a Republican Congress to do this. And they should be doing it, and they’re not. And they’re giving the president a pass.
FIORINA: Dana, I’d like to…
BASH: One more time. I’m sorry, I just want to get the answer.
CHRISTIE: I put it in the list, Dana. We should be doing these things and forcing the president to take action.
BASH: So you would support a shutdown.
CHRISTIE: Let’s force him to do what he says he’s going to do. Now I don’t know whether he’ll do it or not, but let’s force him to do it.
FIORINA: Dana, I would like to link these two issues, both of which are incredibly important, Iran and Planned Parenthood.
One has something to do with the defense of the security of this nation. The other has something to do with the defense of the character of this nation. You have not heard a plan about Iran from any politician up here, here is my plan. On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel.
The second, to the supreme leader, to tell him that unless and until he opens every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime, anywhere inspections by our people, not his, we, the United States of America, will make it as difficult as possible and move money around the global financial system.
We can do that, we don’t need anyone’s cooperation to do it. And every ally and every adversary we have in this world will know that the United States in America is back in the leadership business, which is how we must stand with our allies.
As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.
This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.
TAPPER: Dana, I want to continue on the subject.
Governor Bush, you recently said while discussing Planned Parenthood, quote, you’re “not sure we need a half billion for women’s health issues.” Now you’ve since said that you misspoke, you didn’t mean to say “women’s health issues.”
But Donald Trump said that quote, that comment, which Hillary Clinton did seize upon immediately, will haunt you the same way Mitt Romney’s 47 percent video haunted him.
Tell Donald Trump why he’s wrong.
BUSH: Well, he’s wrong on a lot of things, but on this he’s wrong because I’m the most pro-life governor on this stage. I got to act on my core beliefs. It’s part of who I am. Life is a gift from God. And from beginning end we need to respect it and err on the side of life.
And so I defunded Planned Parenthood. We created a climate where parental notification took place. We were the only state to fund crisis pregnancy centers with state moneys. We were totally focused on this. And I would bring that kind of philosophy to Washington, D.C.
So here is a solution to this. Title X of the HHS funding, there is something that was the “Reagan Rule.” It was passed in 1988. And in that rule it was defined, and the courts approved this, that a Planned Parenthood, you couldn’t separate the money between the actual abortion procedures, and there are 330,000 abortions that take place in this clinic, and their promotion of it.
He interpreted it the right way, the courts ruled in his favor, and Planned Parenthood did not get funding during that time until President Clinton came in.
When I’m elected president, we will restore that interpretation of Title X. And this deal will be finished.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor Bush.
Donald Trump, let me just…
TRUMP: Jeb, just…
TAPPER: The quote was, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” He said he misspoke. You said that that’s going to haunt him. Why do you think that?
TRUMP: I think it will haunt him. I think it’s a terrible. I think it’s going to haunt him absolutely. He came back later and he said he misspoke. There was no question because I heard when he said the statement. I was watching and he said the statement.
And I said, wow, I can’t believe it. I will take care of women. I respect women. I will take care of women.
One thing we will say and I would like to get back to the Iran situation. We’re talking about Iran. The agreement was terrible. It was incompetent. I’ve never seen anything like it. One of the worst contracts of any kind I’ve ever seen.
And nobody ever mentions North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons and somebody better start thinking about North Korea and perhaps a couple of other places. But certainly North Korea.
And Ted and I have spoken. We’ve — a lot of us have spoken. We’re talking about Iran. They are bad actors, bad things are going to happen. But in the meantime, you have somebody right now in North Korea who has got nuclear weapons and who is saying almost every other week, I’m ready to use them. And we don’t even mention it.
TAPPER: Governor Bush?
BUSH: There are 13,000 community-based organizations that provide health services to women, 13,000 in this country. I don’t believe that Planned Parenthood should get a penny from the federal government. Those organizations should get funding, just as I increased funding when I was governor of the state.
That’s the way you do this is you improve the condition for people. And, Donald, when I was governor, we also increased the opportunities for women.
Women’s income grew three times faster than the national average when I was governor.
TRUMP: So why didn’t you say it? Why didn’t you say it?
BUSH: We improved — we improved —
TRUMP: I know, but why did you say it? I heard it myself. Why did you say it?
BUSH: — we increased child support — we increased child support with a broken system by 90 percent.
TRUMP: You said you’re going to cut funding for women’s health. You said it.
BUSH: I have a proven record. I have a proven record.
TRUMP: You said it.
TAPPER: I want to — we’re going to get to —
WALKER: Jake, just one more moment. This is — there’s something bigger to this. Now, I — like so many other governors here, I defunded Planned Parenthood four-and-a-half years ago, in a Blue State. But it’s bigger than that. We did that in a Blue State, we took the money and put it into women’s health, so we did exactly what we’re talking about here.
But I think the bigger issue here is we should be able to do this nationally, and this is precisely why so many Republicans are upset with Washington. They see the House and they see the Senate and they say why can’t we pass this. Why can’t we defund Planned — put it in a spending bill.
Forget about the 60-vote rule, there’s no reason — and the Constitution doesn’t call for 60 votes. Pass it with 51 votes, put it on the desk of the president —
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
WALKER: — and go forward and actually make a point. This is why —
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
WALKER: — people are upset with Washington.
TAPPER: We’re going to — we’re going to get to many of these issues. This — we’re still in the first block, believe it or not. We’re going to get to many of these issues, but before we end this block, Ms. Fiorina, I do want to ask you about this.
In an interview last week in Rolling Stone magazine, Donald Trump said the following about you. Quote, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Mr. Trump later said he was talking about your persona, not your appearance. Please feel free to respond what you think about his persona.
FIORINA: You know, it’s interesting to me, Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.
TRUMP: I think she’s got a beautiful face, and I think she’s a beautiful woman.
TAPPER: All right. On that note, in less than two minutes — we’re going to take a very quick break. In less than two minutes, the most contentious issue on the campaign trail. And the candidates on the stage are split over how to handle it. That’s coming up next.
Please give some applause to the candidates.
TAPPER: Welcome to CNN’s Republican Presidential Debate. No topic perhaps has been more combustible in this campaign than the issue of immigration.
Mr. Trump, you have called for deporting every undocumented immigrant, Governor Christie has said, quote, “There are not enough law enforcement officers — local, county, state and federal combined — to forcibly deport 11 to 12 million people.”
Tell Governor Christie how much your plan will cost, and how you will get it done.
TRUMP: Correct. First of all, I want to build a wall, a wall that works. So important, and it’s a big part of it.
Second of all, we have a lot of really bad dudes in this country from outside, and I think Chris knows that, maybe as well as anybody.
They go, if I get elected, first day they’re gone. Gangs all over the place. Chicago, Baltimore, no matter where you look.
We have a country based on laws. I will make sure that those laws are adhered to. These are illegal immigrants. I don’t think you’d even be asking this question if I didn’t run because when I ran, and I brought this up, my opening remarks at Trump Tower, I took heat like nobody has taken heat in a long time. And, then they found out with the killing of Katie, from San Francisco, and so many other crimes, they found out that I was right.
And, most people, many people, apologized to me. I don’t think you’d even be talking about illegal immigration if it weren’t for me. So, we have a country of laws, they’re going to go out, and they’ll come back if they deserve to come back. If they’ve had a bad record, if they’ve been arrested, if they’ve been in jail, they’re never coming back. We’re going to have a country again. Right now, we don’t have a country, we don’t have a border, and we’re going to do something about it, and it can be done with proper management, and it can be done with heart.
TAPPER: Governor Christie, you and I have talked about this in an interview. You say that his big wall, his plan to deport 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants, it sounds great, but it’s never going to happen.
Tell him why you’re skeptical of his plans?
CHRISTIE: First of, Jake, I don’t yield to anybody on how to enforce the law. I’m the only person on this stage who spent seven years as a United States Attorney after September 11th, and I know how to do this.
The fact is though that for 15,000 people a day to be deported every day for two years is an undertaking that almost none of us could accomplish given the current levels of funding, and the current number of law enforcement officers. Here’s what we need to do, and I think this is where Donald is absolutely right. What we need to do is to secure our border, and we need to do it with more than just a wall.
We need to use electronics, we need to use drones, we need to use FBI, DEA, and ATF, and yes, we need to take the fingerprint of every person who comes into this country on a visa, and when they overstay their visa, we need to tap them on the shoulder, and say, “You have overstayed your welcome, you’re taking advantage of the American people. It’s time for you to go.”
If we had that kind of system in place, we wouldn’t have the 11 million people we have now.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor Christie…
TRUMP: …By the way, I agree with — with what Chris is saying, but, I will say this. Illegal immigration is costing us more than $200 billion dollars a year just to maintain what we have.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Dr. Carson because he too has been skeptical of your plan to immediately deport 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants. He said, quote, “People who say that have no idea what this entails.”
Why do you say that, Dr. Carson?
CARSON: Well, first of all, I recognize that we have an incredible illegal immigration problem. I was down in Arizona a few weeks ago at the border. I mean, the fences that were there were not manned, and those are the kind of fences when I was a kid that would barely slow us down. So, I don’t see any purpose in having that.
Now, what we need to do is look at something that actually works. Yuma County, Arizona. They stop 97 percent of the illegal immigrants through there. They put in a double fence with a road so that there was quick access by the enforcement people.
If we don’t seal the border, the rest of this stuff clearly doesn’t matter. It’s kind of ridiculous all the other things we talk about. We have the ability to do it, we don’t have the will to do it.
There was one area where they had cut a hole in the fence, and to repair it, they put a few strands of barb wire across. Well, the photographers who were there with us, they wanted to photograph us from the side of the Mexicans, and they went through there, and they were not physically fit people, and they took their cameras and things with them, and shot us from the other side.
That’s how easy it is to get across. And, the drugs, I mean, it goes on, and on, and on. ICE tells them to release these people, 67,000 criminals released…
TAPPER: …Dr. Carson…
CARSON: …on to our property, it’s ridiculous.
TAPPER: With all due respect, you said about Donald Trump’s plan to deport 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants, “People who say that have no idea what this entails.”
CARSON: Well, I have also said, if anybody knows how to do that, that I would be willing to listen. And, if they can, you know, specify exactly how that’s going to be done, and what the cost, and it sounds reasonable, then I think it’s worth discussing…
TAPPER: …let’s continue the conversation about illegal immigration with Dana Bash.
BASH: Governor Bush, Mr. Trump has suggested that your views on immigration are influenced by your Mexican born wife. He said that, quote, “If my wife were from Mexico, I think I would have a soft spot for people from Mexico.” Did Mr. Trump go to far in invoking your wife?
BUSH: He did, he did. You’re proud of your family, just as I am.
BUSH: To subject my wife into the middle of a raucous political conversation was completely inappropriate, and I hope you apologize for that, Donald.
TRUMP: Well, I have to tell you, I hear phenomenal things. I hear your wife is a lovely woman…
BUSH: She is. She’s fantastic.
TRUMP: I don’t know her, and this is a total mischaracterization…
BUSH: She is absolutely the love of my life, and she’s right here…
BUSH: And why don’t you apologize to her right now.
TRUMP: No, I won’t do that, because I’ve said nothing wrong.
TRUMP: But I do hear she’s a lovely woman.
BUSH: So, here’s the deal. My wife is a Mexican-American. She’s an American by choice.
She loves this country as much as anybody in this room, and she wants a secure border. But she wants to embrace the traditional American values that make us special and make us unique.
We’re at a crossroads right now. Are we going to take the Reagan approach, the hopeful optimistic approach, the approach that says that, you come to our country legally, you pursue your dreams with a vengeance, you create opportunities for all of us?
Or the Donald Trump approach? The approach that says that everything is bad, that everything is coming to an end. I…
BASH: Mr. Trump?
TRUMP: Jeb said…
BUSH: I’m on the Reagan side of this.
TRUMP: … that they come into our country as an act of love.
With all of the problems we that we have, in so many instances — we have wonderful people coming in. But with all of the problems — this is not an act of love. He’s weak on immigration — by the way, in favor of Common Core, which is also a disaster, but weak on immigration.
He doesn’t get my vote.
BASH: Mr. Trump…
FIORINA: Dana, with all being said to Mr. Trump…
BASH: Go ahead.
FIORINA: Immigration did not come up in 2016 because Mr. Trump brought it up. We talked about it in 2012, we talked about it in 2008. We talked about it in 2004.
TRUMP: Not with this intensity.
FIORINA: We have been talking about it for 25 years. This is why people are tired of politicians.
BASH: Ms. Fiorina — Ms. Fiorina, we’re going to come to you, we’re going to come to you.
I just want to give Governor Bush a chance to respond to what Mr. Trump said. BUSH: Look, first of all, I wrote a book about this, three — four years ago, now. And I laid out a comprehensive, conservative approach for immigration reform.
And it does require securing the border. No one disagrees with that. But to build a wall, and to deport people — half a million a month — would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, Donald. Hundreds of billions of dollars. It would destroy community life, it would tear families apart.
And it would send a signal to the rest of the world that the United States values that are so important for our long-term success no longer matter in this country.
TRUMP: As I said, we are spending $200 billion — we are spending $200 billion a year on maintaining what we have. We will move them out. The great ones will come back, the good ones will come back.
They’ll be expedited, they’ll be back, they’ll come back legally. We’ll have a country — they’ll come back, legally.
