Four Republican presidential candidates met for an undercard debate in Milwaukee, Wis., on the Fox Business channel.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee all met for the fourth undercard debate.
The moderators were Trish Regan and Sandra Smith of Fox Business Network and Gerald Seib of the Wall Street Journal.
Here is a complete transcript, courtesy of Fox Business.
REGAN: Good evening, and welcome to the historic Milwaukee Theater. Tonight, you’ll hear from 12 Republican candidates vying to become the next President of the United States. I’m Trish Regan, along with my co-moderators, Sandra Smith, and from the Wall Street Journal, Jerry Seib.
SEIB: This evening Fox Business is partnering with the Wall Street Journal to bring you the fourth republican presidential debate of the 2016 campaign. For the next hour, four of the candidates will be here answering the question voters want answered.
REGAN: Let’s introduce them. New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie.
REGAN: Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee.
REGAN: Former Pennsylvania Senator, Rick Santorum.
REGAN: And, Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal.
JINDAL: …Thank you.
SMITH: Alright, this debate will last one hour. Each candidate will have up to 90 seconds to respond to each question. One minute for each follow up. When your time is up, you’re going to hear this bell.
SMITH: Alright, that’s it, so let’s begin with Governor Christie. Governor, economically, our country is struggling with some of the anemic (ph) growth we have seen on record. More than 90 million Americans are unemployed, or they are not in the workforce altogether.
The number of people now willing, able, and wanting to go to work is at a level that has fallen to a level we have not been since the 1970’s. For those that are working, wages aren’t budging while other things, costs, like housing, remain high.
As President, what concrete steps will you take to get America back to work.
CHRISTIE: Well, first I want to share a story with you that relates to your question. I was in New Hampshire last week, and a woman approached me after the town hall meeting and she said to me, “Governor, I’m really concerned.”
I said, “What are your concerns?”
And, she said, “I don’t quite how to describe it,” she said. “But, every month when my bills come in, I feel this awful anxiety in the pit of my stomach that I’m not going to have enough to pay them that month.”
There are tens of millions of Americans living that way after the worst recovery from an economic recession since World War II. And, let’s be clear, if we do not change course, if we follow the President’s lead, and that’s exactly what Secretary Clinton will do, we’re going to be in the same circumstance — with government picking the winners and losers.
So, let me be clear about what we’ll do. First, Make the tax code fairer, flatter, and simplier. Get rid of all the special interest deductions. You know, the American people feel like the tax code is rigged for the rich, and you know why they feel that way? Because it is.
We’ll get rid of all those special interest deductions except for the home mortgage interest deduction, and the charitable contribution deduction. Everyone will get lower rates, keep more of their own money, be able to file their tax returns in 15 minutes, and, by the way, the good thing, I’ll be able to fire a whole bunch of IRS agents once we do that.
And, in addition, we need to get the government off of our backs. Dodd-Frank, all the different regulations, 81,000 pages of new regulation by this administration just last year — it is suffocating small business, it is suffocating the folks who are trying to make a living. I will do what I did in New Jersey…
…lift if off their backs.
SMITH: Thank you. Governor Huckabee, we’re here Wisconsin, a state that has seen the biggest decline in middle-class households of any American state. With more than 120,000 manufacturing jobs being lost in the last 15 years. As we move away from a manufacturing economy to a services based, technological economy, how are you going to help the millions of Americans that are stuck in this transition?
HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, Trish, I don’t know why we have to move away from manufacturing. The only reason we have is because…
…we have a tax code that has punished manufacturing. I hear a lot of people talk about the plans to simplify the tax code. I’ve got one better than any of the simplifications, it’s called a, “Fair Tax”, and it eliminates all of the taxes on our productivity.
Here’s what would happen. We’d get rid of taxes on people’s work, so, we wouldn’t punish people for working anymore. Yeah, we’ve lost five million manufacturing jobs just since the year 2000 — 160,000 manufacturing plants have close in this country, which means a lot of people — that the governors talking about, he’s exactly right. They don’t have jobs anymore.
And the reason they don’t have jobs is because their jobs are in Mexico, they’re in China, they’re in Indonesia.
Bring the jobs back. And with the fair tax, you do that, because you don’t tax capital and labor and you bring a real sense of equity to the opportunity so that people will not only make it easier to function, they’ll get the manufacturing jobs back.
