October 18, 2011: CNN /  Western Republican Leadership Conference Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

Republican Candidates Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada October 18, 2011

PARTICIPANTS:
Representative Michele Bachmann (MN);
Herman Cain (GA);
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (GA);
Representative Ron Paul (TX);
Governor Rick Perry (TX);
Former Governor Mitt Romney (MA); and
Former Senator Rick Santorum (PA)

MODERATOR:
Anderson Cooper (CNN)

COOPER: I want to ask the candidates to please take your podiums. While the candidates are taking their podiums, I just want to tell you a little bit more about how tonight’s debate is going to work. I’ll be the moderator. I’ll ask questions on a wide range of issues. And I’ll work to make sure that each candidate is getting his or her fair share of questions.

Also, Western voters right here in the hall will be asking questions, as well, and viewers watching at home can participate, also. We’re accepting questions for the candidates on Twitter. If you send a question for the candidates on Twitter, make sure to include the hash tag #cnndebate, on Facebook at facebook.com/cnnpolitics, and on cnnpolitics.com.

Now, each candidate will have about one minute to answer the questions and 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. I’ll make sure candidates get time to respond if they’re singled out for criticism. There are no buzzers. There’s no bells. I’ll just politely inform the candidates when they need to wrap things up.

We want everyone watching to emerge from this debate more informed about the candidates, more able to judge who should be the next president of the United States.

Now that everyone is in place, it’s time for the candidates to introduce themselves to our audience. All the candidates are going to keep it short. Here’s an example. I’m Anderson Cooper. I’m usually anchoring “AC 360” on CNN, but I’m honored to be here in Las Vegas at the Western Republican Presidential Debate. That will be my introduction. [applause]

So, Senator Santorum, you’re first. Let’s start with you.

SANTORUM: Thank you, Anderson. I’m Rick Santorum. My wife, Karen, and I are the parents of seven children. And my little girl, Isabella, 3 years old, had some surgery today. She’s doing fine. But I just wanted to send to her a little “I love you” and I will take the red eye home to be with you tomorrow and make sure that you’re feeling fine. [applause]

PAUL: I’m Congressman Ron Paul from Texas. I’m the champion of liberty. I am the only one that has offered a balanced budget in — in a sincere method. And also, I present the case for a free society as being the best defense for peace and prosperity. [applause]

CAIN: I am businessman Herman Cain. I’ve been married to my wife, Gloria, for 43 years. And I’m a 42-year businessman, which means I solve problems for a living. [applause]

ROMNEY: I’m Mitt Romney. I was a businessman for 25 years. Then I had the fun of getting the chance to help run the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City next door. And then I had the fun also of being governor of Massachusetts. I also solve problems, sometimes for a living, sometimes for other people to make things better. And I hope to be your president. Thank you. [applause]

PERRY: Good evening. I’m Texas Governor Rick Perry, a proven job-creator and a man who is about economic growth, an authentic conservative, not a conservative of convenience. [applause]

GINGRICH: I’m Newt Gingrich. And unlike President Obama, I’m glad to be in Las Vegas. I think it’s a great place to have a convention. [applause]

And — and when I am president, we’re going to replace class warfare with cooperation so all Americans can get off food stamps and onto paychecks. [applause]

BACHMANN: Hi, my name is Michele Bachmann. I am thrilled to be able to be with you tonight in Las Vegas. And this is one night when I hope what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. [applause]

COOPER: All right. Let’s — time to begin. We’ll begin with actually a question in the hall.

QUESTION: This is for all candidates. What’s your position on replacing the federal income tax with a federal sales tax?

COOPER: I’ll direct that to Congresswoman Bachmann. You’ve been very critical of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, which calls for a 9 percent sales tax, a 9 percent income tax, and 9 percent corporate tax. In fact, you’ve said it would destroy the economy. Why?

BACHMANN: Well, I am a former federal tax litigation attorney. And also, my husband and I are job-creators.

One thing I know about Congress, being a member of Congress for five years, is that any time you give the Congress a brand-new tax, it doesn’t go away. When we got the income tax in 1913, the top rate was 7 percent. By 1980, the top rate was 70 percent. If we give Congress a 9 percent sales tax, how long will it take a liberal president and a liberal Congress to run that up to maybe 90 percent? Who knows?

What I do know is that we also have to be concerned about the hidden tax of the value-added tax, because at every step and stage of production, you’d be taxing that item 9 percent on the profit. That’s the worry.

In my plan — again, that’s a tax plan, it’s not a jobs plan — my plan for economic recovery is real jobs right now. I have a tax plan. I have a jobs plan. I have an energy plan and a plan to really turn this country around and create millions of high-paying jobs.

COOPER: Mr. Cain, a lot of prominent conservatives now are coming forward saying that your 9-9-9 plan would actually raise taxes on middle-class voters, on lower-income voters.

CAIN: The thing that I would encourage people to do before they engage in this knee-jerk reaction is read our analysis. It is available at hermancain.com. It was performed by Fiscal Associates. And all of the claims that are made against it, it is a jobs plan, it is revenue-neutral, it does not raise taxes on those that are making the least. All of those are simply not true.

The reason that my plan — the reason that our plan is being attacked so much is because lobbyists, accountants, politicians, they don’t want to throw out the current tax code and put in something that’s simple and fair. They want to continue to be able to manipulate the American people with a 10-million-word mess.

Let’s throw out the 10-million-word mess and put in our plan, which will liberate the American workers and liberate American businesses. [applause]

COOPER: Senator Santorum, will his plan raise taxes?

SANTORUM: Herman’s well-meaning, and I love his boldness, and it’s great. But the fact of the matter is, I mean, reports are now out that 84 percent of Americans would pay more taxes under his plan. That’s the analysis. And it makes sense, because when — when you don’t provide a standard deduction, when you don’t provide anything for low-income individuals, and you have a sales tax and an income tax and, as Michele said, a value-added tax, which is really what his corporate tax is, we’re talking about major increases in taxes on people.

He also doesn’t have anything that takes care of the families. I mean, you have — you have a situation where, under Herman’s plan, a single person pays as much in taxes as a — as a man and a woman raising three children. Ever since we’ve had the income tax in America, we’ve always taken advantage of the fact that we want to encourage people to — to have children and not have to pay more already to raise children, but also pay that additional taxes — we gave some breaks for families. He doesn’t do that in this bill.

And we’re going to — we’ve seen that happen in Europe. And what happened? Boom, birth rates went into — into the basement. It’s a bad tax for — again, it’s bold. I give him credit for — for starting a debate, but it’s not good for families, and it’s not good for low-income… [crosstalk]

COOPER: I’m going to give you 30 seconds to respond. That 84 percent figure comes from the Tax Policy Center.

CAIN: That simply is not true. I invite people to look at our analysis, which we make available.

Secondly, the — the point that he makes about is a value-added tax — I’m sorry, Representative Bachmann — it’s not a value-added tax. It’s a single tax.

And I invite every American to do their own math, because most of these are knee-jerk reactions. And we do provide a provision, if you read the analysis, something we call opportunity zones that will, in fact, address the issue of those making the least.

COOPER: I want to bring in Congresswoman Bachmann since she was referenced by you.

BACHMANN: But Anderson, how do you not have a value-added tax? Because at every level of production you have a profit, and that profit gets taxed, because you produce one portion at one level, and then you take it to the next supplier or vendor at the next level, and you have an exchange. That is a taxable event.

And ultimately, that becomes a value-added tax. It’s a hidden tax. And any time the federal government needs revenue, they dial up the rate and the American people think that it’s — that it is the vendor that creates the tax, but it’s the government that creates the tax. [applause]

COOPER: Governor Perry, in your state, you have a 6.25 percent sales tax. Would taxpayers pay more under the 9-9-9 plan?

PERRY: No.

Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don’t need to have a big analysis to figure this thing out. Go to New Hampshire, where they don’t have a sales tax, and you’re fixing to give them one.

They’re not interested in 9-9-9. What they’re interested in is flatter and fairer. At the end of the week, I’m going to be laying out a plan that clearly — I’ll bump plans with you, brother, and we’ll see who has the best idea about how you get this country working again.

And one of the ways, right here in Nevada you’ve got 8-plus percent. You want nine cents on top of that, and nine cents on a new home — or 9 percent on a new home, 9 percent on your Social Security, 9 percent more?

I don’t think so, Herman. It’s not going to fly.

COOPER: Mr. Cain, 30 seconds. [applause]

CAIN: This is an example of mixing apples and oranges. The state tax is an apple. We are replacing the current tax code with oranges. So it’s not correct to mix apples and oranges.

Secondly, it is not a value-added tax. If you take most of the products — take a loaf of bread. It does have five taxes in it right now. What the 9 percent does is that we take out those five invisible taxes and replace it with one visible 9 percent.

So you’re absolutely wrong. It’s not a value-added tax.

Now one other quick thing.

COOPER: Your time’s up, I’m sorry.

CAIN: This whole thing about —

COOPER: You’ll have another 30 seconds. Trust me, they’re going to go —

CAIN: Tonight?

COOPER: Yes, I guarantee it. In about a minute.

Congressman Paul, you called his plan dangerous today.

PAUL: Oh, it is, because it raises revenues, and the worst part about it, it’s regressive. A lot of people aren’t paying any taxes, and I like that. I don’t think that we should even things up by raising taxes.

So it is a regressive tax. So it’s very, very dangerous. And it will raise more revenues.

But the gentlemen asked the question — he didn’t even ask what we’re talking about. He asked the question, what are you going to replace the income tax with? And I say nothing. That’s what we should replace it with. [applause]

PAUL: But I do want to make a point that spending is a tax. As soon as the governments spend money, eventually it’s a tax. Sometimes we put a direct tax on the people. Sometimes we borrow the money. And sometimes we print the money.

And then when prices go up, like today, the wholesale price index went up 7 percent rate, and if you look at the free market, prices are going up 9 and 10 percent. So that is the tax.

So, spending is the tax. That is the reason I offered the program, to cut $1 trillion out of the first year budget that I offer. [applause]

COOPER: Mr. Cain, in 30 seconds?

CAIN: Once again, unfortunately, none of my distinguished colleagues who have attacked me up here tonight understand the plan. They’re wrong about it being a value-added tax.

We simply remove the hidden taxes that are in goods and services with our plan and replace it with a single rate 9 percent. I invite every family to do your own calculations with that arithmetic.

COOPER: Governor Romney, you have your only 59-point plan. In the last debate, Mr. Cain suggested it was too complicated. Is simpler better?

ROMNEY: Oftentimes simpler is better. And I know we’re not supposed the ask each other questions, but if you permit.

Herman, are you saying that the state sales tax will also go away?

CAIN: No, that’s an apple.

ROMNEY: OK.

CAIN: We’re replacing a bunch of oranges.

ROMNEY: OK.

So, then Governor Perry was right that —

CAIN: No, he wasn’t. He was mixing apples and oranges.

ROMNEY: Well, but will the people in Nevada not have to pay Nevada sales tax and in addition pay the 9 percent tax? CAIN: Governor Romney, you’re doing the same thing that they’re doing. You’re mixing apples and oranges. You’re going to pay —

ROMNEY: I’m —

CAIN: No, no, no, no. You’re going to pay the state sales tax, no matter what.

ROMNEY: Right.

CAIN: Whether you throw out the existing code and you put in our plan, you’re still going to pay that. That’s apples and oranges.

ROMNEY: Fine. And I’m going to be getting a bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it because I’ve got to pay both taxes, and the people in Nevada don’t want to pay both taxes. [cheering and applause]

ROMNEY: Now let me make this comment. Let’s just step back here. We’ve got a lot of people in America that are out of work. We’ve got a lot of people in this state, 13.4 percent of the people in this state out of work. We’ve got home prices going down. We’ve got to talk about how to get America growing again, how to start adding jobs, raising incomes, and tax is part of it.

I want to reduce taxes on our employers to make it easier to invest in America. I want to reduce taxes on middle income families. I like your chutzpah on this, Herman, but I have to tell you, the analysis I did, person by person, return by return, is that middle income people see higher taxes under your plan.

If it’s lower for the middle class, that’s great. But that’s not what I saw. I have to tell you, I want to get our burden down on our employers, on our people. I want to make sure our regulations work to encourage the private sector as opposed to putting a damper on it.

I want to get trade, opening up new markets for America. I want to also find a way to get our energy resources — and they’re all over the world, are all over this country, used for us. This is time to get America growing again. And that’s what this campaign ought to be about.

COOPER: Thank you, Governor.

Mr. Speaker… [cheering and applause]

COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, you have said in recent days that Mr. Cain’s 999 plan would be a harder sell than he lets on. How so?

GINGRICH: Well, you just watched it. [laughter]

GINGRICH: I mean, look, there are — first of all, I think that Herman Cain deserves a lot of credit. He has had the courage to go out and take a specific very big idea at the right level. [applause]

GINGRICH: And he has us at least talking about something that matters as opposed to the junk that all too often is masquerading as politics in this country. So I think that’s important.

There are two parts to this. The first is, if you take his plan, and I think it’s in the interest of the whole country to have serious people take his plan and go through it step by step. There are much more complexities than Herman lets on. OK. I mean, 999, when you get into details like you pay it on a new product, you don’t pay it on an old product, et cetera, there’s a lot more detail here than he lets on.

Second, I favor very narrow, focused tax cuts such as zero capital gains, 100 percent expensing, because I think, as Governor Romney said, jobs are the number one challenge of the next two or three years. Get something you can do very fast. Change on this scale takes years to think through if you’re going to do it right.

COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, you said in the last debate that everyone should pay something. Does that mean that you would raise taxes on the 47 percent of Americans who currently don’t pay taxes?

BACHMANN: I believe absolutely every American benefits by this magnificent country. Absolutely every American should pay something, even if it’s a dollar. [cheering and applause]

BACHMANN: Everyone needs to pay something in this country. That’s why with my tax plan, I take a page out of not theory but what’s provable and what works. What is provable and what works was the economic miracle that was wrought by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. That’s the plan that I look at.

I also want to completely abolish the tax code. I want to flatten the tax for all of Americans, simplify that tax for all of Americans. And that creates job growth, which is exactly what we need to have.

Because to be able to fuel the fire for this economy, again, it is the tax code, but it doesn’t end with the tax code. It’s the regulatory burden that costs us $1.8 trillion every year, but it’s more than that cost. It’s jobs that are lost.

So we need to repeal “Obama-care,” repeal the jobs and housing destruction act known as Dodd-Frank. President Obama’s plan has been a plan for destruction of this economy and failure.

COOPER: Thank you.

BACHMANN: I plan to change that with real jobs right now at michelebachmann.com. [applause]

COOPER: We’ve been talking about Herman Cain’s plan. Let’s talk about Governor Romney’s plan.

Governor Perry, you have said that Governor Romney was an abject failure at creating jobs when he was governor of Massachusetts. If you’ve read his 59-point plan, has it changed your mind?

PERRY: Well, here’s the nine that we need to get focused on. And it’s not 999, it’s not 59. It’s that 9 percent unemployment in this country. And that’s where we’ve got to get focused in America, is how to create an environment where the men and women get back to work.

It’s the reason I laid out a plan, Newt, this last week to get this energy that’s under our feet. We’ve got 300 years of resources right under our feet in this country. Yet we’ve got an administration that is blockading our ability to bring that to the surface, whether it’s our petroleum, our natural gas, or our coal. And 1.2 million jobs could be put to work.

Americans who are sitting out there listening to this conversation tonight, somebody wants someone on this stage to say: Listen, we got an idea here how to get you to work and take care of your family and have the dignity of a job. And that’s exactly what I did with my plan, laid it out where Americans understand we don’t have to wait on OPEC anymore. We don’t have to let them hold us hostage. America’s got the energy. Let’s have American energy independence. [applause]

COOPER: Governor Romney, does Governor Perry have the answer?

ROMNEY: Well, he’s absolutely right about — about getting energy independence and taking advantage of our natural resources here. We’re an energy-rich nation that’s acting like an energy-poor nation. And that’s something I’ve been talking about for some time, as the governor has. He’s absolutely right.

But there are also a lot of good jobs we need in manufacturing, and high-tech jobs, and good service jobs, technology of all kinds. America produces an economy that’s very, very broad. And that’s why our policy to get America the most attractive place in the world for investment and — and job growth encompasses more than just energy. It includes that, but also tax policy, regulatory policy, trade policy, education, training and balancing the federal budget, and that starts with repealing Obamacare, which is a huge burden on this economy. [applause]

COOPER: Senator Santorum, does Mitt Romney have the answers for jobs? SANTORUM: I agree with — with all of what Governor Romney and both — and Governor Perry said. I would add the fact that — that I’ve put forward the plan that’s going to allow for income mobility. That’s a new term, but I’ve been using it for a long time, which is people at the bottom part of the income scale being able to rise in society.

Believe it or not, studies have been done that show that in Western Europe, people at the lower parts of the income scale actually have a better mobility going up the ladder now than in America. And I believe that’s because we’ve lost our manufacturing base. No more stamp “Made in America” is really hurting people in the middle.

And that’s why I focus all of the real big changes in the tax code at manufacturing. I cut the corporate rate for manufacturing to zero, repeal all regulations affecting manufacturers that cost over $100 million and replace them with something that’s friendlier, they can work with. We repatriate $1.2 trillion that manufacturers made overseas and allow them to bring it back here, if they invest in plants and equipment. They can do it without having to pay any — any excise tax.

The final point I would make to Governor Romney, you just don’t have credibility, Mitt, when it comes to repealing Obamacare. You are — you are — your plan was the basis for Obamacare. Your consultants helped Obama craft Obamacare. And to say that you’re going to repeal it, you just — you have no track record on that that — that we can trust you that you’re going to do that.

COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds. [applause]

SANTORUM: You don’t.

ROMNEY: You know, this I think is either our eighth or ninth debate. And each chance I’ve — I’ve had to talk about Obamacare, I’ve made it very clear, and also in my book. And at the time, by the way, I crafted the plan, in the last campaign, I was asked, is this something that you would have the whole nation do? And I said, no, this is something that was crafted for Massachusetts. It would be wrong to adopt this as a nation.

SANTORUM: That’s not what you said.

ROMNEY: You’re — you’re shaking — you’re shaking your head.

SANTORUM: Governor, no, that’s not what you said.

ROMNEY: That happens — to happens to be…

[crosstalk]

SANTORUM: It was in your book that it should be for everybody.

ROMNEY: Guys… PERRY: You took it out of your book.

SANTORUM: You took it out of your book.

ROMNEY: Hey, his turn. His turn, OK, and mine.

[crosstalk]

ROMNEY: I’ll tell you what? Why don’t you let me speak?

[crosstalk]

SANTORUM: You’re allowed — you’re allowed to change — you’re allowed to change…

ROMNEY: Rick, you had your chance. Let me speak.

SANTORUM: You can’t change the facts.

ROMNEY: Rick, you had your chance. Let me speak.

SANTORUM: You’re out of time. You’re out of time.

COOPER: He ate into your time. [booing]

Rick…

[crosstalk]

ROMNEY: I haven’t had a chance to respond yet, because you were interrupting the entire time I was trying to speak.

[crosstalk]

ROMNEY: Let me make it very clear.

COOPER: I’ll give another 20 seconds.

ROMNEY: And — look — look, we’ll let everybody take a look at the fact checks. I was interviewed by Dan Balz. I was in interviews in this debate stage with you four years ago. I was asked about the Massachusetts plan, was it something I’d impose on the nation? And the answer is absolutely not.

It was something crafted for a state. And I’ve said time and again, Obamacare is bad news. It’s unconstitutional. It costs way too much money, a trillion dollars. And if I’m president of the United States, I will repeal it for the American people. [applause]

COOPER: All right. Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Mitt, the governor of Massachusetts just is coming forward saying we have to pick up the job left undone by Romneycare, which is doing something about cutting health care costs.

What you did is exactly what Barack Obama did: focused on the wrong problem. Herman always says you’ve got to find the right problem. Well, the right problem is health care costs. What you did with a top-down, government-run program was focus on the problem of health care access. You expanded the pool of insurance without controlling costs. You’ve blown a hole in the budget up there. And you authored in Obamacare, which is going to blow a hole in the budget of this country.