BASH: OK, on that note, you have criticized Governor Bush for speaking Spanish on the campaign trail. You said, quote, “He should really set an example by speaking English in the United States.”
What’s wrong with speaking Spanish?
TRUMP: Well, I think it’s wonderful and all, but I did it a little bit half-heartedly, but I do mean it to a large extent.
We have a country, where, to assimilate, you have to speak English. And I think that where he was, and the way it came out didn’t sound right to me. We have to have assimilation — to have a country, we have to have assimilation.
I’m not the first one to say this, Dana. We’ve had many people over the years, for many, many years, saying the same thing. This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.
BUSH: Well, I’ve been speaking English here tonight, and I’ll keep speaking English.
But the simple fact is, if a high school kid asks me a question in Spanish, a school — by the way, a voucher program that was created under my watch, the largest voucher program in the country, where kids can go to a Christian school, and they ask me a question in Spanish, I’m going to show respect and answer that question in Spanish.
Even though they do speak English, and even though they embrace American values.
TRUMP: This is a reporter, not a high school kid.
RUBIO: Ms. Dana, I agree that English is the unifying language of our country, and everyone should learn to speak it. It’s important.
I want to tell you a story about someone that didn’t speak English that well. It was my grandfather; he came to this country in the 1960s, as a — escaping Cuba. And he lived with us, growing up.
And my grandfather loved America. He understood what was so special about this country. He loved Ronald Reagan; he would be very proud of the fact that we’re here this evening.
My grandfather instilled in me the belief that I was blessed to live in the one society in all of human history where even I, the son of a bartender and a maid, could aspire to have anything, and be anything that I was willing to work hard to achieve.
But he taught me that in Spanish, because it was the language he was most comfortable in. And he became a conservative, even though he got his news in Spanish.
And so, I do give interviews in Spanish, and here’s why — because I believe that free enterprise and limited government is the best way to help people who are trying to achieve upward mobility.
And if they get their news in Spanish, I want them to hear that directly from me. Not from a translator at Univision.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Rubio.
TAPPER: Senator Cruz — Senator Cruz, this week, we learned more about Dr. Carson’s plan for the 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country.
Dr. Carson proposed giving these undocumented immigrants a six- month grace period to pay back taxes then to let them become guest workers and only to deport people who failed to do that.
CARSON: Not exactly what I said.
TAPPER: Well, how would you say it, sir? I was just reading the Wall Street Journal quote, but please tell us.
CARSON: Well, what I said, after we seal the borders, after we turn off the spigot that dispenses all the goodies so we don’t have people coming in here, including employment, that people who had a pristine record, we should consider allowing them to become guest workers, primarily in the agricultural sphere, because that’s the place where Americans don’t seem to want to work.
That’s what I said. And they have a six-month period to do that. If they don’t do it within that time period, then they become illegal, and as illegals, they will be treated as such.
TAPPER: OK, from the horse’s mouth, Senator Cruz, does that fit your definition of amnesty?
CRUZ: Well, Jake, you know, I’m — I’m very glad that Donald Trump’s being in this race has forced the mainstream media finally to talk about illegal immigration. I think that’s very important.
I like and respect Ben Carson. I’ll let him talk about his own plans.
But I will say this: The natural next question that primary voters are asking, after we focus on illegal immigration is, okay, what are the records of the various candidates? And this is an issue on which there are stark differences.
A majority of the men and women on this stage have previously and publicly embraced amnesty. I am the only candidate on this stage who has never supported amnesty and, in fact, who helped lead the fight to stop a massive amnesty plan.
In 2013, when Barack Obama and Harry Reid joined the Washington Republicans in a massive, I stood shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions helping lead the fight.
You know, folks here have talked about, how do you secure the borders? Well, I’ve been leading the fight in the Senate to triple the Border Patrol, to put in place fencings and walls, to put in place a strong biometric exit/entry system…
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
CARSON: Can I — can I — can I just…
TAPPER: … I’m not sure…
CARSON: Can I correct…
TAPPER: We’ll come back to you — we’ll come back to you in one second, sir.
But Senator Rubio, I’m not sure exactly whose plan he’s — he’s saying is — constitutes amnesty, but I know he has said it about your plan in the past, so I want to give you a chance to respond, then, Dr. Carson, we’ll come to you.
RUBIO: Well, let me say that legal immigration is not an issue I read about in the newspaper. Immigration, illegal immigration, all the good aspects of immigration and all the negative ones as well, I live with. My family’s immigrants. My neighbors are all immigrants. My in-laws are all immigrants.
So I’ve seen every aspect of it, and I can tell you America doesn’t have one immigration problem, it has three.
First, despite the fact that we are the most generous country in the history of the world in allowing people to come here legally, we have people still coming illegally.
Second, we have a legal immigration system that no longer works. It primary is built on the basis of whether you have a relative living here instead of merit.
And third, we have 11 million or 12 million people, many of whom have been here for longer than a decade who are already here illegally.
And we must deal with all three of these problems. We cannot deal with all three of these problems in one massive piece of legislation. I learned that. We tried it that way.
Here’s the way forward: First, we must — we must secure our border, the physical border, with — with a wall, absolutely. But we also need to have an entry/exit tracking system. 40 percent of the people who come here illegally come legally, and then they overstay the visa. We also need a mandatory e-verify system.
After we’ve done that, step two would be to modernize our legal immigration system so you come to America on the basis of what you can contribute economically, not whether or not simply you have a relative living here.
And after we’ve done those two things, I believe the American people…
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
RUBIO: … will be very reasonable and responsible about what you do with someone who’s been here and isn’t a criminal. If you’re a criminal, obviously, you will not be able to stay.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
Senator — Dr. Carson…
… I want to give you 30 seconds. I’d like you to answer the question.
Senator Cruz describes plans such as yours as amnesty. Why is your plan not amnesty?
CARSON: My plan is not amnesty for a number of reasons.
Number one, you know, I’ve talked to farmers, and they said they cannot hire Americans to do the kind of job that I’m talking about.
And the second reason is because the individuals who register as guest workers, they don’t get to vote, they are not American citizens, and they don’t get the rights and privileges of American citizens. So that’s key.
But the other thing that I want to bring up is, I mentioned something earlier. I think it was just sort of glossed over.
I talked about the success in Yuma County, I mean, incredible success, and the Department of Justice said, “No, we don’t want to do that. That’s too successful.”
We don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. All we have to do is look at things that work. All we have to do is use a little common sense.
TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson. I want to talk about the issue of birthright citizenship, which — which has emerged since the first debate as — as an a — a major issue in this campaign.
Mr. Trump, you say that babies born in the United States to undocumented immigrants should not any longer get automatic American citizenship. Ms. Fiorina says that you are pandering on this issue and acting like the politicians that you rail against. What’s your message to Ms. Fiorina on birthright citizenship?
TRUMP: Well, first of all, the — the 14th Amendment says very, very clearly to a lot of great legal scholars — not television scholars, but legal scholars — that it is wrong. It can be corrected with an act of Congress, probably doesn’t even need that.
A woman gets pregnant. She’s nine months, she walks across the border, she has the baby in the United States, and we take care of the baby for 85 years. I don’t think so.
And by the way, Mexico and almost every other country anywhere in the world doesn’t have that. We’re the only ones dumb enough, stupid enough to have it. And people — and by the way, this is not just with respect to Mexico. They are coming from Asia to have babies here, and all of a sudden, we have to take care of the babies for the life of the baby.
The 14th Amendment, it reads properly, you can go and — it’s probably going to be have to be check — go through a process of court, probably ends up at the Supreme Court, but there are a lot of great legal scholars that say that is not correct.
And in my opinion, it makes absolutely no — we’re the only — one of the only countries, we’re going to take care of those babies for 70, 75, 80, 90 years? I don’t think so.
TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina, the vast majority of countries do not have birthright citizenship…
TAPPER: …Donald Trump is right about that. Why is it pandering when he’s — he says this?
FIORINA: First let me say, We have just spent a good bit of time discussing, as Republicans, how to solve this problem. I would ask your audience at home to ask a very basic question. Why have Democrats not solved this problem?
President Obama campaigned in 2007 and 2008 on solving the immigration problem. He entered Washington with majorities in the House and the Senate. He could have chosen to do anything to solve this pro — this problem. Instead, he chose to do nothing.
Why? because the Democrats don’t want this issue solved.
TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina…
FIORINA: They want it to be an issue that they can use. As to birthright citizenship…
FIORINA: …the truth is, you can’t just wave your hands and say “the 14th Amendment is gonna go away.” It will take an extremely arduous vote in Congress, followed by two-thirds of the states, and if that doesn’t work to amend the Constitution, then it is a long, arduous process in court.
And meanwhile, what will continue to go on is what has gone on for 25 years. With all due respect, Mr. Trump, we’ve been talking about illegal immigration for 25 years. San Francisco has been a sanctuary city since 1989. There are 300 of them.
And meanwhile, what has happened? Nothing. The border remains insecure. The legal immigration system remains broken. Look, we know what it takes to secure a border. We’ve heard a lot of great ideas here. Money, manpower, technology…
TAPPER : Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.
FIORINA: …mostly, apparently, leadership…
TAPPER: Thank you.
FIORINA: …the kind of leadership that understands how to get results.
TAPPER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina. Mr. Trump, I want to give you the chance to respond…
TRUMP: I agree 100 percent, by the way, with Carly on the fact that the Democrats do not want to solve this problem, for the obvious reasons, but they do not.
But I believe that a reading of the 14th Amendment allows you to have an interpretation where this is not legal and where it can’t be done. I’ve seen both sides, but some of the greatest scholars agree with me, without having to go through Congress.
If you do go through Congress, you can absolutely solve the problem. TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Trump. Senator Paul…
FIORINA: But you — you would stipulate, Mr. Trump, but not everyone agrees with you.
TRUMP: That’s true, sure.
TAPPER: Senator Paul, I want to bring you in. Where — where do you stand on the issue of birthright citizenship?
PAUL: Well, I hate to say it, but Donald Trump has a bit of a point here.
The case that was decided around 1900 was, people had a green card, were here legally, and they said that their children were citizens. There’s never been a direct Supreme Court case on people who were here illegally, whether or not their kids are citizens.
So it hasn’t really been completely adjudicated. The 14th Amendment says that “those who are here and under the jurisdiction.” The original author of the — of the 14th Amendment said on the Senate floor that this was applying to slaves, and did not specifically apply to others.
TAPPER: All right. Senator Paul, thank you so much. Let’s turn to a new topic. We’ve received a lot of questions on social media about the economy and about jobs. We have two CEOs on stage right now.
Ms. Fiorina, you were CEO of Hewlett Packard. Donald Trump says you, quote, “ran HP into the ground,” you laid off tens of thousands of people, you got viciously fired.
For voters looking to somebody with private-sector experience to create American jobs, why should they pick you and not Donald Trump?
FIORINA: I led Hewlett Packard through a very difficult time, the worst technology recession in 25 years. The NASDAQ stock index fell 80 percent. It took 15 years for the stock index to recover. We had very strong competitors who literally went out of business and lost all of their jobs in the process.
Despite those difficult times, we doubled the size of the company, we quadrupled its topline growth rate, we quadrupled its cash flow, we tripled its rate of innovation.
Yes, we had to make tough choices, and in doing so, we saved 80,000 jobs, went on to grow to 160,000 jobs. And now Hewlett Packard is almost 300,000 jobs. We went from lagging behind to leading in every product category and every market segment.
We must lead in this nation again, and some tough calls are going to be required. But as for the firing, I have been very honest about this from the day it happened. When you challenge the status quo, you make enemies. I made a few. Steve Jobs told me that when he called me the day I was fired to say, hey, been there, done that twice.
It’s also true that the man that led my firing, Tom Perkins, just took —
TAPPER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.
FIORINA: — out a full-page ad in the New York Times to say he was wrong, I was right. I was a terrific CEO, the board was dysfunctional. And he thinks I will make a magnificent president of the United States.
TAPPER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina. TRUMP: Well —
TAPPER: Mr. Trump — Mr. Trump, why would you be better at creating jobs than Carly Fiorina?
TRUMP: — let me — well, let me just explain. The head of the Yale Business School, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, wrote a paper recently, one of the worst tenures for a CEO that he has ever seen, ranked one of the top 20 in the history of business. The company is a disaster and continues to be a disaster. They still haven’t recovered. In fact, today, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, they fired another 25 or 30,000 people saying we still haven’t recovered from the catastrophe.
When Carly says the revenues went up, that’s because she bought Compaq, it was a terrible deal, and it really led to the destruction of the company.
Now one other company before that was Lucent. Carly was at Lucent before that. And Lucent turned out to be a catastrophe also. So I only say this. She can’t run any of my companies. That I can tell you.
TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina, I want to give you a chance to respond.
FIORINA: You know, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is a well-known Clintonite and honestly had it out for me from the moment that I arrived at Hewlett Packard. But honestly, Mr. Trump, I find it quite rich that you would talk about this.
You know, there are a lot of us Americans who believe that we are going to have trouble someday paying back the interest on our debt because politicians have run up mountains of debt using other people’s money. That is in fact precisely the way you ran your casinos. You ran up mountains of debt, as well as losses, using other people’s money, and you were forced to file for bankruptcy not once —
TRUMP: I never filed for bankruptcy.
FIORINA: — not twice, four times, a record four times. Why should we trust you to manage the finances —
TRUMP: I’ll tell you why; it’s very simple.