And here’s the best part. We don’t reduce the IRS, we get rid of the IRS. We completely eliminate them…
HUCKABEE: — because the government has no business knowing how much money we make and how we made it. It’s none of their business. And that’s why I believe that manufacturing is critical. If we can’t feed ourselves, fuel ourselves and fight for ourselves, we can’t be free.
And by the way, fighting for ourselves means manufacturing our own weapons of self-defense.
REGAN: Thank you, Governor Huckabee.
SEIB: Senator Santorum, you’re all obviously highly critical of President Obama’s economic record. But federal statistics show that payrolls have expanded by 8.7 million new jobs so far during his time in office. All the jobs lost in the recession were recovered by last year. And in October, the economy added jobs at the fastest rate since 2009.
So what’s wrong with the Obama jobs record?
SANTORUM: The middle of America is hollowing out. All you have to do is listen to the last Democratic debate and you would think there was a Republican president in office the way they complained about how bad things are in America and how the middle — the middle of America is hollowing out.
I agree with Mike Huckabee. I spent this morning in Chicago at Fabtech, which is a sheet manufac — a sheet metal fabricators conference. Thousands of people there explained the latest and newest technologies.
You know what I was told?
I was told when I went to booth after booth that there are 250,000 welder jobs open in America — 250,000 welder jobs paying anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 a year, and if you want to weld pipe on a, you know, for oil and gas pipelines, you can make $100,000 a year.
Every manufacturer — I go to one every single week. In fact, I have with me in the — in the crowd here today a gentleman who is a supporter of mine from Rockwall, Texas, Ed Grand-Lienard. He runs Special Products.
And he tells me he has jobs open in every skill that he — he — he could possibly hire for in Rockwall, Texas, but he can’t find people.
So the issue is, yes, we need a tax code. I — I propose a 20 percent flat tax — 20 percent on corporations, 20 percent on — on individuals, full expensing, which will be powerful for manufacturing, a 0 percent rate, initially, for manufacturers.
We’re going to have a very powerful tax code. We’re going to do something about regulation. We’re going to suspected every single ObamaCare regu — Obama regulation that cost over $100,000 to the economy.
But we have to start doing something about training and employing people who are sitting on the sidelines because they don’t see a path. And we have a — a bureaucracy in Washington and a president in Washington — and even among Republicans who think everybody has to go to college. People need to go to work and we need to provide…
SANTORUM: — opportunities for them to go to work out of high school.
REGAN: All right, Governor Jindal, you have pushed Louisiana’s energy resources as a means to grow jobs in your state. But as oil prices have plunged in recent months, so has jobs growth.
Louisiana now has an unemployment rate above the national average.
Will your energy-focused jobs plan for the country be subject to the same market ups and downs?
JINDAL: A couple of things.
In Louisiana, we’re actually a top 10 state for job growth. As we sit here today, we have more people working in Louisiana than ever before, earning a higher income than ever before. We’ve had 60 months in a row of consecutive job growth in our state.
So the reality is, we have diversified our economy. Yes, I’ve got an interview plan that says all of the above, that creates good manufacturing jobs in America. We’ve also got one of the fastest growing IT sectors by percentage. We are growing Louisiana’s economy.
But let me get to the point that is, I think, the most important issue here tonight. You’re going to have several hours of debate on the economy and we’re going to have a great discussion about energy plans and tax rates. And that’s all great.
The most important thing we have to do, we have a fundamental choice to make, folks.
Are we willing to cut the government economy so we can grow the American economy?
That is the most fundamental question we’ve got to answer.
We are on the path to socialism right now.
JINDAL: These are mutually exclusive. The hour is late, but it is not too late for America.
Though under President Obama, you asked about his economy. We’ve got record dependents, a record number of Americans on food stamps, record low participation rate in the work force.
This is a fundamental choice. Sending a big government Republican to DC is not enough to fix this problem. It’s not enough just to beat Hillary Clinton. We’ve got to change the direction of our country.
What that means is let’s shrink the government, not slow its growth rate, but actually shrink the government so we can grow the American economy. That is the fundamental issue we should be debating here tonight.
REGAN: All right, Governor Jindal, thank you.
REGAN: Governor Christie, you have said that the Democrats’ message is one of, quote, “free stuff.” In contrast, Republicans want to reduce spending. How do you win a national election when the Democrats are offering free health care, a free or subsidized college education, and you’re the party that is seemingly offering nothing in the way of immediate tangible benefits?
CHRISTIE: Yes, sure.
