This is a full transcript of the Republican party’s first debate of Thursday night–an undercard featuring seven lower-performing candidates.
HEMMER: This is first official event in the campaign for the Republican nomination for president. Welcome to Cleveland Ohio. It is debate night.
HEMMER: I’m Bill Hemmer.
MACCALLUM: And I’m Martha MacCallum.
It all starts here. We are ready, the candidates are ready. We’re live at the Quicken Loans Arena, where we have partnered with Facebook to bring you, the voter, into today’s debate.
HEMMER: So you will hear from all 17 candidates tonight, and you’ll meet seven of them right now, starting with three-time governor in the state of Texas, Rick Perry.
MACCALLUM: Also, two-time senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.
HEMMER: Two-time. Two-time governor of the State of Louisiana, Acting Governor Bobby Jindal.
HEMMER: So you will hear from all 17 candidates tonight, and you’ll meet seven of them right now, starting with three-time governor in the state of Texas, Rick Perry.
MACCALLUM: Also, two-time senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.
HEMMER: Two-time. Two-time governor of the State of Louisiana, Acting Governor Bobby Jindal.
MACCALLUM: Businesswoman and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina.
HEMMER: The senior senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham.
MACCALLUM: Former three-term governor of New York, George Pataki.
HEMMER: And former Virginia governor, Jim Gilmore.
MACCALLUM: Now, this debate will last one hour. We’re going to have four commercial breaks.
MACCALLUM: Each candidate will have one minute to anwer each question and 30 seconds for rebuttal. If you run out of time, you’re going to hear this.
MACCALLUM: Everybody got the bell?
HEMMER: Wait til you hear what the others are going to get later, huh?
HEMMER: One year from now, a Republican nominee will be standing on this stage in this very same arena. That person is in Cleveland today.
So let’s get started. First topic, electability.
First question to Governor Perry from Texas.
PERRY: It’s good to be with you.
HEMMER: You were in charge of the 12th largest economy in the world, and you recently said that four years ago, you weren’t ready for this job.
HEMMER: Why should someone vote for you now?
PERRY: After those four years of looking back and being prepared, the preparation to be the most powerful individual in the world requires an extraordinary amount of work: not just having been the governor of the 12th largest economy in the world, which I might add, we added 1.5 million jobs during that period of time over that 2007 through 2014 period, a period when America was going through the most deep recession it had been through since the Great Depression.
I think Americans want someone to have a track record of showing them how to get this country back on record, someone who will stand up and every day project that best days of America are in front of us.
And I will assure you, as the governor of the state of Texas, and as those last four years have shown me, the preparation to be ready to stand on this stage and talk about those monetary policies, those domestic policies, and those foreign policies, Americans are going to see that I am ready to be that individual.
HEMMER: Thank you, Governor.
MACCALLUM: Now we go to Carly Fiorina.
Carly, you were CEO of Hewlett-Packard. You ran for Senate and lost in California in 2010. This week, you said “Margaret Thatcher was not content to manage a great nation in decline, and neither am I.”
Given your current standings in the polls, is the Iron Lady comparison a stretch?
FIORINA: Well, I would begin by reminding people that at this point in previous presidential elections, Jimmy Carter couldn’t win, Ronald Reagan couldn’t win, Bill Clinton couldn’t win, and neither could’ve Barack Obama.
I started as a secretary and became ultimately the chief executive of the largest technology company in the world, almost $90 billion in over 150 countries. I know personally how extraordinary and unique this nation is.
I think to be commander in chief in the 21st century requires someone who understands how the economy works, someone who understands how the world works and who’s in it; I know more world leaders on the stage today than anyone running, with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton; understands bureaucracies, how to cut them down to size and hold them accountable; and understands technology, which is a tool, but it’s also a weapon that’s being used against us.
Most importantly, I think I understand leadership, which sometimes requires a tough call in a tough time. But mostly, the highest calling of leadership is to challenge the status-quo and unlock the potential of others. We need a leader who will lead the resurgence of this great nation and unlock its potential once again.
HEMMER: Senator Santorum, you won the Iowa caucus four years ago and 10 other states. But you failed to beat Mitt Romney for the nomination. And no one here tonight is going to question your conviction or your love for country. But has your moment passed, Senator?
SANTORUM: I would say the message that got us the win in Iowa and 10 other states against pretty overwhelming odds, is the message that’s going to deliver us in this election.
SANTORUM: You know, we didn’t start out four years ago at the top of the heap. We were behind where we were today. But we stuck to our message. We stuck to the fact that Americans are tired of Washington corporate interests and Democrats who are interested in just politics and power and they’re looking for someone who’s going to fight for them; looking for someone who’s going to grow manufacturing sector of our economy, so those 74 percent of Americans who don’t have a college degree have a chance to rise again. Someone who’s going to stand up, and be very clear with our enemies as to the lines their going to draw and stand with them.
I’ve got a track record. The reason I did so well last time is not just because of the vision, it’s because I have a track record in Washington, D.C. of getting things done. Iran sanctions — the Iran sanctions that brought them to the table, those are sanctions that we put in place when I was in the United States Senate, and a whole host of other things that put me in a position of saying, I not only have a great vision, but I can govern effectively in Washington.
HEMMER: Thank you, Senator.
MACCALLUM: Governor Jindal, you’re one of two sitting governors on the stage tonight. But your approval numbers at home are in the mid 30s at this point. In a recent poll that showed you in a head-to- head against Hillary Clinton in Louisiana, she beat you by several points.
So if the people of Louisiana are not satisfied, what makes you think that the people of this nation would be?
JINDAL: Well, first of all, thank you all for having us.
You know, I won two record elections. Last time I was elected governor, won a record margin in my state. Martha, we got a lot of politicians that will kiss babies, cut ribbons, do whatever it takes to be popular. That’s not why I ran for office.
I ran for office to make the generational changes in Louisiana. We’ve cut 26 percent of our budget. We have 30,000 fewer state bureaucrats than the day I took office. I don’t think anybody has cut that much government anywhere, at any time. As a result, eight credit upgrades; as a result, a top ten state for private sector job creation. And we fought for statewide school choice, where the dollars follow the child, instead of the child following the dollars. We’ve been the most pro-life state six years in a row. My point is this: I won two landslide elections, I made big changes. I think our country is tired of the politicians who simply read the polls and fail to lead. Both Democrats and Republicans have gotten us in the mess we’re in — $18 trillion of debt, a bad deal with Iran, we’re not staying with Israel.
I think the American people are look for real leadership. That’s what I’ve done in Louisiana, that’s what I’ll do in America.
HEMMER: Senator Lindsey Graham, you worked with Democrats and President Obama when it came to climate change, something you know is extremely unpopular with conservative Republicans.
How can they trust you based on that record?
GRAHAM: You can trust me to do the following: that when I get on change with Hillary Clinton, we won’t be debating about the science, we’ll be debating about the solutions. In her world, cap- and-trade would dominate, that we will destroy the economy in the name of helping the environment. In my world, we’ll focus on energy independence and a clean environment.