FIORINA: — of this nation any differently than you managed the finances —
TRUMP: I’ll tell you. I was running —
FIORINA: — of your casinos?
TRUMP: — Carly, Carly —
TAPPER: Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: — I’ve made over $10 billion. I had a casino company — Caesars just filed for bankruptcy. Chris will tell you — it’s not Chris’ fault either — but almost everybody in Atlantic City is either in trouble or filed for — maybe I’ll blame Chris.
FIORINA: Well —
TRUMP: But Atlantic City is a disaster —
FIORINA: Well, Mr. Trump —
TRUMP: Wait a minute, Carly. Wait. I let you speak. Atlantic City is a disaster, and I did great in Atlantic City. I knew when to get out. My timing was great. And I got a lot of credit for it.
Many of the great business people that you know — and Carl Icon (ph) is going to work with me on making great deals for this country. But whether it’s Carl or so many others that we read about all the time —
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: — they have used the laws of the land, which is the —
TAPPER: Governor Christie’s name has been invoked. I’d like to give him a 30 second opportunity.
CHRISTIE: Jake listen. While I’m as entertained as anyone by this personal back-and-forth about the history of Donald and Carly’s career, for the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn’t have a job, who can’t fund his child’s education, I’ve got to tell you the truth. They could care less about your careers, they care about theirs.
Let’s start talking about that on this stage and stop playing — and stop playing the games. Stop playing —
KASICH: There’s a —
CHRISTIE: John — I’m not done yet, John.
FIORINA: A track record of leadership is not a game. It is the issue in this election.
CHRISTIE: Stop — and stop playing — and Carly — Carly, listen. You can interrupt everybody else on this stage, you’re not going to interrupt me, OK?
The fact is that we don’t want to hear about your careers, back and forth and volleying back and forth about who did well and who did poorly. You’re both successful people. Congratulations. You know who’s not successful? The middle class in this country who’s getting plowed over by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Let’s start talking about those issues tonight and stop this childish back-and-forth between the two of you.
TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina, I want to give you
KASICH: Jake —
TAPPER: Governor Kasich, I’m coming to you next, but Ms. Fiorina’s name was mentioned, and I have to give her the opportunity to respond if she wants it.
FIORINA: Well, I thought we had been hearing quite a bit about Govenor Christie’s record as governor, actually. I think track records are very important. I completely agree that what’s at stake here is the future of this nation, and the future of every American.
But I do think that a track record of leadership is vital because in the end this election is about leadership. And let’s talk about what leadership is. It’s not about braggadocio, it is about challenging the status quo, solving problems, producing results.
And the highest calling of leadership is to unlock potential in others.
TAPPER: Thank you.
FIORINA: Problems have festered in Washington for too long. And the potential of this nation is being crushed.
TAPPER: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.
Governor Kasich, I want to come — I’m coming to you. I’m coming to you. Let me ask the question. You can use the time however you want.
KASICH: OK, Jake.
TAPPER: Donald Trump says that the hedge fund guys are getting away with murder by paying a lower tax rate. He wants to raise the taxes of hedge fund managers, as does Governor Bush. Do you agree?
KASICH: I don’t at this point in terms of changing the incentives for investment and risk-taking.
But let’s just stop for a second. There’s one person on this stage that does have a record. I’m the only person on the stage and one of the few people in this country that led the effort as the chief architect of the last time we balanced the federal budget.
We also cut taxes. And when I left Washington in 2000, we had a $5 trillion surplus, and the economy was booming. I had spent 10 years of my life to get us to that point, went out in the private sector, was a great experience, and went into Ohio and took an $8 billion hole and turned it into a $2 billion surplus.
We’ve had the largest amount of tax cuts of any sitting governor. We’ve grown well over 300,000 jobs. You see, I’ve done it in both places. I’m the only one here that has done it in both places.
It took a lot to get us to a balanced budget. It was legitimate. It was real. And we negotiated it. A lot of what we’re talking about here tonight as we take this position and that position, you know what? At the end of the day, America has got to work.
We’ve got to figure out how we come together to deal with this — with our fiscal problems because when we deal with that, we create a stronger economy for everybody. People have a chance to rise.
So, you know, when we think about how we make a choice, it’s the person that lands that plane. It’s not somebody that talks about it. It’s about the person who has done it. And I’ve done it in…
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
KASICH: … both places. And I did it including people in the other party. And that’s how we were successful.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor Kasich.
KASICH: And that’s how I will be president, using that experience to drive this country forward. Thank you.
TAPPER: Governor Huckabee, I want to bring you in on the question of hedge fund managers and taxing them. You have said that you are bothered by the fact that hedge fund managers pay such a low tax rate and make 2,500 times what people who work for them make.
Do you agree with what Donald Trump and Governor Bush have proposed, raising their tax rates?
HUCKABEE: I have a different idea. I think we ought to get rid of all the taxes on people who produce. Why should we penalize productivity? And it’s why I’m an unabashed supporter of the “fair tax,” which would be a tax on our consumption, rather than a tax on our productivity.
In other words, you’re not going to tax anybody for what they earn, whether it’s worker whose working by the hour or whether it’s a hedge fund manager. If they can produce something and bring capital and labor to create jobs, we need some jobs. And I think the “fair tax” makes more sense.
Now, Jake, I’ve been listening to everybody on the stage and there is a lot of back and forth about I’m the only one who has done this, the only one who has done that, I’ve done great things.
We’ve all done great things or we wouldn’t be on this stage. But it occurs to me as we’re sitting here in the Reagan Library that most of us would like to pay tribute to a guy who, when he got elected, didn’t get elected telling everybody how great he was.
He got elected telling everybody how great the American people were. And he empowered them to live their dreams, which is what I’d love to see us do by no longer penalizing the people who are out there working because they are taking a gut punch right now.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
Dr. Carson, you support scrapping the entire tax code and replacing it with a flat tax based on the principal on tithing from the Bible. If you make $10 billion, you pay $1 billion in taxes, if you make $10, you pay $1 in taxes.
Donald Trump believes in progressive taxation. He says it’s not right that rich people pay the same as the poor. Tell Donald Trump why his ideas on taxes are wrong.
CARSON: It’s all about America. You know, the people who say the guy who paid a billion dollars because he had 10, he has still got $9 billion left, that’s not fair, we need to take more of his money. That’s called socialism. That doesn’t work so well.
What made America into a great nation was the fact that we said, that guy just put in $1 billion, let’s create an environment that’s even more conducive to his success so that next year he can put in $2 billion.
And that’s the kind of thing that helps us to grow. We can’t grow by continuing to take a piece of pie, and dividing it, and redistributing it.
But, I’m also looking at what doctor — at what Governor Huckabee talked about…
HUCKABEE: …You don’t want me operating on you, I assure you.
CARSON: The Fair Tax. Looking at both of them, and evaluating them both, and I’m talking to the American people because one of the things we must recognize is that this country is of, for, and by the people. And, it’s really time that the government get out of the way, and let the people be the ones who decide how they want to run their country.
TAPPER: Mr. Trump…
TRUMP: …Well, I’d like to respond, I’d like to respond…
TAPPER: …What do you think of the flat tax? Do you think it’s fair?
TRUMP: Well, I think the thing about the flat tax, I know it very well. What I don’t like is that if you make $200 million a year, you pay ten percent, you’re paying very little relatively to somebody that’s making $50,000 a year, and has to hire H&R Block to do the — because it’s so complicated.
One thing I’ll say to Ben is that we’ve had a graduated tax system for many years, so it’s not a socialistic thing. What I’d like to do, and I’ll be putting in the plan in about two weeks, and I think people are going to like it, it’s a major reduction in taxes. It’s a major reduction for the middle class. The hedge fund guys won’t like me as much as they like me right now. I know them all, but they’ll pay more.
I know people that are making a tremendous amount of money and paying virtually no tax, and I think it’s unfair.
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Trump. Senator Paul?
PAUL: Well, I’m glad we’re having a discussion about taxes because everybody laments that we lose jobs overseas, we have. Our companies, and our jobs are being chased overseas by a 70,000 page tax code, so, that’s why I’ve chosen to get rid of the whole thing, and have one single rate, 14 and a-half percent for everybody, business, and for corporate income, and personal income. But, we also get rid of the payroll tax, so the working class would get a tax break as well.
So, I think a flat tax, eliminating the tax code, getting rid of all the loopholes, is the way to go, and it’s the way we get America going again.
TAPPER: Governor Walker, I want to go to you. Dr. Carson wants to raise the Federal Minimum Wage, you have called it a lame idea. Why is raising the Federal Minimum Wage lame?
WALKER: So, the best way to help people see their wages go up is to get them the education, the skill they need, to take on careers that pay more than minimum wage. And, it’s why we talk about it, it’s all about jobs. You want to help actually get jobs, it’s why on that last question we were trying to jump in on taxes. To me, it’s not just about taxes, cutting taxes. I’ve done it as much as anyone has.
I’ve cut income taxes, I’ve cut property taxes. In fact, property taxes are lower today in my state than they were before we took office. The real issues about jobs.
Ronald Reagan, our plan is based on the Ronald Reagan tax cuts of 1986. That brought about one of the longest sustained periods of economic growth in American history. All the things we should be talking about tonight are about how do we create jobs, helping people get the skills and the education qualifications they need to succeed.
That’s the way you help people create jobs. It’s part of our large plan to reform the tax code, to cut taxes, to put in place an education system that gives people the skills and education that they need. To put in place all the above energy policy, but you start on day one with repealing Obamacare.
I’m the only one on this stage that’s actually got a plan, introduced an actual plan to repeal Obamacare on day one. I’ll send a bill up to Congress, and to make sure enact it…
TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor…
WALKER: …I’m going to sign an order that makes the Congress live by the same rules as everybody else. TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor…
WALKER: …That will ensure they repeal Obamacare…
TAPPER: Dr. Carson, Governor Walker didn’t really answer the question, but I’ll let you respond. He called raising the Federal Minimum Wage lame, what do you think of that?
CARSON: Well, first of all, let me say what I actually said about raising the minimum wage. I was asked should it be raised, I said, probably, or possibly. But, what I added, which I think is the most important thing, so, I said we need to get both sides of this issue to sit down, and talk about it. Negotiate a reasonable minimum wage, and index that so that we never have to have this conversation again in the history of America.
I think we also have to have two minimum wages, a starter, and a sustaining because how are young people ever going to get a job if you have such a high minimum wage that it makes it impractical to hire them…
TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson…
WALKER: …Jake, Jake, Jake, I just want to address that issue because you said I didn’t answer, and I did. I said, to me, I think the real focus shouldn’t be — you know, Hillary Clinton talks about the minimum wage. That’s her answer to grow the economy. The answer is to give people the skills and the education so they make far more than minimum wage.
I don’t want to argue about how low things are going to be, I want to talk about how do we lift everyone up in America. That’s what Reagan talked about. It wasn’t how bad things were, it was how to make it better for everyone. That’s what we’ve done in Wisconsin, that’s exactly what we’d do as…
TAPPER: Let me bring in our partner from Salem Radio Network, Hugh Hewitt.
HEWITT: I’d like to talk about winning because I think all of you are more qualified than former Secretary of State Clinton, and as were the people in the first debate, but there are different styles, and Carly Fiorina, Governor Kasich, you’re conveniently located next to each other, and you have different styles.
Governor Kasich, you’ve been on my show a lot. You refused to attack Hillary Clinton, you just don’t want to go there, you want to do the up with people. Go, Ohio, OK, and I like that.
Carly Fiorina, I don’t have to bring up the Secretary of State — you bring her up, so (inaudible).
Which one of you is wrong? Governor Kasich?
KASICH: Well, look, people still have to get to know me, so I want to spend my time talking about my experience reforming welfare, balancing budgets, cutting taxes, providing economic growth when I was in Washington, turning Ohio around. Eight billion in the hole, $2 billion surplus, up over 300,000 jobs, big tax cuts, strengthening our credit.
All those things matter but, you know, as a young man in my first election in 1978, I defeated an incumbent Democrat. I defeated an incumbent Democrat in 1982; running on the Reagan program, I was the only Republican in America to defeat an incumbent Democrat that year.
And then, when I won for election of governor, I was the first Republican to defeat an incumbent in 36 years, and the first person to have never run statewide out of politics for 10 years to beat an incumbent. That hadn’t happened for 96 years.
So, we’ll get to the point where we’ll talk about Hillary Clinton, or whoever the nominee is, record. But right now, I want to give people sense of hope, sense of purpose, a sense of unity, sense that we can do it. So…
KASICH: You know, at the end of the day, I’m going to continue to talk about my record, because there is, did you ever notice when people run for office, they run for president, they make a lot of promises, they don’t keep them.
HEWITT: Thank you, Governor. KASICH: I don’t intend to do that, and I going to be out there pushing it out — don’t worry about me and Hillary. That will all work out, and I’m from Ohio. She will not beat me there, I can promise you that.
HEWITT: Carly Fiorina, your style?
FIORINA: You see, Governor Christie, people spend time talking about their track records, and Mr. Trump and I have every right to do the same. And Mrs. Clinton has to defend her track record.
Her track record of lying about Benghazi, of lying about her e- mails, about lying about her servers. She does not have a track record of accomplishment.
Like Mrs. Clinton, I, too, have travels hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe. But unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know flying is an activity, not an accomplishment. Mrs. Clinton — if you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name a accomplishment of Mrs. Clinton’s.
