BROOKLYN, N.Y.--Republican 2008 contenders CNN/YouTube two-hour debate Thursday in Florida.
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CNN/YouTube Republican Presidential Candidate Debate
November 28, 2007
Click on the following link for access to live updated debate photos: http://imageselectftp.turner.com/ImageGallery.aspx?name=fc6613bc-6e6c-4552-b65a-cba8086d055e
GREER: Welcome to tonight's presidential debate, co-sponsored by
the Republican Party of Florida. It is my pleasure tonight to
introduce the man who has brought new ideas to state government, and
whose leadership has been embraced by the voters of Florida, and who
has become the nation's most popular governor.
Ladies and gentlemen, Governor Charlie Crist.
CRIST: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
And welcome to the Sunshine State. It's great to have this debate in
Florida, in my home town of St. Petersburg.
It's an important evening. We're going to hear from some great
candidates, great Republicans. And we should have fun with it. The
questions come from the people, as Anderson said. This is truly the
But it's also important to understand what we're talking about:
the future of America; about integrity; about honor; about duty; and
about loyalty. That's what America always has stood for and always
So let's meet some of these great candidates.
First, Congressman Duncan Hunter.
Congressman Ron Paul.
CRIST: Senator John McCain.
Senator Fred Thompson.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Governor Mitt Romney.
Governor Mike Huckabee.
CRIST: And Congressman Tom Tancredo.
COOPER: OK, John King is standing by, as well as Gloria Borger.
Gloria, a lot of elbows being thrown on the campaign trail the
last couple of days. What are you expecting tonight?
BORGER: Well, I think tonight you might see a lot of elbows
being thrown at Mitt Romney. He's really the guy to beat out there.
He's been ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire. He's looking in his
rearview mirror now. He sees Mike Huckabee moving up on him in Iowa,
and every other candidate has a shot in New Hampshire, so he's the
COOPER: John King, this Rasmussen poll shows Mike Huckabee right
now in the lead in Iowa.
KING: He is moving up in Iowa, Anderson. And that is part of
the debate, about which Republican Party -- what will the Republican
Party look like when it picks its new leader?
Mike Huckabee is someone who is running on the anti-abortion
agenda, as are so many of the other candidates tonight. But the
national frontrunner is Rudy Giuliani, who favors abortion rights.
Not since Ronald Reagan won in 1980 has the Republican Party even
brokered the notion of having a nominee who supported abortion rights.
You also have a Republican president at this moment and one of
the candidates on stage, Senator McCain, who were behind that big so-
called comprehensive immigration reform that would give legal status
to 12 million or more illegal immigrants in the United States. Well,
now opposition to that legislation is one of the defining debates in
the Republican Party.
KING: So, from a personality standpoint and a substantive
standpoint, this is a fascinating time as the Republican Party decides
who its leader will be and what its agenda will be after George W.
Bush passes from the stage, Anderson.
COOPER: Gloria, the clock is ticking toward Iowa.
BORGER: Absolutely. And they know that right now, starting with
this debate, they've really got to define themselves, differentiate
themselves, because the voters in Iowa still pretty much are
undecided. So, it's anyone's game right now.
The holidays are coming up. And this is one opportunity for each
of these candidates to tell the voters who he is and why he's
different from the other guy.
COOPER: We are just watching the traveling press pool leave the
auditorium. We'll get started in just a moment.
Welcome, candidates. Good to have you all on the stage. Thanks
for being here.
Now, as there was last time with the Democratic candidates,
there's been some concern among the campaigns about what kind of
questions are going to be asked tonight.
COOPER: And with 5,000 questions to choose from, we certainly
had a lot of options.
Take a look.
COOPER (voice over): Many groups tried to organize submissions.
Will Dick Armey's question be seen tonight?
DICK ARMEY: I will put that together as a YouTube...
SNOWMAN CARTOON CHARACTER: And this is a question for Mitt
COOPER: How about the much maligned snowman? Will he rear his
frozen head here in sunny Saint Pete?
UFO CARTOON CHARACTER: So he wants to know what you would do
about me and other kids like me -- the unwitting children of illegal
-- well, you know.
COOPER: Dennis Kucinich may have seen a UFO, but we'll have no
little green men here in Florida.
ACTOR AS "THE GHOST OF RICHARD NIXON": I am the ghost of Richard
We won't be seeing Richard Nixon, or little kids used to make
Though, there is one question where kids may make an appearance.
And don't worry, we tried to keep out of most of the Abe Lincolns and
Ben Franklins, and all the animals, both stuffed...
SPARKY: My name is Sparky.
COOPER: ... and real.
SCHMOOPSY: Schmoopsy here with a question for the Republican
COOPER: Sadly, Schmoopsy will not be heard from tonight.
The candidates will have 90 seconds to answer the YouTube
questions, the questions that are asked direct to them, 30 seconds for
any follow-up questions that I may ask.
COOPER: There are no lights, no bells, no buzzers, no electric
shocks. We prefer the honor system here. We'll warn the candidates
when they need to wrap things up.
We also will insist that candidates stay on the question that was
being asked and not stray off to an earlier or another topic.
Americans put a lot of time into submitting these questions. We think
they deserve direct answers.
Finally, tonight we are not in the business of discouraging
applause from our audience here, or passion, but please, if it gets
out of control, we will ask the crowd here to keep it down just a
All right, let's begin.
The governor introduced the candidates.
ANDERSON: He did a very good job of it, but one Republican
wanted to do that also, and he does it in a way that reminds us this
is definitely a new kind of a debate.
Here is Chris Nandor from Snohomish, Washington.
CHRIS NANDOR (SINGING): The grand old party's looking for
somebody who can lead, someone who is electable and adheres to our
Some say the group is not diverse; they're white, they're men,
but wait. The Dems have just one candidate, Republicans have eight.
Rudy's leading all the polls, but can he win the base?
Mitt changed on abortion; history he can't erase.
Ron Paul would end the FDA and that is just a start.
Fred has just begun to run, but sure does look the part.
Hunter tells us what to do in foreign policy debates.
Huckabee's compassionate and lost a lot of weight.
Tancredo says let's build a fence across the whole Southwest.
McCain is loved by many and hated by the rest.
We don't know who we're voting for; we don't know who will win.
That's why we use YouTube to ask our questions of these men.
Time is short, we're voting soon, and I just thought I'd mention.
If we don't reach consensus, then we'll decide at convention.
ANDERSON: All right, enough of the singing, enough of the
snowmen. Let's begin the debate.
From one tough-talking New Yorker, a question to another tough-
talking New Yorker.
ERNIE NARDI: This is Ernie Nardi from Dyker Heights in Brooklyn,
New York, with a question for the ex-Mayor Giuliani.
Under your administration, as well as others, New York City was
operated as a sanctuary city, aiding and abetting illegal aliens.
NARDI: I would like to know, if you become president of the
United States, will you continue to aid and abet the flight of illegal
aliens into this country?
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?
GIULIANI: Ernie, that was a very good question. And the reality
is that New York City was not a sanctuary city. (OFF-MIKE) single
illegal immigrant that New York City could find that either committed
a crime or was suspected of a crime. That was in the executive order
originally done by Ed Koch, continued by David Dinkins and then done
The reason for the confusion is, there were three areas in which
New York City made an exception. New York City allowed the children
of illegal immigrants to go to school. If we didn't allow the
children of illegal immigrants to go to school, we would have had
70,000 children on the streets at a time in which New York City was
going through a massive crime wave, averaging 2,000 murders a year,
10,000 felonies a week.
The other two exceptions related to care -- emergency care in the
hospital and being able to report crimes. If we didn't allow illegals
to report crimes, a lot of criminals would have gone free because
they're the ones who had the information.
GIULIANI: But, most important point is, we reported thousands
and thousands and thousands of names of illegal immigrants who
committed crimes to the immigration service. They did not deport
them. And what we did, the policies that we had, were necessary
because the federal policies weren't working.
The federal policies weren't working, stopping people coming into
the United States. If I were president of the United States, I could
do something about that by deploying a fence, by deploying a virtual
fence, by having a BorderStat system like my COMSTAT system that
brought down crime in New York, and just stopping people from coming
in, and then having a tamper-proof ID card.
Governor Romney, was New York a sanctuary city?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. It called itself a sanctuary city. And as
a matter of fact, when the welfare reform act that President Clinton
brought forward said that they were going to end the sanctuary policy
of New York City, the mayor actually brought a suit to maintain its
sanctuary city status.
ROMNEY: And the idea that they reported any illegal alien that
committed a crime -- how about the fact that the people who are here
illegally have violated the law? They didn't report everybody they
found that was here illegally.
And this happens to be a difference between Mayor Giuliani and
myself and probably others on this stage as well, which is we're going
to have to recognize in this country that we welcome people here
But the mayor said -- and I quote almost verbatim -- which is if
you happen to be in this country in an undocumented status -- and that
means you're here illegally -- then we welcome you here. We want you
here. We'll protect you here.
That's the wrong attitude. Instead, we should say if you're here
illegally, you should not be here. We're not going to give you
benefits, other than those required by the law, like health care and
education, and that's the course we're going to have to pursue.
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?
GIULIANI: It's unfortunate, but Mitt generally criticizes people
in a situation in which he's had far the -- worst record.
For example, in his case, there were six sanctuary cities. He
did nothing about them.
GIULIANI: There was even a sanctuary mansion. At his own home,
illegal immigrants were being employed...
... not being turned into anybody or by anyone. And then when he
deputized the police, he did it two weeks before he was going to leave
office, and they never even seemed to catch the illegal immigrants
that were working at his mansion. So I would say he had sanctuary
mansion, not just sanctuary city.
COOPER: All right. I have to allow Governor Romney to
ROMNEY: Mayor, you know better than that.
ROMNEY: OK, then listen. All right? Then listen. First of
GIULIANI: You did have illegal immigrants working at your
mansion, didn't you?
ROMNEY: No, I did not, so let's just talk about that. Are you
suggesting, Mr. Mayor -- because I think it is really kind of
offensive actually to suggest, to say look, you know what, if you are
a homeowner and you hire a company to come provide a service at your
home -- paint the home, put on the roof. If you hear someone that is
working out there, not that you have employed, but that the company
ROMNEY: If you hear someone with a funny accent, you, as a
homeowner, are supposed to go out there and say, "I want to see your
Is that what you're suggesting?
GIULIANI: What I'm suggesting is, if you...
GIULIANI: If you're going to take this holier than thou
attitude, that your whole approach to immigration...
ROMNEY: I'm sorry, immigration is not holier than thou, Mayor.
It's the law.
GIULIANI: If you're going to take this holier than thou attitude
that you are perfect on immigration...
ROMNEY: I'm not perfect.
GIULIANI: ... it just happens you have a special immigration
problem that nobody else up here has. You were employing illegal
immigrants. That is a pretty serious thing. They were under your
ROMNEY: I ask the mayor again. Are you suggesting, Mayor, that
if you have a company that you hired who provide a service, that you
now are responsible for going out and checking the employees of that
company, particularly those that might look different or don't have an
accent like yours, and ask for their papers -- I don't think that's
American, number one.
COOPER: We got to move on.
ROMNEY: Let me tell you what I did as governor. I said no to
driver's licenses for illegals.
I said, number two, we're going to make sure that those that come
here don't get a tuition break in our schools, which I disagree with
other folks on that one.
Number three, I applied to have our state police enforce the
immigration laws in May, seven months before I was out of office.
ROMNEY: It took the federal government a long time to get the
approvals and we enforced the law. And Massachusetts is not a
sanctuary state, and the policies of the mayor of pursuing a sanctuary
nation or pursuing a sanctuary city...
COOPER: We've got a number...
ROMNEY: ... are, frankly, wrong.
COOPER: We've got a number of questions from our viewers on this
topic, so we have a lot more to talk about on this. You will have
another chance to respond.
GIULIANI: And it's really hard -- it's really hard to have
COOPER: All right. Let's play this next video from the same
MICHAEL WEITZ: Good evening. There are thousands of people in
Canada and Mexico waiting to come to America legally. They want to
become American citizens. They want to be part of the American dream.
Yet, there are those in the Senate that want to grant amnesty for
those that come here illegally.
Will you pledge tonight, if elected president, to veto
any immigration bill that involves amnesty for those that have come
COOPER: Senator Thompson?