CHRISTIE: If anybody believes the stuff they heard from that Democratic debate a few weeks ago, there’s nothing for free. What they forgot to tell was that they’re going to raise your tax rates to 70 or 80 percent in order to provide all of that stuff.
But let me ask the folks at home one very simple question, do you want to give Washington more control over your life? Do you think they’re doing such a great job that now let’s have them control what our corporations pay their employees? Let’s have them control every aspect of our economy?
Is Washington doing that good a job for you right now? And the fact is that if you listen to Hillary Clinton, she has made it very clear, she believes that she can make decisions for you better than you can make them for yourself.
She believes that Washington, D.C., should pick the winners and losers in our economy, and in our life. And here’s what I believe as a Republican, I believe the greatness of America is not in its government.
The greatness of America is in the American people. And what we need to do is get the government the hell out of the way and let the American people win once again.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
REGAN: Senator Santorum, a single mom with no job and two kids in New Hampshire, home of the first in the nation primary, is eligible for more than $30,000 a year in benefits. Even if she could find a job, she would need to find child care. And in many cases may conclude it’s better for her to live off government benefits.
Senator, how do you help and incentivize her to go to work? And if you’re the one that’s going to cut her benefits, why should she vote for you?
SANTORUM: Well, the answer is first that we need to do something about a tax code that doesn’t penalize. One thing that I’m excited about our tax code, proposed changes, is it’s very pro-family.
You have a $2,700 tax credit, period, for every person in that family, so that family, you know, would have about an $8,000 tax credit, which would be refundable. So every dollar she works, she’s still only losing 20 cents.
The problem with the tax code today, because of all the different provisions, you’re right, you go back to work, you lose welfare benefits, you’re losing money. Throw on top of that the — even a bigger problem, over 50 percent of children being raised in a home today of a single mom are raised in a home where the father is born — father is (sic) living at the child — the time the child is born.
Now what does that mean? That means we have incentivized people not to marry. We’ve incentivized people to cohabitate instead of not marry, why? Because mom will lose welfare benefits if she marries father.
It’s not just mom going back to work, but it’s mother and father marrying to form a more stable family for that child to be raised in a two-parent family.
So we’ve got all sorts of really corrupt incentives that were put in place, well meaning by the left. But we need to remove those. We need to remove those incentives. We need to adopt a tax code that says we’re going to be pro-family and pro-work. And that’s what we’ll do.
SMITH: Thank you, Senator.
Governor Huckabee, you have characterized entitlement reform as both political and economic suicide. Taxpayers currently spend more than $600 billion per year on social welfare programs, with the intended goal of getting people back on their feet and working again.
Today a record number of Americans aren’t even looking for work. Are our social welfare programs, while well-intended, creating a culture of dependency? If so, how will you fix it?
HUCKABEE: Well, Sandra, first of all, let me mention the fact that I think there’s a big difference between welfare programs and what some people call entitlements. Namely, Social Security and Medicare.
I just want to remind everybody out there who has ever had a paycheck, the government didn’t ask you if you wanted them to take money out of your check for Social Security and Medicare. They did that involuntarily.
Those are not entitlements and that’s not welfare. That’s an earned benefit. And by gosh, you paid for it. And if the government screwed it up, you shouldn’t have to pay the penalty because of an incompetent government. That’s different than the social programs that we’ve spent $2 trillion on since the War on Poverty began exactly 50 years ago this year.
Now the reason we still have so much poverty is because it was never designed to get people out of poverty. It was designed to make sure that there was an industry of poverty, so that the people in the poverty industry would have a lot of jobs. But the people who are poor haven’t been benefited. Having grown up poor, I know a little something about it. Nobody who is poor wants to be. That’s a nonsense statement and I hear it all the time. Well, poor people ought to work harder. They’re working as hard as they can, for gosh sake.
But the problem is the system keeps pushing them down because, if they work, then they get punished. They lose all the benefits. When we did welfare reform in the ’90s, you know what we did? We said you’re not going to lose everything at once. There’s not an arbitrary threshold. So as you move up the ladder from work and training, you’ll actually always be better off than you were before. That’s the American way.
SMITH: Thank you, Governor.
SEIB: Governor Jindal, Republicans have now 32 of the nation’s 50 governor seats. But, even while you’re doing very well at the state level, you keep falling short nationally. You’ve lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Are Democrats simply putting forward a better national economic message than the one Republicans are offering? And what should Republicans do about it.