COOPER: Governor Romney, I’m going to give you 30 seconds.

ROMNEY: I’m — I’m sorry, Rick, that you find so much to dislike in my plan, but I’ll tell you, the people in Massachusetts like it by about a 3-1 margin.

And we dealt with a challenge that we had, a lot of people that were expecting government to pay their way. And we said, you know what? If people have the capacity to care for themselves and pay their own way, they should.

Now, I can tell you this, it’s absolutely right that there’s a lot that needs to be done. And I didn’t get the job done in Massachusetts in getting the health care costs down in this country. It’s something I think we have got to do at the national level. I intend to do that.

But one thing is for sure. What Obama has done is imposed on the nation a plan that will not work, that must be repealed. And when it comes to knowledge about health care and how to get our health care system working, I may not be a doctor like this one right over here, but I sure understand how to bring the cost of health care down and how to also make sure that we have a system that works for the American people.

SANTORUM: It didn’t do it. It didn’t do it.

COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, you’ve also been very critical of Mitt Romney’s plan not only on Obamacare, but his plan to lower the capital gains tax only on those earning under $200,000.

GINGRICH: I want to say on health for a minute — OK, let’s just focus. “The Boston Herald” today reported that the state of Massachusetts is fining a local small business $3,000 because their $750-a-month insurance plan is inadequate, according to the bureaucrats in Boston.

Now, there’s a fundamental difference between trying to solve the problems of this country from the top down and trying to create environments in which doctors and patients and families solve the problem from the bottom up.

And candidly, Mitt, your plan ultimately, philosophically, it’s not Obamacare, and that’s not a fair charge. But your plan essentially is one more big government, bureaucratic, high-cost system, which candidly could not have been done by any other state because no other state had a Medicare program as lavish as yours, and no other state got as much money from the federal government under the Bush administration for this experiment. So there’s a lot as big government behind Romneycare. Not as much as Obamacare, but a heck of a lot more than your campaign is admitting. [applause]

COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds.

ROMNEY: Actually, Newt, we got the idea of an individual mandate from you.

GINGRICH: That’s not true. You got it from the Heritage Foundation.

ROMNEY: Yes, we got it from you, and you got it from the Heritage Foundation and from you.

GINGRICH: Wait a second. What you just said is not true. You did not get that from me. You got it from the Heritage Foundation.

ROMNEY: And you never supported them?

GINGRICH: I agree with them, but I’m just saying, what you said to this audience just now plain wasn’t true. [crosstalk]

ROMNEY: OK. Let me ask, have you supported in the past an individual mandate?

GINGRICH: I absolutely did with the Heritage Foundation against Hillarycare.

ROMNEY: You did support an individual mandate?

ROMNEY: Oh, OK. That’s what I’m saying. We got the idea from you and the Heritage Foundation.

GINGRICH: OK. A little broader.

ROMNEY: OK.

BACHMANN: Anderson?

COOPER: He still has time. Let him finish.

ROMNEY: I get a little time here.

Number two, we don’t have a government insurance plan. What we do is rely on private insurers, and people — 93 percent of our people who are already insured, nothing changed. For the people who didn’t have insurance, they get private insurance, not government insurance.

And the best way to make markets work is for people to be able to buy their own products from private enterprises. What we did was right for our state, according to the people in our state. And the great thing about a state solution to a state issue is, if people don’t like it, they could change it.

Now, there are a lot of things.

BACHMANN: Anderson?

COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann.

BACHMANN: Anderson, I think it has to be stated that Obamacare is so flat-out unpopular, that even the Obama administration chose to reject part of Obamacare last Friday, when they tried to throw out the CLASS Act, which is the long-term care function.

Secretary Sebelius, who is the head of Health and Human Services, reported that the government can’t even afford that part and has to throw it out. And now the administration is arguing with itself.

When even the Obama administration wants to repeal this bill, I think we’re going to win this thing. We’re going to repeal it! And I will! [applause]

COOPER: We’ve got to take a quick break. We will continue this discussion on the other side.

We have a long way to go. We’ll be right back.

[commercial break]

COOPER: And welcome back to the continuing debate. We got a Twitter question. We ended talking about medicine, Obamacare. We actually have a Twitter question about it. It was a question left at CNN debate.

If Obama’s health plan is bad for the U.S., what is the alternative, and how will you implement it?

Congressman Paul, is there any aspect of Obamacare that you would like to keep, whether it’s keeping kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26 or no pre-existing conditions?

PAUL: Really not, because he’s just adding on more government. There’s been a lot of discussion about medicine, but it seems to be talking about which kind of government management is best. Our problem is we have too much. We’ve had it for 30, 40 years. We have Medicare. We have prescription drug programs. We have Medicaid.

And what we need — I mean, there’s a pretty good support up here for getting rid of Obamacare, because it’s a Democratic proposal, and we want to opt out. I think we’d all agree on this.

But if you want better competition and better health care, you should allow the American people to opt out of government medicine. And… [applause]

And the way to do this is to not de-emphasize the medical savings account, but let people opt out, pay their bills, get back to the doctor-patient relationship. There is inflation worked into it. When a government gets involved in an industry, prices always go up. We have tort laws to deal with. And we need more competition in medicine.

But the most important thing is letting the people have control of their money and getting it out of the hands of the third party. As soon as you go to the government, the lobbyists line up, the drug companies line up, these insurance companies line up. And even with Obamacare, the industries, the corporations get behind it and affect the outcome, and already insurance premiums are going up. [applause]

COOPER: Herman Cain, same question. Is there any aspect of so- called Obamacare that — that you would keep?

CAIN: No. I think we all agree that Obamacare must be repealed because it is a disaster. And the more we learn about it and the more time goes along, the more we see. We’re all in agreement with that.

But here’s where I would start in answering that question. It’s called H.R. 3400. This was introduced back in 2009, but you didn’t hear a lot of talk about it. Instead of government being imposed on — on our system, it imposes — it basically passes market-centered, market-driven, patient-centered sort of reforms to allow association health plans, to allow loser pay laws, to allow insurance products to be sold across state lines, and a whole list of other things. So that’s a great place to start.

It allows the patient and the doctors to make the decisions, not a bureaucrat. I’d start with HR-3400. [applause]

COOPER: Governor Perry, in the last debate, Governor Romney pointed out that Texas has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country, over one million kids. You did not get an opportunity to respond to that. What do you say? How do you explain that?

PERRY: Well, we’ve got one of the finest health care systems in the world in Texas. As a matter of fact, the Houston, Texas, Medical Center, there’s more doctors and nurses that go to work there every morning than any other place in America. But the idea that you can’t have access to health care, some of the finest health care in the world — but we have a 1,200-mile border with Mexico, and the fact is we have a huge number of illegals that are coming into this country.

And they’re coming into this country because the federal government has failed to secure that border. But they’re coming here because there is a magnet. And the magnet is called jobs. And those people that hire illegals ought to be penalized.

And Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy. [laughter]

COOPER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Rick, I don’t think I’ve ever hired an illegal in my life. And so I’m afraid — I’m looking forward to finding your facts on that, because that just doesn’t —

PERRY: Well, I’ll tell you what the facts are.

ROMNEY: Rick, again — Rick, I’m speaking.

PERRY: You had the — your newspaper — the newspaper —

ROMNEY: I’m speaking. I’m speaking. I’m speaking. [crosstalk]

ROMNEY: You get 30 seconds. This is the way the rules work here, is that I get 60 seconds and then you get 30 second to respond. Right?

Anderson?

PERRY: And they want to hear you say that you knew you had illegals working at your —

ROMNEY: Would you please wait? Are you just going to keep talking?

PERRY: Yes, sir.

ROMNEY: Would you let me finish with what I have to say? [booing]

ROMNEY: Look, Rick —

COOPER: I thought Republicans follow the rules.

ROMNEY: This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you’re going to get testy. [applause]

ROMNEY: But let’s let — I’ll tell you what, let me take my time, and then you can take your time. All right?

PERRY: Great. Have at it.

ROMNEY: All right.

My time is this, which is I have in my state — when I was governor, I took the action of empowering our state police to enforce immigration laws. When you were governor, you said, I don’t want to build a fence. You put in place a magnet.

You talked about magnets. You put in place a magnet to draw illegals into the state, which was giving $100,000 of tuition credit to illegals that come into this country, and then you have states — the big states of illegal immigrants are California and Florida. Over the last 10 years, they’ve had no increase in illegal immigration.

Texas has had 60 percent increase in illegal immigrants in Texas. If there’s someone who has a record as governor with regards to illegal immigration that doesn’t stand up to muster, it’s you, not me. [applause]

COOPER: Governor Perry, you have 30 seconds.

PERRY: You stood here in front of the American people and did not tell the truth that you had illegals working on your property. And the newspaper came to you and brought it to your attention, and you still, a year later, had those individuals working for you.

The idea that you can sit here and talk about any of us having an immigration issue is beyond me. I’ve got a strong policy. I’ve always been against amnesty. You, on the other hand, were for amnesty.

COOPER: I’ve got 30 seconds, then we’ve got move on to another immigration question.

ROMNEY: OK.

You wrote an op-ed in the newspaper saying you were open to amnesty. That’s number one.

Number two, we hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants that were working there. And when that was pointed out to us, we let them go. And we went to them and said —

PERRY: A year later?

ROMNEY: You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking. And I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you have got to let both people speak. So first, let me speak. [applause]

ROMNEY: So we went to the company and we said, look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals. It turns out that once question, they hired someone who had falsified their documents, had documents, and therefore we fired them. And let me tell you, it is hard in this country as an individual homeowner to know if people who are contractors working at your home, if they have hired people that are illegal. If I’m president, we’ll put in an E-Verify system, which you have opposed —

COOPER: Out of time.

ROMNEY: — to make sure that we can find out who’s here illegally and not, and crack down on people who come here illegally.

COOPER: All right. We’re going to stay on the topic of immigration. [applause]

COOPER: We’re going to stay on the topic of immigration. Everyone is going to get a chance to weigh in.

This is a question that was left at CNNPolitics.com. “As president, will you order completion of the physical border fence along the entire border between the U.S. and Mexico?” That’s from Marilyn L.

Herman Cain, let me start with you. Obviously, over the weekend, you got a lot of headlines by saying you would have an electrified fence. You then later said it was — you then later said it was a joke. And then last night, you said, “It might be electrified. I’m not walking away from that. I just don’t want to offend anyone.” [laughter]

So… [applause]

So would you build an entire fence along the entire border, and would you have it be electrified? [laughter]

CAIN: Allow me to give a serious answer. Yes, I believe we should secure the border for real, and it would be a combination of a fence, technology, as well as possibly boots on the ground for some of the more dangerous areas. I don’t apologize at all for wanting to protect the American citizens and to protect our agents on the border, no. [applause]

Secondly, the second thing that I would do — see, I believe in let’s solve the whole problem. We must shut the back door so people can come in the front door. Secondly, promote the existing path to citizenship by cleaning up the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.

Thirdly, enforce the laws — the immigration laws that are already on the books. [applause]

And here’s another one of these bold ideas by the non-politician up here. Empower the states to do what the federal government is not doing in terms of enforcing those laws. [applause]

COOPER: Governor Perry, you have — you have the — your state has the longest border with Mexico. Is it possible — to the question — is it possible to build a fence, an — across the entire border?

PERRY: Sure. You can — you can build a fence, but it takes anywhere between 10 and 15 years and $30 billion. There’s a better way, and that’s to build a virtual defense zone, if you will, along that border, which — not unlike what Herman’s talking about, and you can do it with strategic fencing in the obvious places where it matters.

But the way you really stop the activities along that border that are illegal, whether it’s the drug cartels or whether it’s bringing in illegal weapons or whether it’s illegal immigrants that are coming in, is to put boots on the ground.

I will tell you, Herman, you put a lot of boots on the ground. You use Predator drones that are being trained right up here at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada to use that real-time information to give those boots on the ground that information, and they can instantly move to those areas. And that is the way to shut that border down, to secure that border, and really make America safe from individuals, like those Iranians that are using the drug cartels to penetrate this country.

COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, do you agree with Governor Perry? [applause]

BACHMANN: Well, I think the person who really has a problem with illegal immigration in the country is President Obama. It’s his uncle and his aunt who are illegal aliens… [applause] … who’ve been allowed to stay in this country, despite the fact that they’re illegal.

This last Saturday, I was the very first candidate that signed a pledge that said that, by a date certain, I will build a double-walled fence with — with an area of security neutrality in between. I will build that, because this is what we know. This is an economics issue and a jobs issue. Every year…

COOPER: You’re saying you would build a fence along the entire border? BACHMANN: I will build it on the entire border, and I’ll tell you why. Every year, it costs this country $113 billion in the costs that we put out to pay for illegal aliens. It costs the state and local government of that amount $82 billion. For every household of an American citizen, it costs us $1,000 a year. We are robbing the household of Americans who can’t afford that.

I will build the fence. I will enforce English as the official language of the United States government. [applause]

And every — every person who comes into this country will have to agree that they will not receive taxpayer-subsidized benefits of any American citizen…

COOPER: Time.

BACHMANN: Thank you.

COOPER: Governor Perry, does that — can you actually — does that make sense? She says she can build the — the fence along the entire border.

PERRY: As I said, you can build that fence, but by the time that fence gets built…

COOPER: She’s also talking about your taxpayer-subsidized benefits.

PERRY: But my — my point is that, by the time that fence gets built, there is a lot better way than to stand here and to — to play to some group of people somewhere and say, “We’re going to build a fence,” and then wipe our hands of it.

I’ve been dealing with this border for 10 years as the governor. And the reason that we have this issue is because the federal government has failed miserably to defend and secure that border.

BACHMANN: Which is why we build…

[crosstalk]

PERRY: You know, for someone that’s been in the United States Congress to — to lecture me on the issues that are going on, on that border is not right. Let me tell you, we’ve had to deal with that issue in the state of Texas. We’ve had to deal with the impact on our state. And I put $400 million on that border of Texas, taxpayers’ money, Texas Ranger recon teams there.

We know how to secure the border. I shared with you earlier how to do it. You put the boots on the ground, the aviation assets in the air, and you secure that border.

COOPER: Governor…

BACHMANN: Anderson, can I respond?

COOPER: He wasn’t talking about you directly.

BACHMANN: No, he did respond.

ROMNEY: Let’s step back. I think it’s important for us as Republicans on this stage to say something which hasn’t been said. And that is I think every single person here loves legal immigration. We respect people who come here legally.

[cheering and applause]

ROMNEY: And the reason we’re so animated about stopping illegal immigration is there are 4.5 million people who want to come here who are in line legally, we want that to happen in an orderly and legal process.

And in terms of how to secure the border, it’s really not that hard. You have a fence, you have enough Border Patrol agents to oversee the fence, and you turn off the magnets. And that’s employers that hire people who they know are here illegally.

That’s why you have an E-Verify system so they can know that. And, number two, you turn off the magnets like tuition breaks or other breaks that draw people into this country illegally. It is not that hard. We have to have the political will to get the job done.

And, Governor Perry, you say you have got the experience. It’s a bit like saying that, you know, the college coach that has lost 40 games in a row has the experience to go to the NFL.

But the truth is, California — I’ll say it again, California and Florida have both had no increase in illegal immigration and yours is up 60 percent…

COOPER: Time.

ROMNEY: … over the last 10 years.

COOPER: Governor Perry, 30 seconds to respond.

PERRY: Well, the bottom line is that we have a federal government that has failed. There is a clear problem here. And he hit the nail on the head a while ago. He said there was a magnet of people that will hire illegals. And you are number one on that list, sir.

And people need to understand that. You’re one of the problems, Mitt.

COOPER: I think we’ve been down that road.

ROMNEY: Yes…

[crosstalk]

ROMNEY: We’ve been down that road sufficiently. It sounds like the audience agrees with me.

COOPER: We are continuing on immigration. We have a question in the audience.

[cheering and applause]

ROBERT ZAVALA, LAS VEGAS RESIDENT: Good evening. Thank you for the opportunity to ask my question. We have 50 million Latinos and not all of us are illegal. What is the message from you guys to our Latino community?

COOPER: Speaker Gingrich? President Obama got I think 67 percent of the Latino vote last time around.

GINGRICH: Look, I think that there’s a very clear message to Americans of all backgrounds. Latinos, Korean-Americans, Vietnamese- Americans, there are hundreds of different groups who come to America.

As Governor Romney said, I think anybody who understands America has to be proud of our record as the country which has been the most open in history to legal immigration.

But the truth is most Latinos in the United States aren’t immigrants. Most Latinos in the United States now have been born in the United States. And the fact is they want virtually exactly what everyone else wants.

They want an economy that is growing. They want a job that has take home pay. They want access to health insurance that they can afford. They want a chance to get educated that is actually useful and worthwhile. They want to be able to know that their family is going to grow up in safety. And they want to have a chance that their country is going to work to give their children and their grandchildren a better future.

I think we have to have the same message for every American of every ethnic background that we want to make America work again. And you’ll know it’s working because you will have a job and you’ll have a chance to take care of your family.

[cheering and applause]

COOPER: Congressman Paul, there’s some Latino voters who believe that some of these strong anti-immigration laws — anti-illegal immigration laws are actually anti-Latino laws. What do you say to them?

PAUL: Well, I think some people do believe that. I think a fence is symbolic of that. And I can understand why somebody might look at that. But when we approach this immigration problem, we should look at the incentives and that — or the mandates from the federal government saying that you must educate, you must give them free education.

You have to remove these incentives. But I don’t think the answer is a fence whatsoever. But in order to attract Latino votes, I think, you know, too long this country has always put people in groups. They penalize people because they’re in groups, and then they reward people because they’re in groups.

But following up on what Newt was saying, we need a healthy economy, we wouldn’t be talking about this. We need to se everybody as an individual. And to me, seeing everybody as an individual means their liberties are protected as individuals and they’re treated that way and they’re never penalized that way.

So if you have a free and prosperous society, all of a sudden this group mentality melts away. As long as there’s no abuse — one place where there’s still a lot of discrimination in this country is in our court systems. And I think the minorities come up with a short hand in our court system.

COOPER: Herman Cain, the 14th Amendment allows that anybody born in the United States is an American citizen. Should that change?

CAIN: I want to go back and answer this question first, OK? And that is, my message to Latinos, blacks, whites, and all Americans is that we must first start with significantly boosting this economy, which is on life support.

This is why I have put forth a very bold plan, and I’m not afraid to try and sell it to the American people. I’m not afraid to fight for it when I become president of the United States of America. So that’s my message.

If we have this economy growing, people will be able to take care of their families and go after their American dream. And until we boost this economy, all of us are going to suffer for a long time.

COOPER: Then let me ask the question of Governor Perry.

Governor Perry, the 14th Amendment allows anybody. A child of illegal immigrants who is born here is automatically an American citizen. Should that change?

PERRY: Well, let me address Herman’s issue that he just talked about.

COOPER: Actually, I’d rather you answer that question.

PERRY: I understand that. You get to ask the questions, I get to answer like I want to. And Herman talked about —

COOPER: That’s actually a response, that’s not an answer, but go ahead.

PERRY: — the issue of how we get this country back working. And truly, the plan that I laid out last week, where we talk about the energy industry and this treasure trove that we have under this country, and we need to recognize that the administration that we have today is blocking mining that could be going on in the state of Nevada. I talked to Brian Sandoval before I came in here today. You have an administration that is killing jobs because they want to move us to a green energy. You have a secretary of energy who has basically said he wants to see gas prices up close to the European model. The president himself said electricity rates are necessarily going to skyrocket.

That’s what we’ve got to stop. That’s the reason we got to have a president of the United States that understands that if you get Americans working, and it addresses these issues that we have in this country, then the fastest way to do it is open up these federal —

COOPER: Time.

PERRY: — plants, to pull back those regulations, and get America working again.

COOPER: Time.

[commercial break]

COOPER: To the question on the 14th Amendment, do you support repealing the 14th Amendment?

PERRY: No.

COOPER: No, you do not?

PERRY: I do not.

COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, do you support it?