THOMPSON: Yes, I pledge that. A nation that cannot and will not
defend its own borders will not forever remain a sovereign nation.
And it's unfair...
We have -- we have thousands of people standing in line at
embassies around the world to become United States American citizens,
to come here to get a green card, to come here and to assimilate and
be a part of our culture. They are part of what has made our country
great. Some of our better citizens. We all know them and love them.
Now, it's our country together -- their's and ours, now together.
It's our home. And we now get to decide who comes into our home.
And to place somebody above them or in front of them in line is
the wrong thing to do.
THOMPSON: We've got to strengthen the border. We've got to
enforce the border. We've got to punish employers -- employers who
will not obey the law. And we've got to eliminate sanctuary cities
and say to sanctuary cities, if you continue this, we're going to cut
off federal funding for you, you're not going to do it with federal
Now, there are parts of what both of these gentlemen have just
said that I would like to associate myself with.
First of all, of course, Governor Romney supported the Bush
immigration plan until a short time ago. Now he's taken another
As far as Mayor Giuliani is concerned, I am a little surprised
the mayor says, you know, everybody's responsible for everybody that
they hire, but we'll have to address that a little bit further later.
I think we've all had people probably that we have hired that in
retrospect probably is a bad decision.
THOMPSON: He did have a sanctuary city. In 1996, I helped pass
a bill outlawing sanctuary cities. The mayor went to court to
overturn it. So, if it wasn't a sanctuary city, I'd call that a
COOPER: All right, because this was a direct...
COOPER: Because this was a direct mention of Mayor Giuliani, we
have to allow you to respond. Thirty seconds, please.
GIULIANI: New York City was not a sanctuary city. New York City
did three exceptions. The three exceptions were to allow children to
go to school, to allow those illegal immigrants who were the victims
of crime to report the person who assaulted them, beat them up, mugged
GIULIANI: And third, to allow emergency care in the hospitals,
which we were required to do by federal law. We had a policy of
reporting every single illegal immigrant other than those three who
commit any kind of crime or were suspected of crime, and we reported
thousands of them to immigration service. Few of them were deported.
COOPER: Senator McCain, let me bring you back to the question
that was asked by the YouTube user. Would you willing to veto any
immigration bill that involved amnesty for those who have come here
MCCAIN: Yes, of course, and we never proposed amnesty. But you
know, this whole debate...
COOPER: Come on, please. Let him answer.
MCCAIN: You know, this whole debate saddens me a little bit
because we do have a serious situation in America. In 1986, we passed
a law that said we would enforce our borders, and gave amnesty to a
couple of million people. We gave the amnesty. Now we have 12
million people and still borders that are not enforced.
MCCAIN: I came to the Senate not to do the easy things, but to
do the hard things. Mel Martinez and I knew this was going to be a
tough issue, but we thought the status quo was unacceptable: broken
borders; 12 million people here illegally; a need for a temporary
worker program, certainly in my state in the agricultural section,
certainly in this state of Florida.
And we tried to get something done. We said we'd enforce the
borders. The American people didn't believe us. They don't believe
us because of our failure in Katrina, our failure in Iraq, our
failures in reining in corruption and out of control spending.
So we tried and we failed. And I appreciate the president's
efforts. He comes from a border state too. And what we've learned is
that the American people want the borders enforced. We must enforce
the -- secure the borders first.
But then you've still got two other aspects of this issue that
have to be resolved as well. And we need to sit down as Americans and
recognize these are God's children as well.
And they need some protection under the law. And they need some
of our love and compassion.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
MCCAIN: And I want to assure you that I'll enforce the borders
first, that as president of the United States, we'll solve this
immigration problem. And we won't demagogue it. And we won't have
MCCAIN: And we won't have all this other rhetoric that
unfortunately contributes nothing to the national dialogue.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
Michael Weitz who actually asked that question is here in the
Michael, do you feel you got an answer?
WEITZ: Am I happy with the answer?
WEITZ: One yes, one no and one sort of.
COOPER: All right.
Well, let's -- Congressman Tancredo?
Well, I tell you, this has been wonderful. Senator McCain may
not be happy with the spirit of this debate. For a guy who usually
stands on the bookend here, aside, and just listens all the time,
that's kind of frustrating, you know, in other debates. I have to
tell you, so far, it's been wonderful.
Because all I've heard is people trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo.
TANCREDO: It is great. I am so happy to hear it. It is a
wonderful thing. It's a good message, yes. We want to secure the
COOPER: Our next question is actually directly to you, so let's
bring it up.
TANCREDO: Let me go ahead and answer that next question.
JACK BROOKS: Hammered by competition with imports, our family-
owned business struggles each year to find seasonal workers. We've
been working with a seasonal guest-worker program, the H2B program,
bringing in and sending home workers every year.
But with Congress failing to enact a comprehensive immigration
and guest worker bill, I want to know whether I'll have a job next
year. What are you going to do to keep these guest workers coming to
the U.S. to save our business?
COOPER: Congressman Tancredo?
TANCREDO: OK, the gist of the question, as I understand it, is,
what I'm going to do stop guest workers from coming in here?
COOPER: No, no, to help. This small business needs guest
TANCREDO: I'm sorry. I could not hear that. I'm sorry. Well,
I'll tell you, I'm not going to aid any more immigration into this
country, because in fact, immigration...
... massive immigration into the country, massive immigration,
both legal and illegal, does a couple of things.
TANCREDO: One of it is, makes it difficult for us to assimilate.
The other thing is that it does take jobs.
I reject the idea -- I reject the idea, categorically, that there
are jobs that, quote, "No American will take." I reject it.
Now, what they will do...
... what you can say -- what you absolutely can say to these
people is that there are no -- there are some jobs Americans won't
take for what I can get any illegal immigrant to do that job for.
Yes, that's true.
But am I going to feel sorry if a business has to increase its
wages in order for somebody in this country to make a good living?
No, I don't feel sorry about that and I won't apologize for it for a
moment. And there are plenty of Americans who will do those jobs.
COOPER: Congressman Hunter?
HUNTER: Yes. Cooper, a great debate. It's nice to listen to
lots of statements about what the other candidates will do with
respect to the borders.
HUNTER: I built that border fence in San Diego and it does work.
You know, we built a double fence. We had the number one
smuggler's corridor in America with most of the illegal aliens and
most of the drugs that came into the entire country coming in through
that number one corridor between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego,
We built the double-border fence with a road in between, and we
reduced the smuggling of people and drugs by more than 90 percent.
And as a result of that, the crime rate...
... the crime rate in the city of San Diego went down by 53
percent by FBI statistic. And as a result of that, I wrote the law
that the president signed last October 26, incidentally, passed the
Senate 80-19, that mandates 854 miles of double-border fence across
Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Now, the administration has $800 million on hand right now, cash
on hand. They haven't built a linear inch of that fence in Texas.
HUNTER: As president of the United States, I would bill the
double-border fence, all 854 miles, in six months.
COOPER: Next question is...
HUNTER: That is my commitment.
COOPER: ...on immigration as well is going to go to Governor
ASHLEY: Governor Huckabee, while governor of Arkansas, you gave
a illegal aliens a discount for college in Arkansas by allow them to
pay lower in-state tuition rates. However, we have thousands of
military members currently serving our country in Iraq with children
at home. If these children chose to move to Arkansas to attend
college, they would have to pay three times the tuition rate that
illegal aliens pay.
Would you support a federal law which would require any state
that gives these tuition rates to illegal aliens to give the same
rates to the children of our military members?
COOPER: Governor Huckabee, you have 90 seconds.
HUCKABEE: Thank you very much.
Ashley, first of all, let me just express that you're a little
misinformed. We never passed a bill that gave special privileges to
the children of illegals to go to college.
Now, let me tell you what I did do. I supported the bill that
would've allowed those children who had been in our schools their
entire school life the opportunity to have the same scholarship that
their peers had, who had also gone to high school with them and sat in
the same classrooms.
They couldn't just move in in their senior year and go to
college. It wasn't about out of state tuition. It was an academic,
meritorious scholarship called the Academic Challenge Scholarship.
Now, let me tell you a couple of provisions of it. And, by the
way, it didn't pass. It passed the House but got in the Senate and
got caught up in the same kind of controversy that this country is
caught up in.
And here's what happened. This bill would've said that if you
came here, not because you made the choice but because your parents
did, that we're not going to punish a child because the parent
committed a crime.
HUCKABEE: That's not what we typically do in this country.
It said that if you'd sat in our schools from the time you're
five or six-years old and you had become an A-plus student, you'd
completed the core curriculum, you were an exceptional student, and
you also had to be drug and alcohol-free -- and the other provision,
you had to be applying for citizenship.
It accomplished two things that we knew we wanted to do, and that
is, number one, bring people from illegal status to legal status.
And the second thing, we wanted people to be taxpayers, not tax-
takers. And that's what that provision did.
And finally, would we give that provision to the children of
veterans, personally? What we've done with not just the children of
veterans, but most importantly, veterans is disgraceful in this
And that's why I proposed a veterans bill of rights that, if
anything, would give our veterans the most exceptional privileges of
all, because they are the ones who have earned all of our freedom --
every single one of them.
COOPER: Governor, you called Governor Huckabee a liberal on
ROMNEY: Well, you know, I like Mike. And I heard what he just
said. But he basically said that he fought for giving scholarships to
illegal aliens. And he had -- he had a great reason for doing so.
It reminds me of what it's like talking to liberals in
Massachusetts, all right? They have great reasons for taking taxpayer
money and using it for things they think are the right thing to do.
Mike, that's not your money. That's the taxpayers' money.
And the right thing here is to say to people that are here
legally as citizens or legal aliens, we're going to help you. But if
you're here illegally, then you ought to be able to return home or get
in line with everybody else. But illegals are not going to get
taxpayer-funded breaks that are better than our own citizens, those
that come from other states or those that come from your state.
COOPER: You have 30 seconds to respond.
HUCKABEE: Well, but they didn't get something better. They had
to earn it.
And, you know something, I worked my way through college. I
started work when I was 14 and I had to pay my own way through.
HUCKABEE: I know how hard it was to get that degree. I am
standing here tonight on this stage because I got an education. If I
hadn't had the education, I wouldn't be standing on this stage. I
might be picking lettuce. I might be a person who needed government
support, rather than who was giving so much money in taxes I want to
get rid of the tax code that we've got and make it really different.
HUCKABEE: Mitt, let me finish. Let me finish, Mitt.
In all due respect, we are a better country than to punish
children for what their parents did. We're a better country than
COOPER: Another question -- we have one more question for...
ROMNEY: I get a chance to just respond to that. We are not
punishing children for what their parents did. I respect the fact
that you worked your way through college. That's the way you are.
That's wonderful. A lot of people in this country do tremendous
things to get their education. But the question is, are we going to
give taxpayer-funded benefits to kids that are here illegally and put
them ahead of kids that are here legally?
There is only so much money to go around, and...
HUCKABEE: No, there is...
ROMNEY: Let me finish, too.
HUCKABEE: Well, but let's just be factual.
COOPER: You've got 30 seconds. Your time is up.
ROMNEY: There's only so much money. Are we going to say that
kids that are here illegally are going to get a special deal? Are
they going to get a deal better than other kids? Do they get benefits
by virtue of coming here illegally? And the answer is no.
HUCKABEE: Because they're earning it. That was the difference.
They had to earn it by their...
COOPER: We've got another question from a YouTube watcher.
Let's watch, please.
YOUTUBE QUESTION: Good evening, candidates. This is (inaudible)
from Arlington, Texas, and this question is for Ron Paul.
I've met a lot of your supporters online, but I've noticed that a
good number of them seem to buy into this conspiracy theory regarding
the Council of Foreign Relations, and some plan to make a North
American union by merging the United States with Canada and Mexico.
These supporters of yours seem to think that you also believe in
this theory. So my question to you is: Do you really believe in all
this, or are people just putting words in your mouth?
COOPER: Congressman Paul, 90 seconds.
PAUL: Well, it all depends on what you mean by "all of this."
the CFR exists, the Trilateral Commission exists. And it's a, quote,
"conspiracy of ideas." This is an ideological battle. Some people
believe in globalism. Others of us believe in national sovereignty.