JINDAL: No, I think right now there’s not much difference between the two parties. The reason we keep losing nationally is we try to be cheaper versions of the Democratic party. What if the Republicans, what if Republicans actually embraced our own principles? So I earlier said if you want bigger paychecks, you want more jobs, you want less government dependence, you’re going to have to cut government spending. Here’s the dirty little secret.
You’re going to hear a lot of Republicans tonight in this debate and the next one talk about cutting government spending. It’s going to sound great. There’s only one of us that’s actually cut government spending. Not two, there’s one, and you’re looking at him. We’ve got four senators running. They’ve never cut anything in D.C. They give these long speeches called filibusters, they pat themselves on the back, nothing changes. When they go to relieve themselves their cause and the toilet get flushed at the same time, and the American people lose.
We’ve got a bunch of governors running, we’ve got seven current former governors running. I’m the only one that has cut government spending. Everybody else can talk about it. If they haven’t done it in their state capitals, what makes them thank that — what makes us think they’ll do it if we send them to D.C. Look, when politicians talk, we need to look at what they have done, not what they have said. Otherwise, it’s a bunch of hot air. We’ve cut our budget 26 percent. Record number of Louisianans working.
If Republicans want to win national elections, let’s be conservatives, let’s be Republicans, let’s not be a second version of the liberal party, let’s cut government spending and grow the American economy.
SMITH: Do you have something to add, Governor?
HUCKABEE: Well, I’d just like to respond, with all due respect to, to the Governor, to the state just south of me, I would say that a lot of us have cut things. And during the recession of 2001 to 2003, when 91 percent of our state budget was basically three things, educate, medicate and incarcerate, we ended up cutting 11 percent out of the state budget through that recession so we didn’t have to go in and raise a bunch of taxes, and there were people who thought we should.
So it’s just not accurate to say that nobody else up here has ever cut. I believe every governor has probably had to make tough decisions. I’m, I’m guessing my colleague Governor Christie has, as I’m tossing him the ball like Arkansas did to Ol’ Miss the other day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don’t, why don’t we…
JINDAL: Wait, wait, wait. I want to respond. He has criticized something I said. I want to respond to that. Mike, with all due respect, I admire your social views, I share many of those views, your record as Governor tells a different story. Was — your time as Governor spending in Arkansas went up 65 percent, number of state workers went up 20 percent, the taxes for the average citizen went up 47 percent. That’s not a record of cutting. I’m saying we’ve actually cut. We reduced the size of our budget. So wanting to cut is one thing, actually cutting is a different thing. Facts don’t lie.
SMITH: All right. Let’s, let’s bring Governor Christie in next.
HUCKABEE: Sandra, before we get too far away, he specifically brought out some things about the record that I need to correct.
SMITH: All right. Well, let’s get the — let’s keep the conversation going. Let’s bring Governor Christie in here because we’re talking about national debt, climbing toward $19 trillion, Governor. Our federal government employed nearly three million workers, our tax code is more than 74,000 pages long. If you’re elected President, Governor Christie, what concrete steps would you take to reduce the size of the federal government?
CHRISTIE: First off, let me, let me just say this in response to this back and forth. For the people who are out there right now, I want to guarantee you one thing real clearly. If you think that Mike Huckabee won’t be the kind of President who will cut back spending, or Chris Christie, or John Kasich, wait ’til you see what Hillary Clinton will do to this country and how she will drown us in debt. She is the real adversary tonight and we’d better stay focused as Republicans on her.
Now I’ve forward, I put forward an entitlement reform plan. We spend 71 cents of every dollar in America on entitlements and debt service, and if — you know, Willy Sutton used to say, when they asked him why he robbed banks, he said that’s ’cause that’s where the money is, OK?
And where the money is in the federal government are these entitlement programs and debt service.
What I’ve said is we need to get a hold of that. We cannot continue to go down the $19 trillion in debt.
So our plan will save over $1 trillion over the next 10 years and make sure that Social Security and Medicare are there for those who truly need it and also make sure that we have money to be able to reduce taxes and spend on the things we need to spend.
I will also, on my first day as — as president, sign a executive order that says no more regulation for the next 120 days by any government agency or department. We are drowning in regulations. Stop and then we’ll go out there and we’ll cut and reduce regulation that small business owners across this country want us to do.
You’ll grow the economy then. More money will come into the system and we’ll get more closer to balance.