BACHMANN: I think there’s a very real issue with magnets in this country. And I think the issue that you’re referring to is the issue of anchor babies. And that’s an issue that — I was just in Arizona this last weekend, and the state is very concerned, because when someone comes illegally across the border, specifically for the purpose of utilizing American resources for having a baby here, then all of the welfare benefits then attach to that baby.

This is an issue that we don’t have to deal with the Constitution. This is an issue that we can deal with legislatively. And there are a lot of Americans that would like us to deal with this issue of anchor babies legislatively. [applause]

COOPER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: I’d like to address the issue that the gentleman brought up, which is, what are we going to say to the Latino community? And not one person mentioned the issue of family, faith, marriage.

This is a community that is a faith-filled community, that family is at the center of that community. I disagree in some respects with Congressman Paul, who says the country is founded on the individual.

The basic building block of a society is not an individual. It’s the family. That’s the basic unit of society. [applause]

SANTORUM: And the Latino community understands that. They understand the importance of faith and marriage. They understand that bond that builds that solid foundation, and that inculcation of faith and religious freedom. And I think the Latino community knows that’s at stake in this country.

There’s a lot going on right now that’s eroding our religious freedom, that’s eroding the traditional values of marriage and family. And there’s one candidate up here who consistently sounds that theme.

Look, I’m for jobs, too. I have got an economic plan, and I agree with everything that’s been said. But we keep running roughshod over the fact that family in America and faith in America is being crushed by the courts and our government, and someone has stand up and fight for those institutions. [applause]

COOPER: Time.

Congressman Paul, you were referenced directly. Thirty seconds.

PAUL: Well, I would like to explain that rights don’t come in bunches. Rights come as individuals, they come from a God, and they come as each individual has a right to life and liberty.

But I might add about the border control and the Latino vote, is we lack resources there. I think we should have more border guards on it, a more orderly transition, and run it much better. But where are our resources?

You know, we worry more about the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need to bring the guard units home and the units back here so we can have more personnel on our border. [applause]

COOPER: We have a question in the audience.

QUESTION: My question for you is, do you support opening the national nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain?

COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, we’ll start with you.

[crosstalk]

COOPER: Sorry, go ahead.

GINGRICH: Look, we — we worked on this when I was speaker. I think that it has to be looked at scientifically. But I think at some point we have to find a safe method of taking care of nuclear waste. And today, because this has been caught up in a political fight, we have small units of nuclear waste all over this country in a way that is vastly more dangerous to the United States than finding a method of keeping it in a very, very deep place that would be able to sustain 10,000 or 20,000 and 30,000 years of geological safety.

COOPER: Is Yucca Mountain that place?

GINGRICH: I’m not a scientist. I mean, Yucca Mountain certainly was picked by the scientific community as one of the safest places in the United States. It has always had very deep opposition here in Nevada. And, frankly…

COOPER: You were for opening it in Congress, right?

GINGRICH: Huh?

COOPER: When you were in the Congress, you were…

[crosstalk]

GINGRICH: When I was in Congress, frankly, I worked with the Nevada delegation to make sure that there was time for scientific studies. But we have to find some method of finding a very geologically stable place, and most geologists believe that, in fact, Yucca Mountain is that.

COOPER: Congressman Paul, you oppose this?

PAUL: Yes. Yes, I’ve — I’ve opposed this. We’ve had votes in the Congress. There was a time when I voted with two other individuals, the two congressmen from Nevada. And I approach it from a state’s rights position. What right does 49 states have to punish one state and say, “We’re going to put our garbage in your state”? I think that’s wrong.

But I think it’s very serious. I think it’s very serious. But quite frankly, the government shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing any form of energy. And nuclear energy, I think, is a good source of energy, but they still get subsidies. Then they assume this responsibility. Then we as politicians and the bureaucrats get involved in this. And then we get involved with which state’s going to get stuck with the garbage.

So I would say, the more the free market handles this and the more you deal with property rights and no subsidies to any form of energy, the easier this problem would be solved.

COOPER: Governor Romney, where do you stand on this? [applause]

ROMNEY: Congressman Paul was right on that. [applause]

I don’t always agree with him, but I do on that. The — the idea that 49 states can tell Nevada, “We want to give you our nuclear waste,” doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think the people of Nevada ought to have the final say as to whether they want that, and my guess is that for them to say yes to something like that, someone’s going to have to offer them a pretty good deal, as opposed to having the federal government jam it down their throat. [applause]

And by the way, if — if Nevada says, “Look, we don’t want it,” then let other states make bids and say, hey, look, we’ll take it. Here’s a geological site that we’ve evaluated. Here’s the compensation we want for taking it. We want you electric companies around the country that are using nuclear fuel to compensate us a certain amount per kilowatt hour, a certain amount per ton of this stuff that comes.

Let — let the free market work. And on that basis, the places that are geologically safe, according to science, and where the people say the deal’s a good one will decide where we put this stuff. That’s the right course for America. [applause]

COOPER: Governor Perry?

PERRY: You know, from time to time, Mitt and I don’t agree. But on this one, he’s hit it, the nail, right on the head. And I’ll just add that when you think about France, who gets over 70 percent of their energy from nuclear power, the idea that they deal with this issue, that their glassification, and that the innovation — and, Congressman Paul, you’re correct when it comes to allowing the states to compete with each other. That is the answer to this.

We need to have a — a — a discussion in — in this country about our 10th Amendment and the appropriateness of it, as it’s been eroded by Washington, D.C., for all these many years, whether it’s health care, whether it’s education, or whether it’s dealing with energy. We don’t need to be subsidizing energy in any form or fashion, allow the states to make the decision. And some state out there will see the economic issue, and they will have it in their state.

COOPER: We’re going to move on to an issue very important here in the state of Nevada and throughout the West. We have a question from the hall.

QUESTION: Yeah, my question is, those of us who own property here in Nevada have been devastated by the real estate bubble. What would you do as president to help fix the overall problem of real estate and foreclosures in America?

COOPER: Senator Santorum, Nevada has the highest rate of foreclosure. SANTORUM: Yeah, I mean, it’s — it’s a situation right now where obviously the market’s in — has been decimated. And so now you’re looking at, how do you repair it? The problem is — in the first place, is that several people up here, the, quote, “businesspeople,” supported the TARP, supported the bailout. Governors Perry, Romney…

PERRY: Wrong.

SANTORUM: No, you wrote a letter on the day of the vote — you wrote a letter on the day of the vote, Governor, saying to vote for the plan. That’s what you — I mean, that — the letter’s been…

PERRY: No, I didn’t.

SANTORUM: Yes, you did, Governor. You sent…

COOPER: You’ll have a chance to respond. Let him finish.

SANTORUM: Joe Manchin signed it with you. So you — you supported it. Governor Romney and Herman Cain all supported the — the TARP program, which started this ball…

CAIN: Not all of it. [laughter]

SANTORUM: I mean, I — I mean, you guys complain about Governor Romney flip-flopping. I mean, look at what’s going on here. I mean, the — the bottom line is, you all supported it, you all started this ball rolling, where the government injected itself in trying to make — trying to fix the market with the government top-down trying to do it, and managed decline. And what happened was, people who did things that were wrong invested in things, took risks, were bailed out, and the folks who acted responsibly are now getting hurt because their houses have gone down in value. We need to let the market work, and that’s what hasn’t been happening so far.

COOPER: I’m going to allow each of the three of you to respond.

Governor Perry, you have 30 seconds.

PERRY: The fact is, Rick just has that wrong. We wrote a letter to Congress asking them to act. What we meant by acting was, cut the regulations, cut the taxation burden, not passing TARP.

There is clearly a letter out of our office that says that, Rick. I’ll get you a copy of it so you’ll understand it.

SANTORUM: Hold on. I need to respond to that.

He sent a letter the day of the vote on the floor of the House saying, pass the economic plan. There was only one plan, and that was the plan that was voted on the floor. It was TARP.

You sent a letter on that day saying, vote for that plan. Now, you can send a letter later saying I didn’t mean it, but when you said it, it was the only plan that was in play, and that was the TARP plan.

COOPER: Governor Perry — do you want to respond, Governor Perry?

PERRY: I’m just telling you I know what we sent, I know what the intention was. You can read it any way you want, but the fact of the matter, I wasn’t for TARP, and have talked about it for years since then.

COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds.

ROMNEY: There’s an effort on the part of people in Washington to think somehow they know better than markets, how to rebalance America’s economy. And the idea of the federal government running around and saying, hey, we’re going to give you some money for trading in your old car, or we’re going to give you a few thousand bucks for buying a new house, or we’re going to keep banks from foreclosing if you can’t make your payments, these kind of actions on the part of government haven’t worked.

The right course is to let markets work. And in order to get markets to work and to help people, the best we can do is to get the economy going. And that’s why the fundamental restructuring I’ve described is so essential to help homeowners and people across this country. [applause]

COOPER: Mr. Cain, I want you to be able to respond. Thirty seconds.

CAIN: I have said before that we were in a crisis at the end of 2008 with this potential financial meltdown. I supported the concept of TARP, but then, when this administration used discretion and did a whole lot of things that the American people didn’t like, I was then against it. So yes, and I’m owning up to that.

Now, getting back to the gentleman’s question in terms of what we need to do, we need to get government out of the way. It starts with making sure that we can boost this economy and then reform Dodd-Frank and reform a lot of these other regulations that have gotten in the way —

COOPER: Time.

CAIN: — and let the market do it just like Mitt has talked about.

COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, does the federal government have a role in keeping people in their homes, saving people from foreclosure, in the state of Nevada?

BACHMANN: That was the question that was initially asked. And what I want to say is this — every day I’m out somewhere in the United States of America, and most of the time I’m talking to moms across this country. When you talk about housing, when you talk about foreclosures, you’re talking about women who are at the end of their rope because they’re losing their nest for their children and for their family. And there are women right now all across this country and moms across this country whose husbands, through no fault of their own, are losing their job, and they can’t keep that house. And there are women who are losing that house.

I’m a mom. I talk to these moms.

I just want to say one thing to moms all across America tonight. This is a real issue. It’s got to be solved.

President Obama has failed you on this issue of housing and foreclosures. I will not fail you on this issue. I will turn this country around.

We will turn the economy around. We will create jobs. That’s how you hold on to your house.

Hold on, moms out there. It’s not too late.

COOPER: We have another question. This one is a Twitter question.

“How do you explain the Occupy Wall Street movement happening across the country? And how does it relate with your message?”

Herman Cain, I’ve got to ask you, you said, — two weeks ago, you said, “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job, and you’re not rich, blame yourself.”

That was two weeks ago. The movement has grown. Do you still say that? [applause]

CAIN: Yes, I do still say that. And here’s why. [applause]

CAIN: I still stand by my statement, and here’s why.

They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they’re directing their anger at the wrong place. Wall Street didn’t put in failed economic policies. Wall Street didn’t spend a trillion dollars that didn’t do any good. Wall Street isn’t going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion. They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration. [applause]

So I do stand by them.

COOPER: Congressman Paul, you’ve been — Congressman Paul, you’ve been critical of Governor Romney for — for holding fundraisers with — with Wall Streeters. Do you think he understands what the protest is about? Do you understand?

PAUL: Well, I think Mr. Cain has blamed the victims. There’s a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle. We can’t blame the victims.

But we also have to point — I’d go to Washington as well as Wall Street, but I’d go over to the Federal Reserve. [applause]

They — they create the financial bubbles. And you have to understand that you can’t solve these problems if you don’t know where these bubbles come from.

But then, when the bailout came and supported by both parties, you have to realize, oh, wait, Republicans were still in charge. So the bailouts came from both parties. Guess who they bailed out? The big corporations of people who were ripping off the people in the derivatives market. And they said, oh, the world’s going to come to an end unless we bail out all the banks. So the banks were involved, and the Federal Reserve was involved.

But who got stuck? The middle class got stuck. They got stuck. They lost their jobs, and they lost their houses. If you had to give money out, you should have given it to people who were losing their mortgages, not to the banks. [applause]

COOPER: Mr. Cain, do you want to respond? He referenced you. So if you want to respond, you have 30 seconds.

CAIN: All I want to say is that representative Paul is partly right, but he’s mixing problems here. It’s more than one problem. Look, the people — the banks — yes, the banks and the businesses on Wall Street, yes, the way that was administered was not right.

But my point is this: What are the people who are protesting want from bankers on Wall Street, to come downstairs and write them a check? This is what we don’t understand. Take — go and get to the source of the problem, is all I’m saying.

COOPER: I’ve got to give you 30 seconds.

CAIN: And that’s the White House.

COOPER: And then we’ll go to Governor Romney.

PAUL: Yes, the argument is it’s — the program was OK, but it was mismanaged. But I work on the assumption that government’s not very capable of managing almost anything… [applause] … so you shouldn’t put that much trust in the government. You have — you have to trust the marketplace. And when the government gets involved, they have to deal with fraud. And how many people have gone to jail either in the government, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, that participated in this? And nobody suffers the consequences. All these investigations, and yet the people who lose their jobs and lose their houses, it’s their fault, according — that’s why they’re on Wall Street. And we can’t blame them. We have to blame the business cycle…

COOPER: Time.

PAUL: … and the economic policies that led to this disaster. [applause]

COOPER: Governor Romney, you — you originally called the protests “dangerous.” You said it was class warfare. You recently sounded more sympathetic. Where do you stand now? What is your message to those people protesting?

ROMNEY: Look, we can spend our time talking about what happened three years ago and what the cause was of our collapse. But let’s talk about what’s happened over the last three years. We’ve had a president responsible for this economy for the last three years, and he’s failed us.

He’s failed us in part because he has no idea how the private sector works or how to create jobs. On every single issue, he’s made it harder for our economy to reboot. And as a result, we have 25 million Americans out of work or stopped looking for work or in part- time work and can’t get full-time employed. Home values going down. You have median income in America that in the last three years has dropped by 10 percent.

Americans are hurting across this country, and the president’s out there campaigning. Why isn’t he governing? He doesn’t — he doesn’t have a jobs plan even now. This — this is a critical time for America. [applause]

And I — and I can tell you that this is time to have someone who understands how the economy works, who can get America working again. Instead of dividing and blaming, as this president is, let’s grow America again and have jobs that are the envy of the world. And I know how to do it.

COOPER: We’ve got to take a quick break. We’re going to continue on the other side. We’ll be right back.

[commercial break]

COOPER: I’m Anderson Cooper, the western Republican presidential debate, live from the Venetian in Las Vegas. As you watch the debate tonight, send us your comments and questions for the candidates on Twitter. Use the hashtag #CNNDebate. Also contact us on Facebook and cnn.com.

When we come back, the right to bears and should a candidate’s faith matter? We’ll be right back.

[commercial break]

COOPER: And welcome back to the CNN GOP debate live from the Venetian in Las Vegas. Let’s continue. We’ve got an e-mail question that was left at cnnpolitics.com. This is from a Mike Richards who says: “With the controversy surrounding Robert Jeffress, is it acceptable to let the issue of a candidate’s faith shape the debate?”

Senator Santorum, this is in reference to a Baptist pastor who, at the Values Voter Summit, after introducing Governor Rick Perry, said of — said that “Mitt Romney is not a Christian,” and that “Mormonism is a cult.” Those were his words.

Should… [booing]

COOPER: Should voters pay attention to a candidate’s religion?

SANTORUM: I think they should pay attention to the candidate’s values, what the candidate stands for. [cheering and applause]

SANTORUM: That’s what is at play. And the person’s faith — and you look at that faith and what the faith teaches with respect to morals and values that are reflected in that person’s belief structure. So that’s — those are important things.

I — I’m a Catholic. Catholic has social teachings. Catholic has teachings as to what’s right and what’s wrong. And those are legitimate things for voters to look at, to say if you’re a faithful Catholic, which I try to be — fall short all the time, but I try to be — and — and it’s a legitimate thing to look at as to what the tenets and teachings of that faith are with respect to how you live your life and — and how you would govern this country.

With respect to what is the road to salvation, that’s a whole different story. That’s not applicable to what — what the role is of being the president or a senator or any other job. [applause]

COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, you agree with that?

GINGRICH: Well, I think if the question is, does faith matter? Absolutely. How can you have a country which is founded on truths which begins we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights? How can you have the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which says religion, morality and knowledge being important, education matters. That’s the order: religion, morality and knowledge.

Now, I happen to think that none of us should rush in judgment of others in the way in which they approach God. And I think that all of us up here I believe would agree. [applause]

But I think all of us would also agree that there’s a very central part of your faith in how you approach public life. And I, frankly, would be really worried if somebody assured me that nothing in their faith would affect their judgments, because then I’d wonder, where’s your judgment — how can you have judgment if you have no faith? And how can I trust you with power if you don’t pray? [applause]

Who you pray to, how you pray, how you come close to God is between you and God. But the notion that you’re endowed by your creator sets a certain boundary on what we mean by America.

COOPER: Governor Perry, Mitt Romney asked you to repudiate the comments of that pastor who introduced you on that stage. He didn’t make the comments on the stage; he made them afterward in an interview. Will you repudiate those comments?

ROMNEY: Well, our faith — I can no more remove my faith than I can that I’m the son of a tenant farmer. I mean, the issue, are we going to be individuals who stand by our faith? I have said I didn’t agree with that individual’s statement. And our founding fathers truly understood and had an understanding of — of freedom of religion.

And this country is based on, as — as Newt talked about, these values that are so important as we go forward. And the idea that we should not have our freedom of — of religion to be taken away by any means, but we also are a country that is free to express our opinions. That individual expressed an opinion. I didn’t agree with it, Mitt, and I said so. But the fact is, Americans understand faith. And what they’ve lost faith in is the current resident of the White House. [applause]

COOPER: Time.

Governor Romney, is that — is that acceptable to you?

ROMNEY: You know, with — with regards to the disparaging comments about my faith, I’ve heard worse, so I’m not going to lose sleep over that. [laughter]

What I actually found was most troubling in what the reverend said in the introduction was he said, in choosing our nominee, we should inspect his religion. And someone who is a good moral person is not someone who we should select; instead, we should choose someone who subscribes to our religious belief.

That — that idea that we should choose people based upon their religion for public office is what I find to be most troubling, because the founders of this country went to great length to make sure — and even put it in the Constitution — that we would not choose people who represent us in government based upon their religion, that this would be a nation that recognized and respected other faiths, where there’s a plurality of faiths, where there was tolerance for other people and faiths. That’s bedrock principle.

And it was that principle, Governor, that I wanted you to be able to, no, no, that’s wrong, Reverend Jeffress. Instead of saying as you did, “Boy, that introduction knocked the ball out of the park,” I’d have said, “Reverend Jeffress, you got that wrong. We should select people not based upon their faith.” Even though — and I don’t suggest you distance yourself from your faith any more than I would. But the concept that we select people based on the church or the synagogue they go to, I think, is a very dangerous and — and enormous departure from the principles of our — of our Constitution. [applause]

COOPER: Would you still like him to say that?

UNKNOWN: I’m sorry?

COOPER: Would — would you still like the governor to say that? Or was that something you wanted him to…

ROMNEY: I’ll let him — that’s his choice.

COOPER: Do you want to respond to that, Governor Perry?

PERRY: I have. I said I did not agree with the — Pastor Jeffress’s remarks. I don’t agree with them. I — I can’t apologize any more than that.

ROMNEY: That’s fine.

COOPER: We’ve got a question from the audience.

QUESTION: Currently, there’s a deficit reduction measure to cut defense spending by $500 billion. Would you support such a reduction in defense spending? And if elected president, how will you provide a strong national defense?

COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, should defense be cut?

BACHMANN: Well, $500 billion is the amount that the questioner had mentioned. And don’t forget, this was an historic week when it came to American foreign policy.

We saw potentially an international assassination attempt from Iran on American soil. That says something about Iran, that they disrespect the United States so much, that they would attempt some sort of heinous act like that.

Then, we saw the president of the United States engage American troops in a fourth conflict in a foreign land. This is historic.

Then, on Sunday, we heard the reports that now that — in Iraq, the 5,000 troops that were going to be left there won’t even be granted immunity by Iraq. This is how disrespected the United States is in the world today, and it’s because of President Obama’s failed policies.

He’s taken his eyes off the number one issue in the world. That’s an Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. That makes all of us in much danger.