And there is a move on toward a North American union, just like
early on there was a move on for a European Union, and it eventually
PAUL: And there is a move on toward a North American Union, just
like early on there was a move on for a European Union, and eventually
ended up. So we had NAFTA and moving toward a NAFTA highway. These
are real things. It's not somebody made these up. It's not a
conspiracy. They don't talk about it, and they might not admit about
it, but there's been money spent on it. There was legislation passed
in the Texas legislature unanimously to put a halt on it. They're
planning on millions of acres taken by eminent domain for an
international highway from Mexico to Canada, which is going to make
the immigration problem that much worse.
So it's not so much a secretive conspiracy, it's a contest
between ideologies, whether we believe in our institutions here, our
national sovereignty, our Constitution, or are we going to further
move into the direction of international government, more U.N.
PAUL: You know, this country goes to war under U.N. resolutions.
I don't like big government in Washington, so I don't like this trend
toward international government. We have a WTO that wants to control
our drug industry, our nutritional products. So, I'm against all
But it's not so much as a sinister conspiracy. It's just
knowledge is out there. If we look for it, you'll realize that our
national sovereignty is under threat.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, thank you.
COOPER: We've got a question -- moving on to another topic, the
economy, money. Next question.
SARAH LEDERACH: My name is Sarah Lederach. I'm 18 years old.
I'm from Scarsdale, Pennsylvania. And I'm a student at Penn State
Often, I've heard both politicians and voters express their
concern with providing a better future for their children. A concern
of my generation is the trillions of dollars of national debt and what
kind of responsibility we will have for that in the future.
LEDERACH: My question for you all is, if elected, what measures
will you take to tackle the national debt and control spending?
COOPER: Senator McCain, have Republicans forgotten how to
MCCAIN: Absolutely. Absolutely.
When we came to power in 1994, the government...
... changed government and the government changed us.
We let spending lurch completely out of control. We spent $3
million to study the DNA of bears in Montana -- I don't know if that
was a paternity issue or a criminal issue.
We presided over a great expansion of government, the latest
being the SCHIP, which was going to be paid for, supposedly, with a
dollar-a-pack in increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes.
So, we're going to help children with their health insurance and
hope that they continue to smoke.
So, I have the record of fighting against wasteful spending. I
have a clear record of winning. I saved the taxpayers $2 billion on a
bogus Air Force Boeing tanker deal, where people went to jail.
MCCAIN: I led in the Abramoff hearings in the -- in the obscure
Indian Affairs Committee, for which people are still testifying and
going to jail.
As president of the United States, I'd take an old veto pen that
Ronald Reagan gave me, and I'd veto every single pork barrel bill that
comes across my death. I'd make the authors famous.
And we've got to stop it and stop it now. And I can do it. And
I've done it. And I've got the record.
And I know how Washington works. And I look forward to it.
COOPER: Governor Romney, what would you do to the pork spending?
ROMNEY: Well, the senator is absolutely right. Every bill that
comes forward that's got pork in it and earmarks that are unnecessary,
we've got to veto them and send them back. And that's a -- that's a
lesson that's going to have to be done.
But it's gotta be broader than that. We're going to have to see
fundamental change in the way Washington works. We're just -- we're
just not going to get out-of-the-box thinking with inside-the-Beltway
And we're going to have to fundamentally go at something like our
entitlements and say we've got to reform those. I took on a major
issue, which was health care, found a way to get people health
insurance without having to expand government, without having to raise
ROMNEY: We are going to have to after entitlements. We are
going to have to set a cap, as I have proposed, on all nonmilitary
discretionary spending, and inflation less 1 percent. Anything above
that, we veto it.
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?
GIULIANI: I think you have to across-the-board spending cuts the
way Ronald Reagan did, a 5, 10 percent per civilian agency should be
done right now, actually. President Bush should do it to strengthen
the dollar. We should commit not to rehire half of the civilian
employees that will retire in the next 10 years. That is 42 percent
of the federal workforce that will retire in the next 10 years. Don't
rehire half of them. Use technology, one person doing the job of two
Every businses has done it. The government has to do it. And we
should look at those programs. There are about 3 percent of programs
that OMB finds every year are failing. They should be zeroed out.
Twenty-two pecent are found to be not able to be evaluated. They
should be looked at. We need that kind of approach.
COOPER: The next question is going to go to Senator Thompson, as
well as Ron Paul.
EMILY: Hi, I am Emily and I am from Los Angeles.
The Republican Party once stood for limited government, which
meant reduce federal spending because it cost less and we spent less.
EMILY: However, over the past decade, real discretionary federal
spending has in fact increased 40 percent, more than half of which has
been non-defense related.
So my question is: What are the names of the top three federal
programs you would reduce in size in order to decrease...
COOPER: Senator Thompson?
THOMPSON: Well, it's a target-rich environment, there's no
question about it. What most of these gentlemen have said absolutely
correct. The difficulty is, most of the programs that we talk about,
most of the ones get the headlines, would not begin to solve the
Mitt's right when he mentions entitlement. That's why I have
laid out a program to not attack entitlements, but to save Social
Security. Everybody talks about wanting to do something about it.
Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are the ones that we're
really going to have to reform if we're going to make any headway into
COOPER: So of the top three you would say Social Security?
THOMPSON: No. I didn't say that. There is -- the OMB has come
out with a list of over 100 programs. I would take all 100 of them,
the ones that are full of waste, fraud and duplication. I filed a
report in 2001, when I was chairman of the Governmental Affairs
Committee, and identified billions of dollars that we should be
But my point is that we're going to have to reform Social
Security, we're going to have to reform Medicare. I've laid out a
detailed plan that will give individual retirement accounts for
people, matched by the government, and also re-index the way benefits
are calculated initially when a person retires. And together, that
program has been said by the experts already -- to say that -- have
said that it would, after 75 years, make Social Security actuarily
I've got the only program out there that really addresses
specifically one of the programs that's going to have to be reformed.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, the question was three programs.
Can you name three?
PAUL: Yes, and I would like to state that, to the statement
earlier made that we all went to Washington to change Washington and
Washington changed us, I don't think that applies to me; Washington
did not change me.
I would like to change Washington, and we could by cutting three
programs, such as the Department of Education -- Ronald Reagan used to
talk about that -- Department of Energy, Department of Homeland
Security is the biggest bureaucracy we ever had.
And besides, what we can do is we can have a stronger national
defense by changing our foreign policy. Our foreign policy is costing
us a trillion dollars, and we can spend most of that or a lot of that
money home if we would bring our troops home.
COOPER: Governor Huckabee, 30 seconds, three programs.
HUCKABEE: Anderson, the first thing that I would get rid of
would be the Internal Revenue Service.
We'd have a complete -- getting rid of a $10-billion-a-year
HUCKABEE: I'm not being facetious. If we enacted the fair tax,
one of the most researched ways to revive our economic future...
HUCKABEE: ... we will get rid of the IRS. Secondly, I agree we
need to revamp homeland security. It's a mess, and we have a real
problem with the way that it's currently structured. And the third...
COOPER: Thirty seconds is up.
HUCKABEE: What's that?
COOPER: Thirty seconds is up.
HUCKABEE: Oh, OK. Get rid of the IRS, and that would account
for most of the problems. Most people in this country are more afraid
of an audit than they are of a mugging, and there's a reason why.
COOPER: We've got more questions on this topic.
COOPER: This next question is for Senator McCain.
RONALD LANHAM: My name is Ronald Lanham from Mobile, Alabama.
And I want you to tell me, do you support the elimination of the
federal income tax in favor of a national retail sales tax, also known
as the fair tax? Thank you.
COOPER: Governor Huckabee supports it. Do you?
MCCAIN: I do not, and I think we should look very carefully at
it. And I think we should look very carefully at some of the
provisions, which according to The Wall Street Journal would increase
an individual's tax rate up into the 30s.
MCCAIN: Obviously, we need a simpler, fairer tax code.
Everybody knows that. We need to have a commission that reports out a
credible proposal. And then we do what we do with the base closing
commissions. Congress can't fool around, they either vote yes or no.
If Congress can't fix the tax code, give me the job and I'll fix
I just want to also say that Congressman Paul, I've heard him now
in many debates talk about bringing our troops home, and about the war
in Iraq and how it's failed.
And I want to tell you that that kind of isolationism, sir, is
what caused World War II. We allowed...
COOPER: Allow him his answer. Allow him his answer, please.
MCCAIN: We allowed -- we allowed Hitler to come to power with
that kind of attitude of isolationism and appeasement.
MCCAIN: And I want to tell you something, sir. I just finished
having Thanksgiving with the troops, and their message to you is --
the message of these brave men and women who are serving over there
is, "Let us win. Let us...
COOPER: We will -- please. We will get to Iraq...
All right. Let me just remind everyone that these people did
take a lot of time to ask these questions, and so we do want direct
questions to -- the answers. We will get to Iraq later, but I do
have to allow Congressman Paul 30 seconds to respond.
PAUL: Absolutely. The real question you have to ask is why do I
get the most money from active duty officers and military personnel?
PAUL: What John is saying is just totally distorted.
(PROTESTER SHOUTS OFF-MIKE)
PAUL: He doesn't even understand the difference between non-
intervention and isolationism. I am talking isolationism. I am
isolationist. I want to trade with people, talk with people, travel.
But I don't want to send troops overseas using force to tell them how
to live. We would object to it here and they're going to object to us
COOPER: All right. We will have a lot more on Iraq coming up.
It is obviously a very heated topic. Sticking on the economy, though,
a familiar face asking a very simple question.
GROVER NORQUIST: President Bush made a commitment when he ran
for president in 2000 an 2004 that he would oppose and veto any tax
increase that Congress sent him. My question to each of the
candidates is: Would you promise to the people watching this right
now, that you will oppose and veto any efforts to raise taxes as long
as you're president?
COOPER: I doubt you can do it, but very short answers.
TANCREDO: Yes, I can. I have the highest rating, by the way,
from the American Conservative Union of anybody on this stage, and yes
to Grover because he knows I have the highest rating from the
Americans for Tax Reform.
TANCREDO: Thank you very much, Grover. Appreciate it.
COOPER: Governor Huckabee?
HUCKABEE: I would, Anderson. In fact, I signed a pledge to that
effect and would keep that pledge.
COOPER: Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: I've signed Grover's pledge as well. I believe I was
the first person on this stage to do so.
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?
GIULIANI: Yes, I would. I did it as mayor. I would do it as
the president. I had one of the best records in the country for
lowering taxes while I was mayor. I expect to have a great record as
COOPER: Senator Thompson?
THOMPSON: Cut -- tax cuts for eight years when I was in the
United States Senate. Never met a tax I liked. I've got a tax-cut
bill on the table. But I don't do pledges to anybody but the American
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Go, Fred, go.
COOPER: Senator McCain?
MCCAIN: I have a 24-year record of opposing tax increases and
supporting tax reductions. And, no, I'm like Fred. My pledge and my
record is up to the American people, not up to any other organization.
COOPER: Congressman Paul?
PAUL: I have never voted for a tax increase; never will. But
the tax issue is only one-half of it.
PAUL: You can easily pledge not to raise taxes, but you have to
COOPER: Congressman Hunter?
HUNTER: You know, I came in with Ronald Reagan in 1980 to cut
taxes, and I probably voted for more tax cuts than anybody here.
But you could have an emergency, a time of war, and I think it
would be wrong to say, "Absolutely, I would pledge to Grover Norquist
that I would never raise taxes." Could have a national emergency.
COOPER: All right, next question.
TED FATUROS: Hi, I'm Ted Faturos from Manhattan Beach,
Mmmmmm, nothing says delicious like cheap corn subsidized by the
American taxpayer. For a lot of Americans, however, a bitter taste is
left in their mouth when they learned about how the U.S. taxpayer
bankrolls billions of dollars in farm subsidies that mostly go to
large item business interests.
I'm curious which candidate could label themselves fiscally
responsiblee, will endorse the elimination of farm subsidies if they
are elected president in 2008.
COOPER: Governor Romney, a lot of folks in Iowa interested in
So I hear.
ROMNEY: Not to mention Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, South
Dakota and so forth. We don't want to find ourselves, with regards to
our food supply, in the same kind of position we're in with regards to
our energy supply. And so it's important for us to make sure that our
farmers are able to stay on the farm and raise the crops that we need
to have a secure source of food. And so I believe in supports that
will allow us to do that.