When it comes to fossil fuels, we’re going to find more here and use less. Over time, we’re going to become energy independent. I am tired of sending $300 billion overseas to buy oil from people who hate our guts. The choice between a weak economy and a strong environment is a false choice, that is not the choice I’ll offer America.
A healthy environment, a strong economy and energy independent America — that would be the purpose of my presidency, is break the strangle hold that people enjoy on fossil fuels who hate our guts.
HEMMER: Thank you, Senator.
MACCALLUM: Governor Pataki, four years ago this month, you called it quits in a race for the presidency in 2012, but now you’re back. Mitt Romney declined to run this time, because he believed that the party needed new blood.
Does he have a point?
PATAKI: I think he means somebody who hasn’t been a career politician, and who’s been out of office for awhile. I think the last eight years in the private sector have allowed me to see government from the outside, and I think that is a positive thing. Yes, I thought about running four years ago. I was ready to lead, but I wasn’t ready to run.
But I look at this country today, and I look at how divided we are, I look at how politicians are always posturing and issuing sound bites but never solving problems. What I did in New York was bring people together, an overwhelmingly Democratic state. But I was able to get Democrats to support the most conservative sweeping policy changes in any state in America.
And when I look at Washington today, we need to bring us together. We need to solve problems, we need to rebuild our military so we can stand up to radical Islam, we need to get our economy growing much faster by throwing out the corrupt tax code and lowering the rates. We have to end crony capitalism in Washington, where the lobbyists and the powerful can get tax breaks and tax credits, and the American people don’t get laws in their interest.
I can do that. And I can do it regardless of what the makeup of Congress is because I did it in New York state. So we need new leadership — yes. I will be that new leader.
MACCALLUM: Thank you, Governor.
From one side of the stage, the other — the other, Governor Jim Gilmore.
You were the last person on stage to declare your candidacy. You ran for the White House once and lost. You ran for the Senate one time and lost. You haven’t held public office in 13 years.
Similar question, is it time for new blood?
GILMORE: I think the times are different now. I think the times are much more serious.
Because Obama and Clinton policies, the United States is moving further and further into a decline. I want to reverse that decline. That’s why I’ve entered this race, and I think I have the experience to do it.
Former elected prosecutor, attorney general, governor, I was elected to all of those offices.
A person who, in fact, has a long experience in foreign-policy issues, which is different from many of the other governors and prospective governors who are running. I was an Army intelligence agent and a veteran during the Cold War, assigned to West Germany.
I was the chairman of the National Commission on Homeland Security and Terrorism for the United States for five years. I was a person who has dealt extensively with these homeland security issues. I was a governor during the 9/11 attack.
I understand both of these issues, how to build the economy and doing that as a governor who’d built jobs, had cut taxes and also a governor who understands foreign-policy, and that’s why I entered this race.
HEMMER: Thank you, Governor.
MACCALLUM: Alright, everybody. Now to the elephant that is not in the room tonight, Donald Trump.
Let’s take a look at this graphic that shows the huge amount of political chatter that he is driving on Facebook right now, some of it good, probably, some of it bad. But he is dominating this conversation. Governor Perry, you two have been going at it. But given the large disparity in your poll numbers, he seems to be getting the better of you.
PERRY: Well, when you look at the celebrity of Donald Trump, then I think that says a lot about it.
One thing I like to remind people is, back in 2007, Rudy Giuliani was leading the polls for almost a year. I’ll suggest a part of that was his celebrity. Fred Thompson was the other one, a man who had spent a lot of time on that screen.
I’ve had my issues with Donald Trump. I talked about Donald Trump from the standpoint of being an individual who was using his celebrity rather than his conservatism.
How can you run for the Republican nomination and be for single- payer health care? I mean, I ask that with all due respect. And nobody, nobody on either one of these stages has done more than I’ve done and the people of the State of Texas to deal with securing that border.
We sent our Texas ranger recon teams. We sent our parks and wildlife wardens. I deployed the National Guard after I stood on the ramp in Dallas, Texas and looked the president of the United States in the eye and said, “Mr. President, if you won’t secure the border, Texas will,” and that’s exactly what we did.
We need a president that doesn’t just talk a game, but a president that’s got real results.
MACCALLUM: Alright, I want to ask that same question, because it’s true, really, of all of you on this stage that, like it or not, Donald Trump is — there’s a huge disparity between the poll numbers that you have and the poll numbers that he has, given also the fact that Rudy Giuliani said he thought that there may be some Reagan qualities to Donald Trump.
So Carly Fiorina, is he getting the better of you?
FIORINA: Well, I don’t know. I didn’t get a phone call from Bill Clinton before I jumped in the race. Did any of you get a phone call from Bill Clinton? I didn’t. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t given money to the foundation or donated to his wife’s Senate campaign.
Here’s the thing that I would ask Donald Trump in all seriousness. He is the party’s frontrunner right now, and good for him.
I think he’s tapped into an anger that people feel. They’re sick of politics as usual. You know, whatever your issue, your cause, the festering problem you hoped would resolved, the political class has failed you. That’s just a fact, and that’s what Donald Trump taps into.
I would also just say this. Since he has changed his mind on amnesty, on health care and on abortion, I would just ask, what are the principles by which he will govern?
MACCALLUM: Thank you.
HEMMER: This Saturday, August 8th, two days from now marks one year since the strikes began against ISIS in Iraq and followed in Syria one month later. This week, a leading general in the U.S. Marine Corps says, “One year later, that fight is at a stalemate.”
Governor Jindal, give me one example how your fight against ISIS would be different over there?
JINDAL: Well, to start with, unlike President Obama, I’ll actually name the enemy that we confront. We’ve got a president who cannot bring himself to say the words “radical Islamic terrorism.”
Now, Bill, he loves to criticize America, apologize for us, criticize medieval Christians. How can we beat an enemy if our commander-in-chief doesn’t have the moral honesty and clarity to say that Islam has a problem, and that problem is radical Islam, to say they’ve got to condemn not generic acts of violence, but the individual murderers who are committing these acts of violence.
We’ve got a president who instead says, we’re going to change hearts and minds. Well, you know what? Sometimes you win a war by killing murderous, evil terrorists. We’re going to take the political handcuffs off the military. We will arm and train the Kurds. We will work with our Sunni allies. They know we will be committed to victory.
We had this failed red line with Assad and it discouraged folks that want to help us on the ground. Finally, we’ll take off the political handcuffs. We’ll go to the Congress. This president has gone to Congress and said give me a three-year deadline, give me a ban on ground troops. I’m going to go to the commanders and say give me a plan to win. You can’t send your troops into harm’s way unless you give them every opportunity to be successful.
HEMMER: And the senator to your right has called for 20,000 American troops in Syria and Iraq so far today, Senator Graham, and I’ll give this question to you. Why should the American people after two wars in Iraq sacrifice yet again on a third war?