HEWITT: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina.
Governor Christie, your name was mentioned. I want to give you a chance to respond.
CHRISTIE: Listen, you know, Hugh, it’s an important point. And the question is, who is going to prosecute Hillary Clinton?
The Obama White House seems to have in interest, the Justice Department seems to have no interest. I think it’s time to put a former federal prosecutor on the same stage as Hillary Clinton.
And I will prosecute her during those debates on that stage for the record we’re talking about here. The fact she had a private email server in her basement, using national security secrets running through it, could have been hacked by the Russians, the Chinese, or two 18-year-olds on a toot (ph) wanting to have some fun.
No one is answering that question from the Hillary Clinton campaign…
HEWITT: Thank you, Governor.
CHRISTIE: You know why? Because she knows she’s wrong, and she cannot look in the mirror at herself, and she cannot tell the American people the truth.
HEWITT: Thank you, Governor Christie. There is a lot more coming up.
HEWITT: Ahead, a world of trouble. The challenges that one of these candidates may face in the Oval Office, and how he or she will handle it.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN’s Republican Presidential Debate. Let’s turn to some issues now in foreign policy.
Mr. Trump, Senator Rubio said it was, quote, “very concerning to him” that in a recent interview you didn’t seem to know the details about some of the enemies the U.S. faces. Rubio said, if you don’t know the answers to those questions, you will not be able to serve as commander-in-chief.
Please respond to Senator Rubio.
TRUMP: Well, I heard Hugh Hewitt, a nice man, he apologized because he actually said that we had a misunderstanding. And he said today that Donald Trump is maybe the best interview there is anywhere that he has ever done.
Now unless he was just saying that on CNN to be nice, but he did say that…
HEWITT: Oh, you’re the best interview in America.
TRUMP: And we had a legitimate misunderstanding in terms of his pronunciation of a word.
But I would say just…
TRUMP: Well, I think it was. And he actually said that. Did you say that?
HEWITT: … makes an interesting case (ph) here (ph).
TRUMP: OK. So I will say this, though, Hugh was giving me name after name, Arab name, Arab name, and there are few people anywhere, anywhere that would have known those names. I think he was reading them off a sheet.
And frankly I will have — and I told him, I will have the finest team that anybody has put together and we will solve a lot of problems.
You know, right now they know a lot and look at what is happening. The world is blowing up around us. We will have great teams and great people.
TAPPER: Senator Rubio?
TRUMP: I hope that answers your question. I mean, you are in the Senate, but I hope that answers your question.
RUBIO: Yes, well, it does. But it’s in the following way, this is an important question. I think if you’re running for president, these are important issues, because look at around the world today.
There is a lunatic in North Korea with dozens of nuclear weapons and long-range rocket that can already hit the very place in which we stand tonight. The Chinese are rapidly expanding their military. They hack into our computers. They’re building artificial islands in the South China Sea, the most important shipping lane in the world.
A gangster in Moscow is not just threatening Europe, he’s threatening to destroy and divide NATO. You have radical jihadists in dozens of countries across multiple continents. And they even recruit Americans using social media to try to attack us here at home.
And now we have got this horrible deal with Iran where a radical Shia cleric with an apocalyptic vision of the future is also guaranteed to one day possess nuclear weapons and also a long-range rocket that can hit the United States.
These are extraordinarily dangerous times that we live in. And the next president of the United States better be someone that understands these issues and has good judgment about them because the number one issue that a president will ever confront, and the most important obligation that the federal government has, is to keep this nation safe.
And today we are not doing that. We are eviscerating our military. And we have a president that is more respectful to the ayatollah in Iran than he is to the prime minister of Israel.
TAPPER: Mr. Trump? Senator Rubio seemed to be suggesting that you don’t know information that…
TRUMP: No, I don’t think he’s suggesting that at all. I mean…
TAPPER: All right. Senator Rubio.
TRUMP: I don’t think he’s suggesting that at all.
RUBIO: Well, that’s why we have a debate. I think that we should have a deeper debate about these issues, because there is no more important decision that a president will make.
TAPPER: But are you saying that you have the knowledge to be the president that Mr. Trump does not have?
RUBIO: Well, you should ask him questions in detail about the foreign policy issues our president will confront, because you had better be able to lead our country on the first day.
Not six months from now, not a year from now, on the first day in office, our president could very well confront a national security crisis. You can’t predict it. Sometimes you cannot control it.
And it is the most — the federal government does all kinds of things it’s not supposed to be doing. It regulates bathrooms. It regulates schools that belong to local communities.
But the one thing that the federal government must do, the one thing that only the federal government can do is keep us safe. And a president better be up-to-date on those issues on his first day in office, on her first day in office.
TAPPER: Mr. Trump?
TRUMP: Well, you have to understand, I am not sitting in the United States Senate with, by the way, the worst voting record there is today. Number one. I am not sitting in the United States Senate. I’m a businessman doing business transactions.
RUBIO: Trust (ph) me, I get that. OK.
TRUMP: I am doing business transactions. I will know more about this — and, as you said, that was very acceptable, and when you listen to that whole interview, it’s a great interview, you said it, I didn’t. Well, now I did. But…
TRUMP: Listen, just one second. Just one second.
RUBIO: I never get to addressed, and…
TRUMP: I will know…
RUBIO: …and when I do, I’m gonna jump in.
TRUMP: …I will know more about the problems of this world by the time I sit, and you look at what’s going in this world right now by people that supposedly know, this world is a mess. TAPPER: Senator Rubio, he did invoke your absentee record in the Senate.
RUBIO: Yeah. He did. Let me — I’m proud to serve in the United States Senate. You know, when I ran five years ago, the entire leadership of my party in Washington lined up against me.
But I’m glad I won. And I’m glad that I ran, because this country’s headed in the wrong direction. And if we keep electing the same people, nothing is going to change.
And you’re right, I have missed some votes, and I’ll tell you why, Mr. Trump. Because in my years in the Senate, I’ve figured out very quickly that the political establishment in Washington, D.C. in both political parties is completely out of touch with the lives of our people.
You have millions of people in this country living paycheck to paycheck, and nothing is being done about it. We are about to leave our children with $18 trillion in — in — in debt, and they’re about to raise the debt limit again.
We have a world that grows increasingly dangerous, and we are eviscerating our military spending and signing deals with Iran. And these — if this thing continues, we are going to be the first Americans to leave our children worse off than ourselves.
That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate, I’m not running for re-election, and I’m running for president because I know this: unless we have the right president, we cannot make America fulfill its potential, but with the right person in office, the 21st century can be the greatest era that our nation has ever known.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Rubio. I want to turn now to Hugh Hewitt.
HEWITT: Thank you, Jake. I’ve done a lot of great interviews with all of you, but, Governor Bush, I talked to you in February about the biggest elephant in a room full of elephants, which is your last name. And you said you would not be burdened either by your brother or your father’s legacy in the Middle East.
And then, a week later, you rolled out your list of foreign policy advisers, and it was a lot of the band getting back together again. So on behalf of the military that is watching…
HEWITT: …OK, the active duty military that are at the end of the sphere (ph), what kind of a commander in chief is Jeb Bush going to be, and who are the advisers that are new to your team?
BUSH: Well, first of all, Hugh, if you’re looking at Republican advisers, you have to go to the last two administrations. That happened to be 41 and 43. So just by definition, if you’re — and many of the people here that are seeking advice from the foreign policy experts in the Republican side, they — they served in my dad’s administration, my brother’s administration. Of course that’s the case.
But I’m my own man. I’m going to create a strategy that is based on the simple fact that the United States needs to lead the world. The first thing that we need to do is to stop the craziness of the sequester.
Rebuild our military so that our — so that we don’t deploy people over and over again without the necessary equipment to keep them safe, to send a signal to the world that we’re serious. If we’re going to lead the world, then we need to have the strongest military possible.
We need to rebuild our counterintelligence and intelligence capabilities. We need to focus on the fact that the next president is going to start in 2017, not in 1990 — you know, 30 years ago, or when my brother started.
The world is dramatically different. And I believe that we need to restore America’s presence and leadership in the world. Name a country where our relationship is better today than it was the — the day that Barack Obama got elected president.
Under Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, we have seen a weakness that now creates huge problems for the next president of the United States. So I’ll have a team that will be — that will be following the doctrine I set up, and it will be peace through strength.
We’re sitting here in this library, which is a wonderful place to talk about this, because that’s exactly what happened in the 1980s, and the world was a lot safer because of…
HEWITT: Mr. — Mr. Trump.
BUSH: The leadership of Ronald Reagan and my…
HEWITT: I want to ask you a question, though, you promised us great leaders. And I believe that. But Jeb Bush has laid out 20 different people that have experience around the world. There are 190 countries, you can’t run the world by yourself.
When are we going to get some names on your military and your foreign policy advisers?
TRUMP: (inaudible) I’m — and I’m meeting with people that are terrific people, but I have to say something because it’s about judgment.
I am the only person on this dais — the only person — that fought very, very hard against us (ph), and I wasn’t a sitting politician going into Iraq, because I said going into Iraq — that was in 2003, you can check it out, check out — I’ll give you 25 different stories.
TRUMP: In fact, a delegation was sent to my office to see me because I was so vocal about it. I’m a very militaristic person, but you have to know when to use the military. I’m the only person up here that fought against going into Iraq.
PAUL: Hugh, can I — can I make a response to that?
TRUMP: Just excuse me, one second, Rand…
PAUL: Can I make a response to that?
TRUMP: If you don’t mind, Rand — you know, you are on last — you do have your 1 percent.
I would like — and I think it’s very important. I think it’s important, because it’s about judgment. It’s about judgment.
I didn’t want to go into Iraq, and I fought it, because what I said — what I said…
PAUL: May I make a response to that?
TRUMP: … was you’re going to — you’re going to destabilize…
PAUL: He’s referred to me.
TRUMP: … the Middle East, and that’s what happened.
PAUL: He’s referred to me…
BUSH: So you — the — the first chance…
PAUL: … in his remarks. May I make a response?
BUSH: Right after me, and then I’ll — I’ll yield — yield the floor. What do you guys say in the Senate when you’re talking and debating?
PAUL: Absolutely. Go ahead.
BUSH: Here’s the facts: When Donald Trump talks about judgment, what was his position on who would’ve been the best negotiator to deal with Iran? It wasn’t a Republican; it was Hillary Clinton. That’s what you believe. I mean, the lack of judgment and the lack of understanding about how the world works is really dangerous in this kind of time that we’re saying.
So is that the judgment that you bring to the table, that Hillary Clinton…
TRUMP: If you think about it…
BUSH: … is a great negotiator, that she could bring about a better deal on Iran?
TRUMP: Your brother — and your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama, because it was such a disaster, those last three months, that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have been elected.
BUSH: You know what? As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.
I don’t know if you remember…
BUSH: … Donald…
BUSH: … you remember the — the rumble? You remember the fire fighter with his arms around it? He sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic terrorism, and he did keep us safe.
TRUMP: I don’t know. You feel safe right now? I don’t feel so safe.
PAUL: May I respond?
WALKER:: That’s because of Barack — that’s because of Barack Obama.
BUSH: That’s — that’s my brother.
WALKER:: That’s because of Barack Obama. We’ve had a president who called ISIS the J.V. squad, Yemen a success story, Iran a place we can do business with. It’s not because of George W. Bush; it’s because of Barack Obama…
WALKER: (inaudible) on that point, though, whether it’s — whether we’re talking about national security, foreign policy or we’re talking about domestic policy, the key…
TRUMP: Or the collapse of the economy.
WALKER: … the key issue here is talking about leadership. Now, there’s a lot of greater people up here, and you’ve heard a lot of great ideas out there. But I would ask the American people, look at who’s been tested.
When there were 100,000 protesters in my capital, I didn’t back down, when they issued death threats against me and threats against my family, I didn’t back down, when they tried to recall me, I didn’t back down, and when they made me the — one of their number-one targets last year, I didn’t back down.
Give me the chance to be your president.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
WALKER: I won’t back down…
WALKER: … on any of these issues.
TAPPER: Senator Paul?
PAUL: The remark was made that there hadn’t been anyone else on the podium opposed to the Iraq War. I’ve made my career as being an opponent of the Iraq War. I was opposed to the Syria war. I was opposed to arming people who are our enemies.
Iran is now stronger because Hussein is gone. Hussein was the great bulwark and counterbalance to the Iranians. So when we complain about the Iranians, you need to remember that the Iraq War made it worse.
Originally, Governor Bush was asked, was the Iraq War a mistake, and he said, “No. We’d do it again.”
We have to learn sometimes the interventions backfire. The Iraq War backfired and did not help us. We’re still paying the repercussions of a bad decision.
TAPPER: Senator Paul…
PAUL: We have make the decision now in Syria, should we topple Assad? Many up here wanted to topple Assad, and it’s like — I said no, because if you do…
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Paul…
PAUL: … ISIS will now be in charge of Syria…
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Paul…
TAPPER: I understand that Governor Bush’s name has been invoked, and then we can go to you, Senator Rubio. BUSH: Here’s the lessons of history: When we — we pull back, voids are created. We left Iraq. We should’ve had a — a forces agreement to stay there with a small force, and instead of that, we politically and militarily pulled back, and now we have the creation of ISIS.