COOPER: Time.

BACHMANN: And the president of Iran is a genocidal maniac. We need to stand up against Iran. [applause]

COOPER: Congresswoman —

BACHMANN: And as president of the United States, I will. We will be respected again in the world.

COOPER: The question though was about budget cuts. And is everything on the table in terms of cutting the budget?

BACHMANN: Absolutely everything.

COOPER: So defense spending would be on the table, should be?

BACHMANN: Defense spending is on the table, but again, Anderson, now with the president, he put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa. We already were stretched too thin, and he put our Special Operations Forces in Africa.

COOPER: I just want to make sure. OK. It’s on the table.

BACHMANN: It’s on the table, but we cannot cut it by $500 billion. We can’t do that to tour brave men and women who are on the ground fighting for us.

COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: I mean, if you want to understand how totally broken Washington is, look at this entire model of the super committee, which has now got a magic number to achieve. And if it doesn’t achieve the magic number, then we’ll all have to shoot ourselves in the head so that when they come back with a really dumb idea to merely cut off our right leg, we’ll all be grateful that they’re only semi-stupid instead of being totally stupid. [applause]

GINGRICH: Now, the idea that you have a bunch of historically illiterate politicians who have no sophistication about national security trying to make a numerical decision about the size of the defense budget tells you everything you need to know about the bankruptcy of the current elite in this country in both parties. The fact is, we ought to first figure out what threaten us, we ought to figure out what strategies will respond to that. We should figure out what structures we need for those strategies. We should then cost them.

I helped found the Military Reform Caucus. I’m a hawk, but I’m a cheap hawk. But the fact is, to say I’m going to put the security of the United States up against some arbitrary budget number is suicidally stupid.

COOPER: Congressman Paul, you’ve proposed — [applause]

COOPER: Congressman Paul, you just proposed eliminating the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Interior, Housing and Urban Development. You say it will save a trillion dollars in one year. [applause]

COOPER: You’re proposing a 15 percent cut to the Defense Department. Can you guarantee national security will not be hurt by that?

PAUL: I think it would be enhanced. I don’t want to cut any defense. And you have to get it straight. There’s a lot of money spent in the military budget that doesn’t do any good for our defense.

How does it help us to keep troops in Korea all these years? We’re broke. We have to borrow this money.

Why are we in Japan? Why do we subsidize Germany, and they subsidize their socialized system over there? Because we pay for it. We’re broke.

And this whole thing that this can’t be on the table, I’ll tell you what, this debt bubble is the thing you better really worry about, because it’s imploding on us right now. It’s worldwide.

We are no more removed from this than man the man on the moon. It’s going to get much worse.

And to cut military spending is a wise thing to do. We would be safer if we weren’t in so many places.

We have an empire. We can’t afford it. The empires always bring great nations down. We spread ourselves too thinly around the world. This is what’s happened throughout history, and we’re doing it to ourselves.

The most recent empire to fail was an empire that went into, of all places, Afghanistan…

COOPER: Time.

PAUL: … they went broke. So where are we? In Afghanistan. I say it’s time to come home. [cheering and applause]

COOPER: It’s time.

We have a Twitter question. Given that Israel has just negotiated with Palestine for a soldier, would any of you negotiate for a hostage?

Herman Cain, let me ask this to you. A few hours ago you were asked by Wolf Blitzer, if al Qaeda had an American soldier in captivity, and they demanded the release of everyone at Guantanamo Bay, would you release them? And you said, quote: “I can see myself authorizing that kind of a transfer. Can you explain?

CAIN: The rest of the statement was quite simply, you would have to consider the entire situation. But let me say this first, I would have a policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists. We have to lay that principle down first.

Now being that you have to look at each individual situation and consider all the facts. The point that I made about this particular situation is that I’m sure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to consider a lot of things before he made that.

So on the surface, I don’t think we can say he did the right thing or not. A responsible decision-maker would have considered everything.

COOPER: But you’re saying you could — I mean, in your words, you’ve said that I could see myself authorizing that kind of a transfer. Isn’t that negotiating with, in this case, al Qaeda?

CAIN: I don’t recall him saying that it was al Qaeda-related.

COOPER: Yes, he did. He said…

CAIN: Well, I don’t really — my policy will be we cannot negotiate with terrorists. That’s where we have to start as a fundamental principle.

COOPER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Oh, absolutely not. I mean, you can’t negotiate with terrorists, period.

To address Congressman Paul’s answer and the other answer on military spending, I would absolutely not cut one penny out of military spending. The first order of the federal government, the only thing the federal government can do that no other level of government can do is protect us. It is the first duty of the president of the United States is to protect us. [applause]

SANTORUM: And we should have the resources — we should have all the resources in place to make sure that we can defend our borders, that we can make sure that when we engage in foreign countries, we do so to succeed.

That has been the problem in this administration. We’ve had political objectives instead of objectives for success. And that’s why we haven’t succeeded. And as Michele said and correctly said, the central threat right now is Iran.

The disrespect, yes, but it’s more than that. They sent a message. The two countries that they went after was the leader of the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia, and the leader of the, quote, “secular world,” the United States.

This was a call by Iran to say we are the ones who are going to be the supreme leader of the Islamic world…

COOPER: Time.

SANTORUM: … and we are going to be the supreme leader of the secular world. And that’s why they attacked here. And, by the way, they did it in coordination…

COOPER: Time.

SANTORUM: … with Central and South Americans, which I have been talking about and writing about and talking about for 10 years.

COOPER: Congressman Paul, you were referenced in that answer, 30 seconds.

PAUL: Well, I think we’re on economic suicide if we’re not even willing to look at some of these overseas expenditures, 150 bases — 900 bases, 150 different countries. We have enough weapons to blow up the world about 20-25 times. We have more weapons than all the other countries put together essentially.

And we want to spend more and more, and you can’t cut a penny? I mean, this is why we’re at an impasse. I want to hear somebody up here willing to cut something. Something real. [cheering and applause]

PAUL: This budget is in bad shape and the financial calamity is going to be much worse than anybody ever invading this country. Which country — are they going to invade this country? They can’t even shoot a missile at us.

COOPER: We have a question in the hall that gets to your question. The question in the hall on foreign aid? Yes, ma’am.

VICKI O’KEEFE, BOULDER CITY, NEVADA: The American people are suffering in our country right now. Why do we continue to send foreign aid to other countries when we need all the help we can get for ourselves?

COOPER: Governor Perry, what about that? I mean… [applause]

PERRY: Absolutely. I think it’s time for this country to have a very real debate about foreign aid. Clearly there are places. As a matter of fact, I think it’s time for us to have a very serious discussion about defunding the United Nations. [cheering and applause]

PERRY: When you think about — when you think about the Palestinian Authority circumventing those Oslo Accords and going to New York to try to create the conflict and to have themselves approved as a state without going through the proper channels is a travesty.

And I think it’s time not only to have that entire debate about all of our foreign aid, but in particular the U.N. Why are we funding that organization? [cheering and applause]

COOPER: Governor Romney, should foreign aid be eliminated?

ROMNEY: Foreign aid has several elements. One of those elements is defense, is to make sure that we are able to have the defense resources we want in certain places of the world. That probably ought to fall under the Department of Defense budget rather than a foreign aid budget.

Part of it is humanitarian aid around the world. I happen to think it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to borrow money from the Chinese to go give to another country for humanitarian aid. We ought to get the Chinese to take care of the people that are — and think of that borrowed money on today.

And finally there’s a portion of our foreign aid that allows us to carry out our activities in the world such as what’s happening in Pakistan where we’re taking — we’re supplying our troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan.

But let me tell you: We’re spending more on foreign aid than we ought to be spending. And Congressman Paul asked, is there a place we can cut the budget? Let me tell you where we cut the budget. Discretionary accounts you bring back to 2008 level. We get rid of Obamacare. Number three, we take Medicaid, turn it back to the states, grow it at only 1 percent to 2 percent per year. Number three, we cut — number four, rather, we cut federal employment by at least 10 percent through attrition. And finally, we say to federal employees: You’re not going to make more money than the people in the private sector who are paying for you. We link their compensation. [applause]

COOPER: Time.

Congressman Paul?

PAUL: On foreign aid, that should be the easiest thing to cut. It’s not authorized in the Constitution that we can take money from you and give it to particular countries around the world. To me, foreign aid is taking money from poor people in this country and giving it to rich people in poor countries. And it becomes weapons of war. Essentially, no well — no matter how well-motivated it is…

COOPER: Congressman Paul, would you cut aid to Israel?

PAUL: I would cut all foreign aid. I would treat everybody equally and fairly. And I don’t think aid to Israel actually helps them. I think it teaches them to be dependent. We’re on a bankruptcy course.

And — and look at what’s the result of all that foreign aid we gave to Egypt? I mean, their — their dictator that we pumped up, we spent all these billions of dollars, and now there’s a more hostile regime in Egypt. And that’s what’s happening all around Israel. That foreign aid makes Israel dependent on us. It softens them for their own economy. And they should have their sovereignty back. They should be able to deal with their neighbors…

COOPER: Time. Congresswoman Bachmann…

PAUL: … at their own will. [applause]

COOPER: Should we cut foreign aid to Israel?

BACHMANN: No, we should not be cutting foreign aid to Israel. Israel is our greatest ally. The biggest problem is the fact… [applause] … that the president — the biggest problem with this administration in foreign policy is that President Obama is the first president since Israel declared her sovereignty put daylight between the United States and Israel. That heavily contributed to the current hostilities that we see in the Middle East region.

Cutting back on foreign aid is one thing. Being reimbursed by nations that we have liberated is another. We should look to Iraq and Libya to reimburse us for part of what we have done to liberate these nations. [applause]

Now, I need to add something on this issue of negotiating for hostages. This is a very serious issue. For any candidate to say that they would release the prisoners at Guantanamo in exchange for a hostage would be absolutely contrary to the historical nature of the United States and what we do in our policy. That’s naive; we cannot do that. The United States has done well because we have an absolute policy: We don’t negotiate.

COOPER: Herman Cain, I’ve got to give you 30 seconds, because she was referring to — basically saying you were naive or if — if that’s what you were suggesting. CAIN: No, I — I said that I believe in the philosophy of we don’t negotiate with terrorists. I think — I didn’t say — I would never agree to letting hostages in Guantanamo Bay go. No, that wasn’t — that wasn’t the intent at all.

But let me go back to this, if I could, very quickly in the time that I have left, the question that you asked about, foreign aid. My approach is an extension of the Reagan approach: Peace through strength, which is peace through strength and clarity. If we clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are, and stop giving money to our enemies, then we ought to continue to give money to our friends, like Israel.

COOPER: You have 30 seconds, Congressman Paul, and then we’ve got to go.

PAUL: Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to make a statement. I want to ask a question. Are you all willing to condemn Ronald Reagan for exchanging weapons for hostages out of Iran? We all know that was done.

SANTORUM: That’s not — Iran was a sovereign country. It was not a terrorist organization, number one.

PAUL: Oh, they were our good friends back then, huh?

SANTORUM: They’re not our good friends. They’re — they’re — they’re a sovereign country, just like the — the Palestinian Authority is not the good friends of Israel.

PAUL: He negotiated for hostages.

SANTORUM: There’s — there’s a role — we negotiated with hostages [inaudible] the Soviet Union. We’ve negotiated with hostages, depending on the scale. But there’s a difference between releasing terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in response to a terrorist demand…

PAUL: But they’re all suspects. They’re not terrorists. You haven’t convicted them of anything.

SANTORUM: Then — then — then negotiating with other countries, where we may have an interest, and that is certainly a proper role for the United States, too.

COOPER: We’ve got to take a quick break. I do want to give Speaker Gingrich 30 seconds, and then…

GINGRICH: Just very straightforward. Callista and I did a film on Ronald Reagan. There’s a very painful moment in the film when he looks in the camera and says, “I didn’t think we did this. I’m against doing it. I went back and looked. The truth is, we did. It was an enormous mistake.”

And he thought the Iranian deals with a terrible mistake.

COOPER: We’re going to take a short break. Our debate though continues on the other side of the break, so stay tuned.

When we return, which candidate has the best chance to beat Barack Obama, and should it matter in your vote?

Stay with us. [applause]

[commercial break]

COOPER: And welcome back. The GOP debate is under way.

Let’s talk about probably the most important issue to everybody on this stage, and probably just about everybody in this room, which is, who can beat President Barack Obama in this next election?

In today’s new CNN/ORC poll, 41 percent of Republican voters think that Governor Romney has the best chance of beating the president. [applause]

COOPER: To Senator Santorum, you got one percent. Why shouldn’t Republican voters go with the candidate they feel that can best beat President Obama?

SANTORUM: Well, the Pew poll last week asked how many people in this country can name any of us? And less than 50 percent could come up with even one. So, the idea that this has any relevance to people who aren’t paying close attention to this debate is, in fact, irrelevant. What’s relevant is to look at the track record.

No one in this field has won a swing state. Pennsylvania is a swing state. We win Pennsylvania, we win the election. The Republicans nominate it.

I’ve won it twice. I defeated a Democratic incumbent, winning it the first time, and I won the state of Pennsylvania, the only senator to win a state who was a conservative that George Bush lost. Bush lost it by 5, I won it by 6.

So, you have someone who is defeated and been matched up against three Democratic incumbents. I’m 3-0.

Nobody in this field has won a major race against a Democratic incumbent except me. No one has won a swing state except me as a conservative.

I didn’t run as a Democrat in Texas when it was popular, won and win there. I didn’t run as a liberal in 1994. I ran in 1994, the same year Mitt did in Massachusetts. He ran as a liberal, to the left of Kennedy, and lost. I ran as a conservative against James Carville and Paul Begala, and I won.

In 2002, he ran as a moderate. He ran as a moderate in — in Massachusetts. I ran for re-election having sponsored and passed welfare reform, having authored the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

COOPER: Time.

SANTORUM: I was a — a moral conservative, I was a foreign policy conservative…

COOPER: Time, Senator.

SANTORUM: … I was a fiscal conservative, and I got elected in a state that hasn’t elected a president since 1988 as a Republican.

COOPER: Thank you.

Governor Romney, I’ve got to give you 30 seconds, since he referenced you.

ROMNEY: I think the people of America are looking for someone who can beat President Obama and can get the country on the right track. And I believe that they’ve recognized that if they elect someone who’s spent their life in politics that they’re not going to be able to post up well against President Obama and convince the American people of the truth of the — of the principles that we believe in.

I believe that, having spent my life in the private sector, having actually created jobs is what allows me to have the kind of support that’s going to allow me to replace President Obama and get the country on the right track again. That, for me, is a distinguishing feature that’s going to get me elected as the president of the United States.

COOPER: Governor… [applause]

Governor Perry, was he referring to you?

PERRY: If you want to know how someone’s going to act in the future, look how they act in the past. I mean, so, Mitt, while you were the governor of Massachusetts in that period of time, you were 47th in the nation in job creation. During that same period of time, we created 20 times more jobs. As a matter of fact, you’d created 40,000 jobs total in your four years. Last two months, we created more jobs than that in Texas.

What we need is someone who will draw a bright contrast between themselves and President Obama. And let me tell you one thing: I will draw that bright contrast.

COOPER: I’ve got to give you 30 seconds. Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Yeah. With regards to track record in the past, Governor, you were the chairman of Al Gore’s campaign, all right? [laughter] And there was a fellow — there was a fellow Texan named George Bush running. So if we’re looking at the past, I think we know where you were.

Secondly, our unemployment rate I got down to 4.7 percent, pretty darn good. I think a lot of people would be happy to have 4.7 percent. And with regards… [applause]

With regards to the — to the record — to the record in Texas, you probably also ought to tell people that if you look over the last several years, 40 percent, almost half the jobs created in Texas were created for illegal aliens, illegal immigrants.

PERRY: That is an absolute falsehood on its face, Mitt.

COOPER: You have 30 seconds, Governor Perry.

ROMNEY: It’s actually — it’s actually…

PERRY: That is — that is absolutely incorrect, sir.

ROMNEY: Well, take a look at the study.

PERRY: There’s a third — there’s been a third party take a look at that study, and it is absolutely incorrect. The fact is, Texas has led the nation in job creation. eBay and Facebook and Caterpillar didn’t come there because there weren’t jobs and there wasn’t an environment to be created.

That’s what Americans are looking for. They’re looking for somebody that they trust, that knows has the executive governing experience. I’ve got it. You failed as the governor of Massachusetts.

COOPER: I’ve got to give Governor Romney 30 seconds. He said you failed. [booing]

ROMNEY: I’m very proud of the fact — actually, during the four years we were both governors, my unemployment rate in Massachusetts was lower than your unemployment rate in Texas. That’s number one.

Number two, getting it down to 4.7, I’m pretty happy with. We worked very hard to balance our budget, did every year, put in place a rainy-day fund of $2 billion by the time I was finished.

And I’ll tell you this, the American people would be happy for an individual who can lead the country who’s actually created jobs, not just watching them get created by others, but someone who knows how the economy works because he’s been in it. I have. I’ve created jobs. I’ll use that skill to get America working again. That’s what we want. [applause]

COOPER: Herman Cain, you’re — Herman Cain, you’re tied with Governor Romney in some of the polls for the top leadership position right now. Is a — are they the ones — are either Governor Perry or Governor Romney, are they the ones who should be president?

CAIN: No, I should be president.

COOPER: Well, obviously. [applause]

CAIN: Governor Romney has a very distinguished career, and I would agree with much of what he has said. And there’s one difference between the two of us in terms of our experience. With all due respect, his business executive experience has been more Wall Street- oriented; mine has been more Main Street.

I have managed small companies. I’ve actually had to clean the parking lot. I’ve worked with groups of businesses, et cetera.

And as far as contrasting me with President Obama, if I am fortunate enough to become the Republican nominee, it’s going to be the problem-solver who fixes stuff versus the president who hasn’t fixed anything in this country. [applause]

COOPER: Governor Romney, you’ve got 30 seconds.

ROMNEY: I — I appreciate that. And probably the fact that we’re doing as well as we are is we both have a private-sector background. That probably helps.

But I just want to set the record state on my record — record straight on my record. I’ve been chief executive officer four times, once for a start-up and three times for turnarounds. One was a financial services company. That was the start-up. A — a consulting company, that’s a mainstream business. The Olympics, that’s certainly mainstream. And, of course, the state of Massachusetts. In all those settings, I’ve learned how to create jobs.

COOPER: Your campaigns are telling us we have to end. It’s time…

[crosstalk]

BACHMANN: Oh, no, no, no…

GINGRICH: Wait a second.

COOPER: Sorry.

BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson, that is…

COOPER: It’s your campaigns. I’m…

BACHMANN: Anderson…

[crosstalk]

COOPER: If you want to defy your campaigns, go ahead. Congresswoman Bachmann, 30 seconds.

BACHMANN: Anderson — Anderson, the good news is, the cake is baked. Barack Obama will be a one-term president; there’s no question about that. [applause]

Now the question is, we need to listen to Ronald Reagan who said no pastels, bold colors. I am the most different candidate from Barack Obama than anyone on this stage.

COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?

BACHMANN: We can’t settle in this race.

COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Let me — let me just point out for a second that maximizing bickering is probably not the road to the White House. [applause]

And the — the technique you’ve used maximizes going back and forth over and over again.

I just want to say two things. I think that I would be the strongest candidate because of sheer substance, if you go to newt.org and look at the 21st Century Contract with America. As the nominee, I will challenge Obama to meet the Lincoln-Douglas standard of seven three-hour debate, no time — no moderator, only a timekeeper. I believe we can defeat him decisively to a point where we re-establish a conservative America on our values. And I think that is a key part of thinking about next year.

COOPER: We’d love to host those on CNN.

I want to thank all the candidates, the GOP candidates tonight. [applause]

[crosstalk]

COOPER: I want to thank all the candidates for a spirited debate on the stage. We also want to thank our co-sponsors, the Western Republican Leadership Conference, our host, the Sands Convention Center at the Venetian. Our coverage of “America’s Choice 2012” continues right now here on CNN.