And the same time, I recognize that we're also investing in new
technologies to get ourselves energy independent. And I happen to
believe that some of the best sources for having renewable energy come
from the farm. And so we're investing with subsidies in those areas
to create new technology that otherwise wouldn't be ready for the
market yet. So I support these programs.
And finally, I'd say this. We have, in our nation, about one out
of three acres that are planted are for sale overseas.
ROMNEY: We send products around the world. We're competing with
European and Brazilian and other farmers, and we're competing in a
marketplace where they are heavily subsidized, at great disadvantage
for our farmers. And so, if we're going to change our support
structure, we want to make sure that they change their support
And we do this together, as opposed to unilaterally saying:
We're going to put our farmers in a tough position and have the
farmers in the rest of the world continue to be subsidized.
So, open markets, let our goods go around the world and secure
our source of food.
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani, 30 seconds.
GIULIANI: The governor's right. It isn't a level playing field.
The subsidies in Europe are far higher than they are in the United
States. We could reduce subsidies here if they would do it there.
But we shouldn't do it on our own.
And also, we have to be very aware of the fact that we have to
have our own supply of food. We can't be dependent on foreign
countries for our food.
So, both of those reasons would say that although simplistically,
it might seem like you'd want to get rid of all the subsidies, you've
got to do this very carefully, and you have to do it in concert with
these free-trade agreements and other agreements you're making so that
European countries reduce their much heavier subsidies.
COOPER: Since we're on fiscal matters, I would be remiss if I
didn't ask this question, since it did just break a couple hours ago.
This is to Mayor Giuliani. Politico broke a story a few hours ago
questioning your accounting of taxpayer dollars as mayor.
They say that as mayor, the report says you took trips to the
Hamptons and expensed the cost of your police detail to obscure city
COOPER: One, is that true? And, if so, was it appropriate?
GIULIANI: First of all, it's not true. I had 24-hour security
for the eight years that I was mayor. They followed me everyplace I
went. It was because there were, you know, threats, threats that I
don't generally talk about. Some have become public recently; most of
And they took care of me, and they put in their records, and they
handled them in the way they handled them. I had nothing to do with
the handling of their records, and they were handled, as far as I
know, perfectly appropriately.
COOPER: We have asked all the campaigns, we should point out, to
submit 30-second or so campaign-style videos, YouTube-style videos.
It was open to them to do it in any format they wanted.
Our first video -- and we're going to be playing them throughout
the night, some of them out of commercials, some of them during the
program -- is from Congressman Tancredo.
TANCREDO: This issue of immigration is one of the most serious
public policy issues we face.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: What do we do now?
TANCREDO: We have got to actually begin the process of
CLINTON: They may not talk to you if they think you are also
going to be enforcing the immigration laws.
TANCREDO: We are obfuscating and using words like: Well, I am
not for amnesty, but I am for letting them stay.
CLINTON: Well, I don't have enough time to tell you all the
mistakes I have made.
TANCREDO: The Republicans can stop this.
COOPER: All right, let's have our next question from a YouTube
LEEANN ANDERSON: My name is LeeAnn Anderson and I am from
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and these are my kids Evan and May. Maya is
from China and we adopted him to give her a better life. We never
dreamed that she would that she'd be exposed to lead after leaving
China, and now we find trains like this that are covered with lead in
My question for the candidates are, what are you going to do to
make sure that these kind of toys don't make their way into our homes
and that we have safe toys that are made in America again and we keep
jobs in America?
COOPER: Congressman Tancredo, you have 90 seconds.
TANCREDO: It is illegal to import that kind of thing. The
problem is, of course, no one really pays a lot of attention to a lot
of our laws, with regard to immigration of both people and, now in
this case, of course, items, goods and services.
I voted against permanent normalized trade relations with China
-- this is one reason why. It wasn't -- that was never devised simply
to be a place for us to sell our products; it was devised to be a
place where we could get cheap labor to then import products to the
So, one of the things you'd have to do, and I certainly would
intend to do, is to change our trade arrangement entirely -- with
China, by the way, in particular, but with other countries, as well,
that violate those agreements.
COOPER: Congressman Hunter, you have 30 seconds.
HUNTER: China is cheating on trade, and they're using that $200
billion trade deficit over the United States to buy ships, planes and
missiles. They are clearly arming.
And it's in the interest of the United States...
... to stop China's cheating. My bill, incidentally, that's up
right now would do that.
But what we all ought to do in this Christmas season, with about
a month to go before Christmas is buy American.
That might hire the young person. That'll result in a...
You know, that just might keep your neighbor from losing his job,
and it might help that young person coming back from Iraq and
Afghanistan in uniform to have a job when they get back.
Let's buy American this Christmas season.
COOPER: All right. We're going to have three commercial breaks
throughout this entire debate. This is the first one. And as we go
to it, we go to another campaign-style video, this one from Senator
ROMNEY: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this
country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20
years, that we should sustain and support it.
HUCKABEE: Others have suggested a surcharge on the income tax.
That's acceptable. I'm fine with that. Others have suggested,
perhaps, a sales tax. That's fine.
COOPER: Actually, given the nature of that video, we're not
going to go to break right now.
I think it's something we should talk about.
Senator Thompson, what's up with that?
THOMPSON: I just wanted to give my buddies here a little extra
Listen, I mean, what do you mean what's up with it? These are
COOPER: OK. I should allow time to respond.
ROMNEY: I'm not sure who that young guy was at the beginning of
that film, but I can tell you this, which is, I don't know how many
times I can tell it. I was wrong. All right. I was effectively pro-
choice when I ran for office.
ROMNEY: If people in this country are looking for someone who's
never made a mistake on a policy issue and is not willing to admit
they're ever wrong, why then they're going to have to find somebody
else, because on abortion I was wrong.
And I changed my mind as the governor. This didn't just happen
the last couple of weeks or the last year. This happened when I was
governor the first time a bill came to my desk that related to life.
I could not sign a bill that would take away human life. I came down
on the side of life every single instance as governor of
Massachusetts. I was awarded by the Massachusetts Citizens for Life
with their leadership award for my record.
I'm proud to be pro-life, and I'm not going to be apologizing for
people for becoming pro-life.
COOPER: Governor Huckabee, 30 seconds to respond.
HUCKABEE: Well, I was governor nearly 11 years, and in that time
I cut 90 taxes. Over that period of time, the income tax remained
exactly what it was. The sales tax is one penny higher.
But I did do a number of tax cuts that helped a lot of people all
over the place, like eliminating the marriage penalty, doubling the
child care tax credit, getting rid of capital gains on the sale of a
home, cutting capital gains on other things.
HUCKABEE: I have a great record on fiscal conservativism. But
one thing I've learned, you know, when you get attacked, it's not
always bad. It's like my old pastor used to tell me, when they're
kicking you in the rear, it's just proving you're still out front.
COOPER: I'm sure there's some campaign chair who might want to
change their videos that they've given us after seeing Senator
Thompson's, but it's too late to do that. We're going to take a short
break. We'll be right back.
JAY FOX: I'm Jay Fox, lifetime member of the NRA. Now, I am
from a small town and as in any small time, we like our big guns. My
question to you is: What is your opinion of gun control? And don't
worry, you can answer however you like.
COOPER: Congressman Hunter? You have 90 seconds.
HUNTER: Well, first I've got to inform Jay that as a guy who got
his first hunting license at the age of 10 and really believes in the
right to keep and bear arms, and used them in the military, as my son
did in Fallujah, you should never throw a gun to a person. He should
have taken that gun handed-off from his fellow hunter. So you have to
be safe with guns, Jay.
But the right to keep and bear arms is an important element of
community security, home security, and national security. I think it
is a tradition of the American soldier.
HUNTER: From Bunker Hill to New Orleans to the rooftops of
Fallujah, the right to keep and bear arms and use them effectively is
an important part of America's security. And I will strongly enforce
the Second Amendment as president of the United States.
COOPER: All right. On the same topic, another question. Let's
ANDREW FINK: Hello. My name is Andrew Fink, and I have a
question for Rudy Giuliani.
Mr. Giuliani, at a recent NRA convention, you stated that it's
every American's right to be secure. Yet, on March 21 of the year
2000, The Boston Globe quoted you as saying, "Anyone wanting to own a
gun should have to pass a written exam."
Considering the Constitution grants us the right to bear arms as
a means of protection, why do you believe that citizens should be
required to pass an exam in order to exercise their right to protect
themselves and their families?
FINK: Thank you.
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani, 90 seconds.
GIULIANI: Andrew, what I believe is that we have to be very
aggressive about enforcing the gun laws that exist. I had a city in
which, when I took over, there were 2,000 murders a year, 10,000
felonies a week. And I enforced the gun laws very aggressively.
I enforced all laws very aggressively. And that's the reason we
reduced shootings by 74 percent. We reduced homicide by 67 percent.
And we went from being one of the most dangerous cities in the country
to being one of the safest.
As far as that's concerned, what I believe is, the Second
Amendment gives people an individual right to keep and to bear arms.
Government can impose reasonable regulations. Generally, those
reasonable regulations would be about...
COOPER: Let him answer.
GIULIANI: Let me finish. Generally, those reasonable
regulations would be about criminal background, background of mental
instability, basically the ones that are outlined in the opinion of
the judge who wrote the Parker decision, Judge Silverman. And if
those regulations go beyond that, then those are unconstitutional.
GIULIANI: I think states can have a little bit of leeway. New
York could have a somewhat stricter rule than, let's say, Kentucky.
Texas might have different rules than Ohio. But generally, you've got
to comply with this rule.
Now, the Supreme Court's going to decide this. The Supreme
Court's going to decide this, probably within the next six months.
The Parker (ph) case has been taken to the Supreme Court. They're
going to decide whether it's a right that pertains to the militia --
which I don't believe it is -- or is it a right that is a personal
right. I believe that it is.
And I will live by that. And people will be allowed to have
guns. I'm not going to interfere with that. Generally, decisions are
going to be made on a state basis. And they're going to have to
comply with the Constitution.
COOPER: Senator Thompson, last week you said that you don't
think Mayor Giuliani's ever been a supporter of the Second Amendment.
Why did you say that -- 30 seconds.
THOMPSON: Well, the mayor has supported a wide array of gun
control laws. I'm not sure there's ever one that didn't come up for
consideration in terms of legislation that he didn't support --
signing ceremonies with people from President Clinton's Cabinet and
that sort of thing when they came up.
THOMPSON: The Second Amendment is not a choice thing. I mean,
it's in the Constitution of the United States -- that's the protection
that the people have against...
The case that the mayor refers to is the Washington D.C. case,
and they were taking the same position, basically, the mayor took, as
far as the city of New York is concerned.
They said, "You know, it will make a safer city if we outlaw law-
abiding citizens having the right to posses a firearm." It didn't
make them a safer city.
The D.C. Court of Appeals held that it was a violation of their
Second Amendment rights and, hopefully, the Supreme Court will uphold
the D.C. court.
GIULIANI: I agree with the senator that it didn't make it a
safer city. And some of these gun laws do not make a city a safer
The things we did in New York, indisputably, made New York City a
much safer city. And the law in the District of Columbia and the law
in New York are different.
GIULIANI: The law in the District of Columbia made it impossible
for you to have a firearm. And if New York City went that far, it
should also be declared unconstitutional.
The Second Amendment clearly gives you the right to carry and to
bear arms. In my reading of it, it's an individual right, and I
believe the Supreme Court will declare that. And that protection
comes from the Constitution, not just a president.
COOPER: Staying on the topic, another question from a viewer.
ERIC BENTSON: Hi there. I'm Eric Bentson from Phoenix, Arizona.
Got a quick question for all you candidates.
Any of you all want to tell us about your gun collection, roughly
how many you own, what your favorite make, model and caliber is, if
any of them require a tax stamp?
COOPER: (OFF-MIKE) if you have a machine gun or a silencer.
THOMPSON: I own a couple of guns, but I'm not going to tell you
what they are or where they are.
COOPER: Senator McCain?
MCCAIN: For a long time I used a lot of guns, including carrying
a .45 as a pilot flying in combat over Vietnam.
MCCAIN: I know how to use guns. I don't own one now.
COOPER: Congressman Hunter?
HUNTER: I have an old 20-gauge L.C. Smith that is just like the
gun that my dad used to carry when I would walk behind him as a 9-
year-old kid and pick up the shells when he was hunting quail. I
finally got a chance to buy one of those a few years ago, the same gun
that he had had and given to me when I was nine or ten year old when I
bought my first hunting license.