But the bottom line is, believe me, Hillary Clinton’s coming for your wallet, everybody. Don’t worry about Huckabee or Jindal, worry about her.
REGAN: Governor Christie, thank you.
REGAN: All right, we are just getting started.
Medicare, Social Security and the future of ObamaCare — that is all straight ahead, live from Milwaukee and the Republican presidential debate.
REGAN: Welcome back to the Milwaukee Theatre, and the Republican Presidential Debate. On to the next round of questions, Gerry has the next question.
SEIB: Senator Santorum, we’re in the Upper-Midwest, heart of the American auto industry. The Auto Alliance says the state of Wisconsin, where we are tonight, is home to 176 auto supplier companies. Back in 2008, you opposed the use of federal bailout funds for automakers as proposed then by the Bush administration. The automakers survived. In retrospect, do you still think that was the right position.
SANTORUM: Absolutely. I’m a capitalist, not a corporatist. I’m not someone who believes we should be bailing out corporations whether their auto industries, or banks.
And, it is simply a matter that there’s auto industry — the auto industry would have survived, it would have survived through a bankruptcy process of — instead of Washington picking a winner and a loser. And, in this case, the losers are the bondholders, and the winners were the unions. That’s fine. They did it, the unions — the unions survived. We — we have not survived in continuing to grow manufacturing jobs. We have a — we have a president, and an economy right now, that is killing — choking our ability to be able to compete.
I’m one of the few people up here who actually believes that we need a level playing field when it comes to manufacturing. That means a good tax code, a good regulatory environment, low energy prices, better opportunities for workers to get training, and, also, I’m — a supporter of the EXIM bank. Everybody else on this stage, everybody else, I think, in the entire field, is opposed to it.
Why can you — how can you come out and say I’m for manufacturing when a majority of republican congressmen and senators supported the EXIM bank because it means jobs for American workers here in America. The fact is that we’ve seen already G.E. lose jobs here in America, and just move those jobs to France and Hungary. We have a right as a country to compete with other countries that have export financing.
Every major manufacturer, 60 countries, competes against America, wants to take our jobs, and we have every Republican candidate — you want to talk about communicating to workers here in Wisconsin?
Ask them why we’re tying one hand behind our back and saying go out and compete.
SEIB: Thank you, Senator Santorum.
REGAN: Governor Huckabee, you differ from many of your GOP opponents on the stage tonight over accepting Syrian refugees into this country. You have said, “We don’t have an obligation to just open our doors.”
As the Islamic state continues to expand, slaughtering and crucifying Christians, including women and children, refugees continue to flee their land by the thousands. Should America open its doors to accept any refugees in this country? If so, how many?
HUCKABEE: Sandra, I’ve been concerned that this administration has not done anything to help stop the slaughter of Christians. We didn’t help the Kurds, we said we would. But, the idea that we’re just going to open our doors, and we have no idea who these people are — what we do know is that only one out of five of the so called, “Syrian Refugees”, who went into Europe were actually Syrian. Many of them, we had no idea who they were. They weren’t Syrian.
Are we going to open the doors so that the ISIS people will come on in, and we’ll give them a place to say, and a good sandwich, and medical benefits? My gosh, we have $19 trillion dollars in debt, we can’t even afford to take care of Americans.
…If we’re going to do something for the Syrians…
…let’s find out who they really are, and the ones that are really in danger, let’s help build an encampment for them, but closer to where they live, rather than bringing them here when they don’t know the language, the culture — and, frankly, if we’ve got as many homeless people as we have, I’m not sure this makes any sense.
So, let’s do it where we can best help them. Send them some food. But, let’s ask the Saudi’s to step up.
I’m really tired of Americans being the only ones asked to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to charity, and, quite frankly, my number one concern right now is taking care of the fact that Americans are taking it in the gut without jobs. Many of them working two and three part time jobs. And, if America wants to do something great, let’s get our economy growing again, stabilize the dollar, and we’ll be in a much better position to help people around the world.
REGAN: Alright, Governor Huckabee, thank you.
SMITH: Governor Christie, China is stealing our technology. China is pirating our intellectual property, and China’s hacking into our computers, spying on American corporations, and spying on our citizens. China also slaps tariffs on U.S. goods, making it harder for us to sell our products. How are you going to stop them?
CHRISTIE: Well, let’s start with this, remember why we’re in the position we’re in with China, because an absolutely weak and feckless foreign policy that was engineered by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. That’s why we’re in the position we’re in…
CHRISTIE: — because (INAUDIBLE) the Chinese…
CHRISTIE: — the Chinese don’t take us seriously and why should they?