October 11, 2011: Bloomberg / WBIN-TV / Washington Post Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

Republican Candidates Debate in Hanover, New Hampshire October 11, 2011

PARTICIPANTS:
Representative Michele Bachmann (MN);
Herman Cain (GA);
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (GA);
Former Governor Jon Huntsman (UT);
Representative Ron Paul (TX);
Governor Rick Perry (TX);
Former Governor Mitt Romney (MA); and
Former Senator Rick Santorum (PA)

MODERATORS:
Charlie Rose (PBS);
Karen Tumulty (Washington Post);
Juliana Goldman (Bloomberg TV)

ROSE: I’m Charlie Rose. Welcome to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, this great college established in 1769 in a state that often plays a crucial role in picking presidents. Tonight, it is the site of an important Republican presidential debate brought to you by Bloomberg, the Washington Post, and WBIN Television.

This is a time of anxiety about our country and our children’s future in a continuing economic crisis. Many are in despair, not only about policy, but politics. And so we ask who has the character, who has the ideas, and who has the experience to lead.

This debate is different and distinctive. It is only about the economy. So we debate this evening about spending and taxes, deficit and debt, about the present and the future, about rich and poor, and about the role of government. And because we’re at a table — this is the kind of table I like — the kind of kitchen table where families for generations have come together to talk and solve their problems.

The rules are one minute for an answer, 30 seconds for follow-up and rebuttal. If a candidate is singled out by name for criticism, they have 30 seconds to respond. Later in the debate, they will question each other.

I’m the moderator. Joining me are Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post and Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg News.

Joining us at the table, the eight Republican candidates. They are: former Governor of Utah Jon Huntsman; Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann; Texas Governor Rick Perry; former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain; former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum; former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich; Texas Congressman Ron Paul; former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

I am pleased to be here at this table to have an opportunity to talk to them about the issues that all of us are thinking about.

And I begin this evening first with Herman Cain. As you know, when Standard & Poor’s downgraded American credit, they noted not only the economic difficulties, but the political dysfunction. So we begin this evening with the question: What would you do specifically to end the paralysis in Washington?

CAIN: Two things. Present a bold plan to grow this economy, which I have put my 9-9-9 plan on the table, and it starts with throwing out the current tax code and putting in the 9-9-9 plan.

Secondly, get serious about bringing down the national debt. The only way we’re going to do that is, the first year that I’m president and I oversee a fiscal year budget, make sure that revenues equals spending. If we stop adding to the national debt, we can bring it down.

So the answer is, we must grow this economy with a bold solution, which is why I have proposed 9-9-9, and at the same time get serious about not creating annual deficits so we can bring down the national debt. That would re-establish confidence in our system, and I believe we could get our credit rating back.

ROSE: Governor Perry, are you prepared — even though you’ve said that you want to make Washington inconsequential — to go to Washington and, as Ronald Reagan did, compromise on spending cuts and taxes in order to produce results?

PERRY: Well, certainly as the governor of the second largest state, I’ve had to deal with folks on both sides of the aisle. I’ve signed six balanced budgets as the governor of — of Texas. So working with folks on both sides of the aisle and — and bringing ideas, whether it’s ways to redo your tax structure or what have you.

One of the things that I laid out today I think is a pretty bold plan, to put 1.2 million Americans working in the energy industry. And you don’t need Congress to do that. You need a president with a plan, which I’m laying out over the next three days, and, clearly, the intent to open up this treasure trove that America’s sitting on and getting America independent on the domestic energy side. It’s time for another American Declaration of Independence. It’s time for energy independence.

ROSE: We’ll come back to energy, also your economic plan this evening, but I go now to Governor Romney. The paralysis there, and everybody’s concerned about it. What specifically would you be prepared to do to make the country moving again on addressing its problems?

ROMNEY: I’d be prepared to be a leader. You can’t get the country to go in the right direction and get Washington to work if you don’t have a president that’s a leader. And three years ago, we selected a person who had never had any leadership experience, never worked in the private sector, never had the opportunity to actually bring people together, and he hasn’t been able to do so.

He said he’d bring us hope and change. Instead, he’s divided the nation and tried to blame other people.

The real course for America is to have someone who is a leader, who can identify people in both parties who care more about the country than they care about getting reelected.

There are Democrats like that. There are Republicans like that. I was the governor of a state that had a few Democrats. People in this room know how many we had in Massachusetts.

ROSE: So it’s essential to deal with Democrats and be prepared to compromise on the big issues of our time?

ROMNEY: You have to stand by your principles. At the same time, you know that good Democrats and good Republicans who love the country first will be able to find common ground from time to time and recognize we can’t keep on spending like we’re spending, we can’t demand more from tax revenue from people, because that kills jobs and hurts working families.

We have got to help the middle class in this country. The only way that will come together is if you have people on both sides of the aisle who listen to a leader who has the experience of leading. And that’s what America is looking for and desperately longing for.

ROSE: And back to Governor Perry, this plan that you would like to lay out, because Governor Romney has said you have had two months to produce a plan, an economic plan, he’s had a 59 point plan, what is the plan? What will you say specifically?

PERRY: Well, clearly, opening up a lot of the areas of our domestic energy area. That’s the real key. You have got an administration that, by and large, has either by intimidation or over-regulation, put our energy industry and the rest of the economy in jeopardy. And we have got to have a president who is willing to stand up and to clearly pull back those regulations that are strangling the American entrepreneurship that’s out there.

And it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s Obamacare, whether it’s Dodd-Frank, or whether it’s the tax burden. A president, particularly with the plan that I’m going to be laying out over the next three days — and I’m not going to lay it out all for you tonight — Mitt has had six years to be working on a plan. I have been in this for about eight weeks. But, clearly, we’re going to be focused on initially the energy industry in this country and making a America again independent, and clearly the place where domestic energy needs to be produced from.

ROSE: Let me introduce my friend Karen — Karen.

TUMULTY: Congresswoman Bachmann, three years after the financial meltdown, Main Street continues to suffer. People have lost their jobs, they’ve lost their homes, they’ve lost their faith in the future. But Wall Street is thriving. The banks not only got bailed out by the government, they have made huge profits, they’ve paid themselves huge bonuses.

Do you think it’s right that no Wall Street executives have gone to jail for the damage they did to the economy?

BACHMANN: I think if you look at the problem with the economic meltdown, you can trace it right back to the federal government, because it was the federal government that demanded that banks and mortgage companies lower platinum level lending standards to new lows.

TUMULTY: But the federal government has also deregulated them.

BACHMANN: It was the federal government that pushed the subprime loans. It was the federal government that pushed the Community Reinvestment Act. It was Congressman Barney Frank and also Senator Chris Dodd that continued to push government-directed housing goals.

They pushed the banks to meet these rules. And if banks failed to meet those rules, then the federal government said we won’t let you merge, we won’t let you grow.

There’s a real problem, and it began with the federal government, and it began with Freddie and Fannie. If you look at these secondary mortgage companies which the federal government is essentially backing 100 percent, they put American mortgages in a very difficult place.

We had artificially low interest rates, Freddie and Fannie were the center of the universe on the mortgage meltdown, and we had lending standards lowered for the first time in American history. The fault goes back to the federal government, and that’s what’s wrong with Dodd- Frank.

Dodd-Frank institutionalized all of these problems that were put into effect by the federal government. That’s why I introduced the bill to repeal Dodd-Frank. It’s the Jobs and Housing Destruction Act.

TUMULTY: So, Speaker Gingrich, it sounds like Congresswoman Bachmann does not believe that Wall Street is to blame for the financial mess. You’ve said that the current protests on Wall Street are, in your words, “the natural product of Obama’s class warfare.”

Does this mean that these people who are out there protesting on Wall Street, across the country, have no grievance?

GINGRICH: No, let me draw a distinction. I think there — virtually every American has a reason to be angry. I think virtually every American has a reason to be worried.

I think the people who are protesting on Wall Street break into two groups. One is left-wing agitators who would be happy to show up next week on any other topic, and the other is sincere middle-class people who, frankly, are very close to the Tea Party people and actually care.

And you can tell which group is which. The people who are decent, responsible citizens pick up after themselves. The people who are just out there as activists trash the place and walk off and are proud of having trashed it. So let’s draw that distinction.

If they want to really change things, the first person to fire is Bernanke, who is a disastrous chairman of the Federal Reserve. The second person to fire is Geithner.

The fact is, in both the Bush and the Obama administrations, the fix has been in. And I think it’s perfectly reasonable for people to be angry. But let’s be clear who put the fix in: The fix was put in by the federal government.

And if you want to put people in jail — I want to second what Michele said — you ought to start with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and let’s look at the politicians who created the environment, the politicians who profited from the environment, and the politicians who put this country in trouble.

ROSE: Clearly you’re not saying they should go to jail?

GINGRICH: Well, in Chris Dodd’s case, go back and look at the countryside [sic] deals. In Barney Frank’s case, go back and look at the lobbyists he was close to at — at Freddie Mac. All I’m saying is…

UNKNOWN: So if he were…

GINGRICH: Everybody — everybody in the media who wants to go after the business community ought to start by going after the politicians who have been at the heart of the sickness which is weakening this country and ought to start with Bernanke, who has still not been exposed for the hundreds of billions of dollars.

[applause]

And I’m going to say one last thing. I want to repeat this. Bernanke has in secret spent hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out one group and not bailing out another group. I don’t see anybody in the news media demanding the kind of transparency at the Fed that you would demand of every other aspect of the federal government. And I think it is corrupt and it is wrong for one man to have that kind of secret power.

TUMULTY: So, Congressman Paul, where you come down on this?

[laughter]

PAUL: One thing I might — might say is, we have made some inroads on the Federal Reserve. We passed a bill last year. We got a partial, you know, audit of the Fed. We’ve learned a whole lot. They were dealing in $15 trillion; $5 trillion went overseas to bail out foreign banks.

But you know what? Congress did a lot. I’ve worked on it for a good many years. But Bloomberg helped and Fox helped. They had court cases, Freedom of Information Act. And there are some even at this table who didn’t think auditing the Fed was such a good idea, that we could call up the Fed and ask them and they would tell us what they’re doing. I’ve been calling them up for 30 years and they never tell me.

[laughter]

But we’re getting to the bottom of it. But if you want to understand why we have a problem, you have to understand the Fed, because the cause comes from the business cycle. We shouldn’t be asking what to do exactly with the recession — obviously, we have to deal with that — but you can’t solve — you can’t cure the disease if you don’t know the cause of it.

And the cause is the booms. When there are booms and they’re artificial, whether it’s the CRA or whether it’s the Fed, easy credit, when you have bubbles, whether it’s the Nasdaq or whether it’s the housing bubbles, they burst. And when they do, you have to have corrections. And that’s what we’re dealing with. And we can do this by building coalitions and not sacrificing any principles.

ROSE: Julianna?

GOLDMAN: Thank you, Charlie.

Senator Santorum, I want to turn to jobs, because you’ve said that when you were growing up in a steel town in Pennsylvania, 21 percent of the country was involved in manufacturing. Now it’s down to 9 percent. Can those jobs ever return? And what would you do to create jobs now?

SANTORUM: Yeah, the jobs can come back if you create a climate for them to be profitable. I — I — we have a lot of businesspeople, manufacturers in Pennsylvania. I don’t know a single one who wanted to shift their jobs offshore, who didn’t want them in their own community to be able to employ people and see the fruits of their labor being benefiting the community that they live in.

What happened was, we became uncompetitive. So we need to be competitive. And that’s why I’ve proposed taking the corporate tax for manufacturers and processors, taking it from 35 percent and eliminating it. Zero percent tax. Allow this to be the — the manufacturing capital of the world again.

Take that money, $1.2 trillion that’s overseas from manufacturers who did send their jobs overseas, bring it back, zero percent tax rate if you invest it in plant and equipment in this country.

Repeal every regulation the Obama administration has put in place that’s over $100 million. Repeal them all. May have to replace a few. Let’s repeal them all, because they’re all antagonistic to businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector, and do as Governor Perry suggested. We need a bold energy plan — I put one out there — to drill — Pennsylvania, I don’t want to brag, Governor, but Pennsylvania is the gas capital of the world right now, not Texas, because we are…

ROSE: All right.

SANTORUM: … we’re doing a great job. And energy prices and gas went down by 75 percent.

GOLDMAN: Let me just follow up, because we’re in a crisis. So what would you do right now to create jobs?

SANTORUM: The cool thing about my plan, as opposed to Herman’s plans and some of the other plans out here, it will pass tomorrow. It would pass tomorrow.

Why? Because industrial state Democrats want those jobs. And they know if we put a pro-manufacturing jobs plan on the table, it will pass over night. We’ll get votes from Indiana and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan, all of those states.

So, it’s not just proposing a plan that will get things started, that “The Wall Street Journal” will smile at — excuse me, “The Washington Post” — but it’s a plan that will actually pass and get things done and bring people together. That’s why I put it on the table.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

I want to follow up now to Governor Huntsman. From the Erie Canal to the Internet, innovation is what has always fueled economic recoveries. So shouldn’t the focus now not be on trying to create the innovative jobs of tomorrow? And what do you think those are?

HUNTSMAN: We need to regain our industrial base. I would, first and foremost, disagree with Rick on one measure. That is, Pennsylvania is not the gas capital of the country. Washington, D.C., is the gas capital of the country.

[laughter]

HUNTSMAN: There are two things that critically need to be done for us to stay ahead in this highly-competitive world. And when we lose one or both of them, we lose out to the Chinese and the Indians.

One is maintaining a strong commitment to innovation entrepreneurship and freedom in the marketplace. We have the sense of innovation that no country has been able to replicate. Some have tried, and some will continue to try, but nobody does it like we do here, and that gives rise to high technology, to regular manufacturing jobs across the board. It makes this economy hum when it’s working well.

The second part of it is, you need a marketplace like Rick described a moment ago in which you can translate those innovations into products. We are losing our ability to maintain a competitive marketplace today.

ROSE: All right.

HUNTSMAN: That’s taxes, that’s regulation. We have lost it to others. So, right now, we are not able to translate innovation to the — we’ve got to regain the magic of a strong marketplace so that we have the complete package.

ROSE: Karen.

TUMULTY: Congressman Gingrich — Speaker Gingrich, Medicare is going broke. Consider the fact that half of all Medicare spending is done in the last two years of life, and research that has been done right here at Dartmouth by “The Dartmouth Atlas” would suggest that much of this money is going to treatments and interventions that do nothing to prolong life or to improve it. In fact, some of it does the opposite.

Do you consider this wasteful spending? And, if so, should the government do anything about it?

GINGRICH: I am really glad you asked that, because I was just swapping e-mails today with Andy von Eschenbach, who was the head of the National Cancer Institute, the head of the Food & Drug Administration. But before that, he was the provost M.D. Anderson, the largest cancer treatment center in the world.

And he wrote me to point out that the most recent U.S. government intervention on whether or not to have prostate testing is basically going to kill people. So, if you ask me, do I want some Washington bureaucrat to create a class action decision which affects every American’s last two years of life, not ever.

I think it is a disaster. I think, candidly, Governor Palin got attacked unfairly for describing what would, in effect, be death panels.

And what Von Eschenbach will tell you if you call him is, the decision to suggest that we not test men with PSA will mean that a number of people who do not have — who are susceptible to a very rapid prostate cancer will die unnecessarily. And there was not a single urologist, not a single specialist on the board that looked at it. So, I am opposed to class intervention for these things.

TUMULTY: Well, Congresswoman Bachmann, of course no one wants the government to come between a doctor and a patient. But do you think that Americans are getting the most for their money in Medicare spending? And how can we make sure that the money that is being spent is being spent on the treatments and the preventive treatments that do the most?

BACHMANN: We have a big problem today when it comes to Medicare, because we know that nine years from now, the Medicare hospital Part B trust fund is going to be dead-flat broke, so we’ve got to deal with this issue. I was in the White House with President Obama this summer. We asked him not once, but three times, “President Obama, what is your plan to save Medicare?”

And the president mumbled and he didn’t give an answer the first time, the second time. And the third time the president said something very interesting, Karen. He said Obamacare.

I think that senior citizens across the country have no idea that President Obama plans for Medicare to collapse, and instead everyone will be pushed into Obamacare.

And just like Newt Gingrich said, the way that Obamacare runs, there’s a board called IPAB. It’s made up of 15 political appointees. These 15 political appointees will make all the major health care decisions for over 300 million Americans. I don’t want 15 political appointees to make a health care decision for a beautiful, fragile 85- year-old woman who should be making her own decision.

ROSE: We’ll come back to Medicare, as well, and medical issues and then the cost of Medicare in the United States.

I want to talk about advisers and appointees. Tell me, Governor Huntsman, whose advice do you seek on economic issues? And who — what’s the profile of the kind of person you’d like to have advising you in your White House?

HUNTSMAN: I’d like the profile of my own father, who’s a great entrepreneur. And he started with nothing, and he built a great business. And my brother now runs that business.

People who have been out in the world, who have actually had their hands on products and manufacturing and know something how to build something from the ground up, that’s what this country has always done. It’s what we need to continue to do.

But in order to have the right policies in place — and some I’ve put forward as governor of the great state of Utah — tax reform. I created a flat tax in the state of Utah. It took that state to the number-one position in terms of job creation. Regulatory reform and energy independence, I want the kind of people who understand what makes an economy work. But let’s be real about what it takes to get into federal government service these days. Who on Earth from the private sector is ever going to want to give up their privacy and enter government service with the background checks, the financial disclosures, and everything else that serve as tremendous disincentives for good people to get into government?

So what we have today, Charlie, we’ve got a professional governing class of people on one end and then you’ve got private- sector people on the other.

ROSE: And so what would you do about that to change that, to attract those kind of people so that they would be willing to serve a cross-section of people from every gender…

HUNTSMAN: Let’s get back to what we did a generation or two ago, when we were more open in terms of accommodating people from all backgrounds who wanted to take a little bit of their life and serve in government, and then leave, and go back to what it is they did best, whether on the farm, or whether insurance, or whether business, or whether academia.

ROSE: When you mention a flat tax, does that mean that you look with some favor upon 9-9-9 that Herman Cain mentioned at the beginning of this conversation?

HUNTSMAN: I think it’s a catchy phrase. In fact, I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard about it.

[laughter]

ROSE: Price of a pizza?

HUNTSMAN: Well, here’s — here’s — here’s what — here’s what we need. We need something that’s doable, doable, doable. And what I have put forward is a tax program that is doable. It actually wipes clean all of the loopholes and the deductions.

This is right out of what the Simpson-Bowles Commission recommended, a bipartisan group of people that took a thoughtful approach to tax reform.

ROSE: Corporate and individual?

HUNTSMAN: Individual, and on the corporate side, phase out all of the corporate welfare, all of the subsidies, because we can’t afford it any longer, in a revenue-neutral fashion, buy down the rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, leveling the playing field for businesses big and small, allowing us to be a whole lot more competitive in the second decade of the 21st century.

ROSE: Julianna?

GOLDMAN: OK. We will be coming back to 9-9-9, but first…

CAIN: Wait, wait.

GOLDMAN: Well…

CAIN: He mentioned me.

ROSE: Give him 30 seconds.

CAIN: He mentioned me, and you didn’t give me an opportunity to respond.

ROSE: You have that opportunity now.

CAIN: I thank you very much. 9-9-9 will pass, and it is not the price of a pizza, because it has been well-studied and well-developed. It starts with, unlike your proposals, throwing out the current tax code. Continuing to pivot off the current tax code is not going to boost this economy. This is why we developed 9-9-9, 9 percent corporate business flat tax, 9 percent personal income flat tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax. And it will pass, Senator, because the American people want it to pass.

ROSE: This is beginning to sound more like my table.

Julianna? I mean, Karen?

TUMULTY: So, Mr. Cain, who do you turn to for political advice and for economic advice?

CAIN: My advisers come from the American people. Now, I will have some experts. One of my experts that helped me to develop this is a gentleman by the name of Rich Lowery out of Cleveland, Ohio. He is an economist, and he has worked in the business of wealth creation most of his career.

I also have a number of other well-recognized economists that helped me to develop this 9-9-9 plan. It didn’t come off a pizza box, no. It was well-studied and well-developed, because it will replace the corporate income tax, the personal income tax, the capital gains tax, the death tax, and most importantly, the payroll tax.