The right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment is a
large part protection. It is also a large part family tradition.
COOPER: Is there anyone here besides Senator McCain who does not
own a gun? Mayor Giuliani? Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: I have two guns in my home. They are owned by my son
COOPER: All right, there you have it.
We have another question on a similar topic.
ROMNEY: He buys expensive things for me.
YOUTUBE QUESTION: Hi, this is me and my son Prentiss. We're
from Atlanta. I want to ask you guys a question (inaudible) every
year. But what about the war going on in our country, black on black
crime? Two hundred to 400 black men die yearly in one city alone.
What are you going to do about that war? It feels like the
(inaudible) is right outside.
COOPER: He's talking about black on black crime, crime in the
ROMNEY: Well, first of all, Printes is pretty fortunate because
he's got a dad standing next to him that apparently loves him by all
appearances there, and that's probably the best thing you can do for a
kid is to have a mom and a dad.
And it's time in this country that we go back to the kind of
values that allow kid to have moms and dads. In the African-American
community today, 68 percent of kids born are born out of wedlock. And
so we're going to try and once again reinculcate in this country the
try of values that have made us so strong: family values.
COOPER: The question is, what are you going to do about the war
in the inner city?
ROMNEY: Well, one, about the war in the inner city -- number one
is to get more moms and dads. That's number one. And thank heavens
Bill Cosby said it like it was. That's where the root of crime
Number two, we've got to have better education in our schools.
ROMNEY: I think that the civil rights issue of our time is the
failure of inner-city schools to prepare kids in the inner city for
the jobs of tomorrow. And number three, of course, you have to do a
better job with our policing. And I was very proud that I added one
state police class after another.
We had the largest state police in the history of our state
during my term. We put in place tough laws related to drunk driving.
Sex offenders, they have their pictures now posted on the Internet.
We took actions to be tough on crime. And I was pleased that violent
crime in my state during my term reduced by 7 percent.
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani, your campaign manager week called
Governor Romney a mediocre one-term governor. On the issue of
fighting crime, is he a crime fighter?
GIULIANI: The governor has a mixed record in fighting crime.
For example, murder went up by 7.5 percent. Burglary went up. One
other category of violent crime went up. Some categories of violent
crime went down. So, it would be fair to say it's a mixed record.
The reality is, I had a very strong record in doing precisely
what the young man was asking about. And that is reducing crime in
specifically neighborhoods that would be regarded as poor
neighborhoods, the neighborhoods that had the most crime.
GIULIANI: For example, in Harlem, we reduced crime by about 80
percent. We reduced shootings, overall in the city, by 74 percent.
The city of New York was one of the most dangerous cities in
America, and particularly in the neighborhoods this young man is
worried about, they were really dangerous.
They are not that way anymore and we made the changes with the
CompStat program, the broken windows theory and with very, very good
COOPER: Governor Romney, I have to allow you 30 seconds to
ROMNEY: I think we all recognize that the mayor did a wonderful
job at reducing crime in the City of New York.
I'm not a mayor, I'm not running for a mayor's job; I didn't have
a police commissioner. But I did take the actions that I could, as a
state governor, to improve our state police, to strengthen our state
police, to be able to put in place the DNA laboratory -- we more than
tripled the size of our DNA laboratory -- and did the things we could
to improve crime -- our crime enforcement.
ROMNEY: And I'm proud of the fact that we were able to reduce
crime during my tenure.
COOPER: The next topic is abortion.
JOURNEY: Hi. My name is Journey. I'm from Texas. And this
question is for all (inaudible) pro-life candidates.
In the event that abortion becomes illegal and a woman obtains an
abortion anyway, what should she be charged with, and what should her
punishment be? What about the doctor who performs the abortion?
COOPER: Congressman Paul, 90 seconds.
PAUL: You know, it's not a federal function to determine the
penalties for a crime of abortion if it's illegal in a state. It's up
to the state, it's up to the juries. And it should be up to
discretion because it's not an easy issue to deal with. But the first
thing we have to do is get the federal government out of it. We don't
need a federal abortion police. That's the last thing that we need.
But for the...
COOPER: Should a woman be charged with a crime?
PAUL: Pardon me?
COOPER: Should a woman be charged with a crime?
PAUL: I don't personally think so. I'm an O.B. doctor, and I
practiced medicine for 30 years, and I of course never saw one time
when a medically necessary abortion had to be done.
PAUL: But so I think it certainly is a crime. But I also
understand the difficulties. I think when you're talking about third
trimester deliberate abortion and partial birth abortions, I mean,
there has to be a criminal penalty for the person that's committing
that crime. But I really think it's the person who commits the crime.
And I think that is the abortionist.
COOPER: So you're saying a doctor should be punished.
What sort of punishment should they get?
PAUL: Well, I think it's up to the states. I'm not in the state
-- I'm not running for governor. And I think it's different, and I
don't think it should be all 50 states the same way. So, I don't
think that should be up to the president to decide that.
COOPER: Senator Thompson?
THOMPSON: Yes. The young lady's question is...
... the young lady's question is premised on if abortion becomes
illegal. That presumes Roe v. Wade is overturned, which I think
should be our number one focus right now. And that has to do with the
kind of Supreme Court justices we put on the bench.
I'm getting there. I'm getting there.
THOMPSON: That would mean that it goes back to the states, and
then the states would have to outlaw it at an earlier stage than they
outlaw it now. Then the question would be, who gets penalized and
what should the penalty be.
I think it should be fashioned along the same lines it is now.
Most states have abortion laws pertain and prohibit abortion after
viability. It goes to the doctor performing the abortion, not the
girl, or the young girl, or her parents, whoever it might be. I think
that same pattern needs to be followed. It could just be moved up
earlier, or much earlier in the process if the state so determined.
COOPER: Another question.
QUESTIONER: Hello, my name is AJ. I'm from Millstone, New
Jersey. I would all of the candidates to give an answer on this. If
hypothetically, Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the Congress passed a
federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign
it? Yes or no?
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?
GIULIANI: If Congress passed a ban on all abortions throughout
the United States?
COOPER: If Roe v. Wade was overturned and Congress passed a
federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign
it, yes or no?
GIULIANI: I probably would not sign it. I would leave it to the
states to make that decision.
I think that that -- the problem with Roe against Wade is that it
took the decision away from the states. If Roe against Wade were
overturned because it was poorly decided, if the justices decide that,
it would them go back to the states, and it would seem to me that that
would be the answer.
The answer is that each state would make a different decision. I
don't believe, in the circumstance that you asked before, that it
should be criminalized. I think that would be a mistake unless we're
talking about partial birth abortion or late-term abortion.
I think you should have parental consent. I think we should have
access to adoptions instead of abortion. But, ultimately, I think
these decisions should be made on a state-by-state basis.
COOPER: Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: I agree with Senator Thompson, which is we should
overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states.
ROMNEY: I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a
consensus in this country that we said, we don't want to have abortion
in this country at all, period. That would be wonderful. I'd be
COOPER: The question is: Would you sign that bill?
ROMNEY: Let me say it. I'd be delighted to sign that bill. But
that's not where we are. That's not where America is today. Where
America is is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states
that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of
consensus in that country, terrific.
COOPER: All right. The next question is for Governor Huckabee.
TYLER OVERMAN: Hi. This is Tyler Overman from Memphis,
Tennessee. And I have a quick question for those of you who would
call yourselves Christian conservatives. The death penalty, what
would Jesus do?
COOPER: Governor Huckabee?
HUCKABEE: You know, one of the toughest challenges that I ever
faced as a governor was carrying out the death penalty. I did it more
than any other governor ever had to do it in my state. As I look on
this stage, I'm pretty sure that I'm the only person on this stage
that's ever had to actually do it.
HUCKABEE: Let me tell you, it was the toughest decision I ever
made as a human-being. I read every page of every document of every
case that ever came before me, because it was the one decision that
came to my desk that, once I made it, was irrevocable.
Every other decision, somebody else could go back and overturn,
could fix if it was a mistake. That was one that was irrevocable.
I believe there is a place for a death penalty. Some crimes are
so heinous, so horrible that the only response that we, as a civilized
nation, have for a most uncivil action is not only to try to deter
that person from ever committing that crime again, but also as a
warning to others that some crimes truly are beyond any other capacity
for us to fix.
Now, having said that, there are those who say, "How can you be
pro-life and believe in the death penalty?"
Because there's a real difference between the process of
adjudication, where a person is deemed guilty after a thorough
judicial process and is put to death by all of us, as citizens, under
a law, as opposed to an individual making a decision to terminate a
life that has never been deemed guilty because the life never was
given a chance to even exist.
HUCKABEE: That's the fundamental difference.
COOPER: I do have to though press the question, which -- the
question was, from the viewer was? What would Jesus do? Would Jesus
support the death penalty?
HUCKABEE: Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office,
Anderson. That's what Jesus would do.
COOPER: Congressman Tancredo, 30 seconds.
TANCREDO: The question is: What would Jesus do? Well, I'll
tell you this. I would pray to him for the wisdom and the courage to
do the right thing. And I believe that with prayer, he would give it
TANCREDO: And I believe that justice was done in the situations
that the governor has explained. And, as I say, I look to him for
guidance in all those kinds of situations.
COOPER: Time. A similar question. Let's watch.
JOSEPH: I am Joseph. I am from Dallas, Texas, and how you
answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about
you. Do you believe every word of this book? Specifically, this book
that I am holding in my hand, do you believe this book?
COOPER: I think we've got a question.
HUCKABEE: Do I need to help you out, Mayor, on this one?
GIULIANI: Wait a second, you're the minister. You're going to
help me out on this one.
HUCKABEE: I'm trying to help you out.
GIULIANI: OK. The reality is, I believe it, but I don't believe
it's necessarily literally true in every single respect.
GIULIANI: I think there are parts of the Bible that are
interpretive. I think there are parts of the Bible that are
allegorical. I think there are parts of the Bible that are meant to
be interpreted in a modern context.
So, yes, I believe it. I think it's the great book ever written.
I read it frequently. I read it very frequently when I've gone
through the bigger crises in my life, and I find great wisdom in it,
and it does define to a very large extent my faith. But I don't
believe every single thing in the literal sense of Jonah being in the
belly of the whale, or, you know, there are some things in it that I
think were put there as allegorical.
COOPER: Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: I believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely. And
... I try to live by it as well as I can, but I miss in a lot of
ways. But it's a guide for my life and for hundreds of millions,
billions of people around the world. I believe in the Bible.
COOPER: Does that mean you believe every word?
ROMNEY: You know -- yes, I believe it's the word of God, the
Bible is the word of God.
ROMNEY: The Bible is the word of God. I mean, I might interpret
the word differently than you interpret the word, but I read the Bible
and I believe the Bible is the word of God. I don't disagree with the
Bible. I try to live by it.
COOPER: Governor Huckabee?
HUCKABEE: Sure. I believe the Bible is exactly what it is.
It's the word of revelation to us from God himself.
And the fact is that when people ask do we believe all of it, you
either believe it or you don't believe it. But in the greater sense,
I think what the question tried to make us feel like was that, well,
if you believe the part that says "Go and pluck out your eye," well,
none of us believe that we ought to go pluck out our eye. That
obviously is allegorical.
But the Bible has some messages that nobody really can confuse
and really not left up to interpretation. "Love your neighbor as
HUCKABEE: And as much as you've done it to the least of these
brethren, you've done it unto me. Until we get those simple, real
easy things right, I'm not sure we ought to spend a whole lot of time
fighting over the other parts that are a little bit complicated.
And as the only person here on the stage with a theology degree,
there are parts of it I don't fully comprehend and understand, because
the Bible is a revelation of an infinite god, and no finite person is
ever going to fully understand it. If they do, their god is too
COOPER: We've got a lot more coming up. We're going to take a
short break, and as we go to the break, we'll watch a video, this time
from the campaign of Governor Romney.
ANNOUNCER: It's an election like no other. An enemy lurks,
waiting to strike. Our Main Street economy is competing with mainland
China. Legal versus illegal doesn't seem to matter. Basic values
like marriage are suddenly open to debate.