Why should they?
They hacked into the American government’s personnel file and took millions of records in cyberwarfare against this country. I’m one of the victims of that hack. They took my Social Security number, my fingerprints as a former United States attorney that was on file in there.
And what has this president done?
Not one thing.
Let me be really clear about what I would do.
If the Chinese commit cyberwarfare against us, they are going to see cyberwarfare like they have never seen before. And that is a closed society in China…
CHRISTIE: — where they’re hiding information from their own people. The information we take, we’ll make sure all the Chinese people see it. Then they’ll have some real fun in Beijing when we start showing them how they’re spending their money in China.
CHRISTIE: And one last thing.
One last thing. I will tell you this, they’re building those artificial islands in the South China Sea and the president won’t — up until recently, wouldn’t sail a ship within 12 miles or fly a plane over it. I’ll tell you this, the first thing I’ll do with the Chinese is I’ll throw — I’ll fly Air Force One over those islands. They’ll know we mean business.
SEIB: Governor Jindal, there’s a new trade deal the Obama administration has completed with 11 other Pacific nations. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office says that deal will cut 18,000 different tariffs on American goods sent to the Pacific and will cut tariffs on goods made in your state of Louisiana by as much as 40 percent.
Even a skeptical about — a skeptic about this deal, now that the details are public, are you going to be for it?
JINDAL: I was absolutely a skeptic of giving this president more power. He negotiated a bad deal with Iran. He breaks the law routinely. I don’t know why Congress would want to concede more authority to him.
Look, this trade deal is 6,000 pages long. Unlike ObamaCare, I think we should read it before we decide whether we would vote for it or not vote for it.
JINDAL: I am for trade deals, but I want to make sure they are fair trade deals.
I want to come back to something that Chris had said earlier. Look, I absolutely agree we’ve got to beat Hillary Clinton. But just sending any Republican is not good enough. We’ve had a Republican majority in the Senate and the House.
What has changed?
If we send another big government Republican to the White House, we will not do enough to fix what is wrong in this country.
Chris, I think records matter. I think the way we govern matter.
Under your leadership in New Jersey, your budget has gone up 15 percent. It’s gone down 26 percent in Louisiana.
It has gone up $5 million in New Jersey. It’s gone down $9 billion in Louisiana. In New Jersey, you’ve had nine credit downgrades, setting a record. We’ve had eight credit upgrades in Louisiana.
My point is this. If politicians say they’re going to be conservative, they say they’re going to cut spending but they don’t do it, why should we send them to DC?
It gets harder, not easier, when we send them to DC. Let’s not be a second liberal party. Let’s actually cut government spending. Let’s grow the American economy. Let’s not just beat Hillary, let’s elect a conservative to the White House, not just any Republican.
SEIB: Governor Christie?
CHRISTIE: I’ll tell you, Gerry, it’s interesting, if you go to New Jersey, they’ll call me lots of different things. A liberal is not one of them. Um, and…
CHRISTIE: — I would say this. I have great respect for Bobby’s record in Louisiana. I think he’s been a wonderful governor and I think he’s provided outstanding leadership for that state and I respect him for what he’s done.
And I think that all of us deserve that same level of respect.
And my point is this. You know, the differences between me and Bobby Jindal, we can talk about those, and obviously, Bobby wants to spent a lot of time tonight talking about that.
I’ll tell you what I want to talk about. I want to talk about what’s going to happen to this country if we have another four years of Barack Obama’s policies.
And by the way, it will be even worse, because Hillary Clinton is running so far to the left to treaty to catch up to her socialist opponent, Bernie Sanders, it’s hard to even see her anymore.
The fact is — the fact is that we’d better be focused on it. And I’ll tell you what I’ll bring to the table, the fact that I’ve won in a blue state, that I’ve won in a state that has 750,000 more Democrats than Republicans…
CHRISTIE: — that I won in a state for reelection after governing as a pro-life conservative…
CHRISTIE: — and got 61 percent of the vote. That’s the person you want on the stage prosecuting the case against Hillary Clinton.
JINDAL: But wait a minute, records matter.
JINDAL: Records — records matter. Yes, we’ve got to…
CHRISTIE: I don’t…
JINDAL: — beat Hillary Clinton. But Chris, it’s also true that you expanded food stamps at a time that we’ve got record numbers of Americans on food stamps. It’s also true you caved into ObamaCare. You expanded Medicaid.