TUMULTY: So — so who are some of these economists?

CAIN: Rich Lowery out of Cleveland, Texas, is one of the economists that I have used. He’s been my lead economist on helping to develop this.

ROSE: Julianna?

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

Governor Romney, it’s 2013, and the European debt crisis has worsened. Countries are defaulting. Europe’s largest banks are on the verge of bankruptcy. Contagion has spread to the U.S. And the global financial system is on the brink.

What would you do differently than what President Bush, Henry Paulson, and Ben Bernanke did in 2008?

ROMNEY: Well, you’re talking about a scenario that’s obviously very difficult to imagine. And —

GOLDMAN: But it’s not a hypothetical, because more than half —

ROMNEY: It is. I’m afraid it is a hypothetical.

GOLDMAN: Governor, it’s not —

ROMNEY: Do you want to explain why it’s not a hypothetical?

GOLDMAN: Yes.

ROMNEY: OK.

GOLDMAN: Because more than half the country believes that a financial meltdown is likely in the next several years, and the U.S. banks have at least $700 billion in exposure to Europe. So it’s a very real threat, and voters want to know what you would do differently.

ROMNEY: It’s still a hypothetical as to what’s going to precisely happen in the future. I’m not very good at being omniscient, but I can tell you this, that I am not going to have to call up Timothy Geithner and say, how does the economy work? Because I spent my life in the economy.

I spent my entire career working in the private sector, starting businesses, helping turn around businesses, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. And I know how to make tough decisions and to gather the input from around the country to help make the important decisions that have to be made.

Clearly, if you think the entire financial system is going to collapse, you take action to keep that from happening. In the case of Europe right now, they are looking at what’s happening with Greece. Are they going to default on their debt, are they not? That’s a decision which I would I would like to have input on if I were president of the United States and try and prevent the kind of contagion that would affect the U.S. banking system and put as at risk.

But I can tell you this — I’m not interested in bailing out individual institutions that have wealthy people that want to make sure that their shares are worth something. I am interested in making sure that we preserve our financial system, our currency, the banks across the entire country. And I will always put the interest of the American people ahead of the interest of any institution.

GOLDMAN: So would you or would you not be open to another Wall Street bailout?

ROMNEY: No one likes the idea of a Wall Street bailout. I certainly don’t.

GOLDMAN: But you said in 2008 that it prevented the collapse of the financial —

[crosstalk]

ROMNEY: There is no question but that the action of President Bush and that Secretary Paulson took was designed to keep not just a collapse of individual banking institutions, but to keep the entire currency of the country worth something and to keep all the banks from closing, and to make sure we didn’t all lose our jobs. My experience tells me that we were on the precipice, and we could have had a complete meltdown of our entire financial system, wiping out all the savings of the American people. So action had to be taken.

Was it perfect? No. Was it well implemented? No, not particularly.

Were there some institutions that should not have been bailed out? Absolutely.

Should they have used the funds to bail out General Motors and Chrysler? No, that was the wrong source for that funding. But this approach of saying, look, we’re going to have to preserve our currency and maintain America — and our financial system is essential.

ROSE: So do you agree with Speaker Gingrich about Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Fed?

ROMNEY: I wouldn’t keep Ben Bernanke in office. I would choose someone of my own —

ROSE: And who might that be?

ROMNEY: Well, I haven’t chosen that person. I haven’t even chosen a vice president. I’m not sure I’m the nominee yet.

[laughter]

ROSE: Well, we would like to have — nor has anyone else, but we would like to have an idea of the kind of people that you would have confidence in, in playing this very important role, although Congressman Paul may differ about how important it is.

ROMNEY: Well, I wish we could find Milton Friedman again, although what Milton said to us was — he said, you know, “If you took all the economists in America, and you laid them end to end, it would be a good thing.” And I have more respect for economists than that.

The people who help guide my economic policy are Greg Mankiw at Harvard —

ROSE: Right.

ROMNEY: — and Glenn Hutchins at Columbia. They were both former chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers. And I didn’t always agree with them.

I also talk to a number of business leaders. I talked to people who are currently in the economy, in the financial sector, and in the manufacturing sector. And on the basis of these various viewpoints, I make my decisions. And I believe that drawing on the best minds of this country, including economists, is something that’s essential to make sure that we preserve our financial system.

Right now, America is in crisis. We don’t need to think about a hypothetical of what happens if Europe explodes and pulls us under, although if that does happen, you want to have someone who is smart, who has experience, who knows how the financial services sector works, who knows how to protect American jobs, and I do. I have done it.

ROSE: And as far as you’re concerned, there is no institution, no financial institution, that is too big to fail?

ROMNEY: Well, no. You don’t want to bail out anybody.

The idea of trying to bail out an institution to protect the shareholders or to protect a certain interest group, that’s a terrible idea. And that shouldn’t happen.

You do want to make sure that we don’t lose the country and we don’t lose our financial system and we don’t lose American jobs, and that all the banks don’t go under. So, you have to take action very carefully to make sure that you preserve our currency and preserve our financial system. But bailouts of individual institutions? No one has interest in that, I don’t think.

GOLDMAN: Mr. Cain, back in 2008, you wrote that the Wall Street bailout was a win-win for the taxpayer. You just heard Governor Romney. Do you agree?

CAIN: Conceptually I made that statement based upon the concept, but I happen to agree with Governor Romney. The way it was administered is where it got off-track. They were discretionary in which institutions they were going to save, rather than apply it equitably, which is what most of us thought was going to be done. The implementation of it is where they got off-track. I didn’t agree with it. I don’t think Governor Romney agreed with it. So did a lot of us. The implementation was at fault.

ROSE: Housing is considered one of the real problems, in terms of our economy, and getting housing starts up.

GINGRICH: Can I say one thing, before we go to housing?

ROSE: Yes.

GINGRICH: Because I think this is really important. There’s a real possibility that you can’t have the euro and the Greek economy in the same system. There’s a possibility we could have a meltdown in the next year.

The thing that is most obvious looking back is that Paulson and — and Bernanke and Geithner didn’t have a clue, not because they’re not smart, but because they were operating in a world that had suddenly changed so radically they didn’t know.

ROSE: All right.

GINGRICH: One of the reasons I’ve said that the Congress should insist that every decision document from 2008, 2009 and 2010 at the Fed be released is we are not any better prepared today for a crisis of that scale because the people who were in that crisis and were wrong are still in charge. And I think we need to learn, what did they do right and what did they do learn — wrong, precisely for the reason you raised about 2013?

ROSE: Let me go to housing, what you’d do. Would you get the federal government out of housing? Yes?

PAUL: Absolutely. I mean, there’s no need to. Look at…

ROSE: No Freddie — no Freddie Mac, no Fannie Mae, nothing?

PAUL: The — no. You — that’s where the distortions come. That’s where the moral hazard comes from. That’s where the malinvestment, overbuild.

It was predictable. You talked about what economists we should look to. And, unfortunately, we’ve been living with Keynesian economics for many, many decades. And everybody who was right about predicting the bubbles were Austrian economists. They said they were coming. And yet they’re also saying — and I agree with them — that everything that we’re doing right now is wrong.

So what we did with the housing bubble, yes, we had too many houses. It was glaring in our face. The bubble was doomed to burst, and it came because of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, easy credit, and also Community Reinvestment Act.

So who — who got into trouble? The people who did the speculating, the Wall Street, the derivatives market? They got the bailout. They got [inaudible] so what happened to the middle class? They lost their jobs. They lost their houses.

This whole system is all messed up. And you’re — what I hear here is just tinkering with the current system and not looking at something new and different, and it’s a free-market economy without a Federal Reserve system, with sound money. If you don’t have that, you’re going to continue with the bubble.

And this propping up this debt and keeping the correction, you need the correction. You need to get rid of the malinvestment and the debt.

ROSE: All right. Time.

PAUL: The debt is the burden on the economy.

ROSE: All right. We’ll be back — take a break and be right back. Stay with us from Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire.

[commercial break]

ROSE: In order to take the pulse of America, we have partnered with LinkedIn. And they have some hundred 120 billion network professionals. And we’ve asked them to take part of this by giving us some polling that they have done.

But before I bring some of those results in, I want to take a look at a series of clips we’ll show you in this segment, beginning with this one of a former president.

[begin video clip]

RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The single most important question facing us tonight is, do we reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share? Or do we accept a bigger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment simply because we disagree on certain features of a legislative package which offers hope for millions of Americans at home, on the farm, and in the workplace?

[end video clip]

ROSE: Let me go to the governor of Texas. Do you agree with the former president?

PERRY: Well, I think we are certainly talking about different times, because what I heard him say there, that he was willing to trade tax increases for reductions. And I don’t think he ever saw those reductions, he just saw the tax increase. As a matter of fact, in his diary, he made that statement that he is still looking around for those reductions.

So, I mean, from the standpoint — that is one of the problems that we have got in Washington, D.C. One of the reasons that I think Americans are so untrustworthy of what is going on in Washington is because they never see a cut in spending. They always hear the siren song of, you know, if you will allow us to raise taxes, then we’ll make these reductions over here.

When the fact of the matter is, the issue is we need to have a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. And the next president of the United States needs to spend his time passing a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution.

ROSE: But I want to stay with this idea of spending cuts and revenue increases. And go back to you, Governor Romney. This is where it is, it seems, in Washington right now. Not only the paralysis, but also you have got the super committees. And if, in fact, they can’t find an agreement, you are going to have a trigger with automatic cuts, including defense.

So doesn’t that demand some kind of compromise, as Reagan suggested?

ROMNEY: Well, I don’t know which particular compromises he was referring to, we could take a look at that. But I can tell you this, if you go back a few years before that clip and go to JFK’s time, the government at all levels, federal, state, and local, was consuming about 27 percent of the U.S. economy. Today it consumes about 37 percent of the U.S. economy. It is on track to get to 40 percent.

We cease, at some point, to be a free economy. And the idea of saying, we just want a little more, just give us some more tax revenue, we need that. That is not the answer for America. The answer is to cut federal spending. The answer is to cap how much the federal government can as a percentage of our economy and have a balanced budget amendment.

And the second part of the answer is to get our economy to grow, because the idea of just cutting and cutting and taxing more — I understand mathematically those things work, but nothing works as well as getting the economy going. Get Americans back to work. Get them paying taxes. Get — get corporations growing in America, investing in America. Bring dollars back, as Rick said, repatriation dollars. Bring $1.3 trillion back from overseas. Invest in the United States. Get this economy going, and I’ll tell you, these kinds of problems will disappear.

TUMULTY: But could we get back to the actual choice that is likely to confront Congress at the end of the year, which is some mix of revenues and cuts or these draconian automatic spending cuts that would include defense, which of those two, if that is the choice, would you prefer?

ROMNEY: Well, my choice is not to cut defense. I think it’s a terrible idea to cut defense. I think it’s a terrible idea to raise taxes. Particularly at a time when the economy’s struggling, the idea of raising taxes, taking more money away from the American people so government can spend it, and can spend it — right now, the president has a jobs bill.

TUMULTY: So this is…

ROMNEY: How’d his last jobs bill work out for us?

TUMULTY: But this is automatic cuts?

ROMNEY: Not so well.

[crosstalk]

ROMNEY: No, I do not want the automatic cuts. I want to see that super-committee take responsibility for getting the economy going again by reining in the scale of the federal government and saying we’re going to pull back on some of the programs we have and reform our entitlements so they’re sustainable.

The American people want to see growth and jobs, and they believe that the right way to do it is by cutting back on the scale of government, and they’re right.

ROSE: Without any increase in revenue?

[applause]

[crosstalk]

GINGRICH: I just want to say — I want to say one thing about the entire way Washington works, which was just posed in that question. First of all, the Congress couldn’t figure out how to get the debt ceiling done with a president who showed zero leadership, so they adopt a truly stupid bill, OK?

[laughter]

And the bill basically says, we’re either going to shoot ourselves in the head or cut off our right leg, and we’ll come in around Thanksgiving and we’ll show you how we’re going to cut off the right leg, and the alternative will be shooting ourselves in the head.

Let me just say it bluntly. All of the spending cuts that are built into the debt ceiling bill, all of them are acts of Congress. They can all be repealed at any moment. It is nonsense to say we’re going to disarm the United States unilaterally because we’re too stupid to balance the budget any other way.

[applause]

ROSE: All right.

Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: Charlie, last summer I was a leading voice in the wilderness of Washington and a lone voice, as a matter of fact, saying: Do not increase the debt ceiling. By that, what I was saying is, let’s not give Barack Obama another $2.4 trillion blank check to spend.

Think of what this means. Our government right now — this is significant — we are spending 40 percent more than what we take in. We all paid a lot of taxes this year. We paid $2.2 trillion in taxes. That’s a lot of money from all the American people. The American government spent 100 percent of that $2.2 trillion, but the travesty is they spent $1.5 trillion more than that. That’s the problem.

Every year, we are spending about 40 percent more than what we take in. Our answer has to be that we cut back on the spending so we get to balance. We can’t do this because all…

ROSE: Will cutting back on the spending…

BACHMANN: … all around us are young people that are going to be paying for this burden. And their tax rates won’t be our tax rates. Their tax rates could come at some point.

Their overall effective burden — I’m a federal tax lawyer. That’s what I do for a living. And my — my background is in economics. Their tax rate someday in their peak earning years, Charlie, could be as much as 75 percent. Who’s going to get out of bed in the morning to go to work if they’re paying 75 percent tax rates? We’ve got to get our spending house in order and cut back on spending.

ROSE: Cutting back on spending, in your judgment, will do it?

BACHMANN: That’s one piece of the answer. That’s not the whole answer. But we have to cut back on spending.

ROSE: Take — I want you to take a look. We’ll come to all of you. Let me take a look at another clip. This one you will recognize, as well. Here it is.

[begin video clip]

CAIN: It’s called the 9-9-9 plan.

[applause]

It imposes a 9 percent business flat tax, a 9 percent personal flat tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax.

[end video clip]

ROSE: Julianna?

GOLDMAN: I said we would get back to 9-9-9.

Mr. Cain, you say that your plan is revenue-neutral. And last year, the U.S. collected $2.2 trillion dollars in tax revenue, but Bloomberg Government has run the numbers, and your plan would have raised no more than $2 trillion. And even with that shortfall, you’d still be slapping a 9 percent sales tax on food and medicine.

CAIN: The problem with that analysis is that it is incorrect.

[laughter]

[applause]

CAIN: The reason it is incorrect is because they start with the assumptions that we don’t make. Remember, 999 plan throws out the current tax code. And it starts with three simple economic driving principles: production drives the economy, risk-taking drives growth, and we need sound money, measurements must be dependable.

Now what 999 does, it expands the base. When you expand the base, we can arrive at the lowest possible rate which is 999. The difference between the 999 plan and the other plans that are being proposed is that they pivot off of the existing tax code.

We have had an outside firm, independent firm dynamically score it. And so our numbers will make it revenue neutral.

ROSE: All right — go ahead, I’m sorry, go ahead.

GOLDMAN: But then explain why under your plan all Americans should be paying more for milk, for a loaf of bread, and beer?

CAIN: Pizza, I don’t buy beer.

[laughter]

GOLDMAN: Yes, and pizza.

CAIN: You have to start with the biggest tax cut a lot of Americans pay, which is the payroll tax, 15.3 percent. That goes to 9 percent. That is a 6 percentage point difference. And the prices will not go up. So they have got a 6 percentage point difference to apply to the national sales tax piece of that, and in doing so, they have the flexibility to decide on how much they want to spend it on new goods, how much they want to spend it on used goods. Because there is no tax on used goods.

GOLDMAN: But, Congresswoman Bachmann, you’re a former IRS lawyer, do you agree?

BACHMANN: I would have to say that the 999 plan isn’t a jobs plan, it is a tax plan. And I would say that from my experience being in Congress, but also as a federal tax lawyer, when you — the last thing you would do is give Congress another pipeline of a revenue stream. And this gives Congress a pipeline in a sales tax.

A sales tax can also lead to value-added tax. The United States Congress put into place the Spanish-American War tax in 1888. We only partially repealed that in 2006. So once you get a new revenue stream, you are never going to get rid of it.

And one thing I would say is, when you take the 999 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil is in the details.

[laughter]

[crosstalk]

ROSE: We have given several chances to respond. I will come back. We will continue to talk about taxes and spending. We also know here that there has been a paradigm shift in the world economic order. We know about China and we know about India.

Here is our next clip and we will respond from that. Here it is.

[begin video clip]

ROMNEY: I will label China as it is, a currency manipulator. And I will go after them for stealing our intellectual property. And they will recognize that if they cheat, there is a price to pay. I certainly don’t want a trade war with anybody. We are going to have a trade war, but we can’t have a trade surrender either.

[end video clip]

ROSE: Karen.

TUMULTY: Governor Huntsman, you were also ambassador to China. And you say that this would risk a trade war. But if China is indeed keeping its currency low, that means that everything they sell in this country is artificially cheap and everything that our companies tried to sell in China is artificially expensive.

So what do you say to people who ask, aren’t we already in a trade war with China?

HUNTSMAN: Well, first of all, I don’t subscribe to the Don Trump school or the Mitt Romney school of international trade. I don’t want to find ourselves in a trade war. With respect to China, if you start slapping penalties on them based on countervailing duties, you are going to get the same thing in return because what they are going to say, because of quantitative easing part one and part two, you are doing a similar thing to your currency.

And then you’re going to find yourself in a trade war very, very quickly. And what does that do? That disadvantages our small businesses. It disadvantages our exporters. It disadvantages our agricultural producers.

So I say for the first and the second largest economies in the world, we have no choice. We have to find common ground. We have to, of course, use our trade laws and use them very, very aggressively.

But at the end of the day, we have got to find more market opening measures. We have got to get more governors from this country together with governors from provinces of China, mayors together with mayors, and exploit the opportunities that exist for exporters.

That is a job creator in this country. It is a huge job creator. And we have to get used to the fact that as far as the eye can see into the 21st Century, it’s going to be the United States and China on the world stage.

TUMULTY: You know, Governor Romney, this issue does carry a lot of resonance, especially in the states like New Hampshire, which, as you probably know, has lost a greater percentage of its manufacturing jobs to China than any other state.

But voters have heard candidates talked tough on China before. George W. Bush did it, Barack Obama did it, only to see that once elected, the president takes a much more cautious approach because of the complexity of the relationship and the fact that this is our biggest creditor.

Why should voters believe that you would be any different?

ROMNEY: I’m afraid that people who have looked at this in the past have been played like a fiddle by the Chinese. And the Chinese are smiling all the way to the bank, taking our currency and taking our jobs and taking a lot of our future. And I am not willing to let that happen.

I’m in this race to try to get America to make sure we’re strong again and we’re creating jobs where the best place in the world to be middle class again. And for that to happen, we have to call cheating for what it is.

And people say, we might have a trade war with China. Well, now, think about that.

We by this much stuff from China, they buy that much stuff from us. You think they want to have a trade war?

I mean, this is a time when we are being hollowed out by China, that is artificially holding down their prices, as you just said a moment ago, and that’s having a massive impact on jobs here. It is the wrong course for us.

When people have pursued unfair trade practices, you have to have a president that will take action. And on day one, I have indicated, day one, I will issue an executive order identifying China as a currency manipulator. We’ll bring an action against them in front of the WTO for manipulating their currency, and we will go after them. If you are not willing to stand up to China, you will get run over by China, and that’s what’s happened for 20 years.

[applause]

ROSE: Let me go to Governor Perry and then Governor Huntsman. Governor Perry.

PERRY: We’re missing this so much. What we need to be focused on in this country today is not whether or not we are going to have this policy or that policy. What we need to be focused on is how we get American working again. That’s where we need to be focused.

And let me tell you, we are sitting on this absolute treasure trove of energy in this country. And I don’t need 999. We don’t need any plan to pass Congress. We need to get a president of the United States that is committed to passing the types of regulations, pulling the regulations back, freeing this country to go develop the energy industry that we have in this country.

I can promise you that we do that, then we will create an environment in this country where the manufacturing will come back to this country. We did in Texas.