For these challenges, ordinary isn't good enough. We need the
leader who gets the big stuff done. Take charge, demand results, no
excuses. Mitt Romney, the right experience, the right values, the
ROMNEY: I'm Mitt Romney, and I approve this message.
ANNOUNCER: As mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani faced unheard of
challenges: runaway taxes, out of control crime, and, of course, the
city's nemesis, King Kong.
Yet, Rudy prevailed. Crime down by half, taxes cut, and annual
snowfall dramatically reduced.
Time called Rudy person of the year. Newsweek -- the new mayor
of America. And when asked, Hillary Clinton called him -- but she
probably planted the question.
COOPER: That was the campaign commercial by the Giuliani
campaign. Obviously, we are playing these commercials all throughout
this two-hour debate.
COOPER: Let's go to our next topic, which is foreign policy.
Our first question:
YASMIN: Good evening, gentlemen. My name is Yasmin and I hail
from Huntsville, Alabama.
My question has to do with the current crisis in Iraq, as well as
the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
After living abroad, personally, in the Middle East for a year, I
realized just how much damage the Iraq war and the perception of
invasion has done to the image of America. What would you do as
president to repair the image of America in the eyes of the Muslim
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani, 90 seconds?
GIULIANI: Well, the most important thing to do is to make
certain we remain on offense against Islamic terrorism.
And then make it clear that what that means is this is a small
group of people, Islamic terrorists, who have defiled a great
religion, that the vast majority of people who are Islamic, the vast
majority of people who are Arabs, the vast majority of people living
in these countries are good people. We should be trading with them.
We should have contact with them. We should expand our contacts with
them. We should have cultural exchanges with them.
The night of September 11th, 2001, when we were beginning to
recover -- or, not really recover, but maybe just first catch our
breath after the attack of September 11th, you'll see one of the first
things I said was I said to the people of my city and then probably to
the people of America that we should not engage in group blame.
GIULIANI: We shouldn't do the thing that we're being attacked
for. We shouldn't blame an entire group of people for the horrible
acts of a few people who have distorted a great religion. They have
turned it into an ideology of hatred and an ideology of violence.
By the same token, we can't do what the Democrats do. We can't
put our head in the sand. You've got a Democratic debate and not a
single one of those Democratic candidates used the word "Islamic
terrorism." I don't know who they think they're offending. The
people they're offending are the people we want to offend -- the
... and not decent people like Yasmin. We are intelligent enough
and good enough as Americans to make this distinction.
COOPER: Senator McCain?
MCCAIN: Well, I would do a lot of things, but the first and most
important and vital element is to continue this surge which is
succeeding and we are winning the war in Iraq.
That's the first thing I would do. I would make sure that we do
what we can to help reconstruct the country, to help the Maliki
government move forward as rapidly as possible to train the police.
MCCAIN: But I'll tell you one other thing we're -- I'm going to
do, is we're going to fight back the Democrats' efforts to set a date
for withdrawal which is a date for surrender.
Now, my friends, I'm the only one on this stage -- I'm the only
one on this stage -- that said that the Rumsfeld strategy was failing
and was doomed to failure. I'm the only one on this stage that said
we've got to have a new strategy, and that's the strategy we're
And I got a lot of heat when I said that that strategy was
failing and it had to be changed, because I've had the experience and
the background and the knowledge of every national security issue
we've faced in the last 20 years.
And I'm telling you, that if we continue this strategy, we can
succeed. And if we had done what the Democrats said to do six months
ago, Al Qaida would be telling the word they beat America.
MCCAIN: There's a lot at stake here, my friends, and thank God
for the young men and women who are sending the message I repeat to
you again, after having been there over Thanksgiving weekend, let me
win, let us win.
COOPER: Thirty seconds, Congressman Hunter. The question is,
how do you repair the image of America in the Muslim world?
HUNTER: Cooper, Cooper, very simply, to the critics of America I
would say this. When you were faced with disease and starvation, the
Americans brought food and medicine. When you had earthquakes and
tsunamis and floods, the Americans came and helped you. And when you
were threatened from outside, the Americans left the safety of their
own homes to come and defend you.
I will never apologize for the United States of America.
COOPER: Our next question -- our next question comes from
ANDREW JONES: Hello, gentlemen. I'm Andrew, and I'm a college
student from Seattle, Washington.
JONES: Recently, Senator McCain has come out strongly against
using waterboarding as an instrument of interrogation.
My question for the rest of you is, considering that Mr. McCain
is the only one with any firsthand knowledge on the subject, how can
those of you sharing the stage with him disagree with his position?
COOPER: Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: Well, he certainly is an expert and I certainly would
want to get his counsel on a matter of this nature, but I do not
believe that as a presidential candidate, it is wise for us to
describe precisely what techniques we will use in interrogating
I oppose torture. I would not be in favor of torture in any way,
shape or form.
COOPER: Is waterboarding torture?
ROMNEY: And as I just said, as a presidential candidate, I don't
think it's wise for us to describe specifically which measures we
would and would not use.
And that is something which I would want to receive the counsel
not only of Senator McCain, but of a lot of other people.
And there are people who, for many, many years get the
information we need to make sure that we protect our country.
ROMNEY: And, by the way, I want to make sure these folks are
kept at Guantanamo. I don't want the people that are carrying out
attacks on this country to be brought into our jail system and be
given legal representation in this country. I want to make sure that
... to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed happens to other people who are
terrorists. He was captured. He was the so-called mastermind of the
9/11 tragedy. And he turned to his captors and he said, "I'll see you
in New York with my lawyers." I presume ACLU lawyers.
Well, that's not what happened. He went to Guantanamo and he met
G.I.s and CIA interrogators. And that's just exactly how it ought to
COOPER: Senator McCain?
(UNKNOWN): There were reports Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was
MCCAIN: Well, Governor, I'm astonished that you haven't found
out what waterboarding is.
ROMNEY: I know what waterboarding is, Senator.
MCCAIN: Then I am astonished that you would think such a -- such
a torture would be inflicted on anyone in our -- who we are held
captive and anyone could believe that that's not torture. It's in
violation of the Geneva Convention. It's in violation of existing
And, Governor, let me tell you, if we're going to get the high
ground in this world and we're going to be the America that we have
cherished and loved for more than 200 years. We're not going to
MCCAIN: We're not going to do what Pol Pot did. We're not going
to do what's being done to Burmese monks as we speak. I suggest that
you talk to retired military officers and active duty military
officers like Colin Powell and others, and how in the world anybody
could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted by Americans on
people who are held in our custody is absolutely beyond me.
COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond.
ROMNEY: Senator McCain, I appreciate your strong response, and
you have the credentials upon which to make that response. I did not
say and I do not say that I'm in favor of torture.
ROMNEY: I am not. I'm not going to specify the specific means
of what is and what is not torture so that the people that we capture
will know what things we're able to do and what things we're not able
to do. And I get that advice from Cofer Black, who is a person who
was responsible for counterterrorism in the CIA for some 35 years.
I get that advice by talking to former generals in our
ROMNEY: ... and I don't believe it's appropriate for me, as a
presidential candidate, to lay out all the issues one by one...
ROMNEY: ... get questioned one by one: Is this torture, is that
COOPER: Senator McCain...
ROMNEY: And so, that's something which I'm going to take your
and other people's counsel on.
COOPER: Senator McCain, 30 seconds to respond.
MCCAIN: Well, then you would have to advocate that we withdraw
from the Geneva Conventions, which were for the treatment of people
who were held prisoners, whether they be illegal combatants or regular
prisoners of war. Because it's clear the definition of torture. It's
in violation of laws we have passed.
And again, I would hope that we would understand, my friends,
that life is not "24" and Jack Bauer.
MCCAIN: Life is interrogation techniques which are humane and
yet effective. And I just came back from visiting a prison in Iraq.
The Army general there said that techniques under the Army Field
Manual are working and working effectively, and he didn't think they
need to do anything else.
My friends, this is what America is all about. This is a
defining issue and, clearly, we should be able, if we want to be
commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, to take a definite and
positive position on, and that is, we will never allow torture to take
place in the United States of America.
COOPER: Staying on this issue, let's watch.
BUZZ BROCKWAY: Hello. My name is Buzz Brockway from
Lawrenceville, Georgia. All the talk about the war in Iraq centers
around how quickly we can get out. I think that's the wrong question.
We need to make a permanent or long-term military commitment to the
By staying in Iraq, we provide long-term stability to the region,
we provide support for our allies, and we act as a deterrent to the
trouble-makers in the region. Which presidential candidate will make
a permanent of long-term military commitment to the people of Iraq?
BROCKWAY: Thank you.
COOPER: Senator Thompson?
THOMPSON: We shouldn't be in there longer than necessary, and we
don't know how long that will be. But we should be there absolutely
as long as it takes to complete our mission there. It will make for a
safer United States of America.
We're all focused, understandably, on Iraq and Afghanistan right
now, but it is part of a much bigger picture. Islamic terrorism has
declared war on us and Western civilization. They would like nothing
better than to kill millions of people as they bring us down. They
would like to be able to advertise to young radicals around the world
that, "You, too, could help bring down the United States of America."
Iran is waiting there to fill that vacuum. You think $90, $100 a
barrel is high for oil now, wait until that happens.
But more importantly, it would make for a less secure United
States of America. We have to do what's necessary. We have to take
the opportunity that we have now.
John's absolutely right. What's going on there is progress; it's
THOMPSON: Too many people in this country are vested in a
scenario of defeat. I'm vested in a scenario of victory and I see it
happening there in Iraq today.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, 30 seconds.
PAUL: The best commitment we can make to the Iraqi people is to
give them their country back. That's the most important thing that we
Already, part of their country has been taken back. In the
south, they claim the surge has worked, but the surge really hasn't
worked. There's less violence, but al-Sadr has essentially won in the
The British are leaving. The brigade of Al Sadr now is in
charge, so they are getting their country back. They're in charge up
north -- the Shia -- the people in the north are in charge, as well,
and there's no violence up there or nearly as much.
So, let the people have their country back again. Just think of
the cleaning up of the mess after we left Vietnam. Vietnam now is a
friend of ours -- we trade with them, the president comes here.
What we achieved in peace was unachievable in 20 years of the
French and the Americans being in Vietnam.
PAUL: So it's time for us to take care of America first.
COOPER: Senator McCain?
MCCAIN: Well, let me remind you, Congressman, we never lost a
battle in Vietnam. It was American public opinion that forced us to
lost that conflict.
I think it's important for all Americans to understand the
fundamental difference. After we left Vietnam, they didn't want to
follow us home. They wanted to build their own workers' paradise. If
you read Zarqawi, if you read bin Laden, if you read Zawahiri, read
what they say. They want to follow us home. They want Iraq to be a
base for Al Qaida to launch attacks against the United States. Their
ultimate destination is not Iraq.
MCCAIN: Their ultimate destination is New York City, Washington,
D.C., Chicago and Phoenix, Arizona. This is a transcendent challenge
of our time.
MCCAIN: I believe that we can meet it and we will defeat it.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, I know -- we'll get everyone in on
this. Congressman Paul, just wanted to allow you to respond.
PAUL: Shortly after the Vietnam War ended, Colonel Tu and
Colonel Summers met, and they were talking about this. And our -- and
the American colonel said, "You know, we never lost one battle." And
Colonel Tu, the Vietnamese says, "Yes, but that's irrelevant."
And it is irrelevant. But we have to realize why they want to
come here. Wolfowitz even admitted that one of the major reasons that
the Al Qaida was organized and energized was because of our military
base in Saudi Arabia.
PAUL: He says, "Oh, now, we can take the base away." He
understood why they came here. They come here because we're occupying
their country, just as we would object if they occupied our country.
COOPER: Well, it's Congressman Tancredo. And we're running
short on time. So, please, let's try to get to these.
You have 30 seconds.
TANCREDO: I wish that we lived in the world that Ron is
describing -- I wish that we lived in a world where we did not have to
worry. By simply removing our forces, we would be safe.
Unfortunately, Ron, honest to God, I don't believe that that is
the case. We are living in a world where we are threatened. It is
It is -- the ideology, the political and religious ideology of
radical Islam is a threat to America, and it would be a threat to
America if we never had a single person serving anywhere outside this
COOPER: We've got another question for Mayor Giuliani.
SAM GARCIA: Hi. My name is Sam Garcia.