36 days ago in this very library, I gave a speech with a comprehensive strategy how to take out ISIS, and it requires American leadership and engagement. We don’t have to be the world’s policemen. But we certainly have to be the world’s leader.
We need to have — make sure that the world knows that we’re serious, that we’re engaged, that we’re not going to pull back, that — that our — that our word matters. And if we do that, we can create a force that will take out ISIS both in Iraq and in Syria, which will take a lot longer time now…
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
BUSH: … because of what President Obama’s done by pulling back.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
RUBIO: I want to go even deeper — and I want to go even deeper in that direction, because I think the belief that somehow by retreating, America makes the world safer has been disproven every single time it’s ever been tried.
Syria’s a perfect example of it. The uprising in Syria was not started by the United States; it was started by the Syrian people. And I warned at the time — this was three and a half years ago — I openly and repeatedly warned that if we did not find moderate elements on the ground that we could equip and arm, that void would be filled by radical jihadists.
Well, the president didn’t listen, the administration didn’t follow through, and that’s exactly what happened. That is why ISIS grew. That is why ISIS then came over the border from Syria and back into Iraq.
What is happening in that region is the direct consequence of the inability to lead and of disengagement. And the more we disengage, the more airplanes from Moscow you’re going to see flying out of Damascus and out of Syria…
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
RUBIO: … as you asked earlier today.
CARSON: Jake, Jake…
TAPPER: Dr. Carson?
CARSON: I haven’t had an opportunity to weigh in on foreign policy, and I just want to mention that when the war, when the issue occurred in 2003, I suggested to President Bush that he not go to war? OK. So I just want that on the record.
And, you know, a lot of people are very much against us getting involved right now with global jihadism. And they refer back to our invasion of Iraq. And they seem to think that that was what caused it.
What caused it was withdrawing from there and creating a vacuum which allowed this terrible situation to occur. But it is very different from what is going on today. We’re talking about global jihadists who actually want to destroy us.
They are an existential threat to our nation. And we have to be mature enough to recognize that our children will have no future if we put our heads in the sand. We have to recognize we have two choices.
We either allow them the continue to progress and appear to be the winners, or we use every resource available to us to destroy…
TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson.
CARSON: … them first.
TAPPER: I mean, it is interesting that you say that, because I want to ask Governor Christie about something else that you have said.
Governor Christie, we just marked the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Now Dr. Carson has said that if he had been president at the time, the United States would not have gone to war in Afghanistan. What does that say to you about how Dr. Carson would respond as president if America were attacked again?
CHRISTIE: Well, Jake, I was named U.S. attorney by President Bush on September 10th, 2001. And that next day my wife Mary Pat did what she did every day, she traveled through the World Trade Center and went to her office two blocks from the World Trade Center.
And after those planes hit, for five-and-a-half-hours after that, I couldn’t reach her, didn’t know whether she was dead or alive, and we had three children at the time, 8, 5 and 1.
And I had to confront what so many thousands of others in my region had to confront, the idea I might become a single parent, the idea that my life and my children’s life might be changed forever.
We lost friends that day. We went to the funerals. And I will tell you that what those people wanted and what they deserved was for America to answer back against what had been done to them.
And I support what President Bush did at that time, going into Afghanistan, hunting al Qaeda and its leaders, getting its sanctuary out of place, and making it as difficult around the world for them to move people and money.
And then he went to prosecutors like us, and he said, never again. Don’t prosecute these people after the crime is committed. Intervene before the crime happens. I absolutely believe that what the president did at the time was right.
And I am proud to have been one of the people on the stage who was part of making sure that what Governor Bush said before was the truth. America was safe for those seven years and Barack Obama has taken that safety away from us.
TAPPER: Dr. Carson?
CARSON: Well, recognize that, you know, President George W. Bush is a great friend of ours, and we spent many wonderful days at the White House. I haven’t been there in the last seven years. I probably have to have a food-tester.
But at any rate, I didn’t suggest that nothing be done. What I suggested to President Bush is to be Kennedy-esque, in the sense that when the Russians got ahead of us in the space race, what we did is use the bully pulpit to galvanize everybody, business, industry, academia behind a national goal to put a man on the moon and bring him back safely.
I said, you can do the same kind of thing. Declare that within five to 10 years we will become petroleum independent. The moderate Arab states would have been so concerned about that, they would have turned over Osama bin Laden and anybody else you wanted on a silver platter within two weeks.
There are smart ways to do things and there are muscular ways to do things. And sometimes you have to look at both of those to come up with the right solution.
TAPPER: … Governor Christie.
CHRISTIE: Let me say this, Jake, is that while that may have been a fine idea that Dr. Carson had, these people were out to kill us.
I stood in that region with my family, and every time a plane went overhead in the weeks after that, people’s heads jerked to the sky because they thought it was happening again.
You do not need to go through subtle diplomacy at that point. That could be handled later on. What you need is a strong American leader who will take the steps that are necessary to protect our nation.
That’s what I would do as commander-in-chief in this circumstance. And that’s what President George W. Bush did in 2001.
TAPPER: Dr. Carson?
CARSON: I have no argument with having a strong leader, and to be aggressive where aggression is needed. But it is not needed in every circumstance. There is a time when you can use your intellect to come up with other ways to do things. And I think that’s what we have to start thinking about.
CARSON: There is no question that a lot of these problems that we have been talking about in terms of the international situation is because we are weak. It is because our Navy is so small. It is because our Air Force is incapable of doing the same things that it did a few years ago.
It’s because our Marines Corps is not ready to be deployed.
TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson.
CARSON: There are a lot of problems that are going on, and we need to solve those problems, we need to build up our military…
TAPPER: Thank you, Dr. Carson.
RUBIO: But radical terrorism cannot be solved by intellect. It cannot — they require — what they need, is they need an operating space. That’s what Afghanistan was for Al Qaida. It was a vacuum that they filled, and they created an operating space.
That’s why they had to be drawn out of there. That’s why they had to be destroyed. It is the reason why ISIS has grown as well. We allowed them — we allowed a vacuum to emerge in Syria. They used it as an operating space to grow; and today they’re not just in Iraq and Syria anymore, they’re now in Libya, conducting operations in the Sinai.
They’re now in Afghanistan, trying to supplant the Taliban as the most powerful radical jihadist group on the ground there, as well. You cannot allow radical jihadists to have an operating safe haven anywhere in the world.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HUCKABEE: Just today — just today, there was a new report that 50 different intelligence analysts have said that what they sent up the ladder was doctored by senior officials, so that they could give some happy talk to the situation that we face.
I love the idea of a good intellectual capacity to deal with our enemies, but the fact is, if you don’t have good intelligence that is reliable and honest, you won’t have good intelligence and you cannot make good decisions.
The next president is primarily elected not just to know things, but to know what to do with the things that he knows. And the most dangerous person in any room is the person who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
HUCKABEE: And the reason Barack Obama has been dangerous to this country and we better elect someone who had some executive experience, is because we cannot afford another eight years having a person in the office who doesn’t know what he does not know.
TAPPER: Thank you, governor, I want to turn to ISIS. Governor Walker…
FIORINA: We just spent — we just spent the last 10 minutes…
TALKER: Governor Walker, there is a big debate now, we have been talking about ISIS here and there in this discussion, there a big debate right now about whether or not to send more U.S. troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
In the first debate earlier this evening, Senator Lindsey Graham argued that candidates are only serious about fighting ISIS if they’re willing to send 10,000 U.S. troops to Iraq, 10,000 U.S. troops as part of a coalition to Syria.
Governor Walker, you say, you just told me a few days ago that the 3,000 U.S. troops there right now are enough, as long as the rules of engagement are changed.
What do you know that Senator Graham doesn’t know?
WALKER: To be clear, what I said the other day was that we need to lift the political restrictions that are already in play. Barack Obama’s administration has put political restrictions on the military personnel already in Iraq.
We need to lift those and then we need to listen to our military experts, not the political forces in the White House, but our military experts about how many more we sent in. And we certainly shouldn’t have a commander-in-chief who sends a message to our adversaries as to how far we’re going to go, and how far we’re willing to fight, so I’m not putting a troop number.
What I’m saying is lift the political restrictions. When you do that, you empower our military personnel already there to work with the Kurd and the Sunni allies, to reclaim the territory taken by ISIS. And to do so in a way that allows that ISIS doesn’t go back in Syria, as we were just talking about here.
That is the fundamental problem going forward. We have a president — and Hillary Clinton was a part of this, by the way, who has made political decisions for our men and women in uniform. I want the men and women at home to know, if I’m commander-in-chief, I will only send you into harm’s way when our national security is at risk. And if we do, you know you’ll have our full support, the support of the American people, and you’ll have a clear path for victory.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
Senator Paul, I want to go to you, because you have said that the boots on the ground to fight ISIS need to be Arab boots. We just learned today that despite the Obama administration spending $500 million to help create those Arab boots, there are only four or five U.S. trained fighters in Syria fighting ISIS.
What does that say to you about the effectiveness of the idea of the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots?
PAUL: If you want boots on the ground, and you want them to be our sons and daughters, you got 14 other choices. There will always be a Bush or Clinton for you, if you want to go back to war in Iraq.
But the thing is, the first war was a mistake. And I’m not sending our sons and our daughters back to Iraq. The war didn’t work. We can amplify those who live there.
The Kurds deserve to be armed and I’ll arm them. We can use our Air Force to amplify the forces there. But the boots on the ground need to be the people who live there.
My goodness, I’m still upset with the Saudi Arabians for everything they do over there. They’ve funded the arms that went to the jihadists. They’re not accepting any of the people, any of the migrants that have been — the refugees that are being pushed out of Syria. Saudi Arabia is not accepting one.
Why are we always the world’s patsies that we have to go over there and fight their wars for them? They need to fight their wars, we need to defend American interests, but it is not in America’s national security interests to have another war in Iraq.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
We’re going to turn to some domestic issues now. I want to bring in my colleague, Dana Bash.
BASH: Thank you.
KASICH: Can I just — can I — Jake, can I just make one point on this whole military discussion?
KASICH: I called for boots on the ground many months ago in a coalition with our friends who share our interest. You know, you win a battle with the military, and when we go somewhere, we need to be mobile, and lethal. We need to take care of business, and we need to come home.
But, we face, also, a bigger war — and you win the bigger war with the battle of ideas. You wonder why young people, and educated people, rich people, schooled people, have tried to join ISIS.
Western civilization, all of us, need to wake up to the fact that those murderers and rapists need to be called out, and in Western civilization we need to make it clear that our faith in the Jewish and Christian principals force us to live a life bigger than ourselves…
TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor…
KASICH: …to make (ph) centers (ph) of justice so that we can battle the radicals, call them out for what they are, and make sure that all of our people feel fulfilled in living in Western civilization…
TAPPER: …Thank you, Governor. Dana Bash…
KASICH: …This is a giant battle in the world today…
FIONNA: …Jake, since everyone has gotten to weigh in on this military issue, I’d like to be able to do the same.
We have spent probably 12 minutes talking about the past. Let’s talk about the future. We need the strongest military on the face of the planet, and everyone has to know it. And, specifically, what that means is we need about 50 Army brigades, we need about 36 Marine battalions, we need somewhere between 300, and 350 naval ships, we need to upgrade every leg of the nuclear triad…
TAPPER: Thank you, Mrs. Fiorina…
FIORINA: …we need to reform the Department of Defense, we need as well…
BASH: …Thank you….
TAPPER: …Thank you, we’re going to turn now to domestic issues with Dana Bash.
FIORINA: …to invest in our military technology, and we need to care for our veterans so 307,000…
TAPPER: …Dana Bash…
FIORINA: …aren’t dying waiting for health care.
TAPPER: Thank you. (APPLAUSE)
TAPPER: Dana Bash?
BASH: Governor Bush, let’s talk about the issue that’s very important to Republican voters, and that’s the Supreme Court. After Chief Justice John Roberts voted to uphold Obamacare twice, Senator Cruz criticized your brother for appointing John Roberts to the Supreme Court.
Looking back on it, did your brother make a mistake?
BUSH: Well, I’m surprised Senator Cruz would say that since he was as strong supporter of John Roberts at the time.
I will talk about what I will do as it relates to appointing Supreme Court Justices. We need to make sure that we have justices that, with a proven experienced record of respect for upholding the constitution. That is what we need. We can’t have — the history in recent past is appoint people that have no experience so that you can’t get attacked.
And, that makes it harder for people to have confidence that they won’t veer off…
BASH: …Is John Roberts one of those people?
BUSH: John Roberts has made some really good decisions, for sure, but he did not have a proven, extensive record that would have made the clarity the important thing, and that’s what we need to do. And, I’m willing to fight for those nominees to make sure that they get passed. You can’t do it the politically expedient way anymore. This is the culture in Washington. You have to fight hard for these appointments. This is perhaps the most important thing that the next president will do.
BASH: Do you like what you just heard, Senator Cruz?
CRUZ: Well, Dana, I’ve known John Roberts for 20 years, he’s amazingly talented lawyer, but, yes, it was a mistake when he was appointed to the Supreme Court. He’s a good enough lawyer that he knows in these Obamacare cases he changed the statute, he changed the law in order to force that failed law on millions of Americans for a political outcome.
And, you know, we’re frustrated as conservatives. We keep winning elections, and then we don’t get the outcome we want. And, let me focus on two moments in time.