GRAHAM: If we don’t stop them over there, they are coming here just as sure as I stand here in front of you.
One thing I want to be clear about tonight. If you’re running for president of the United States and you don’t understand that we need more American ground forces in Iraq and that America has to be part of a regional ground force that will go into Syria and destroy ISIL in Syria, then you’re not ready to be commander in chief. And you’re not serious about destroying ISIL.
According to the generals that I know and trust, this air campaign will not destroy ISIL. We need a ground force in Iraq and Syria, and America has to be part of that ground force. According to the FBI and the director of national intelligence, Syria’s becoming a perfect platform to strike our nation. I’ve got a very simple strategy as your president against ISIL. Whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat them.
HEMMER: Senator, thank you.
MACCALLUM: All right. Let’s get to our first commercial break. There is plenty more to discuss tonight. Coming up, immigration, more on ISIS and homeland security as well as we continue live tonight from Cleveland, Ohio.
HEMMER: It is debate night, and welcome back to Cleveland, Ohio. Let’s get back to the questions right now with Martha.
MACCALLUM: All right. Let’s talk about ISIS and the threat to the homeland that we have seen growing in recent months. This goes to Governor Pataki.
Sixty-nine ISIS-inspired terrorists have been arrested in this country, in homeland plots, and the FBI assures us that there are likely many more to come.
The president is reluctant to label these terrorists Islamic extremists, but you’ve said that you have no problem with that label. Then comes the hard part.
So here’s the question. How far are you willing to go to root out this problem here at home? Would you put mosques, for example, potentially, under surveillance? And keep in mind that conservatives are increasingly concerned in this country with religious liberty.
PATAKI: Martha, religious liberty doesn’t include encouraging a fellow American to engage in violent jihad and kill an American here. That is not protected free speech. That is not protected religious belief.
That is like shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, and that is illegal, and I would do everything in our power not just to go after those who are here who we know who are here, before they can radicalize other Americans to carry out attacks, and it’s not just the ones they’ve arrested.
Think back to Garland, Texas. But for that Texas police officer, we could have had a mass murder. We have to shut down their internet capability. We have to shut down, whether or not they’re in prisons preaching or on — in mosques preaching. No radical Islam that is allowed to engage in encouraging violence against Americans, that is not protected speech.
Let me just add one thing about ISIS over there. We have got to destroy their training camps and recruiting centers.
I was governor of New York on September 11. I know that we are at greater risk today than at any time since then of another attack. We have got to destroy their training camps over there before they can attack us here.
I don’t agree that we’re going to occupy and spend another decade or a trillion dollars. What we need to do is destroy their ability to attack us here over there, and then get out.
You know, I have two sons. Both served. One as a marine officer in Iraq, one as an army officer in Afghanistan. I do not see — want to see one parent or loved one worrying about getting a call in the middle of the night.
I would not place one American life at risk unless it was absolutely necessary. But to destroy ISIS, it is necessary.
MACCALLUM: All right. This question to Carly Fiorina. The FBI director Comey says that terrorists can thrive here at home because they go dark and they recruit behind the cyber walls that are built by American companies like Google and Apple.
Comey says this is a big problem. Rand Paul says that the government forcing these companies to bring down those walls would be a big privacy issue and a dangerous way to go on this. You’ve been a tech leader in this country. Which side are you on?
FIORINA: Let me say first that it is disturbing that every time one of these home-grown terrorist attacks occurs, and, as your question points out, they are occurring with far too great frequency, it turns out we had warning signals.
It turns out we knew something was wrong. It turns out some dot wasn’t connected, and so the first thing we have to do is make sure that everyone and every responsible agency is attuned to all of these possibilities and symptoms.
We even had warnings about the Boston Marathon bombers, and yet the dots weren’t connected. So we need to get on a different mindset.
Secondly, I certainly support that we need to tear down cyber walls, not on a mass basis, but on a targeted basis. But let me just say that we also need down — to tear down the cyber walls that China is erecting, that Russia is erecting.
FIORINA: We need to be very well aware of the fact that China and Russia are using technology to attack us, just as ISIS is using technology to recruit those who would murder American citizens. I do not believe that we need to wholesale destroy every American citizen’s privacy in order to go after those that we know are suspect or are — are already a problem. But yes, there is more collaboration required between private sector companies and the public sector. And specifically, we know that we could have detected and repelled some of these cyber attacks if that collaboration had been permitted. A law has been sitting — languishing, sadly, on Capitol Hill and has not yet been passed, and it would help.
MACCALLUM: So, would you tonight call for Google and Apple to cooperate in these Investigations and let the FBI, in where they need to go?
FIORINA: I absolutely would call on them to collaborate and cooperate, yes.
HEMMER: Excuse me, Martha. I have not heard the bell just yet, so you’re all very well behaved so far.
Governor Gilmore, 30 seconds.
GILMORE: Well, yes, indeed. I chaired the National Commission on Homeland Security Committee for United States. We warned about the 9/11 attack before the 9/11 attack occurred. I was the governor during the 9/11 attack when the Pentagon was struck.
And I’m going to tell you this, we need to use the benefit of our law enforcement people across this country, combined with our intelligence people across this country. We need to use our technological advantages, because what we’ve warned of is an international guerrilla movement that threatens this country. It’s going to happen in this country, there are going to be further attacks.
We have to be prepared to defend the American people, prepare them for a long war, stand up for the defense of this country, and stand up for the values of this country…
HEMMER: Thank you, Governor. I’ve got to move on to immigration here.
Senator Santorum, you would argue you have one of the tougher positions on illegal immigration in the entire 17 candidate field at the moment. We often talk about this issue on the abstract level in Washington, D.C., but you know how it’s being talked about in states like Iowa and New Hampshire among illegals in our country today — 11 million plus.
And some are asking, what would you say to a child, born and raised in America, who could see their family broken apart by your policy?
SANTORUM: My father was born in Italy, and shortly after he was born my grandfather immigrated to this country. And under the laws of this country, he wasn’t allowed to be with his father for seven years. Spent the first seven years of his life in Fascist Italy, under Benito Mussolini. Not a very pleasant place to be.
I asked my dad after — obviously, when I found out about this. And I said, “Didn’t you resent America for not letting you be with your father in those formative and very threatening years?” You know what he said to me? “America was worth the wait.”
We’re a country of laws, Bill. We’re a country of laws, not of men, not of people who do whatever they want to do. I know we have a president who wants to do whatever he wants to do, and take his pen and his phone and just tell everybody what he thinks is best. But the reason America is a great country, the reason is because our compassion is in our laws. And when we live by those laws and we treat everybody equally under the law, that’s when people feel good about being Americans.
And I put forth an immigration policy that is as strong in favor of the folks who are struggling in America the most than anybody else. It’s the strongest pro-worker immigration plan. It says that after 35 million people have come here over the last 20 years, almost all of whom are unskilled workers, flattening wages, creating horrible opportunity — a lack of opportunities for unskilled workers, we’re going to do something about reducing the level of immigration by 25 percent.