We brought key manufacturing that had business in China back to the state of Texas. You free up this country’s entrepreneurs, where they know that they can’t risk their capital and have a chance to have a return on investment, and all of this conversation that we’re having today becomes substantially less impacting.

ROSE: All right.

I want to come back to these issues, but let me introduce — speaking of CEOs and business, this is a New Hampshire native. His name is David Cote. He is chairman and CEO of Honeywell, and he is a former member of the Simpson-Bowles Commission.

Here he is.

[begin video clip]

COTE: Twenty years ago, there were a billion people actively participating in the global economy. Today, there are more than four billion active participants in the global economy, with China, India, former CIS states, and other emerging economies now in the game.

While that is a good and peaceful phenomenon, it also means we need to compete more strongly that we did in the past. We need an American competitiveness agenda. We need to inspire that American competitive spirit that has served us for so well for over 200 years.

I would like to ask, what would be on your American competitiveness agenda? And with one last small request, my guess is all of us are ready to accept that we are a great country and a great people. So, if your response could focus on specifics, it would be much appreciated.

Thank you.

[end video clip]

ROSE: Senator Santorum, we talked about jobs in Pennsylvania. A competitive agenda of yours would be what?

SANTORUM: Well, I already put forward a plan.

You know, Mitt, I don’t want to go to a trade war, I want to beat China. I want to go to war with China and make America the most attractive place in the world to do business. And we need to do that with the agenda that I outlined, which, unlike Herman’s plan, which could not pass, because no — how many people here are for a sales tax in New Hampshire? Raise your hand.

There you go, Herman. That’s how many votes you’ll get in New Hampshire.

We’re not going to give the federal government, Nancy Pelosi, a new pipeline, a 9 percent sales tax for consumers to get hammered by the federal government.

How many people believe that we’ll keep the income tax at 9 percent? Anybody?

There. That’s why people won’t trust giving people —

[crosstalk]

ROSE: So if you keep mentioning “999” and Herman Cain, I’m going to have to go back to him every other question.

[applause]

SANTORUM: Hold on.

CAIN: That’s right.

SANTORUM: I am not done yet. I’ve only been able to answer one question, unlike everybody else here, so let me just finish what I’m saying.

ROSE: Right.

SANTORUM: We need to repeal Obamacare. That’s the first thing we need to do.

SANTORUM: You want to create jobs? I went to OSIPI yesterday and I talked to a small businessman there, and he said, “I will not hire anybody, I will not make a move until I find out what is going to happen with this health care bill and how it’s going to crush me.”

And so, repealing Obamacare, and we can do it, not by waivers. That’s the wrong idea, Mitt. The reason it’s the wrong idea, because you get a waiver, California going to waive that? No. New York going to waive it? No. All of these states, many of them, liberal states are going to continue on, and then states like New Hampshire that will waive it will end up subsidizing California.

[crosstalk]

SANTORUM: We need to repeal it…

ROSE: All right. But the time…

SANTORUM: I know.

[crosstalk]

ROSE: You see the red light, time.

SANTORUM: We need to repeal it by doing it through a reconciliation process. And since I have experience and know how to do that, we’ll take care of it…

[crosstalk]

ROSE: I’ve got to go to the break, and I’m — but I’m going to give both Herman Cain and Governor Romney a chance to make their point, because they were both mentioned, first Cain, then Romney, then break.

CAIN: Therein lies the difference between me, the non- politician, and all of the politicians. They want to pass what they think they can get passed rather than what we need, which is a bold solution. 9-9-9 is bold, and the American people want a bold solution, not just what’s going to kick the can down the table — down the road.

ROSE: Governor Romney?

[applause] ROMNEY: Rick, you’re absolutely right. On day one, granting a waiver for all 50 states doesn’t stop in its tracks entirely Obamacare. That’s why I also say we have to repeal Obamacare, and I will do that on day two, with the reconciliation bill, because as you know, it was passed by reconciliation, 51 votes.

ROSE: All right.

ROMNEY: We can get rid of it with 51 votes. We have to get rid of Obamacare and return to the states the responsibility…

[crosstalk]

ROMNEY: No, not if you get rid of it. And particularly — by the way, the Supreme — the Supreme Court may get rid of it.

[crosstalk]

ROMNEY: Let me finish. Let me finish.

ROSE: OK, let’s — then we’ll go to Huntsman, then we’ll go to the break, and then when we come back, each of you can question each other.

[laughter]

ROMNEY: Hold on, guys.

HUNTSMAN: Thank you.

ROMNEY: Let me just — let me just say this, which is we all agree about repeal and replace. And I’m proud of the fact that I’ve put together a plan that says what I’m going to replace it with. And I think it’s incumbent on everybody around this table to put together a plan that says this is what I’ll replace it with, because the American people are not satisfied with the status quo. They want us to solve the problem of health care, to get it to work like a market, and that’s what has to happen.

ROSE: All right. Governor Huntsman, then we go.

HUNTSMAN: It’s disingenuous to — to just say that you can — you can waive it all away. The mandate will be in place. The IRS is already planning on 19,500 new employees to administer that mandate. That will stay, and that’s the ruinous part of — of Obamacare. And that — Mitt, your plan is not going to do anything.

ROMNEY: I said we had to repeal it. Did you miss that?

HUNTSMAN: No. It doesn’t — it doesn’t repeal the mandate.

ROMNEY: No, no, I said I’m going to repeal it through reconciliation.

[crosstalk]

SANTORUM: Through reconciliation, you can repeal the taxes, you can repeal the spending, and therefore, the mandate has no teeth, because there’s no tax penalty if you don’t enforce it.

ROSE: All right. We have much to talk about.

When we come back, the candidates will ask questions of each other, after this break.

[applause]

[commercial break]

ROSE: Welcome back. We are at the Republican presidential candidates’ debate. We are at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. And we are pleased now to turn it around a bit and have the candidates question each other.

They will each have 30 seconds to pose and answer. We’ll have one minute to respond, 30 seconds for a question, one minute to respond. We will proceed in alphabetical order. I want you to remember, as we talk about this, we are talking about the economy, or those things that affect the economy.

Beginning in alphabetical order, Congresswoman Bachmann.

BACHMANN: Thank you.

Well, in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan produced an economic miracle, and while all of us were wishing and yearning for a third term for Ronald Reagan, Governor Perry, you were campaigning and co-chairing Al Gore’s election campaign for president of the United States.

You went on to increase spending in Texas by over 50 percent. And you financed that spending by increasing bond debt by over 137 percent. That is exactly what Barack Obama has been doing, increasing debt by trillions of dollars.

How can we trust you to not go down the Obama way and overspend and pay for that spending with indebtedness on the backs of the next generations?

PERRY: Well, I, like most people in the state of Texas and those southern states, grew up a Democrat. Michael Reagan and I were talking just the other day, Charlie, that I came to the Republican Party sooner in age than his dad, Ronald Reagan, did.

And let me just address this issue of the debt in the state of Texas. Texas has the sixth lowest debt per capita when I started as governor back in 2000. And today, Texas has the second lowest debt per capita in the United States. I think that is what America is looking for is a president of the United States that understands how to balance budgets, how to deal with the spending issue, and how to get Americans back working again.

ROSE: Herman Cain, question.

CAIN: Yes. One of my guiding principles has been and will always be, surround yourself with good people. The 999 plan that I have proposed is simple, transparent, efficient, fair, and neutral.

My question is to Governor Romney. Can you name all 59 points in your 160-page plan, and does it satisfy that criteria of being simple, transparent, efficient, fair, and neutral?

[laughter]

[applause]

ROMNEY: Herman, I have had the experience in my life of taking on some tough problems. And I must admit that simple answers are always very helpful, but oftentimes inadequate.

And in my view, to get this economy going again, we’re going to have to deal with more than just tax policy and just energy policy, even though both of those are part of my plan.

And the other parts of my plan are these. One is to make sure that we stop the regulatory creep that has occurred in Washington. And all of the Obama regulations, we say no to, we put a halt on them, and reverse all those that cost jobs.

Number two, we have trade policies that open up new markets to American goods. And I lay out a number of things that I would do in that 59 points to open up more markets to American goods. And, we, of course, stop the cheating that goes on.

We also have to have the rule of law. By that I mean you can’t have the federal government, through its friends at the National Labor Relations Board, saying to a company like Boeing that you can’t build a factory in a non-union state. That’s simply wrong and violates the principle of the rule of law.

We also have to have institutions that create human capital. We’re a capitalist system. But we don’t just believe in physical capital or financial capital, also human capital. We need great schools, great institutions.

Finally, you have got to have a government that does not spend more money than it takes in. Those are the seven major pillars of those 59.

CAIN: So, no, it is not simple, is what you are saying?

ROMNEY: Let me tell you, to get this economy restructured fundamentally, to put America on a path to be the most competitive place in the world to create jobs, is going to take someone who knows how to do it. And it is not one or two things. It is a good number of things to get America…

[crosstalk]

ROSE: All right. Speaker Gingrich, question.

GINGRICH: Governor Romney, I’d like to say, first of all, there is an awful lot in your plan that is very good, and that I think would be very helpful if implemented, a lot better than what Obama is doing.

But one of the characteristics of Obama in his class warfare approach has been to talk about going after people who made over $250,000 a year and divide us.

And I was a little surprised — I think it’s about page 47 of your plan — that you have a capital gains tax cut for people under $200,000, which is actually lower than the Obama model. Now, as a businessman, you know that you actually lose economic effectiveness if you limit capital gains tax cuts only to people who don’t get capital gains.

So, I’m curious, what was the rationale for setting an even lower base marker than Obama had?

ROMNEY: Well, the reason for giving a tax break to middle income Americans is that middle income Americans have been the people who have been most hurt by the Obama economy. The reason that you’re seeing protests, as you indicated, on Wall Street and across the country is, middle income Americans are having a hard time making ends meet.

Not only do we have 25 million people out of work, or stopped looking for work, or part-time jobs needing full-time employ, we just saw this week that median income in America has declined by 10 percent during the Obama years. People are having a hard time making ends meet.

And so if I’m going to use precious dollars to reduce taxes, I want to focus on where the people are hurting the most, and that’s the middle class. I’m not worried about rich people. They are doing just fine. The very poor have a safety net, they’re taken care of. But the people in the middle, the hard-working Americans, are the people who need a break, and that is why I focused my tax cut right there.

ROSE: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: Since this discussion is all about economics, Governor Romney, I promise this won’t be about religion.

Sorry about that, Rick.

Since some might see you because of your past employment with Bain Capital as more of a financial engineer, somebody who breaks down businesses, destroys jobs, as opposed to creating jobs and opportunity, leveraging up, spinning off, enriching shareholders, since you were number 47 as governor of the state of Massachusetts, where we were number one, for example, and the whole discussion around this campaign is going to be job creation, how can you win that debate given your background?

ROMNEY: Well, my background is quite different than you described, John. So the way I’ll win it is by telling people an accurate rendition of what I have done in my life. And fortunately, people in New Hampshire, living next door, have a pretty good sense of that.

They understand that in the business I was in, we didn’t take things apart and cut them off and sell them off. We, instead, helped start businesses, and they know some of the names.

We started Staples. We started the Sports Authority. We started Bright Horizons children’s centers. Heck, we even started a steel mill in a farm field in Indiana, and that steel mill operates today and employs a lot of people.

So, we began businesses. Sometimes we acquired businesses and tried to turn them around, typically effectively. And that created tens of thousands of new jobs.

And I am proud of the fact that we were able to do that. That is a big part of the American system.

People are not going to — in my opinion, are not going to be looking for someone who is not successful. They want someone who has been successful and who knows how fundamentally the economy works.

Look, I would not be in this race had I spent my life in politics alone. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but right now, with the American people in the kind of financial crisis they are in, they need someone who knows how to create jobs, and I do.

ROSE: All right.

Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Since the Federal Reserve is the engine of inflation, creates the business cycle, produces are recessions and our depressions, the Federal Reserve obviously is a very important issue. And fortunately, tonight we have a former director of the Federal Reserve at Kansas City. So I have a question for Mr. Cain.

Mr. Cain, in the past you have been rather critical of any of us who would want to audit the Fed. You have said — you’ve used pretty strong terms, that we were ignorant and that we didn’t know what we are doing, and therefore, there was no need for an audit anyway, because if you had one, you’re not going to find out anything, because everybody knows everything about the Fed.

But now that we have found and we have gotten an audit, we have found out an awful lot on how special businesses get bailed out — Wall Street, the banks, and special companies, foreign governments. And you said that you advise those of us who were concerned, and you belittled — you say call up the Federal Reserve and just ask them.

ROSE: Question?

[crosstalk]

PAUL: Do you still stick by this, that that this is frivolous, or do you think it’s very important? Sixty-four percent of the American people want a full audit of the Fed on a regular basis.

ROSE: Mr. Cain?

CAIN: First of all, you have misquoted you. I did not call you or any of your people ignorant. I don’t know where that came from.

PAUL: I’ll get it for you.

CAIN: All right. Now, so you’ve got to be careful of the stuff that you get off the Internet, because that’s just not something that I have said.

Secondly, when I served on the board of the Federal Reserve in the 1990s, we didn’t do any of the things that this Federal Reserve is doing. I don’t agree with the actions of this Federal Reserve. I don’t agree with the actions that have been undertaken by Ben Bernanke. We didn’t have a $14 trillion national debt to prop up with some of the actions that they’re taking.

And I have also said, to be precise, I do not object to the Federal Reserve being audited. I simply said, if someone wants to initiate that action, go right ahead. It doesn’t bother me.

So you — I’ve been misrepresented in that regard. I don’t have a problem with the Federal Reserve being audited. It’s simply not my top priority. My top priority is 9-9-9, jobs, jobs, jobs.

[applause]

ROSE: Governor Perry, question for…

PERRY: Governor Romney, your chief economic adviser, Glenn Hubbard, who you know well, he said that Romneycare was Obamacare. And Romneycare has driven the cost of small-business insurance premiums up by 14 percent over the national average in Massachusetts. So my question for you would be: How would you respond to his criticism of your signature legislative achievement?

ROMNEY: You know, the — the great thing about running for president is to get the chance also to talk about your experience as a governor. And I’m proud of the fact that we took on a major problem in my state.

And the problem was that we had a lot of kids without insurance, a lot of adults without insurance, but it added up to about 8 percent of our population. And we said, you know what, we want to find a way to get those folks insured, but we don’t want to change anything for the 92 percent of the people that already have insurance. And so our plan dealt with those 8 percent, not the 92 percent.

One of the problems with Obamacare is he doesn’t just deal with the people without insurance. He takes over health care for everyone. Then he does something else that Chris Christie said today. He said the problem with Obamacare is he spends an extra trillion dollars and raises taxes. And raising taxes is one of the big problems, something we didn’t do in Massachusetts. He also cuts Medicare. Only — but people out there are talking about cutting Medicare, it’s President Obama that did that.

And I’m proud of what we are able to accomplish. I’ll tell you this, though. We have the lowest number of kids as a percentage uninsured of any state in America. You have the highest. You…

[crosstalk]

ROMNEY: I’m still — I’m still speaking.

[crosstalk]

PERRY: … criticism.

ROMNEY: I’m still speaking. We — we have — we have less than 1 percent of our kids that are uninsured. You have a million kids uninsured in Texas. A million kids. Under President Bush, the percentage uninsured went down. Under your leadership, it’s gone up.

I care about people. Now, our plan isn’t perfect. Glenn Hubbard is a fine fellow. Take a look at his quote. Some people say that. Just because some people say something doesn’t mean it’s true.

The truth is, our plan is different, and the people of Massachusetts, if they don’t like it, they can get rid of it. Right now, they favor it 3 to 1.

But I’m not running for governor of Massachusetts. I’m running for president of the United States. And as president, I will repeal Obamacare, I’ll grant a waiver on day one to get that started, and I’ll make sure that we return to the states what we had when I was governor, the right to care for our poor in the way we thought best for our respective states.

ROSE: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Romney’s before me, R.

ROSE: No, I’m sorry. You’re right. Governor Romney?

[laughter]

Very good. I — I missed school that day.

[crosstalk]

ROSE: I missed school that day when they said R is before S.

GINGRICH: Think of us as your…

[crosstalk]

[laughter]

ROMNEY: You’d think someone from PBS would know that.

[crosstalk]

ROSE: We’d know that, wouldn’t we?

[laughter]

I was thinking how much I was enjoying this.

ROMNEY: Exactly. Exactly right.

Let me turn to Congresswoman Bachmann and just — just as you, Congresswoman. As — as we’ve spoken this evening, we’re all concerned about getting Americans back to work. And you’ve laid out some pretty bold ideas with regards to taxation and cutting back the scale of the federal government. And there’s no question that’s a very important element of getting people back to work.

And I’d like to ask you to expand on your other ideas. What do you do to help the American people get back to work, be able to make ends meet? You’ve got families that are sitting around the kitchen table wondering how they’re going to make — make it to the end of the month. You’ve got — you’ve got young people coming out of college, maybe not here at Dartmouth, but a lot of colleges across the country wondering where they can get a job.

What — what would you do — beyond the tax policies you describe — to get people back to work?

BACHMANN: Well, I do understand that. I’m — I’m a mother of 28 kids, 22 foster kids, 5 biological kids. I get how difficult it is for young people right now to get jobs right out of college. It’s very, very tough.

And the solutions that I’m offering in my plan, which if I can give a commercial, are at michelebachmann.com. The solutions that I’m offering aren’t just a silver bullet. It’s not just the tax code. It’s also dealing with the regulatory burden, because businesses — my husband and I started our own successful business. I’m 55. I spent my whole life in the private sector. I get job creation, too. And the business world is looking at 1.8 trillion every year in compliance costs with government regulations.

That has to go. So I want to get rid of that, it’s the mother of all repeal bills. But the number one reason that employer say that they are not hiring today is “Obama-care.” And I was the leading critic for President Obama in Washington, D.C., against “Obama-care.” That is why I was the first member of Congress to introduce that bill to repeal “Obama-care.” I understand that is what is inhibiting job creation and job growth.

We have to repeal that. I also introduced and I fought on Barney Frank’s committee against Dodd-Frank, which is the “housing and jobs destruction act.” That’s why I was the chief author of that bill as well. There is much more to my solutions, go to michelebachmann.com and you can find out.

ROSE: Ask now?

[crosstalk]

SANTORUM: We are in the “live free or die!” state, and I oppose the single biggest government intrusion into the private sector, the Wall Street bailout, the TARP program. I opposed it because it violated the principles of our Constitution, the spirit of our Constitution, and because the experience I had that if you open up the door of government involvement in the private sector, some president will and in fact did drive a truck through it and explode the size of the federal government and constrict our freedom.

The interesting thing here is, is the four people on this panel that actually supported TARP at the time of its passage are the people who say that they are the anti-Washington candidates, that they are the business candidates. And they are the four on this program that supported the Washington bailout, giving Washington, naively, I would say, tools to constrict our freedom. And since…

TUMULTY: So do you have a question for one of them?

SANTORUM: My question is — you prompted it perfectly, because here is my question. My question is, since I think Herman Cain is giving naively a tool in his 999 plan of giving Washington a huge new tax burden — tax opportunity to get money through a sales tax, can we trust you that with your lack of experience that you won’t continually give Washington the ability to take freedom away from freedom-loving people here in the “live free or die!” state?

CAIN: There are three deterrents to the…

SANTORUM: And, by the way, the four people were Governor Huntsman, Governor Perry, Herman Cain, and Governor Romney, all supported TARP.

CAIN: There are three deterrents to this nightmare scenario you described in terms of how bad things are going to be, because we are trying to fix the real problem.

The first deterrent is that I’m going to ask the United States Congress to include a two-thirds majority vote before they can raise the 999 tax. The second deterrent, the second deterrent is the fact that because it is visible, simple, and transparent, the American people are going to be the ones to hold Congress’s feet to the fire.

The third return is that I will be president and I won’t sign anything that raises the 999.

ROSE: With that, we will take a break, and come back for our final segment. Stay with us.

[applause]

[commercial break]

ROSE: We are back at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire, talking with the eight Republican candidates about a variety of issues.

Clearly, we come back to health care. And I want to go to Governor Perry.