Number one, in 1990, in one room was David Souter, and in another room was Edith Jones, the rock ribbed (ph) conservative on the fifth circuit court of appeals. George Herbert Walker Bush appointed David Souter.
And then in 2005, in one room was John Roberts, in another room was my former boss, Mike Luttig, the rock ribbed (ph) conservative on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals…
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
CRUZ: …George W. Bush appointed John Roberts, and let me give you the consequences of that.
If, instead, the President Bush had appointed Edith Jones, and Mike Luttig, which is who I would have appointed, Obamacare would have been struck down three years ago, and the marriage laws of all 50 states would be on the books. These matter, and I fought to defend the constitution my whole life…
TAPPER: …Governor Bush…
CRUZ: …and I will as president as well.
TAPPER: …I want to let you respond.
BUSH: Well, first of all, he, as I said, supported John Roberts. He supported him, publicly. So, you can rewrite history, I guess, Ted, but the simple fact is that you supported him because he had all the criteria that you would have thought would have made a great justice. And, I think he is doing a good job.
But, the simple fact is that going forward, what we need to do is to have someone that has a long standing set of rulings that consistently makes it clear that he is a focused, exclusively on upholding the Constitution of the United States so they won’t try to use the bench as a means to which legislate.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor…
…And, that’s what we should do, and I hope I’ll be working members of the United States Senate to fight hard for the passage of people that have that kind of qualification.
TAPPER: Senator Cruz, 30 seconds.
CRUZ: It is true that after George W. Bush nominated John Roberts, I supported his confirmation. That was a mistake and I regret that. I wouldn’t have nominated John Roberts, and indeed, Governor Bush pointed out why.
It wasn’t that the President Bushes wanted to appoint a liberal to the court, it’s that it was the easier choice. Both David Souter and John Roberts, they didn’t have a long paper trail. If you had nominated Edith Jones or Mike Ludig (ph) you would have had a bloody fight and they weren’t willing to spend political capital to put a strong judicial conservative on the court.
I have spent my entire life, starting from clerking for Chief Justice William Rehnquist on the United States Supreme Court, one of the most principled jurists. We have an out-of-control Court, and I give you my word, if I’m elected president, every single Supreme Court justice will faithfully follow the law and will not act like philosopher kings — TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
CRUZ: — imposing their liberal policies on millions of Americans —
TAPPER: Thank you, Semator.
CRUZ: — who need to be trusted to govern ourselves.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
Governor Huckabee, I want to bring you in very quickly if you could. Will you have a litmus test when it comes to appointing Supreme Court nominees?
HUCKABEE: You better believe I will, because I’m tired of liberals always having a litmus test and conservatives are supposed to pretend we don’t. Well let me tell you what mine would be.
Number one, I’d ask do you think that the unborn child is a human being or is it just a blob of tissue? I’d want to know the answer to that. I’d want to know do you believe in the First Amendment, do you believe that religious liberty is the fundamental liberty around which all the other freedoms of this country are based? And I’d want to know do you really believe in the Second Amendment, do you believe that we have an individual right to bear arms to protect ourselves and our family and to protect our country? And do you believe in the Fifth and the 14th Amendment? Do you believe that a person, before they’re deprived of life and liberty, should in fact have due process and equal protection under the law? Because if you do, you’re going to do more than defund Planned Parenthood.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
HUCKABEE: One final thing. I’d make darn sure that we absolutely believe the 10th Amendment. Every governor on this stage would share this much with you. Every one of us — our biggest fight wasn’t always with the legislature or even with the Democrats. My gosh, half the time, it was with the federal government who apparently never understood —
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
HUCKABEE: — that if it’s not reserved in the Constitution, then the 10th Amendment says it’s left to the states. But somebody forgot to send a memo to Washington.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor. We’re going to take a quick break. Coming up, one of the hottest questions that you have been asking us via social media. We will pose it to the candidates. That’s coming up right after this.
TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN’s Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library here in Simi Valley — Simi Valley, California.
Many people on social media wanted us to ask about marijuana legalization. Senator Paul, Governor Christie recently said, quote, “if you’re getting high in Colorado today,” where marijuana has been legalized, “enjoy it until January 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana.” Will you?
PAUL: I think one of the great problems, and what American people don’t like about politics, is hypocrisy. People have one standard for others and not for them — for themselves.
There is at least one prominent example on the stage of someone who says they smoked pot in high school, and yet the people going to — to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren’t.
I personally think that this is a crime for which the only victim is the individual, and I think that America has to take a different attitude. I would like to see more rehabilitation and less incarceration. I’m a fan of the drug courts which try to direct you back towards work and less time in jail.
But the bottom line is the states. We say we like the 10th Amendment, until we start talking about this. And I think the federal government has gone too far, I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has really damaged our inner cities.
Not only do the drugs damage them, we damage them again by incarcerating them and then preventing them from getting employment over time.
So I don’t think that the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment and I really will say that the states are left to themselves.
TAPPER: I want to give that — I want to give the person that you called a hypocrite an opportunity to respond. Do you want to identify that person?
PAUL: Well, I think if we left it open, we could see how many people smoked pot in high school.
TAPPER: Is there somebody you were specifically thinking of?
PAUL: Well, you know, the thing is that…
BUSH: He was talking about me.
PAUL: Yeah, I was talking about (inaudible) — well, let me…
TAPPER: That’s what I though, but I wanted (inaudible) to say it.
BUSH: Well, I — I wanted to — be — make it easier for him.
BUSH: And I just did.
TAPPER: Governor Bush, please.
BUSH: So, 40 years ago, I smoked marijuana, and I admit it. I’m sure that other people might have done it and may not want to say it in front of 25 million people. My mom’s not happy that I just did.
BUSH: That’s true. And here’s the deal. Here’s the deal. We have — we have a serious epidemic of drugs that goes way beyond marijuana. What goes on in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned, that should be a state decision.
But if you look at the problem of drugs in this — in this society today, it’s a serious problem. Rand, you know this because you’re campaigning in New Hampshire like all of us, and you see the epidemic of heroin, the overdoses of heroin that’s taking place.
People’s families are — are being torn apart. It is appropriate for the government to play a consistent role to be able to provide more treatment, more prevention — we’re the state that has the most drug courts across every circuit in — in — in Florida, there are drug courts to give people a second chance.
That’s the best way to do this.
PAUL: But let me respond. The thing is, is that in Florida, Governor Bush campaigned against medical marijuana. That means that a small child like Morgan Hintz (ph) that has seizures is day, is failing on non-traditional medications, is not allowed to use cannabis oil.
And if they do that in Florida, they will take the child away, they will put the parents in jail. And that’s what that means if you’re against allowing people use medical marijuana, you’ll actually put them in jail.
BUSH: No, you’re wrong — you’re wrong about this.
PAUL: And actually, under the current circumstances, kids who had privilege like you do, don’t go to jail, but the poor kids in our inner cities go to jail. I don’t think that’s fair. And I think we need to acknowledge it, and it is hypocritical to still want to put poor people in jail… BUSH: I don’t want to put poor people in jail, Randy.
PAUL: Well, you vote — you oppose medical marijuana…
BUSH: Here’s the deal. No, I did not oppose when the legislature passed the bill to deal with that very issue. That’s the way to solve this problem.
Medical marijuana on the ballot was opened up, there was a huge loophole, it was the first step to getting to a (inaudible) place. And as a citizen of Florida, I voted no.
PAUL: But that means you’ll put people in jail.
TAPPER: I want to go right now — I want to go right now…
FIORINA: Jake, may I just say…
CHRISTIE: Jake, you brought my issue up.
TAPPER: That’s true. Go ahead, Christie, please.
CHRISTIE: You know, I enjoy the interplay. Thank you, gentlemen.
I’ll just say this, first off, New Jersey is the first state in the nation that now says if you are non-violent, non-dealing drug user, that you don’t go to jail for your first offense. You go to mandatory treatment.
You see, Jake, I’m pro-life. And I think you need to be pro-life for more than just the time in the womb. It gets tougher when they get out of the womb. And when they’re the 16-year-old drug addict in the Florida county lockup, that life is just as precious as the life in the womb.
And so, that’s why I’m for rehabilitation, why I think the war on drugs has been a failure.
But I’ll end with this. That doesn’t mean we should be legalizing gate way drugs. And if Senator Paul thinks that the only victim is the person, look at the decrease in productivity, look at the way people get used and move on to other drugs when they use marijuana as a gateway drug, it is not them that are the only victims. Their families are the victims too, their children are the victims too, and their employers are the victims also.
That’s why I’ll enforce the federal law, while you can still put an emphasis on rehabilitation, which we’ve done in New Jersey.
PAUL: May I respond?
FIORINA: Jake — Jake…
TAPPER: You may respond, and then I’ll bring in you, Ms. Fiorina.
PAUL: Understand what they’re saying. if they’re going to say we are going to enforce the federal law against what the state law is, they aren’t really believing in the Tenth Amendment.
Governor Christie would go into Colorado, and if you’re breaking any federal law on marijuana, even though the state law allows it, he would put you in jail. If a young mother is trying to give her child cannabis oil for medical marijuana for seizure treatment, he would put her in jail, if it violates federal law.
I would let Colorado do what the Tenth Amendment says. This power — we were never intended to have crime dealing at the federal level. Crime was supposed to be left to the states. Colorado has made their decision. And I don’t want the federal government interfering and putting moms in jail, who are trying to get medicine for their kid…
CHRISTIE: And Senator Paul knows that that’s simply not the truth.
In New Jersey, we have medical marijuana laws, which I supported and implemented. This is not medical marijuana. There’s goes as much — a further step beyond. This is recreational use of marijuana.
This is much different. And so, while he would like to use a sympathetic story to back up his point, it doesn’t work. I’m not against medical marijuana. We do it in New Jersey. But I’m against the recreational use against marijuana.
If he wants to change the federal law, get Congress to pass the law to change it, and get a president to sign it.
PAUL: May I respond? May I respond?
TAPPER: Yes, Senator Paul.
PAUL: Here is the thing, he doesn’t want to make it about medical marijuana, but what if New Jersey’s medical marijuana contradicts the federal law? He’s saying he’ll send the federal government in, and he will enforce the federal law. That’s not consistent with the Tenth Amendment. It is not consistent with states’ rights. And it is not consistent with the conservative vision for the country.
I don’t think we should be sending the federal police in to arrest a mother and separate them from their child for giving a medicine to their child for seizures.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Ms. Fiorina — I want to bring in Ms. Fiorina on this issue.
FIORINA: I very much hope I am the only person on this stage who can say this, but I know there are millions of Americans out there who will say the same thing.
My husband Frank and I buried a child to drug addiction. So, we must invest more in the treatment of drugs.
FIORINA: I agree with Senator Paul. I agree with states’ rights. But we are misleading young people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer. It’s not. And the marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same as the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago.
We do — sorry, Barbara. We do need — we do need criminal justice reform. We have the highest incarceration rates in the world. Two-thirds of the people in our prisons are there for non-violent offenses, mostly drug related. It’s clearly not working.
But we need to tell young people the truth. Drug addiction is an epidemic, and it is taking too many of our young people. I know this sadly from personal experience.
TAPPER: Hugh — Hugh, I’d like to…
HEWITT: Thank you, Jake.
Tomorrow is — Republicans know this — tomorrow is Constitution Day. We’ve been talking about the 10th Amendment. Let’s talk about the Second Amendment.
Governor Bush, one of the things the Supreme Court has gotten right is that it’s an individual right and it’s protected for individuals to hold it.
Last week, you said the next step in gun issues is to make sure they’re not in the hands of mentally ill. In this state, there’s a controversial law that allows guns to be taken away from people without a hearing.
Where does it go — and the problem of violence is endemic, but where does it go from what you said last week, how far into people’s lives to take guns away from them?
BUSH: Not very far.
I think we need to do this state by state. There are places that get this right, and we need to make sure that we protect the privacy laws. This is a complicated place. But I do think the natural impulse on the left — Hillary Clinton, immediately after one of these horrific violent acts took place, immediately said we need to have federal gun laws. President Obama almost reflexively always says the same thing.
And the net result is, you’re going to take away rights of — of law-abiding citizens, the 99.999 percent of the people that are law- abiding citizens. That’s not the right approach to do it.
In Florida, we have a background check. We have concealed-weapon permit holders, and in fact, there’s 1,200,000 of them. We have a reduction in violent crime because we put people behind bars when they use a gun in the commission of the crime. That’s the better approach.
But we’re living in a society today where despair kind of grows in isolation.
HEWITT: If a family member calls and says, “My child, my brother, my sister is disturbed,” ought the state be able to go and get their weapon without a hearing?
BUSH: I — I think there needs to be a hearing, but the fact is, we need to encourage that kind of involvement. That’s — that’s exactly what we need to do.
RUBIO: There’s a broader issue here, Hugh. And there’s a broader issue here as well.
First of all, the only people that follow the law are law-abiding people. Criminals by definition ignore the law, so you can pass all the gun laws in the world, like the left wants. The criminals are going to ignore it because they are criminals.
Here’s the real issue.
The real issue — the real issue is not what are people using to commit violence, but why are they committing the violence? And here’s the truth: Because you cannot separate the social, moral wellbeing of your people from their economic and other wellbeing. You cannot separate it.
You can’t have a strong country without strong people, you cannot have strong people without strong values, and you cannot have strong values without strong families and the institutions in this country that defend and support those families.
HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.