We’ve got a choice in front of us. This is an important debate. This is not about comparing Louisiana to New Jersey or Bobby to Chris. This is an important debate for the American people.
This is supposed to be an economics debate. Let’s have a debate.
Do we want to grow government or do we want to grow the American economy? Do we want to grow dependence on government, or do we want to grow good paying jobs in the private sector…
JINDAL: …you don’t grow the economy by putting more people on food stamps, more people in Medicaid, you grow the economy by cutting government, cutting spending. That’s what we’ve done in Louisiana, you haven’t done that in New Jersey…
CHRISTIE: ..Let me…
JINDAL: …We need a conservative, not a big government republican in D.C.
SEIB: Governor Christie…
CHRISTIE: …Let me just…
SEIB: …last word, briefly
CHRISTIE: It’s interesting. I complimented Bobby, imagine how much time he’d want if I actually criticized him.
CHRISTIE: You know, the fact is, he’s done — done a nice job down in Louisiana, and I don’t have any problem with the job he’s done. I’ve cut spending $2 billion dollars, except for our pension and health care in New Jersey, which was driven predominantly by Obamacare. We have reduce the number of employees we have on the state payroll by 15%, but, you know what? The people out there don’t care about any of that.
You know what they care about? They care about who’s going to be able to beat Hillary Clinton…
…Who’s going to keep their eye on the ball? I’m going to keep my eye on the ball.
SEIB: …Thank you both, Governors.
REGAN: Next question to you, Governor…
JINDAL: …This is how we….
REGAN: …Next question to you, Governor…
JINDAL: …This is how we move our country forward, look, this is not about between me and Chris…
HUCKABEE: …I’d like to get that opportunity to go…
JINDAL: …This is about…
JINDAL: …are we going to be the party…
REGAN: …let me get in…
REGAN: …Let me get in here, because the next question, it’s to you, and it’s on Obamacare. It is still unpopular with the American people. You’ve seen the polls, they’ve shown nearly half the country still opposes this law. You have been critical of your GOP opponents, some of them standing on the stage tonight, others later. Notably, Ted Cruz, for not having comprehensive plans.
You say you do. What specifically makes your plan to replace Obamacare better than the opponents, some of them standing next to you.
JINDAL: Well, look, only one other opponent, actually, one other candidate, actually, has a plan. That’s Jeb Bush, and he creates a new entitlement program. My plan actually gets rid of all of Obamacare, it’s great that Senator Cruz will shut down the government over Obamacare, but he still hasn’t given us his plan to get rid of it. It’s great that other republicans talk about getting rid of it.
You go to a town hall in Iowa, or New Hampshire, ask them how they’re actually going to get rid of it — my plan has been online for over a year. It gets rid of all of Obamacare, it reduces the cost. It actually puts Americans, their patients, their doctors back in control. And, it actually helps those that really need this help — but, this is one of the most critical issues we face domestically.
I think I — look, right now, I think I am the only candidate running that refused to expand Medicaid. I’m the only one that turned down — that did what we could to fight Obamacare. This is an important point, and, look, I appreciate Chris’s nice compliments to me. And, Chris, you look to me very well, I love Mary-pat, but this isn’t about me and Chris. This is about the country, and this is about what direction — this is the most important election in our lifetimes.
Folks, a couple of years ago they told us give them the republican majorities in the House and the Senate, they’d stop Obamacare, and amnesty, and the bad Iran deal — nothing changed. If they fooled us once, shame on them. If they fooled us twice, shame on us. Don’t let them fool us again.
Chris, look, I’ll give you your ribbon for participation, and a juicebox, but in the real world, it’s about results…
…but, in the real world it’s about results. It’s about actually cutting government spending, not just talking about cutting government spending.
REGAN: Governor Jindal, thank you.
CHRISTIE: Yeah, listen. We stopped Obamacare in New Jersey because we refused to participate in the federal exchange. But, here’s the bigger issue. What do you think’s going to happen when Hillary Clinton’s elected president of the United States? The woman who tried to impose healthcare on this country over 20 years ago? And, she was stopped then by a strong group of republicans, and an American public that said, “No, thank you.”
What she will do — what she will do is move us towards a single payer system. She will completely nationalize the federal health care system. That’s what she wanted to do 20 years ago, and I guarantee you that’s what she’ll do if you give her the keys to the White House one more time.