We’re going to be tough at the border, we’re going to be tough on all of the illegal immigrants that everybody else in this field — we’re going to be different. We’re going to be actually out there trying to create a better life for hard-working Americans.
HEMMER: Governor Perry, try and answer this question again.
What do you say to the family of illegals? Are you going to break them apart?
PERRY: Bill, here’s the interesting position on this. Americans are tired of hearing this debate — want to go to, what are you going to do about illegal immigration? For 30 years this country has been baited with that. All the way back to when Ronald Reagan signed a piece of legislation that basically allowed for amnesty for over 4 million people, and the border is still not secure.
The American people are never going to trust Washington, D.C., and for good reason. We hear all this discussion about well, I would do this, or I would do that, when the fact is, the border is still porous. Until we have a president of the United States that gets up every day and goes to the Oval Office with the intent purpose of securing that border, and there’s not anybody on either one of these stages that has the experience of dealing with this as I have for over 14 years with that 1200-mile border.
PERRY: We have to put the personnel on that border in the right places; you have to put the strategic fencing in place; and you have to have aviation assets that fly all the way from Tijuana to El Paso to Brownsville, Texas — 1,933 miles looking down 24/7, with the technology to be able to identify what individuals are doing, and ID when they are in obviously illegal activities or suspicious activities, and quick response teams come.
At that particular point in time, then Americans will believe that Washington is up to a conversation to deal with the millions of people that are here illegally, but not until.
If you elect me president of the United States, I will secure that southern border.
HEMMER: Governor, thank you.
MACCALLUM: On that note, next, the candidates take on the future of the U.S. economy when we come back after this quick break.
MACCALLUM: Welcome back, everybody. It is the bottom of the hour, and we are back, live from Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, kicking off the first 2016 Republican primary debate.
HEMMER: And so right now, we’re 30 minutes in. Going to jump back into the topics and continue our discussion of national issues on the domestic level.
The issue that is really number one on the minds of many voters, that’s the economy and jobs.
MACCALLUM: So let’s start here with Senator Graham.
Senator Graham, 82 million Americans over the age of 20 are out of the workforce.
MACCALLUM: Forty-five million people in this country are on food stamps. Nine million are on disability.
All of these numbers have been rising sharply in recent years.
There is an increasing willingness in this country to accept assistance. How do you get Americans who are able to take the job instead of a handout?
GRHAAM: I think America is dying to work, you just need to give them a chance. To all the Americans who want a better life, don’t vote for Hillary Clinton. You’re not going to get it. She’s not going to repeal “Obamacare” and replace it. I will. She’s not going to build the Keystone Pipeline. I will. She’s not going to change Dodd-Frank. I will.
Until you change the policies of Barack Obama, we’re never going to grow this economy. Until you change the policies of Barack Obama, we’re never going to be safe. She represents a third term of a failed presidency.
I’m fluent in Clinton-speak; I’ve been dealing with this crowd for 20 years. You know, when Bill Clinton says it depends on what the meaning of is is, that means is is whatever Bill wants it to mean. When Hillary Clinton tells you I’ve given you all the emails you need, that means she hasn’t. So to the people who are dying for a better America, you better change course, and she doesn’t represent the change that we need.
Do we all agree that ISIL is not the JV team? If I have to monitor a mosque, I’ll monitor a mosque. If I have to take down a cyber wall, I’ll take it. If I have to send more American troops to protect us here, I will do it. She will not. She has empowered a failed agenda. She is going to empower a failed solution to an American economy dying to grow.
Elect me, I know the difference between being flat broke. Apparently, she doesn’t. In Hillary Clinton’s world, after two terms in the White House where her husband was president, she said she was flat broke. Hillary, I’ll show you flat broke. That’s not it.
MACCALLUM: All right. Senator Santorum, let’s get back to the question at hand, which is whether or not Americans have become too reliant on assistance or too willing to take assistance. Do you believe that we need to change the culture in this country in terms of whether or not we should be encouraging people to get off of it and take the job when it’s available? Some are able and not doing that.
SANTORUM: I think it’s — yeah, I think it’s a one-two punch. Number one, we have to create better paying jobs. I mean, that’s just the bottom line. We haven’t. And that’s the reason that I’ve said under my presidency, we’ll create jobs and make American the number one manufacturing country in the world.
If we want to create jobs for the folks that you’re talking about, who are having trouble getting off government benefits, primarily because of their low skill level, there is no better way — it’s worked for 100 years in America — putting people back to work in manufacturing is it.
I’m going to be introducing a plan which I call the 2020 Perfect Vision for America. It’s a 20 percent flat rate tax, it’ll take a blowtorch to the — to the IRS. It will create a manufacturing juggernaut in this country. And you combine that with reforms of our welfare system.
You’re looking at the — at the man who introduced and fought on the floor as a freshman senator and passed the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 over two President Clinton vetoes. Got 70 votes in the United States Senate. Bipartisan issue. And I ended a federal entitlement. Never been done before, never been done since.
What we need to do is take the rest of the federal entitlements, not just welfare, but food stamps and Medicaid and housing programs and do the same thing we did with welfare. Work requirements and time limits. That will change everything.
MACCALLUM: All right. New question, same topic, goes to Governor Gilmore. You know, based on your record and what we’re discussing here, which is potentially cutting back some entitlement, cutting back benefits, it’s tricky business as we all know because people will argue that that’s their means to escape poverty. So they’re going to look at you when you want to do that and they will call you heartless. What will you tell them?
GILMORE: I’ll tell them that we’re going to grow the economy so that we can give people better opportunities so they don’t have to rely exclusively on benefit types of programs. Some do, but many Americans are dying to have an opportunity to grow and to create something inside this economy. And I’m glad that I have a chance to answer this question.
I’ve had the growth code (ph) there for about five years, and it’s this specific program. We’re going to do a tax cut for all Americans. We’re going to have a three-bracket tax code, 10, 15 and 25 percent. We’re going to combine all commercial activity in business into one place in the tax code and charge it 15 percent, which is going to suddenly make us competitive with the rest of the world. And we’re going to eliminate the death tax.
GILMORE: With a couple of additional tweaks, we know what this will do. It will cause the economy to grow, to explode, to create more jobs. And first of all, we’ve got to recognize that there is problem that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have caused. And that problem is too big regulations like the EPA, too much new taxes on business that we have seen and “Obamacare.” These are drags on the economy, it’s a deliberate drag. I propose to reverse that and get this economy moving again.
HEMMER: Thank you, Governor.
Your last topic brings us to the state of Ohio.
You know, the saying, right? No Republican wins the White House unless you win here in the Buckeye state. Well, here in the Buckeye state, the Governor John Kasich took the federal money for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.
And Governor Jindal of Louisiana, you passed on those tax dollars. Why do you think Governor Kasich got it wrong here?
JINDAL: Well, this goes to the question you were just asking. Look, under President Obama and Secretary Clinton, they’re working hard to change the American dream into the European nightmare. They do celebrate more dependence on the government.