GARCIA: I'm from Colorado Springs, Colorado. The following
question is for Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani, a while back, a friend
and I were having a discussion about you and some of the other
He blatantly made this statement somewhere along the line: Rudy
Giuliani is using September 11, 2001, to propel himself into the White
House. My question to you is: How do you respond to this accusation
and other accusations similar to it?
COOPER: Ninety seconds.
GIULIANI: Sam, what I say is, I would like people to look at my
whole record. Long before September 11, 2001, I was the third-ranking
official in the Reagan justice department.
During that period of time, I actually did something about
illegal immigration. I played a large part in stopping the Haitian
illegal immigration into south Florida. I negotiated the agreement
with the Haitian government that allowed us to put a Coast Guard
cutter in the waters outside Port-au-Prince, as well as the legal
agreements that were necessary to do the examinations there.
GIULIANI: And this terrible problem that was going on that was
also leading to the loss of life was ended, or at least ameliorated
I was United States attorney in the Southern District of New
York. I prosecuted thousands of organized crimes figures. I
prosecuted Sicilian Mafia members, never done before in an American
I was mayor of a city that was described as one of the greatest
turnarounds of any city in the history of America. George Will said I
ran the most conservative government in this country, most successful
conservative government in this country in the last 50 or 60 years.
This is all before September 11th, 2001. I reduced taxes. I reduced
spending. I reduced welfare. I reduced abortions, increased
These are all things that I did before September 11, 2001. And
the reason that I believe I'm qualified to be president of the United
States is not because of September 11th, 2001. It's because I've been
tested. I've been tested in a way in which I ran the third-largest
government in this country, the 17th-largest economy in the world, and
I got very, very remarkable results.
And that is the evaluation of other people, not me.
COOPER: All right. We've got a question...
Definitely a reminder this is a YouTube/CNN debate. Let's watch.
NICK ANDERSON AS DICK CHENEY CARTOON CHARACTER: Yes. Will you
grant your vice president as much power and influence as I've had?
And remember, before you answer, I'm watching you.
COOPER: Funny video, serious question.
Senator Thompson, would you have a vice president...
THOMPSON: First of all, I'm greatly relieved. For a second
there, I thought that was me.
COOPER: The power of the vice president.
THOMPSON: I think that the vice president, of course, has a dual
role. He has a place in the executive branch of government. He also
presides over the Senate, so he has a place in the legislative branch
But a vice president ought to be chosen, basically, on his
ability to serve as president of the United States, if that situation
were called for.
THOMPSON: Therefore, he needs to be brought into the
administration. I think that a vice president ought to have
substantial authority; I think especially on national security areas.
Expertise in that area is especially beneficial to a president who is
having to deal with all the issues a president has to deal with, but
certainly some expertise either in the domestic area or the national
Some legal training also might be helpful. I think one of the
most important things that we're going to be facing for this next
president is the selection of United States judges to the Supreme
Court. So I think that all those are things that you have to take
into consideration in deciding what kind of authority the vice
president should have.
Basically, he should have the authority that the president gives
him, and he should adhere to that authority.
COOPER: Senator McCain, has this president given too much
authority to the vice president?
MCCAIN: Look, I am going to give you some straight talk. This
president came to office in a time of peace, and then we found
ourselves in 2001.
MCCAIN: And he did not have as much national security experience
as I do. So he had to rely more on the vice president of the United
States, and that's obvious. I wouldn't have to do that. I might have
to rely on a vice president that I select on some other issues. He
may have more expertise in telecommunications, on information
technology, which is the future of this nation's economy. He may have
more expertise in a lot of areas.
But I would rely on a vice president of the United States -- but
was Fred said, the primary responsibility is to select one who will
immediately take your place is necessary. But the vice president of
the United States is a key and important issue, and must add in
carrying out the responsibilities of the president of the United
COOPER: We've got a short break, our last break of the debate.
We'll watch a video, this one from the Hunter campaign, as we go to
GENERAL CHUCK YAEGER (USAF-RET.): Yes, I'm General Chuck Yaeger,
retired Air Force, and I support Duncan Hunter for president of the
ANNOUNCER: Duncan Hunter -- he built the border fence between
California and Mexico. As chairman of the House Armed Services
Committee, he kept our military strong and kept defense jobs in
America. And when liberal judges tried to take down the Veterans'
Memorial, Duncan Hunter's bill saved it.
For a real conservative for president, join our team now.
HUNTER: I'm Duncan Hunter, and I approved this message.
HUCKABEE: Faith doesn't just influence me. It really defines
me. I don't have to wake up every day wondering what do I need to
Let us never sacrifice our principles for anybody's politics.
Not now, not ever.
HUCKABEE: I believe life begins at conception.
We believe in some things. We stand by those things. We live or
die by those things.
I'm Mike Huckabee, and I approve this message.
COOPER: A campaign commercial from the Huckabee campaign. 11:00
tonight eastern time on CNN Campbell Brown has a one-hour special, a
"Broken Government" special called "Campaign Special."
It's about attack ads. It's an interesting show starting at
11:00 East Coast time tonight.
All right, let's get back to the debate. Another question from a
YouTube viewer. Let's watch.
BRIGADIER GENERAL KEITH KERR (RET.): My name's Keith Kerr, from
Santa Rosa, California. I'm a retired brigadier general with 43 years
of service. And I'm a graduate of the Special Forces Officer Course,
the Commanding General Staff Course and the Army War College. And I'm
an openly gay man.
I want to know why you think that American men and women in
uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians.
COOPER: I want to point out that Brigadier General Keith Kerr is
here with us tonight. I'm glad you're here.
Again, the question to Congressman Hunter.
HUNTER: General, thanks for your service, but I believe in what
Colin Powell said when he said that having openly homosexual people
serving in the ranks would be bad for unit cohesion.
The reason for that, even though people point to the Israelis and
point to the Brits and point to other people as having homosexuals
serve, is that most Americans, most kids who leave that breakfast
table and go out and serve in the military and make that corporate
decision with their family, most of them are conservatives.
They have conservative values, and they have Judeo-Christian
values. To force those people to work in a small tight unit with
somebody who is openly homosexual goes against what they believe to be
their principles, and it is their principles, is I think a disservice
to them. I agree with Colin Powell that it would be bad for unit
COOPER: I want to direct this to Governor Huckabee.
HUCKABEE: The Uniform Code of Military Justice is probably the
best rule, and it has to do with conduct. People have a right to have
whatever feelings, whatever attitudes they wish, but when their
conduct could put at risk the morale, or put at risk even the cohesion
that Duncan Hunter spoke of, I think that's what is at issue. And
that's why our policy is what it is.
COOPER: Governor Romney, you said in 1994 that you looked
forward to the day when gays and lesbians could serve, and I quote,
"openly and honestly in our nation's military." Do you stand by that?
ROMNEY: This isn't that time. This is not that time. We're in
the middle of a war. The people who have...
COOPER: Do you look forward to that time, though, one day?
ROMNEY: I'm going to listen to the people who run the military
to see what the circumstances are like. And my view is that, at this
stage, this is not the time for us to make that kind of...
COOPER: Is that a change in your position...
ROMNEY: Yes, I didn't think it would work. I didn't think
"don't ask/don't tell" would work. That was my -- I didn't think that
would work. I thought that was a policy, when I heard about it, I
laughed. I said that doesn't make any sense to me.
ROMNEY: And you know what? It's been there now for, what, 15
years? It seems to have worked.
COOPER: So, just so I'm clear, at this point, do you still look
forward to a day when gays can serve openly in the military or no
ROMNEY: I look forward to hearing from the military exactly what
they believe is the right way to have the right kind of cohesion and
support in our troops and I listen to what they have to say.
COOPER: All right. General Kerr is -- as I said -- is here.
Please stand up, General. Thank you very much for being with us.
Did you feel you got an answer to your question?
KERR: With all due respect, I did not get an answer from the
COOPER: What do you feel you did not...
KERR: American men and women in the military are professional
enough to serve with gays and lesbians.
For 42 years, I wore the army uniform on active duty, in the
Reserve, and also for the state of California. I revealed I was a gay
man after I retired.
Today, "don't ask/don't tell" is destructive to our military
KERR: Every day, the Department of Defense discharges two
people, not for misconduct, not for the unit cohesion...
COOPER: Wait, the mike is -- you've lost me. Is the microphone
not working? Please, just finish your -- what is your question?
KERR: Not for the unit cohesion that Congressman Hunter is
talking about, but simply because they happen to be gay.
COOPER: OK. Senator McCain...
KERR: And we're talking about doctors, nurses, pilots, and the
surgeon who sews somebody up when they're taken from the battlefield.
COOPER: I appreciate your comments.
Senator McCain, I want to give you 30 seconds. You served in the
MCCAIN: General, I thank you for your service to our nation. I
respect it. All the time, I talk to our military leaders, beginning
with our joint chiefs of staff and the leaders in the field, such as
General Petraeus and General Odierno and others who are designated
leaders with the responsibility of the safety of the men and women
under their command and their security and protect them as best they
Almost unanimously, they tell me that this present policy is
working, that we have the best military in history, that we have the
bravest, most professional, best prepared, and that this policy ought
to be continued because it's working.
COOPER: All right. We've got another question. Let's listen.
DAVID CERCONE: Hi, my name is David Cercone. I'd like to ask
all the candidates if they accept the support of the Log Cabin
Republicans, and why should the Log Cabin Republicans support their
COOPER: Governor Huckabee, would you support -- would you allow
support from the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay Republicans?
HUCKABEE: You know, in my position in this entire election, I
need the support of anybody and everybody I can get.
HUCKABEE: Sure, they should. I disagree with them, strongly
disagree with them on the idea of same-sex marriage, but in a
democracy we can have disagreements over some policies and still agree
on the greater things that make us Republicans.
So would I accept their support? Of course. Would I change my
position on same-sex marriage? No, I wouldn't. But if they're
willing to support me, I'll be their president. I'll be anybody's
president, but I'll be true to my convictions, and I think that's what
Americans look for -- not someone they're going to agree with on
everything, but somebody who at least has some convictions, sticks
with them, can explain them, and can at least have respect for people
who have different ones.
COOPER: Another question about the local economy.
ADAM FLORZAK: This is Adam Florzak of Illinois. The national
debt is now growing so quickly it will have increased by over half-
million dollars in just the time it takes to ask this question. Over
the years, politicians have borrowed just under $2 trillion from the
Social Security trust fund to cover these massive budget deficits, and
now the retirements of our generation are at risk. What will you do
as president to help repay this money and restore the trust?
COOPER: Senator Thompson, a lot of retirees here in Florida.
THOMPSON: One of the things I would do for his generation is
protect him from our generation.
He's absolutely right, we're spending his money, we're spending
his children's money, and we're spending the money of kids yet to be
In 2017, Social Security will be in the red. Pretty soon it'll
be out of money, it'll go bankrupt. In fact, our entitlement programs
put together will take over the entire budget by about 2040.
So that's why I get back to the point I made earlier. All these
programs that we talk about in the news every day are a thimbleful in
ocean compared to the entitlement tsunami that's coming to hit us.
Now, we can do some things now, as I've proposed about Social
Security, without having to really hurt anybody, and give people to
invest for their future while they're still working. Or we can wait
and let our grandkids or children, depending on how old they are,
solve this problem that we have left them. It's not only a fiscal
issue; it's a moral issue, as far as I'm concerned.
COOPER: Governor McCain?
I'm sorry -- Governor Romney, 30 seconds.
ROMNEY: Thank you.
That's one of the problems we face, and a big one, which is the
over-spending in Washington and the debt and the obligations we have.
We also face tough new competition coming from Asia. We face
global jihad, which we just talked about very briefly. We face a
whole series of extraordinary problems -- over-use of oil, entitlement
is out of control.
It's time for us to recognize we're going to have to take a new
course in this country -- not follow Hillary Clinton off to the left;
instead, to follow the pathway Ronald Reagan blazed, which is to say
we're going to have a stronger America with a stronger economy and
have somebody who understands how jobs come and go, who understands
what propels our economy, will strengthen our economy, strengthen our
military and strengthen our families.
COOPER: I want to get as many of the YouTube questions in as
Let's get another one here from another viewer.
STEVEN NIELSON: My name is Steve Nielson. And this question
comes to you from Denver, Colorado.