Explain to me what you think the difference is about your health care ideas and Governor Romney’s health care ideas, and how you see mandates and how he sees mandates and the Constitution, because not only has there been some exchange here, Governor Christie got involved today.

PERRY: Well, certainly the issue of health care is probably one of the biggest ones that’s facing us. I mean, there are a lot of Americans sitting out there today, and getting those people back to work is the most important thing that we do as a country so that they can have the opportunity to purchase health care.

And I think that is probably the biggest issue that are facing Americans. There are people sitting out there around the kitchen table watching TV tonight who are looking for someone to lay out an idea that truly will get this country back working again. And that’s why I lay out, without having any congressional impact of all, how to get our energy industry back to work, and back to work very quickly.

But in the state of Texas, from the standpoint of what we have done to make access of health care better, we passed the most sweeping tort reform in the nation in 2003. We also passed Healthy Texas, which expands the private sector insurance. And we have driven down the cost of insurance by 30 percent.

So, those are some of the ways that the states — but the real issue for us is Medicaid and how to get the flexibility on Medicaid so that the innovators can occur in the states. I can promise you, whether it’s Governor Jindal or myself or Susana Martinez over in New Mexico, that’s where you will find the real innovation in health care. The way to deliver health care more efficiently, more effectively is to block-grant those dollars back to the state and keep this federal government that has this one-size-fits-all mentality from driving the thought process that we have seen destroy health care in this country today.

TUMULTY: But, Governor Perry, Texas as “The Washington Post” fact-checker noted, Texas has had 16 waivers for Medicaid. So how can you say that the problem is that the federal government has not given Texas enough flexibility?

PERRY: They haven’t anywhere near given the states — I think what you should see is the block-granting, not having to go to Washington, D.C., and ask them, mother, may I every time you come up with a concept or an idea. Block-granting back to the states, I’ll guarantee you, the governors and their innovators in their states will come up with ways to better deliver health care more efficiently, more effectively, more cost-efficiently, and that’s what this country is looking for, is a president who understands that we have these 50 laboratories of innovation, free up these states from Washington, D.C.’s one size fits all.

ROSE: Julianna.

GOLDMAN: Thank you, Charlie.

Mr. Cain, you disapprove of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and we all know that your priority is 999. But one of the most important appointments that you’re going to have to make your first year, should you be president, would be Fed chairman.

So which Federal Reserve chairman over the last 40 years do you think has been most successful and might serve as a model for that appointment?

CAIN: Alan Greenspan.

GOLDMAN: Why?

CAIN: Because that’s when I served on the board of the Federal Reserve in the early 1990s. And the way Alan Greenspan oversaw the Fed and the way he coordinated with all of the Federal Reserve banks, I think that it worked fine back in the early 1990s.

Now, on that same point, I have already identified two candidates — which I cannot give their names — to replace Mr. Bernanke, in anticipation of having that responsibility.

We must narrow the mission of the Fed first. I don’t believe in ending the Fed. I believe we can fix the Fed by getting their mission refocused on monetary price stability. And I have candidates in mind that will help us do that.

GOLDMAN: So you have two appointments waiting in the wings for — for 2013, for — when his term is up, 2014?

CAIN: Yes, I have two candidates waiting in the wings…

GOLDMAN: How about a hint?

CAIN: … to take that job. I’ve got to keep them confidential.

GOLDMAN: OK.

Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Spoken like a true insider.

No, Alan Greenspan was a disaster.

[laughter]

[applause]

Everybody in Washington — liberals and conservatives — said he kept interest rates too low, too long. Of course, the solution was, lower them even more, and they think that’s going to solve our problem.

But if I had to name one person that did a little bit of good, that was Paul Volcker. He at least knew how to end — or help, you know, end the inflation.

But, of course, with my position that I don’t think highly of the Federal Reserve, I think we should have sound money and we shouldn’t have somebody deciding what the interest rate should be and how much money supply we should have, I mean, nobody satisfies me.

But certainly, Alan Greenspan has ushered in the biggest bubble. And what did we do? We’ve continued the same thing, doing the same thing. We think the inflation under Alan Greenspan was bad so we’re trying to solve the problem by inflating even further. So Bernanke compounds the problem. He’s inflating twice as fast as — as Greenspan was.

But Greenspan caused so much trouble. And he used to believe in the gold standard. I think he’s coming around to that. Before he retires, he’ll write his — his biography and explain why he’s coming back to the gold standard.

ROSE: I want to go from the gold standard to a small-business person who is from New Hampshire who’s in the audience with us and has a question about small business, of which she has founded one. Margot Thompson?

QUESTION: Businesses like mine have great difficulty obtaining credit. What specifically would you do to make bank lending more accessible to small businesses?

ROSE: Direct it to…

QUESTION: I was told to direct it to you.

[laughter]

ROSE: Oh, oh. So, Governor Romney?

[laughter]

ROMNEY: Give her the answer, Charlie.

[laughter]

ROSE: I ask questions, not answer them, Governor.

ROMNEY: Oh, oh, OK.

ROSE: I forget to explain that.

ROMNEY: OK. What’s happened in this country under the Obama administration is that you have a president who I think is well meaning, but just over his head when it comes to the economy.

And the absolute wrong time to have the absolute wrong people put together a financial regulatory bill was right now in Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. They were the wrong guys at the wrong time, because what they did with this new bill is usher in what will be hundreds and thousands of pages of new regulations.

The big banks, the big money-center banks on Wall Street, they can deal with that. I spoke with one banker there that said they have hundreds of lawyers working on that legislation and trying to implement it.

For community banks that provide loans to businesses like yours, they can’t possibly deal with a regulatory burden like that. Then you have inspectors coming in and writing down their assets and saying they’re not worth as much as the bank thought they were worth, and therefore the banks are unable to lend.

Small community banks across this country are starving and struggling because of inspectors that are making their job impossible and because of regulation that’s fine for the big banks, because they can deal with it. It’s a killer for the small banks. And those small banks loaning to small businesses and entrepreneurs are what have typically gotten our economy out of recession. What’s — what the president has done on almost every dimension is exactly the wrong thing to get this economy going again.

ROSE: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: I’d like to add to that, because the Dodd-Frank bill is the jobs and housing destruction act. And I have spoken to — to Iowa bankers, and they told me that they are going to see the collapse of community banks, just like Mitt said, all across the state.

BACHMANN: I talked to a banker in Texas who owns multiple branch banks. He said he’s going to lose $20 million on his bottom line this year because of all of the compliance.

So, government is putting a huge layer of regulation on banks. We will see literally thousands of banks close their doors. That will be hard for small business owners like you and like me. And so that’s going to hurt real people and it will lead to job destruction.

That’s why I introduced the bill to repeal Dodd-Frank, because it will hurt credit, not add to credit. And by the way, that’s why we see the new $5 debit card fee that people are paying every month that they are upset about, because of Dodd-Frank. And that was insider dealing, because Senator Durbin had former staffers that came to lobby him on behalf of retailers.

This is dirty dealing. As president of the United States, I would end all of these payoffs to political donors by our legislators. That’s wrong. That’s got to end.

ROSE: Here, and then go over to you. First and then there.

CAIN: In addition to what Governor Romney said, I agree, repeal Dodd-Frank. But also, get rid of the capital gains tax. That’s a big wall between people with ideas and people with money. And we know which plan gets rid of the capital gains tax.

[laughter]

PAUL: I just want to add one quick thing. Dodd-Frank obviously is a disaster. It’s estimated it’s going to cost a trillion dollars.

I think one the reasons we’re not getting anywhere and we’re not getting anywhere in Washington, it’s a partisan fight. It’s a fight over power, because Sarbanes-Oxley, which was done by the Republicans, it cost a trillion dollars, too.

Let’s repeal that, too. I mean, if you look at what we have done as Republicans, we have caused a lot of problems.

To say it’s all in these past two years, I mean, I think that is so misleading. And that’s why the American people are sick and tired of listening to the politicians.

ROSE: All right.

I want to bring my colleagues in — Karen.

TUMULTY: Governor Perry, taxpayers stand to lose half a billion dollars in the collapse of Solyndra, which is a solar energy firm that was a centerpiece of the Obama green jobs initiative. Do you think there were inadequate safeguards there, or do you think this is just the risk we run when the government gets involved in subsidizing new industries and technologies?

PERRY: Well, I don’t think the federal government should be involved in that type of investment, period. If states want to choose to do that, I think that’s fine for states to do that.

TUMULTY: And you have in Texas done that with the emerging technology fund. But your own state auditor said earlier this year that that fund is neither accountable nor transparent. “The Dallas Morning News” reported that that fund gave $16 million to companies that are connected to your campaign contributors. And like Solyndra, some of the emerging technology funds investments have gone bust.

So how is this different in principle from the Obama administration’s efforts to pick winners in the future economy?

PERRY: Well, first off, the Texas legislature has full oversight of that committee. It has approved it for — I think since 2003. So, every two years, the Texas legislature looks at it. It’s had full oversight.

And I can promise you, the 54,600 jobs that have been created and the $14 billion-plus worth of investment that has come out of the Enterprise Fund in the state of Texas, those people that have jobs today in the state of Texas, they are absolutely happy that we have got a program like that. And 75 percent of those emerging technology fund dollars, my appointees, never made a contribution to me, period.

TUMULTY: But you talk about oversight. The fact is, that in some instances, your appointees have overruled the regional boards that have tried to turn back some of these deals.

PERRY: Every one of those projects had the lieutenant governor, the Speaker, and the governor’s office, so there is an extraordinary amount of oversight in those programs, and we are proud of them. I mean, we feel like that those are part of the reason that Texas has led the nation in the creation of jobs.

While this country was losing 2.5 million jobs, Texas was creating one million jobs. That’s the kind of leadership that America is longing for, someone that actually understands that you have to be able to give a climate where people know they can risk their capital and have a chance to have a return on that investment.

ROSE: All right.

We have one more video I want to show. Here is.

[begin video clip]

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The more people who own their home, the better off America is. And we’re making good progress. Our nation’s 68 percent homeownership rate is the highest ever. Most people own homes now than ever before in the country’s history, and that’s exciting for the future of America.

[end video clip]

ROSE: Speaker Gingrich, is the American dream of owning a home no longer a realistic dream, and is it too easy in America?

GINGRICH: You know, there is a stream of American thought that really wishes we would decay and fall apart and that the future be bleak so the government could then it share the misery.

It was captured by Jimmy Carter in his “malaise” speech. It is captured every week by Barack Obama in his apologias disguised as press conferences.

[laughter]

GINGRICH: The fact is, and the governor is exactly right, when we get back — I mean, a lot of these folks are right about a lot of things. His energy plan, his industrial manufacturing plan, most of what he put down, a fair amount, but not totally what my good friend said there, hard money with a very limited Federal Reserve.

BACHMANN: Repeal “Obama-care.” Repeal “Obama-care.” GINGRICH: What Huntsman has done — and she’s right on repealing Dodd-Frank. I am shocked that the House Republicans have not repealed Dodd-Frank. They ought to do it now. They ought to repeal Sarbanes- Oxley now.

If we get back on track, and you know this as a former ambassador, the Chinese couldn’t compete with us in 100 years if we got our act together in this country and we got back to doing the right things in this country, at which point we could afford to buy houses, which would solve virtually everything else.

You have got to be able to afford it to be able buy it, and that is where things went wrong in the last decade.

ROSE: All right. Julianna.

GOLDMAN: Mr. Cain…

[applause]

GOLDMAN: … you recently said, quoting you, “don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you are not rich, blame yourself.” So are you telling 14 million unemployed Americans that it is their fault that they don’t have a job?

CAIN: No, the question was — that response was directed at the people that are protesting on Wall Street, not that 14 million people who are out of work for no reason of their own other than this economy is not growing, not the millions of people that are under-unemployed.

That statement was not directed at them. It was specifically directed at the people who are protesting on Wall Street. And I also said that they have basically targeted the wrong target. It should be against the failed policies of this administration, not Wall Street is where they should be protesting.

GOLDMAN: Governor Romney, I want to ask you, because President Obama’s jobs bill stalled in the Senate today, and so it may have to be broken into component parts for Congress to vote on.

If the payroll tax cut is not extended, that would mean a tax increase for all Americans. What would be the consequences of that?

ROMNEY: No one likes to see tax increases, but look, the stimulus bills the president comes out with that are supposedly going to create jobs, we have now seen this played in the theater several times, and what we’re seeing has not worked.

The American people know that when he went into office and borrowed $800 billion for a massive job stimulus program, then they did not see the jobs. Some of those green jobs we were supposed to get, that is money down the drain.

The right course for America is not to keep spending money on stimulus bills, but instead to make permanent changes to the tax code. Look, when you give — as the president’s bill does, if you give a temporary change to the payroll tax, and you say, we’re going to extend this for a year or two, employers do not hire people for a year or two.

They make an investment in a person that goes over a long period of time. And so if you want to get the economy going again, you have to have people who understand how employers think, what it takes to create jobs.

And what it takes to create jobs is more than just a temporary shift in a tax stimulus, it needs instead fundamental restructuring of our economy to make that sure we are the most attractive place in the world for investment, for innovation, for growth, and for hiring. And we can do that again.

GOLDMAN: So you would be OK with seeing the payroll tax cuts?

ROMNEY: Look, I don’t like temporary little Band-Aids, I want to fundamentally restructure America’s foundation economically.

ROSE: Before closing questions, I want not this hour-and-a-half to pass without some recognition and conversation about the question of disparity in America.

TUMULTY: Governor Perry, over the last 30 years, the income of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans has grown by more than 300 percent, and yet we have more people living in poverty in this country than at any time in the last 50 years.

Is this acceptable? And what would you do to close that gap?

PERRY: The reason we have that many people living in poverty is because we have got a president of the United States who is a job- killer. That’s what’s wrong with this country today.

You have a president who does not understand how to create wealth. He has over-taxed, over-regulated the small-business men and women to the point where they are laying off people.

Two-and-half million Americans are out there who have lost their jobs. We have got 14 million without work. This president, I will suggest to you, is the biggest deterrent to getting this country back on track, and we have to do everything we can to replace Barack Obama in 2012.

[applause]

[crosstalk]

ROSE: OK. But we are almost out of time. I want to give you a chance, and then we have to go the final questions.

SANTORUM: There is more to it than that. And I agree with Rick, what he said, but the biggest problem with poverty in America, and we don’t talk about here, because it’s an economic discussion — and that is the break down of the American family.

You want to look at the poverty rate among families that have two — that have a husband and wife working in them? It’s 5 percent today. A family that’s headed by one person? It’s 30 percent today. We need to do something, and we need to talk about economics. The home — the word “home” in Greek is the basis of the word “economy.” It is — it is the foundation of our country. We need to have a policy that supports families, that encourages marriage…

ROSE: All right.

SANTORUM: … that has fathers take responsibility for their children. You can’t have limited government — you can’t have a wealthy society if the family breaks down, that basic unit of society. And that needs to be included in this economic discussion.

ROSE: All right. I’ve got one last question, one last question, with 30 minutes…

PROTESTOR: [off-mike]

ROSE: One last question…

PROTESTOR: [off-mike]

ROSE: All right. One last question, as we close this evening, and, each of you, 30 seconds. What is it about you that you want to connect with the American people, in their both despair and in their hope for the future that says something essentially about who you are?

And I begin with Congresswoman Bachmann.

BACHMANN: I’m sorry, Charlie.

[crosstalk]

SANTORUM: A little distraction.

[laughter]

ROSE: It is about the individual. We have 30 seconds here. We’ve talked about issues here, but I want to talk for a moment, as a last impression, a sense of what it is about you that you want to say here and let the American people know about you and your sense of recognizing their own pain, as well as their hope?

BACHMANN: Well, I do. I grew up in a middle-class home. We went to below…

ROSE: Thirty seconds, too, I’m sorry.

BACHMANN: We went to below poverty when my parents divorced. And my mother worked very hard. We all did. We all got jobs. And we were able to work our way through college. And — and eventually my husband and I started a business.

We have broken hearts for at-risk kids, Charlie. That’s why we took 23 foster children into our home. I believe the best solutions are the ones closest to home. If we reach out as individuals to help people and have broken hearts for people and care for them on a personal basis, then we don’t need big government to step in and do that job. The more that we can do to love people, the better off this…

[crosstalk]

ROSE: Herman Cain, 30 seconds?

CAIN: I can connect with people’s pain because I was po’ before I was poor. My dad worked three jobs. I understand what that means. But more importantly, with my career and with my records, I understand that leaders are supposed to make sure we’re working on the right problems, we’re assigning the right priority.

Surround yourself with the right people, which will allow you to put together the right plans, and, yes, sometimes those plans will be bold plans, because this economy is on life support. We don’t need to trim around the edges. We need a bold plan.

ROSE: Congressman — Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I grew up in an Army brat family. We moved all over the country. In recent years, I’ve had relatives out of work. I’ve had folks who are trying to find jobs for up to a year. We have, I think, a pretty good sense of the pain level.

But I also think it’s important to say that, of leaders, that you find solutions. I don’t think people hire one of us just to say, “I sympathize with you.” I think they hire us to say, “This is how we will solve it.” And I would say every person at this table is more likely to solve those problems than Barack Obama.

ROSE: Congressman Paul?

[applause]

PAUL: My motivation, my goal has always been to promote liberty, believing that’s what made America great. If we want prosperity, if we want peace, we understand what the cause of liberty is all about, and we have to understand that a free-market system and sound money gives us the prosperity.

And it also is the humanitarian program, because once you get into the welfare state and the socialist state, it all backfires. So if you care about people, you believe in liberty, that’s what made America great. That’s what I want to restore.

ROSE: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: [inaudible] I grew up in a steel town. And one of the things that I realized is that, when manufacturing left, a lot of the people in the middle income of America left.

SANTORUM: And what we — I just read a recent study that actually income mobility from the bottom two quintiles up into the — up into the middle income is actually greater, the mobility in Europe than it is in America today.

We need to change that. And the way you do it is by — by creating jobs in the manufacturing sector of the economy, which is what I will do. It will create that income mobility. It’ll create the opportunity for semi-skilled and lower-skilled and — and skilled workers to rise in society. It will take those people off of occupy and bring them into the workplace, where they can — they can family- sustaining jobs.

ROSE: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: Not only have I seen and participated in the creation of a great family business, where jobs mean something, but I presided over a state that delivered the lowest level of unemployment in this country, 2.4 percent. And when I saw on the faces of people who had the dignity of a job, you knew what it meant to moms and dads and entire families.

And when Sheriff Hardy, who is here in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, when he talks about his deputies who for the first time are handing out foreclosure notices to the middle class, and they’re seeing a rise in suicides, they’re seeing a rise in spousal abuse, they’re seeing a rise in substance abuse, it gives you a sense of what it means to have the dignity of a job. We don’t have enough of them in this country.

ROSE: Governor Perry?

PERRY: Charlie, as the son of tenant farmers and a young man who had the opportunity to wear the uniform of my country, and then the great privilege to serve as the governor of the second-largest state in this country, I’ve got not only the CEO experience, but also working with the private sector to create the jobs.

And that’s what people are begging for. Talking to that out-of- work rig worker out in the Gulf of Mexico today, they’re begging for someone to make America America again.

ROSE: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: You know, we’ve talked about crisis this evening, economic crisis, people out of work, incomes going down. But there’s another crisis, and that’s that people wonder whether their future will be brighter for the kids than it’s been for them. It’s always been what it means to be American, to have a greater degree of confidence in the future than even what we’ve enjoyed ourselves.

And what we have to do is to have leadership in this country, like the men and women at this table, who believe in America. My experience will help us get our values strong, get our economy strong, and make sure that our military is second-to-none in the world.

I’m absolutely devoted to making America the strongest nation on Earth. And if you don’t want that as your objective, don’t vote for me. We already have a president that doesn’t make that his first — first objective.

ROSE: All right. I want to thank each and all of the candidates who sat at this table this evening. As I said at the beginning, I believe in tables, and I believe that places where you can come and talk about the country and its future and your beliefs in important.

Secondly, I want to thank Karen and thank Julianna for joining us. I want to thank all of you who came here this evening to hear these candidates. Thank you very much. For those at home, thank you for watching. A post-debate program will follow this. We thank you for your time. Good night.

[applause]