RUBIO: Well, and today, we have a left-wing government under this president that is undermining all of the institutions and society that support the family and teach those values.
HEWITT: Senator Cruz, I want to go to you.
Your constitutional litigant (ph), are you afraid of the next- step theory of what happens to Second Amendment rights?
CRUZ: I — I am not, and — and you mentioned that the U.S. Supreme Court had rightly upheld the individual right to keep and bear arms.
I was proud to lead 31 states before the U.S. Supreme Court defending the Second Amendment, and we won that landmark victory. And indeed, just a couple of years ago, when Harry Reid and Barack Obama came after the right to keep and bear arms of millions of Americans, I was proud to lead the fight in the United States Senate to protect our right to keep and bear arms, and for that reason…
HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.
CRUZ: … I was honored to be endorsed by Gun Owners of America…
HEWITT: Thank you, Senator.
CRUZ: … as the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment on this stage today, and I will…
HEWITT: Thank you, senator.
CRUZ: … fight every day to defend the Bill of Rights.
TAPPER: I’d like to turn it over — I’d like to turn to Dana Bush.
BASH: Mr. Trump, you have said once or twice that you are really rich, and you are by far the richest person on this stage.
Chris Christie says billionaires like you and even people who make and earn far less should no longer get Social Security, or at least there should be limits based on — on their income.
You think he’s wrong, and if so, why?
TRUMP: Speaking for myself, I’m OK with it. I think there’s a certain truth to it. I know people that, frankly, it has no impact on their life whatsoever. There are many people.
I would almost say leave it up to them, but I would be willing to check it off, and say I will not get Social Security. I do not…
BASH: What about the country as a — as a policy?
TRUMP: As a policy, I would almost leave it up to the people. Don’t forget they pay in and they pay in, and maybe they do well, and maybe some people want it. But the fact is that there are people that truly don’t need it, and there are many people that do need it very, very badly. And I would be willing to write mine off 100 percent, Dana. BASH: So is a voluntary program the way to get the Social Security system solvent again like that.
CHRISTIE: No, it’s not. But with Donald, it’s a good start. That’s really good.
No, listen. This is an issue that — that we’ve gotta talk about, and we haven’t talked about yet.
71 percent of all federal spending is on entitlements and debt service. When John Kennedy was elected president in 1960, it was 26 percent.
Harvard and Dartmouth says that Social Security’s going to go insolvent in seven to eight years. So what I say is very simple. We need to save this program for the good people out there who have paid into the system and need it.
And if that means making sure that folks like Donald and many of us on the stage don’t get it, that’s the right thing to do because here’s what Hillary Clinton is going to want to do.
She’s going to want to put more money into a system that has already lied to us and stolen from us. This government doesn’t need more money to make Social Security solvent. We need to be not paying out benefits to people who don’t really need it.
We need to protect the people who Social Security means the difference between picking between heat and rent and food. That’s why I put out the proposal and that’s the people I’m trying to…
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
TAPPER: I’m coming to you right now on a separate issue, sir. We received…
(UNKNOWN): Well, I want to talk about this issue for a moment.
TAPPER: We received a lot of questions from social media about climate change.
Senator Rubio, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, George Shultz, reminds us that when Reagan was president he faced a similar situation to the one that we’re facing now. There were dire warnings from the mass consensus of the scientific community about the ozone layer shrinking.
Shultz says Ronald Reagan urged skeptics in industry to come up with a plan. He said, do it as an insurance policy in case the scientists are right. The scientists were right. Reagan and his approach worked.
Secretary Shultz asks, why not take out an insurance policy and approach climate change the Reagan way?
RUBIO: Because we’re not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government that we are under now wants to do. We’re not going to…
TAPPER: I’m citing George Shultz.
RUBIO: Well, and I don’t — he may have lined up with their positions on this issue. But here is the bottom line. Every proposal they put forward are going to be proposals that will make it harder to do business in America, that will make it harder to create jobs in America.
Single parents are already struggling across this country to provide for their families. Maybe a billionaire here in California can afford an increase in their utility rates, but a working family in Tampa, Florida, or anywhere across this country cannot afford it.
So we are not going to destroy our economy. We are not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing to change our climate, to change our weather, because America is a lot of things, the greatest country in the world, absolutely.
But America is not a planet. And we are not even the largest carbon producer anymore, China is. And they’re drilling a hole and digging anywhere in the world that they can get a hold of.
So the bottom line is, I am not in favor of any policies that make America a harder place for people to live, or to work, or to raise their families.
TAPPER: Governor Christie, you have said that climate change is real, and that humans help contribute to it. Without getting into the issue of China versus the United States, which I understand you’ve talked about before, what do you make of skeptics of climate change such as Senator Rubio?
CHRISTIE: I don’t think Senator Rubio is a skeptic of climate change. I think what Senator Rubio said I agree with. That in fact we don’t need this massive government intervention to deal with the problem.
Look at what we have done in New Jersey. We have already reached our clean air goals for 2020. And when I was governor, I pulled out of the regional cap and trade deal, the only state in the Northeast that did that. And we still reached our goals.
Why? Because 53 percent of our electricity comes from nuclear. We use natural gas. We use solar power. We’re the third-highest- using solar power state. You know why? Because we made all of those things economically feasible.
I agree with Marco. We shouldn’t be destroying our economy in order to chase some wild left-wing idea that somehow us by ourselves is going to fix the climate. We can contribute to that and be economically sound.
We have proven we can do that in New Jersey. Nuclear needs to be back on the table in a significant way in this country if we want to go after this problem.
TAPPER: Just for the record, I was citing Secretary of State George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state who I don’t think anybody would call him left-wing.
CHRISTIE: I understand. No, no, listen, everybody makes a mistake every once in a while, Jake, even George Shultz. And if that’s truly a representation of what he believes we should be doing, then with all due respect to the former secretary of state, I disagree with him.
RUBIO: Jake, you mentioned me and called me a denier. Let me say, climate change…
TAPPER: I called you a skeptic.
RUBIO: OK. A skeptic. You can measure the climate. You can measure it. That’s not the issue we’re discussing. Here is what I’m skeptical of. I’m skeptical of the decisions that the left wants us to make, because I know the impact those are going to have and they’re all going to be on our economy.
They will not do a thing to lower the rise of the sea. They will not do a thing to cure the drought here in California. But what they will do is they will make America a more expensive place to create jobs.
And today with millions of people watching this broadcast that are struggling paycheck to paycheck that do not know how they’re going to pay their bills at the end of this month, I’m not in favor of anything that is going to make it harder for them to raise their family.
TAPPER: I want to go another question right now.
(CROSSTALK) WALKER: … a lot of those people, though, and I’m going to echo what Senator Rubio just said. This is an issue where, we’re talking about my state, it’s thousands of manufacturing jobs. Thousands of manufacturing jobs for a rule the Obama administration, own EPA has said will have a marginal impact on climate change.
So we’re going to put thousands and thousands of jobs in my state, I think it’s something like 30,000 in Ohio, other states across this country, we’re going to put people — manufacturing jobs, the kind of jobs that are far greater than minimum wage, this administration is willing to put at risk for something its own EPA says is marginal (ph)…
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
TAPPER: I’m turning to…
PAUL: If you want a skeptic — if you want a skeptic, Jake, I will happily jump into that briar patch. If you want a real…
TAPPER: …I’m turning to another — I’m turning to another issue right now. Senator Cruz. Well, I think we’ve heard from several this evening.
A backlash against vaccines was blamed for a measles outbreak here in California. Dr. Carson, Donald Trump has publicly and repeatedly linked vaccines, childhood vaccines, to autism, which, as you know, the medical community adamantly disputes.
You’re a pediatric neurosurgeon. Should Mr. Trump stop saying this?
CARSON: Well, let me put it this way, there has — there have been numerous studies, and they have not demonstrated that there is any correlation between vaccinations and autism.
This was something that was spread widely 15 or 20 years ago, and it has not been adequately, you know, revealed to the public what’s actually going on. Vaccines are very important. Certain ones. The ones that would prevent death or crippling.
There are others, there are a multitude of vaccines which probably don’t fit in that category, and there should be some discretion in those cases. But, you know, a lot of this is — is — is pushed by big government.
And I think that’s one of the things that people so vehemently want to get rid of, big government. You know, we have 4.1 million federal employees. Six hundred and fifty federal agencies and department (sic).
That’s why they have to take so much of our taxes. TAPPER: Should he stop saying it? Should he stop saying that vaccines cause autism?
CARSON: Well, you know, I’ve just explained it to him. He can read about it if he wants to. I think he’s an intelligent man and will make the correct decision after getting the real facts.
TAPPER: Mr. Trump, as president, you would…
TRUMP: Well, I — I — I’d like to respond.
TAPPER: I’m going right to you.
TRUMP: I’d like to respond.
TAPPER: Mr. Trump, as president, you would be in charge of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, both of which say you are wrong. How would you handle this as president?
TRUMP: Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control.
I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. Because you take a baby in — and I’ve seen it — and I’ve seen it, and I had my children taken care of over a long period of time, over a two or three year period of time.
Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump — I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child, and we’ve had so many instances, people that work for me.
Just the other day, two years old, two and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.
I only say it’s not — I’m in favor of vaccines, do them over a longer period of time, same amount.
TAPPER: Thank you.
TRUMP: But just in — in little sections.
TAPPER: Dr. — Dr. Carson?
TRUMP: I think — and I think you’re going to have — I think you’re going to see a big impact on autism.
TAPPER: Dr. Carson, you just heard his medical take.
CARSON: He’s an OK doctor.
CARSON: But, you know, the fact of the matter is, we have extremely well-documented proof that there’s no autism associated with vaccinations. But it is true that we are probably giving way too many in too short a period of time.
And a lot of pediatricians now recognize that, and, I think, are cutting down on the number and the proximity in which those are done, and I think that’s appropriate.
TRUMP: And that’s all I’m saying, Jake. That’s all I’m saying.
TAPPER: Dr. Paul? Dr. Paul, I’d like to bring you in.
PAUL: A second opinion?
One of the greatest — one of the greatest medical discoveries of all times was — were the vaccines, particularly for smallpox. And if you want to read a story, it’s called The Speckled Monster, it’s an amazing story, it was all done voluntary.
But people came in by the droves. George Washington wouldn’t let his wife visit until she got vaccinated. So I’m all for vaccines. But I’m also for freedom.
I’m also a little concerned about how they’re bunched up. My kids had all of their vaccines, and even if the science doesn’t say bunching them up is a problem, I ought to have the right to spread out my vaccines out a little bit at the very least.
TAPPER: Alright, thank you so much…
HUCKABEE: Jake? Jake?
TAPPER: Coming up — I’m sorry, Governor Huckabee, please.
HUCKABEE: I think we need to remember that there are maybe some controversies about autism, but there is no controversy about the things that are really driving the medical costs in this country.
And I would really believe that the next president ought to declare a war on cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, because those are the four things that are causing the greatest level of cost.
John Kennedy said, “we’ll go to the moon in a decade and bring a man back,” and we did it. I grew up in the ’50s. I remember the polio vaccine. We saved billions of dollars since that time, because we haven’t had to treat for polio.
Why doesn’t this country focus on cures rather than treatment? Why don’t we put a definitive focus scientifically on finding the cure for cancer, for heart disease, for diabetes and for Alzheimer’s, a disease alone that will cost us —
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
HUCKABEE: $1.1 trillion by the year 2050. We change the economy and the country.
TAPPER: We have to take another quick break. Coming up, Ronald Reagan looming large over this debate. So how Reaganesque exactly are these Republicans? We will find out next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN’s Republican Presidential Debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. We have a few last questions for you. Two of them a little lighthearted, the other one more serious. We’ll start with one of the more light questions. Senator Paul, I’m going to start with you and we’re just going to go down the line.
Earlier this year, the Treasury Department announced that a woman will appear on the $10 bill. What woman would you like to see on the $10 bill?
PAUL: Ooh, that’s a tough one. You know, I’m big on — that we were — and I love what Carly said about women’s suffrage. I think Susan B. Anthony might be a good choice.
TAPPER: Governor Huckabee?
HUCKABEE: That’s an easy one. I’d put my wife on there.
I’ve been married to her 41 years. She’s fought cancer and lived through it. She’s raised three kids, five great grandkids, and she’s put up with me. I mean, who else could possibly be on that money other than my wife. And that way, she could spend her own money with her face.
TAPPER: Senator Paul (sic).
RUBIO: Senator Rubio, you mean?
TAPPER: I’m sorry. Senator Rubio?
RUBIO: I know we all look alike.
TAPPER: Just the senators.
RUBIO: The — Rosa Parks, an everyday American that changed the course of history.
TAPPER: Senator Cruz?
CRUZ: Well, I wouldn’t change the $10 bill, I’d change the $20. I’d take Jackson off and I’d leave Alexander Hamilton right where he is as one of our Founding Fathers.
And I very much agree with Marco that it should be Rosa Parks. She was a principled pioneer that helped change this country, helped remedy racial injustice, and that would be an honor that would be entirely appropriate.
TAPPER: Dr. Carson?
CARSON: I’d put my mother on there. You know, she was one of 24 children, got married at age 13, had only a third grade education, had to raise two sons by herself, refused to be a victim. Wouldn’t let us be victims, and has been an inspiration to many people.
TAPPER: Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: Well, because she’s been sitting for three hours, I think my daughter, Ivanka, who’s right here.