JFK's vision put a man on the moon from a nonexistent space
program in about seven years. The new vision for space exploration
has provided about 15 years for that same feat.
Meanwhile, Congress is pulling funding for human-to-Mars research
Is there a candidate amongst you willing to take a pledge on
behalf of the Mars Society of sending an American to the surface of
Mars by 2020? If not, what is your vision for human space
COOPER: Governor Huckabee?
NASA pumps some -- let's see, how many -- $5 billion into
HUCKABEE: Whether we ought to go to Mars is not a decision that
I would want to make, but I would certainly want to make sure that we
expand the space program, because every one of us who are sitting here
tonight have our lives dramatically improved because there was a space
program -- whether it's these screens that we see or the incredible
electronics that we use, including the GPS systems that got many of
you to this arena tonight.
Some of you were late because you didn't have one, by the way.
Or whether it's the medical technologies that saved many of our lives
or the lives or our families, it's the direct result of the space
program, and we need to put more money into science and technology and
Now, whether we need to send somebody to Mars, I don't know. But
I'll tell you what: If we do, I've got a few suggestions, and maybe
Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars.
COOPER: Congressman Tancredo, 30 seconds, please.
TANCREDO: The question is a serious one and it deserves a
serious answer, and that is this: Look, we've been -- how many times
up here, how many questions have dealt with the issue of deficit
spending, the debt out of control? And yet, we have somebody saying,
"But would you spend more money on going to Mars?"
And the suggestion that we need to spend more money on space
exploration. This is it, folks. That's why we have such incredible
problems with our debt, because everybody's trying to be everything to
We can't afford some things, and by the way, going to Mars is one
COOPER: All right. Let's move on. Another question here from
Actually, let's show -- all right.
DAVID MCMILLAN: Hi, my name is David McMillan, and I'm from Los
Angeles, California. On a variety of specific issues -- gay marriage,
taxes, the death penalty, immigration, faith-based initiatives, school
vouchers, school prayer -- many African Americans hold fairly
And yet, we overwhelmingly vote Democrat in most elections. So
my question to any of the Republican candidates here is, why don't we
vote for you?
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?
GIULIANI: We probably haven't done a good enough job as a party
in pointing out that our solutions, our philosophy, is really the
philosophy that would be the most attractive to the overwhelming
majority of people in the African American and Hispanic community.
Whether they are upper middle class, rich, middle class or poor,
the -- good education is something that everyone in all these
communities and all communities want. The idea of choice in education
is something that would totally turn around education in this country.
It's something that large percentages of African American and Hispanic
parents support. They would like to be able to choose a private
school, a parochial school, a charter school, home-schooling for their
Instead, they have the government telling them that their child
has to go to an inadequate school.
So there are many, many issues on which we can reach out. I
found that one of the best was moving people off welfare. I moved
640,000 people off welfare, most of them to jobs. I change the
welfare agency into a job agency, and all of a sudden I had people
that had a future, people that had great hope in life.
I think the reason that crime not only declined in New York more
than anyplace else, but continues to decline, is that many of those
people who were hopeless 10, 12 years ago, now have hope. They have a
future. They have gotten the genius of the American way of life. We
haven't made it available to all people, and we have to do that.
We will be a very popular party in those communities.
COOPER: Time. Governor Huckabee, 30 seconds.
HUCKABEE: Well, according to your network's exit polls, some 48
percent of the African-Americans in my state did, in fact, vote for
me, which is unusually high for African-Americans voting for a
Republican. Here's the reason why: because I asked for their vote,
and I didn't wait until October of the election year to do it.
And, while I was governor, I tried to make sure that we included
people not only in appointments and employment, but also in the
programs that would truly make a difference, like putting
disproportionate amounts of help for health problems specifically
targeted to African-Americans like hypertension and AIDS and diabetes.
So there's a reason. And I just want to express that our party had
better reach out not just to African-Americans, but to Hispanics and
to all people of this country.
I don't want to be a part of a Republican party that is a tiny,
minute and ever decreasing party, but one that touches every American
from top to bottom, regardless of race.
COOPER: Our next question -- let's watch:
LEROY BROOKS: Hello, my name is Leroy Brooks. I am from
Houston, Texas and my question is for all the candidates.
Whether this flag right here represents the symbol of racism, a
symbol of political ideology, a symbol of Southern heritage -- or, is
it something completely different?
COOPER: He's talking about the stars and bars.
ROMNEY: Right now, with the kinds of issues we got in this
country, I'm not going to get involved with a flag like that. That's
not a flag that I recognize so that I would hold up in my room.
The people of our country have decided not to fly that flag. I
think that's the right thing.
My own view is that this country can go beyond that kind of
stuff, and that instead we can do as a party what we need to do, which
is to reach out to all Americans.
Every time I listen to someone like John Edwards get on TV and
say there are two Americans, I just want to -- I just want to throw
something at the TV, because there are not two Americas. There's one
We are a nation united. We face extraordinary challenges right
now. And Democrats dividing us and tearing down this country are
doing exactly the wrong thing.
We're succeeding in Iraq. We've got tough challenges. We can
overcome them. But we do not need to have that kind of divisive talk.
And that flag, frankly, is divisive, and it shouldn't be shown.
COOPER: Governor Thompson? Excuse me, Senator Thompson? Maybe
THOMPSON: I know that everybody who hangs the flag up in their
room like that is not racist. I also know that for a great many
Americans it's a symbol of racism.
So, therefore, as a public place -- he's free to do whatever he
wants to in his home. As far as a public place is concerned, I am
glad that people have made the decision not to display it as a
prominent flag, symbolic of something, at a state capitol. As a part
of a group of flags or something of that nature, you know, honoring
various servicepeople at different times in different parts of the
country, I think that's different.
But, as a nation, we don't need to go out of our way to be
bringing up things that to certain people in our country that's bad
COOPER: We're running short on time. I want to get Ron Paul's
video in. Let's watch.
PAUL: The people are sick and tired of what they're getting, and
they want some real changes.
I don't want to run your life. We need less taxation, less
regulations, a better economic system.
We were not meant to be an empire; we were meant to be a
republic, protecting liberty here at home.
It's up to you to spread this message around this country. This
is an American cause, it's a cause of freedom. There's something
going on in this country, and it stinks. It really stinks.
COOPER: That's part of the Paul campaign.
Let's get to another YouTube -- YouTube question.
DR. HANK CAMPBELL: Good evening. My name is Dr. Hank Campbell.
I'm in Lake Worth, Florida. My question is our infrastructure. It's
been estimated that to fix the bridges, the tunnels, the power grids,
the water delivery systems in this country will be in excess of $2
trillion -- that is "t" for "trillion" -- and it is plural.
Who among the candidates here is willing to step forward and
begin to articulate the very difficult sacrifices which we need to
make in order to start repairing America? Thank you.
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?
GIULIANI: Well, I faced a situation like this, a microcosm of it
in New York City. New York City hadn't invested in infrastructure for
a very, long time. I had kind of gotten through its fiscal crisis
that way. We started a long-term capital investment program on the
infrastructure. My predecessor started it. I continued it. I turned
it over to my successor and it really has done I think remarkable work
in rebuilding the infrastructure of New York. That's what America
It can't be done by one president. This is something where
you're going to need a succession of presidents to have a sustained
program. Probably we should have budgeting that allows for -- we
can't really have a capital budget under federal budgeting, but we
could have a separate accounting.
So that kind of budgeting is long-term, because this is going to
help America over a 20- or a 30-year period. Most of the time when
we're spending money, as Senator Thompson said, we're spending the
next generation's money and we shouldn't be doing that. Fiscal
conservatism is about preventing that.
But when we're rebuilding our roads, rebuilding our bridges,
building new bridges, rebuilding our infrastructure, that's actually
going to benefit the next generation and the generation after. And
there are ways to spread that out over a long period of time.
But it needs a sustained program, and it cannot be done just by
the federal government. It needs to be done as a partnership with
state and local governments. And I believe I'd be in a good position
to lead that.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, 30 seconds.
PAUL: The infrastructure problem in this country is very, very
serious. We as Americans are taxed to blow up the bridges overseas.
We're taxed to go over and rebuild the bridges overseas while our
bridges are falling down in this country.
This country is going bankrupt, and we can't afford this. We
need to take care of ourselves. We do not need to sacrifice one thing
more. We just need to take care of ourselves and get the government
out of our lives and off our back and out of our wallets.
COOPER: Senator McCain, 30 seconds.
MCCAIN: First thing I'll do, my friends, is take out my veto pen
and veto every single pork-barrel project that comes across my desk,
and there will be no more bridges to nowhere under my administration,
I promise you that. And we'll give the president of the United States
the line-item veto which Rudy Giuliani opposed so that he could
protect his $250 million worth of pork.
My friends, we will take the money and give it back to the states
and we'll let them make these decisions, but we'll never have another
pork barrel project as long as I'm capable of wielding a veto pen.
COOPER: Time. We've got another question.
GIULIANI: Anderson, may I please respond...
COOPER: Go ahead, 30 seconds.
GIULIANI: ... to the little side shot?
COOPER: Thirty seconds.
GIULIANI: The reality is that the line-item veto is
GIULIANI: The line-item veto is unconstitutional.
MCCAIN: The line-item veto is constitutional.
GIULIANI: If you are a strict -- the line-item veto is
unconstitutional determined not by John McCain, but by the Supreme
Court. And the Supreme Court found that the line-item veto is
If I hadn't challenged that, I would not have been carrying out
my fiduciary duties for the people of New York City. That was money
that was illegally deprived to the people of my city. I fought for
them and beat Bill Clinton. Not bad to have a Republican who can beat
COOPER: Let's go to the next question -- it's for Ron Paul.
MARK STRAUSS: Mark Strauss, Davenport, Iowa.
This question is for Ron Paul.
Mr. Paul, I think we both know that the Republican party is never
going to give you the nomination. But I'm hoping that you're crazy
like a fox like that and you're using this exposure to propel yourself
into an independent run.
My question is for Ron Paul: Mr. Paul, are you going to let
America down by not running as an independent?
PAUL: Now that's what I call a tough question, because I have no
intention of doing this.
I am a Republican. I have won 10 times as a Republican and we're
doing quite well. We had 5,000 people show up at a rally in front of
the Independence Hall with blacks and Hispanics and a cross-section of
You know that we raised $4.3 million in one day?
Without spending one cent. We didn't even pay an individual to
go out and they weren't professional fund-raisers. It came in here --
it was automatic.
We're struggling to figure out how to spend the money. This is
country is in a revolution. They're sick and tired of what they're
getting. And I happen to be lucky enough to be part of it.
COOPER: I'll take that as a no.
We -- unfortunately, this is our last question of the night.
CHRIS KRUL: Giuliani, can you explain why you being a lifelong
Yankees fan, that this year, after the Yankees lost everything, you
rooted for the Red Sox in the postseason? Can you explain that
position for me?
COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?
GIULIANI: Hey, Krul. Hey, Krul. I'm Giuliani. He's Krul. So
I'll explain it to him like in Brooklyn.
I'm an American -- I'm an American League fan. I root for the
American League team when they get into the World Series. I've done
it for 50 years. I actually rooted for the Red Sox...
(AUDIENCE MEMBER BOOING)
GIULIANI: Can't help it. I'm an American League fan. I rooted
for the White Sox, the Tigers, the Red Sox.
As soon as the World Series are over, I rooted for the Yankees
again. We're gonna beat you next year.
I unfortunately have lost a bet already, to John McCain, with the
Arizona Diamondbacks, so I don't have a 100 record. But I do point
out that when I was mayor of New York City, the Yankees won four world
And -- wait, wait, wait.
I wanted to put this -- I wanted to put this in our reel, but
they cut it out, so I'm going to get it in -- and since I've left
being mayor of New York City, the Yankees have won none.
COOPER: Governor Romney, very quickly, your chance.
ROMNEY: Eighty-seven long years. We waited 87 long years. And
true suffering Red Sox fans that my family and I are, we could not
have been more happy than to see the Red Sox win the World Series,
except by being able to beat the Yankees when they were ahead three
games to none.
And so, I have to tell you that like most Americans, we love our
sports teams and we hate the Yankees.
COOPER: I want to thank you all for participating tonight. I
want to thank all those viewers who submitted the questions, 5,000
questions. I want to thank everyone in the audience, the Republican
Party of Florida for hosting us.
Thank you very much.