Give Bernie Sanders credit. At least he’s honest enough to call himself a socialist. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, they’re no better. If we were to expand Medicaid, for every uninsured person we would cover, we’d kick more than one person out of private insurance or remove their opportunity to get private insurance.
We’re going to have too many people in the cart rather than pulling the cart. This isn’t free money. I know some people like to say, “well, this is free money.” We pay federal taxes. We are borrowing money from China today.
Yesterday, the president stunningly admitted this. He said, “we don’t have leverage with China to get a better deal on Iran because we need them to lend us money to continue operating our government.”
The president of the United States admitting that he’s weakening our government’s position, our foreign policy standing, because he can’t control spending in D.C..
There is a better way to provide health care. The Oregon study showed this. Simply expanding Medicaid does not improve health care outcomes. In Louisiana, instead we’re helping people getting better paying jobs so they can provide for their own health care.
HEMMER: So Governor Kasich was wrong, just to be clear.
JINDAL: I don’t — look, I don’t think anybody should be expanding Medicaid. I think it’s a mistake to create new and more expensive entitlement programs when we can’t afford the ones we’ve got today. We’ve got to stop this culture of government dependence.
HEMMER: I didn’t hear an answer regarding Governor Kasich, but for now I’ll go to Governor Pataki. Yes or no?
JINDAL: I’ll say this. I don’t think anybody should expand Medicaid. I think it was a mistake to expand Medicaid everywhere in Ohio and across the country.
HEMMER: Governor Pataki, three term governor of New York. Is he right, Governor Jindal from Louisiana?
PATAKI: I think he is right. I don’t think you expand entitlements when so many people are dependent on government and when the money the federal government is offering is going to be taken away from you after just a couple of years.
But getting back to Martha’s question about how we end dependency, do we have to have a cultural change? The answer is no. And I know this, because when I ran for governor of New York, one in 11 of every man, woman, and child in the state of New York was on welfare. On welfare. Think about that.
And people said “you can’t win, you can’t change the culture.” But I knew that good people who wanted to be a part of the American dream have become trapped in dependency because the federal government and the state government had made it in their economic interest not to take a job because the benefits that they didn’t work were better.
I changed that. We put in place mandatory work fair (ph). But we allowed people to keep health care. We put in place child care support.
HEMMER: Yes or no, would you have expanded Obamacare in the state of New York, had you been governor at that time?
PATAKI: No, it should be repealed. And by the way, when I left, there were over 1 million fewer people on welfare in New York state than when I took office…
PATAKI: … replacing dependency with opportunity.
HEMMER: Thank you, Governor Pataki.
In a moment here, we’ll talk to the candidates about an issue today on Planned Parenthood, and also the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s all next here in Cleveland.
HEMMER: Welcome back to Cleveland, Ohio. Want to get back to the questions and the issues in this debate now, with my co-anchor, Martha.
MACCALLUM: All right.
Well, there’s been a lot of discussion on Facebook, as you would imagine, about the Iran nuclear deal. Let’s just take a look, as an opener, at this one question that comes from Logan Christopher Boyer of St. Louis, Missouri.
He says, “How will you disarm Iran and keep the Middle East from becoming nuclearized?
So let’s open this discussion about Iran with this question that comes to Governor Perry. Governor Perry, here’s the question for you:
Critics of the Iran deal say that it puts America on the same side as the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, of Hamas, of Hezbollah, of the backers of those groups of people who chant ‘Death to America,’ in the street, that this deal puts on that side of the equation.
But our traditional Middle East allies, led by Saudi Arabia, have also funneled support to Islamic radical groups who want to kill Americans.
So which side do you believe we should be on?
PERRY: We need to be on the side that keeps Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. That’s the side we need to be on, and that’s the side of the bulk of the — of the Middle East.
We need to have some coalitions in that part of the world to go after ISIS, but we also need to send a clear message. And hopefully — you know, Senator Graham, I — I know where he’s going to be on this, but we use Congress, and we use Congress to cut this funding.
One of the great challenges that we have, $150 billion is fixing to go to a country that killed our Marines in Lebanon, that used their weapons to kill our young men in Iran. And the idea that this negotiation — I will tell you one thing. I would a whole lot rather had Carly Fiorina over there doing our negotiation than John Kerry. Maybe we would’ve gotten a deal where we didn’t give everything away.
But the issue for us is to have a Congress that stands up and says not only no, but “Hell no” to this money going to a regime that is going to use it for terror, Susan Rice has said that, and we need to stand up and strongly and clearly tell the ayatollah that — whoever the next president of the United States is going to be, and I’ll promise you, if it’s me, the first thing that I will do is tear up that agreement with Iran.
MACCALLUM: Alright. I want to go to Carly Fiorina on this, but I want to ask you some of what I just asked to Governor Perry.
The issue is that the allies that we are with sometimes have groups within them that funnel money to terrorists as well. This is a complicated situation. Are you OK with us being on their side?
FIORINA: Yeah. Sometimes it’s a complicated situation, but some things are black and white.
On day one in the Oval Office, I would make two phone calls. The first one would be to my good friend, Bibi Netanyahu, to reassure him we will stand with the State of Israel.
The second will be to the supreme leader of Iran. He might not take my phone call, but he would get the message, and the message is this: Until you open every nuclear and every military facility to full, open, anytime/anywhere, for real, inspections, we are going to make it as difficult as possible for you to move money around the global financial system.
FIORINA: I hope Congress says no to this deal. But realistically, even if they do, the money is flowing.
China and Russia have never been on our side of the table. The Europeans have moved on. We have to stop the money flow. And by the way, as important as those two phone calls are, they are also very important because they say this. America is back in the leadership business. And when America does not lead, the world is a dangerous and a tragic place.
This is a bad deal. Obama broke every rule of negotiation. Yes, our allies are not perfect. But Iran is at the heart of most of the evil that is going on in the Middle East through their proxies.
MACCALLUM: Very, very briefly, would you help our allies in that region to get nuclear weapons if Iran has them?
FIORINA: Let me tell you what I would do immediately, day two in the Oval Office. I would hold a Camp David summit with our Arab allies, not to talk them into this lousy deal with Iran, but to say to them, “what is it that you need to defeat ISIL?”
You know, Obama has presented the American people with a false choice every time. It’s what I’ve done or not done, or it’s war. It is a false choice.
King Abdullah of Jordan, a man I’ve known for a long time, has been asking for bombs and materiel. We have not provided them. He has gone to China.
The Kurds have been asking us to arm them for three years. We haven’t done so.
The Egyptians have asked us to share intelligence. We’re not doing it. We have Arab allies.
They are not perfect. I know every one. But they need to see leadership, support and resolve from the United States of America, and we can help them defeat ISIS.
HEMMER: Next question on the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s been 42 years, Senator Santorum, since Roe v. Wade, and many consider, in this country, to be a case of settled law.
Recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage. Is that now settled law in America today? SANTORUM: It is not any more than Dred Scott was settled law to Abraham Lincoln, who, in his first inaugural address, said “it won’t stand.” And they went ahead and passed laws in direct contravention to a rogue Supreme Court.
This is a rogue Supreme Court decision, just like Justice Roberts said. There is no constitutional basis for the Supreme Court’s decision, and I know something about this.
The — one of the times the Supreme Court spoke that I thought they were acting outside of their authority was in a partial-birth abortion case. You know, these Planned Parenthood tapes, what they’re showing are partial-birth abortions.
Abortions being done where the baby’s being delivered first, to preserve those organs, and then they crush the skull. Well, the Supreme Court found a bill that I was the author of unconstitutional.
What did I do? I didn’t stop. I didn’t say “oh, well we lost. It’s the law of the land.” We worked together. The House and Senate, under my leadership, and we passed a bill, and we said, “Supreme Court, you’re wrong.”
We’re a coequal branch of the government. We have every right to be able to stand up and say what is constitutional. We passed a bill, bipartisan support, and the Supreme Court, they — they sided with us.
Sometimes it just takes someone to lead and stand up to the court.
HEMMER: Alright, Senator, thank you.
To Governor Gilmore. For years, presidential candidates have not said they would have a litmus test for justices nominated to the Supreme Court.
Recently, Hillary Clinton broke that precedent. She said she would apply that on the case of Citizens United, which deals with campaign finance laws in America today.
Is it time for conservatives to impose a litmus test on abortion?
GILMORE: Well, as you know, I’m a former elected prosecutor, a former elected attorney general, trained at the University of Virginia in constitutional law, and I don’t believe in litmus tests except this.
I believe we should be appointing Supreme Court justices who will follow the law and not try to make the law. Now, the challenge we’re seeing today is that the Supreme Court is being converted into some type of political body.
They have to have some legal basis and precedence for being able to follow the law instead of making the law up, and my goal is — in appointing Supreme Court justices, would be to point — to appoint justices who would follow the law. Bill, I want to say one more thing about…
HEMMER: So, no litmus test?
GILMORE: Not — not on that, no. But let me say one more thing. I want to — before my time runs out I want to get back to this issue of ISIS versus Iran. It is Iran that’s the expansionist power. ISIL is trying to create themselves into a new state.
Our job has to be to recognize the conflict between the two. I have proposed there be a Middle East NATO so that we can combine our allies there to stand up to Iranian expansion, and at the same time join together to begin to stop and this ISIL thing before it becomes an actual state.
HEMMER: Thank you, governor.
MACCALLUM: All right. With that, we are going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back with much more from Cleveland. Stay with us.
HEMMER: As the first debate of the nomination season continues, welcome back to Cleveland. Let’s get back to the questions right now, and the issues here in the U.S.
MACCALLUM: We want to get back to Planned Parenthood. And this question goes to Governor Pataki.
Governor Pataki, you’re the only pro-choice candidate running. A Republican holding that position has not won a single primary in 35 years. With the recent Planned Parenthood videos that we have all seen, shedding new light on abortion practices, I know that you have said that you would defund Planned Parenthood.
MACCALLUM: But has this story changed your heart when it comes to abortion?
PATAKI: My heart has not changed, because I’ve always been appalled by abortion. I’m a Catholic, I believe life begins at conception. But as Bill said earlier, Roe v. Wade, it’s has been the law for 42 years, and I don’t think we should continue to try to change it.
But we can do is defund Planned Parenthood, and by the way, put in place an absolute permanent ban on any taxpayer dollars ever being used to fund abortions. Also, when you look at these videos, they are horrific and show just a hideous disrespect for life. What else we can do is that we should believe in science.
PATAKI: You know, Hillary Clinton’s always saying how Republicans don’t follow science? Well, they’re the ones not listening to the scientists today, because doctors say that at 20 weeks that is a viable life inside the womb. And at that point, it’s a life that we have the right to protect, and I think we should protect.
So, I would pass legislation outlawing abortion after 20 weeks. It is Hillary, it is Biden, it is the others who insist on allowing abortion well into viable (inaudible) wrong, and that should be stopped.
MACCALLUM: All right.
On the same topic, let’s go to Governor Jindal.
Carly Fiorina, also on the stage, said that she would go so far as to shut down the government over the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood. Would you do that? Would you be willing to shut down the government when it comes to defunding this group?
JINDAL: Well, a couple of things. Planned Parenthood had better hope that Hillary Clinton wins this election, because I guarantee under President Jindal, January 2017, the Department of Justice and the IRS and everybody else that we can send from the federal government will be going in to Planned Parenthood.
This is absolutely disgusting, and revolts the conscience of the nation. Absolutely, we need to defund Planned Parenthood. In my own state, for example, we launched an investigation, asked the FBI to cooperate. We just, earlier this week, kicked them out of Medicaid in Louisiana as well, canceled their provider contract. They don’t provide any abortions in Louisiana.
But in terms of shutting down the government, I don’t think President Obama should choose to shut down the government simply to send taxpayer dollars to this group that has been caught, I believe, breaking the law, but also offending our values and our ethics.
It is time for Republicans in D.C. to fight. Too often, they give up, they negotiate with themselves. They said they would get rid of the unconstitutional amnesty. They didn’t do that. They said they would repeal Obamacare if we gave them the majority. They didn’t do that either. They said they’d shrink and balance the budget. They haven’t done that. Absolutely, they should fight to fund — defund Planned Parenthood, and I don’t think the president should shut down the government simply to send our taxpayer dollars to this group.
MACCALLUM: All right.
Lindsey Graham, this conversation will no doubt go to the war on women, and that cutting funding to this group could be a very broad brush against all of you or anybody who will hold this nomination as being against women’s health, against these organizations that people will say provide positive things for many women.
GRAHAM: I don’t think it’s a war on women for all of us as Americans to stand up and stop harvesting organs from little babies. Let’s take the money that we would give to Planned Parenthood and put it in women’s health care without having to harvest the organs of the unborn. The only way we’re going to defund Planned Parenthood is have a pro-life president.
You want to see a war on women? Come with me to Iraq and Afghanistan, folks. I’ve been there 35 times. I will show you what they do to women. These mythical Arab armies that my friends talk about that are going to protect us don’t exist. If I am president of the United States, we’re going to send soldiers back to Iraq, back to Syria, to keep us from being attacked here and keep soldiers in Afghanistan because we must.
I cannot tell you how much our nation is threatened and how we need a commander in chief who understands the threats to this nation.
If you’re running for president of the United States and you do not understand that we cannot defend this nation without more of our soldiers over there, you are not ready for this job.
HEMMER: Thank you, Senator.
Executive power. It appears that you all have a little bit of an issue with it at the moment. I want to move through this as quickly as I can, from stage left to stage right.
On the second day of his presidency, January 22nd 2009, President Obama signed one of his first executive orders. That was close Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Still open today. What would be your first executive order?
Governor Gilmore, start.
GILMORE: Well, it’s not a matter of what the first executive order would be, Bill. The matter is what orders exist now that shouldn’t exist?