TRUMP: Other than that we’ll go with Rosa Parks. I like that.
TAPPER: Governor Bush.
BUSH: I would go with Ronald Reagan’s partner, Margaret Thatcher. Probably illegal, but what the heck?
BUSH: Since it’s not going to happen. A strong leader is what we need in the White House, and she certainly was a strong leader that restored the United Kingdom into greatness.
TAPPER: Governor Walker. WALKER: First of all, I got to say to Carson, Huckabee, thanks a lot for making the rest of us look like chumps up here, but, I’d pick Clara Barton. I once worked for the American Red Cross, she was a great founder of the Red Cross.
TAPPER: Mrs. Fiorina.
FIORINA: I wouldn’t change the $10 bill, or the $20 bill. I think, honestly, it’s a gesture. I don’t think it helps to change our history. What I would think is that we ought to recognize that women are not a special interest group. Women are the majority of this nation. We are half the potential of this nation, and this nation will be better off when every woman has the opportunity to live the life she chooses.
TAPPER: Governor Kasich.
KASICH: Well, it’s probably not, maybe, legal, but, I would pick Mother Theresa, the lady that I had a chance to meet, a woman who lived a life so much bigger than her own. An inspiration to everyone when we think about our responsibility to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
TAPPER: Governor Christie.
CHRISTIE: I think the Adams family has been shorted in the currency business. Our country wouldn’t be here without John Adams, and he would not have been able to do it without Abigal Adams, so, I’d put Abigail Adams on the bill.
TAPPER: Alright. Some good entries if anybody at the mint was listening. Here’s the next lighthearted question, you all know that the United States Secret Service uses codenames for the president, and his family. Ronald Reagan’s codename, for example, was, “Rawhide”, an homage to his performances in Westerns. Nancy Reagan’s was, “Rainbow”.
You don’t have to come up the one for your spouse, but, what would you want, Governor Christie, I’ll start with you, your Secret Service codename to be.
CHRISTIE: You know, I’ve been called a lot of names by a lot of different people, and now I got to get called by names by the Secret Service?
I would just say True Heart.
KASICH: Well, I have one now — they (ph) call me, “Unit One”.
My wife says, “You’ll never be Unite One, I’m Unite One. You’re Unit Two.” FIORINA: Secretariat.
TAPPER: Governor Walker?
WALKER: Harley. I love riding Harley’s.
BUSH: Ever Ready, it’s very high energy, Donald.
TAPPER: Mr. Trump?
MALE: That’s a good one.
TAPPER: Dr. Carson?
CARSON: One Nation.
TAPPER: Senator Cruz?
CRUZ: You know, as a Cuban, I might go with Cohiba (ph), and I’ll tell you, I’d go with, for Heidi, Angel, because she is my angel.
TAPPER: Senator Rubio?
RUBIO: Well, there are some people in Florida upset at me over a joke I made about Florida State, but, what the heck, I want my codename to be Gator.
TAPPER: Governor Huckabee.
HUCKABEE: I’d go with Duck Hunter.
TAPPER: Senator Paul.
PAUL: Justice Never Sleeps.
TAPPER: That’s a mouthful, but OK.
TAPPER: OK, here’s the more serious question, Ronald Reagan, the 40th President, used the plane behind you to accomplish a great many things. Perhaps, most notably, to challenge Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the wall, and ultimately, to make peace with the USSR.
How will the world look different once your Air Force One is parked in the hangar of your presidential library?
PAUL: I met Ronald Reagan as a teenager, and my family, we’re big supporters of him when he ran against Gerald Ford. It was a big deal because he was the grassroots, running against the establishment, and I’ll never forget that. And, how he stood up and said, you know what, this is something new that our country needs, and our party needs.
If I were president, I would try to be one who says, you know what, I’m a Reagan Conservative. I’m someone who believes in peace through strength, and I would try to lead the country in that way knowing that our goal is peace, and that war is the last resort, not the first resort. And, that when we go to war, we go to war in a constitutional way, which means that we have to vote on it, that war is initiated by congress, not by the president, that we go to war electively (ph). That when we go to war, we don’t fight with one arm tied behind our back, we fight all out to win, but then we come home.
HUCKABEE: At the end of my presidency I would like to believe that the world would be a safe place, and there wouldn’t be the threats. not only to the U.S., but to Israel and our allies, because we would have the most incredible well-trained, well-equipped, well- prepared military in the history of mankind. And they would know that the commander-in-chief would never send them to a mission without all the resources necessary, but people wouldn’t bully us anymore. Because they would know that that would be an invitation to their destruction.
Domestically, we would be operating under a tax system that eliminated the IRS. People wouldn’t be punished for their work, and for what they produced.
And life would be really deemed precious. Abortion would be no more. It would be as much of a scourge in our past as slavery is. And we would have a peaceful country, where people respected each other and people respected law enforcement. And we would focus on cures.
And we would make this country not only safe from our enemies without, but safe from the enemies within. And it would be a good place to raise our kids and our grandkids.
RUBIO: One of the things that made Ronald Reagan a great president, is that he understood that America was a unique nation, like any other that had existed throughout human history. He knew it was founded on universal principles that were powerful, the dignity of all people, human rights, the rights of all to live in freedom and liberty, and choose their own path in life. He didn’t just believe it, he acted on it. That’s why bringing down communism was so important to him. If I’m honored with the opportunity to be president, I hope that our Air Force One will fly, first and foremost, to our allies; in Israel, in South Korea, and Japan. They know we stand with them. That America can be counted on.
It would also fly to China, not just to meet with our enemies, not just to meet with those adversaries of ours that are there, but also to meet with those that aspire to freedom and liberty within China. I would even invite them to my inauguration.
We would also fly into Moscow and into Russia. And not just meet with the leaders of Russia, but also meet with those who aspire to freedom and liberty in Russia. And ultimately, I hope that my Air Force One, if I become president, will one day land in a free Cuba, where its people can choose its leaders and its own destiny.
CRUZ: Ronald Reagan believed in America.
If I’m elected president our friends and allies across the globe will know that we stand with them. the bust of Winston Churchill will be back in the Oval Office, and the American embassy in Israel will be in Jerusalem.
Enemies across this world will know the United States is not to be trifled with. ISIS will be defeated. We will have a president willing to utter the words, “radical Islamic terrorism,” and the Ayatollah Khamenei will understand that he will never, ever, ever acquire nuclear weapons.
Here at home, we’ll reignite the promise of America. Young people coming out of school, with student loans up to their eyeballs, will find instead of no jobs, two, three, four, five job opportunities.
How will that happen? Through tax reform. We’ll pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. And through regulatory reform, we will repeal every word of Obamacare.
You want to know what I’ll do as president? It is real simple. We’ll kill the terrorists, we’ll repeal Obamacare, and we will defend the Constitution, every single word of it.
CARSON: Well, you know, I was a radical Democrat before I started listening to Ronald Reagan. And he didn’t sound like what they said Republicans were.
He sounded logical. And I hope that I sound logical also. Because when I look at what is going on with the United States of America, I see a lot of things that are not logical.
I see us allowing people to divide us, when in fact our strength is in our unity. I see people exercising the most irresponsible fiscal habits that anyone could possibly do. And hiding it from the American people, so that the majority of people have no idea what our financial situation is.
So, when someone comes along and says, free college, free phones, free this and that, and the other, they say, “wow, that’s nice,” having no idea that they’re destabilizing our position. And I think also that Ronald Reagan was a master at understanding that a pinnacle nation has to be a nation that leads.
If we learn to lead in the Middle East right now, a coalition will form behind us, but never they do it if we just sit there and talk about it.
Real leadership is what I would hopefully bring to America.
TRUMP: If I become president, we will do something really special. We will make this country greater than ever before. We’ll have more jobs. We’ll have more of everything.
We were discussing disease, we were discussing all sorts of things tonight, many of which will just be words, it will just pass on. I don’t want to say politicians, all talk, no action. But a lot of what we talked about is words and it will be forgotten very quickly.
If I’m president, many of the things that we discussed tonight will not be forgotten. We’ll find solutions. And the world will respect us. They will respect us like never before. And it will be actually a friendlier world.
And I have to say, it is a great honor to be here tonight.
BUSH: Six million more people are living in poverty than the day that Barack Obama got elected president. Six million more people. The middle class has had declining income, workforce participation rates are lower than they were in 1977.
For the first time in modern history, more businesses are failing than are being created. That is what the next president will have to deal with.
And I believe we can reverse course by creating a strategy of high sustained economic growth, not the new normal of 2 percent that all the left says we just have to get used to, but a 4 percent growth strategy where we reform how we tax, fix the broken regulatory system, embrace the energy revolution in our midst, fix the immigration system so we can turn it into an economic driver, deal with the structural fiscal problems that exist because of our entitlement problems that will overwhelm and create way too much debt.
If we grow at 4 percent, people are going to be lifted out of poverty. The great middle that defines our country will have a chance to be able to pursue their dreams as they see fit.
That should be the great challenge and the great opportunity for the next president of the United States, to forge consensus to go back to a high-growth strategy. And then we’ll be able to lead the world.
Without a high-growth strategy, our country will never have the resources or the optimism to be able to lead the world, which the world desperately needs our leadership.
WALKER: Well, I turned 13 years old two days before Ronald Reagan was first elected. A lot of people forget this, but just a few days before that election 1980, he was behind in the polls.
And I think what changed things was people in America realized they didn’t want to hear what was bad about America, they wanted to know how it was going to be better. Ronald Reagan wasn’t just a conservative Republican, he was an eternal optimist in the American people.
And I am too. So here’s what I think will make America better. We need to live in a world where our children are free, are free from the threats of radical Islamic terrorism.
We need to live in an America where we have an economy, where everyone can live their piece of the American dream, no matter what that dream is. And we need to live in an America where we have a federal government that is not too big to fail, but ultimately small enough to succeed, where we send powers back to the states and back to the people.
That’s what I did in Wisconsin. We took on the big government union bosses, the big government special interests, many of whom came in from Washington, to spend millions of dollars to try and take me out because we stood up to them, we didn’t back down in any of those instances.
If you give me the chance as your next president, I won’t back down any day, anyway, anyhow. I’ll fight and win for you and your families every single day I’m in office.
FIORINA: I think what this nation can be and must be is symbolized by Lady Liberty and Lady Justice. Lady Liberty stands tall and strong. She is clear-eyed and resolute. She doesn’t shield her eyes from the realities of the world, but she faces outward into the world nevertheless, as we always must.
And she holds her torch high, because she knows she is a beacon of hope in a very troubled world.
And Lady Justice, Lady Justice holds a sword by her side, because she is a fighter, a warrior for the values and the principles that have made this nation great. She holds a scale in her other hand. And with that scale she says all of us are equal in the eyes of God. And so all of us must be equal in the eyes of the law and the government, powerful and powerless alike.
And she wears a blindfold. And with that blindfold she is saying to us that it must be true, it can be true that in this country, in this century, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter how you start, it doesn’t matter your circumstances, here in this nation, every American’s life must be filled with the possibilities that come from their God-given gifts.
One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
KASICH: Well, as president, I will make this a nation that will solve problems. And how? By having the elected officials and the leaders realize they’re Americans before they’re Republicans or Democrats. I did it in Washington. And I’ve done it in Ohio by having the elected officials realize that they’re Ohioans before anything else.
Secondly, I will rebuild the relationships and show the respect to our allies around the world. We have no choice but to do that. We will be stronger when we are unified. And we’ll fight for freedom and for human rights.
And finally, a little bit of what Carly said. The people that are out there listening, America was never great because we ran America from the top down. America is great because we have run America from the bottom up, where we all live in the neighborhoods.
One more time in America, we need to revive the concept of citizenship, where everybody’s actions make a huge difference in changing the world. We have a Holocaust memorial on our state house grounds. And there is one line on there that stands out all the time. “If you’ve saved one life, you’ve changed the world.”
We need to adopt that as citizens and rebuild and reinspire our country. Thank you.
CHRISTIE: I turned 18 in 1980, and my first vote was for Ronald Reagan. Boy, am I glad I did it. And I think the country is, too. A Christie presidency won’t be about me. It will be about you.
Tonight, you sit at home in your living room, frustrated that you play by the rules, you pay the taxes, you do the hard things to raise your family, yet you feel like America’s generosity is being taken advantage of. That you’ve been — system is being gamed, and that you’re turning out to fall further and further behind.
Our presidency — our presidency — will be about ending that, about enforcing the law, level the playing field for everybody, and once again reward those folks who play by the rules, and think that justice means more than just the word. But it means a way of life.
And I will tell you this, around the world, I will not shake hands with, I will not meet with, and I will not agree to anything with a country that says death to us and death to Israel and holds our hostages while we sign agreements with them.
It will be an America that be strong and resolute, and will once again be able to stick out its chest and say, “we truly are the greatest nation in the world, because we live our lives that way, each and every day.”
TAPPER: That concludes this Republican presidential debate. On behalf of everyone here at CNN, we want to thank the candidates, the Reagan Library, and the Republican National Committee. Thank you, also, to Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash.
The next presidential debate will also be right here on CNN, among the Democratic candidates, who will face off for the first time on October the 13th. That debate, a partnership with Facebook, will be moderated by my colleague, Anderson Cooper.
And Anderson picks up our coverage of tonight’s debate right now. Before I throw to Anderson, let’s have one final round of applause for the candidates.