The president has done an executive order with respect to illegal immigration that is illegal. Illegal. And it creates a — a contempt for the law, for the rule of law. If i were the president of the United States, I would go and look at every executive order that exists right now and determine which ones want to be voided, because the president shouldn’t be legislating: not through that vehicle or any other. We should be relying upon the leadership of the Congress to pass the laws.
HEMMER: Senator Graham.
GRAHAM: Change the Mexico City policy, not take one dime of taxpayer money to fund abortion organizations overseas, and restore the NSA that’s been gutted. We’re going dark when it comes to detecting the next attack. We have gutted our ability to detect the next attack. And I would not stand for that as president of the United States. I would take the fight to these guys, whatever it took, as long as it took.
HEMMER: Governor Jindal, your first executive order would be in the White House would be what?
JINDAL: To repeal these unconstitutional illegal orders, whether it’s amnesty or whether it’s this president going around the Congress, whether it’s in Obamacare, to restore the rule of law. I’d also go after these sanctuary cities, do everything we can to make sure that we are not — that we are actually prosecuting and cutting off funding for cities that are harboring illegal aliens, and then finally making sure the IRS is not going after conservative or religious groups.
I would sign an executive order protecting religious liberty, our first amendment rights, so Christian business owners and individuals don’t face discrimination for having a traditional view of marriage.
HEMMER: Governor Perry.
PERRY: It’ll be a pretty busy day, but that Iran negotiation is going to be torn up on day one. We’re going to start the process of securing that border. I’m also going to take a bottle of White-Out with me to get started on all those executive orders that Mr. Obama has put his name to.
HEMMER: That will be a long day.
PERRY: It will be a long day.
HEMMER: Senator Santorum?
SANTORUM: Just ditto to that.
We’re going to suspend — I’ve — I’ve said this for four years. We’re going to suspend and repeal every executive order, every regulation that cost American jobs and is — is — is impacting our freedom.
And second, the First Amendment Defense Act, which is protecting religious liberty, if it’s not passed by then, which I suspect it won’t, because the president will veto it, I will institute an executive order to make sure that people of faith are not being — not being harassed and persecuted by the federal government for standing up for the religious beliefs.
HEMMER: First order, Carly Fiorina?
FIORINA: I agree with my colleagues. We need to begin by undoing — I would begin by undoing a whole set of things that President Obama has done, whether it’s illegal amnesty or this latest round of EPA regulations. But let me go back to something that’s very important. We have been debating right here the core difference between conservatism and progressivism.
Conservatives, I am a conservative because I believe no one of us is any better than any other one of us. Every one of us is gifted by God, whether it is those poor babies being picked over or it’s someone whose life is tangled up in a web of dependence.
Progressives don’t believe that. They believe some are smarter than others, some are better than others, so some are going to need to take care of others.
That is the fight we have to have, and we have to undo a whole set of things that President Obama has done that get at the heart of his disrespect and disregard for too many Americans.
HEMMER: Governor Pataki?
PATAKI: Bill, I defeated Mario Cuomo. In the first day in office, my first executive order, I revoked every one of the executive orders that he had — he had enacted over the prior 12 years. I would do that to Barack Obama’s executive orders.
But I’d sign a second one, as I did in New York, as well, having a hard hiring freeze on adding new employees except for the military or defense-related positions. I’d sign that executive order.
When I left the workforce, New York State had been reduced by over 15 percent. We can do that in Washington. I will do that in Washington.
HEMMER: Thank you all.
MCCALLUM: Moving on to the next question, President Obama promised hope and change for the country, yet 60 percent of Americans are not satisfied with the shape that the country is in right now. Many think that America has lost its “can do” spirit and that it’s not the nation that it once was.
Ronald Reagan was confronted with a similar atmosphere, and he said that it could be morning in America again. JFK said it was a new frontier. FDR said that we had nothing to fear but fear itself.
On this level, Carly Fiorina, can you inspire this nation?
FIORINA: This is a great nation. It is a unique nation in all of human history and on the face of the planet, because here, our founders believed that everyone has a right to fulfill their potential and that that right –they called it life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness — comes from God and cannot be taken away by government.
We have arrived at a point in our nation’s history where the potential of this nation and too many Americans is being crushed by the weight, the power, the cost, the complexity, the ineptitude, the corruption of the federal government, and only someone who will challenge the status quo of Washington, D.C. can lead the resurgence of this great nation.
I will do that.
MCCALLUM: We’re talking about tapping into historic levels of leadership and lifting the nation in this kind of way that we’re discussing.
So Senator Santorum, how would you do it?
SANTORUM: I came to Washington, D.C. in 1990. That sounds like a long time ago. It was. It was 25 years ago, and I came by defeating the Democratic incumbent. I came as a reformer.
I started the Gang of Seven, and it led to the overtaking of the 40-year Democratic rule of Congress, because I didn’t — I stood up to the old-boy network in Washington, D.C. because I believed that Washington was not the solution, that Washington was the problem, just like Ronald Reagan said. I was a child of Ronald Reagan.
And I went there, and for 16 years, I fought the insiders and was able to get things done. That’s the difference. We need to elect someone who will stand with the American people, who understands its greatness, who understands what an open economy and freedom is all about, but at the same time, has a record of being able to get things done in Washington like we’ve never seen before.
Reforms, everything from moral and cultural issues to economic issues. Those of you health savings accounts. Health savings accounts are something that we introduced. It’s a private-sector solution that believes in freedom, not Obamacare that believes in government control.
SANTORUM: Those are the things we brought, and we were able to get things done. If you want someone who’s not going to divide Washington, but gets things done, then you should make me your president.
HEMMER: Thank you, senator.
MACCALLUM: (inaudible) Lindsey Graham?
GRAHAM: Thank you.
First thing I’d tell the American people, whatever it takes to defend our nation, I would do.
To the 1 percent who have been fighting this war for over a decade, I’d try my best to be a commander-in-chief worthy of your sacrifice.
We’re going to lose Social Security and Medicare if Republicans and Democrats do not come together and find a solution like Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill. I will be the Ronald Reagan if I can find a Tip O’Neill.
When I was 21, my mom died. When I was 22, my dad died. We owned a liquor store, restaurant, bar and we lived in the back. Every penny we needed from — every penny we got from Social Security, because my sister was a minor, we needed. Today, I’m 60, I’m not married, I don’t have any kids. I would give up some Social Security to save a system that Americans are going to depend on now and in the future.
Half of American seniors would be in poverty without a Social Security check. If you make your president, I’m going to put the country ahead of the party. I’m going to do what it takes to defend this nation. This nation has been great to me, and that’s the only way I know to pay you back.
MACCALLUM: Thank you.
HEMMER: Thank you, Senator. I need a two-word answer to the following query. In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama described Hillary Clinton as, quote, “likable enough,” end quote. What two words would you use to describe the Democratic frontrunner? Governor Pataki to start.
PATAKI: Divisive and with no vision. No vision at all. HEMMER: Wow. Carly Fiorina.
FIORINA: Not trustworthy. No accomplishment.
UNKNOWN: Secretive and untrustworthy.
PERRY: Well, let’s go with three. Good at email.
HEMMER: Governor Jindal?
JINDAL: Socialist and government dependent.
GRAHAM: Not the change we need at a time we need it.
GILMORE: Professional politician that can’t be trusted.
HEMMER: Not a lot of compliments. To be continued.
MACCALLUM: So every candidate will have the opportunity to make a closing statement tonight. Each candidate will have 30 second for that. And we start with Governor Perry.
PERRY: Well, this is going to be a show me, don’t tell me election. I think America is just a few good decisions and a leadership change at the top away from the best years we’ve ever had. And I think that the record of the governor of the last 14 years of the 12th largest economy in the world is just the medicine America is looking for.
1.5 million jobs created during the worst economic time this country has had since the Great Depression while the rest of the country lost 400,000 jobs. We’re talking about a state that moved graduation rates forward from 27th in the nation to second-highest. As a matter of fact, if you’re Hispanic or African-American in Texas, you have the number one high school graduation rates in America.
Americans are looking for somebody that’s going to give them, and there is a place in this country over the last eight years in particular that talked about hope every day, and they didn’t just talk about it, they delivered it. And that was the state of Texas. And if we can do that in Texas, that 12th largest economy in the world, we can do it in America.
Our best days are in front of us. We can reform those entitlements, we can change that corporate tax code and lower it. We can put America back on track on a growth level and a growth rate that we’ve never seen in the history of this country. Manufacturing will flow back into this country. It just needs a corporate executive type at the top that’s done it before. And I will suggest to you nobody’s done it like Rick Perry has done it over the last eight years. And if you elect me president, we will bring incredible growth back to this country. And as someone who’s worn the uniform of the country, that’s how we build our military back up.
HEMMER: Thank you Governor. Senator Santorum?
SANTORUM: I’ll tell you how optimistic I am about America. Karen and I have seven children. You don’t have seven children and bring them into this world if you’re not optimistic about the future of this country.
I am, but people are upset, and they’re upset for a reason about the future of this country. Donald Trump actually seized on it when he talked about immigration. And I think the reason he did is because immigration is sort of an example of what’s broken and what’s wrong in Washington, D..C.
You see, you have one side, the Democrats, and with immigration, all they care about is votes. They don’t care about American workers, they just care about bringing as many people in so they can get as many votes as they can. ON the other side, you have so many Republicans, and what do they care about? Helping business make profits. There’s nobody out there looking out for the American worker.
I’m looking out for the American worker. I’m the only one on this stage who has a plan that’s actually reduced — actually going to reduce immigration. Actually going to do something to help the American worker. And you combine that with a plan to make manufacturing — this country number one in manufacturing, you’ve got someone who’s going to help revitalize and give hope to America, the place — the place is that is the most hopeless today.
That’s why I ask for your support for president.
HEMMER: All right. Senator thank you.
MACCALLUM: Governor Jindal?
JINDAL: You know, we’ve got a lot of great talkers running for president. We’ve already got a great talker in the White House. We cannot afford four more years of on the job training. We need a doer, not a talker. We also need a nominee, a candidate who will endorse our own principles.
Jeb Bush says we’ve got to be willing to lose the primary in order to win the general. Let me translate that for you. That’s the establishment telling us to hide our conservative principles to get the left and the media to like us. That never works. If we do that again, we will lose again, we will deserve to lose again.
One principle, for example, we’ve got to embrace is on immigration. We must insist on assimilation — immigration without assimilation is an invasion. We need to tell folks who want to come here, they need to come here legally. They need to learn English, adopt our values, roll up their sleeves and get to work.
I’m tired of the hyphenated Americans and the division. I’ve got the backbone, I’ve got the band width, I’ve got the experience to get us through this. I’m asking folks not just to join my campaign, but join a cause. It is time to believe in America again. MACCALLUM: Thank you, Governor.
HEMMER: Carly Fiorina, closing statement.
FIORINA: Hillary Clinton lies about Benghazi, she lies about e- mails. She is still defending Planned Parenthood, and she is still her party’s frontrunner. 2016 is going to be a fight between conservatism, and a Democrat party that is undermining the very character of this nation. We need a nominee who is going to throw every punch, not pull punches, and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets into the ring.
I am not a member of the political class. I am a conservative; I can win this job, I can do this job, I need your help, I need your support. I will, with your help and support, lead the resurgence of this great nation.
HEMMER: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Senator Graham.
GRAHAM: We need somebody ready to be commander-in-chief on day one, who understands there are no moderates in Iran, they’ve been killed a long time ago. That the Ayatollah is a radical jihadist who really means it when he chants, “Death to America, death to Israel.” And this deal is giving him a pathway to a bomb, a missile to deliver it, and money to pay for it all.
We need a president who can solve our problems, bring us together. We’re becoming Greece if we don’t work together. At the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, our best days are ahead of us only if we work together, and I intend to put this country on a path of success by working together and doing the hard things that should have been done a very long time ago.
HEMMER: And to Governor Pataki, closing statement now.
PATAKI: With all the candidates, why me?
My background is different. I look at Washington, and I hear the talk, and I see the promises and it seems nothing ever changes. Washington gets bigger, taxes get higher, and the American people feel more distance from our government. I have the opportunity not just to run, but to win in the deep blue state of New York three times. And not only did I win, but I then worked with a Democratic legislature to put in place the most sweeping conservative reforms of any state in America, taking us from the most dangerous state in America to the fourth safest; reducing our welfare rolls by over 1 million, and replacing over 700,000 private sector jobs.
I can govern by bringing people together. And also, I’ve been tested in a way no one else has. I was governor on September 11th, and I’m proud of my leadership in bringing New York through that time. And when I left, we were stronger, we were safer, and we were more united than at any time in my lifetime.
We need to bring people together in Washington. The talk has got to stop, the action has got to begin. People can promise you something, I delivered in the blue state of New York. I will deliver for the American people if I have the privilege of leading this country.
HEMMER: Thank you, Governor.
MACCALLUM: Governor Gilmore.
GILMORE: Well, I was a conservative governor of Virginia, I governed that way, and that’s my track record. But the key thing that we’re seeing now is serious challenges to this country that must change, the direction of this nation must change. And that’s why I’ve offered a specific program to the people of America tonight to address the fundamental problem of getting our country growing again, getting our economy growing, wages up, opportunities for people.
And second, the international crisis we are facing is most dreadful and most dangerous. I have the experience as a prosecutor, attorney general, governor, United States Army intelligence veteran, governor during the 9/11 attack, chairman of the Terrorism Commission for this country. It’s time for real substance and real experience.
And that’s what I’ll offer to the people of the United States in this candidacy for the presidency.
MACCALLUM: Thank you, Governor.
HEMMER: That concludes the first debate of the 2016 Republican primary. We would like to thank all seven of you for being here today.