January 16, 2012: Fox News / South Carolina Republican Party Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

Republican Candidates Debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina January 16, 2012

PARTICIPANTS:
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:
Brett Baier (Fox News)

BAIER: Thanks, Bill, and welcome to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and the Republican presidential debate. It’s being sponsored by Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the South Carolina Republican Party.

Now let’s meet the five remaining candidates. Texas Governor Rick Perry. [applause]

Former Senator Rick Santorum. [applause]

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. [applause]

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. [applause]

And Congressman Ron Paul. [applause]

And, of course, our stage is down one podium, with Governor Jon Huntsman’s announcement today that he is leaving the race. You at home can participate through Twitter tonight. You can weigh in on how well the candidates are answering the questions. Tweet the candidate’s last name and hashtag answer if you think he’s tackling the question or hashtag dodge if you think he’s avoiding the question.

Then you can go to foxnews.com/debate to see the results during the break. You can head there and check it out.

Now let’s meet our panelists tonight. Fox News political analyst and my colleague, Juan Williams. [applause]

And from the Wall Street Journal, economics correspondent Kelly Evans. [applause]

And Washington bureau chief Jerry Seib.

Our rules are similar to our previous Fox debates, except now answers will be 1 minute and 30 seconds to allow for a fuller discussion of the issues. But follow-ups will still be 30 seconds.

Now, in past debates, we’ve reminded candidates it’s time to wrap up with various sounds. We started with a doorbell. That didn’t work for dog-owners. And then we had a digital sound, which seemed rarely — pretty ineffective.

Tonight, after a long string of debates and with longer answer time, we’re going to try to not use any sound. You all have done this now 15 times. I’m sure you know the drill. But warning: We do reserve the right to bring back the bell if we have to.

Today, as you know, is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. As we look live at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, its first year on the mall, we’re reminded of one of the many notable quotes from the late Dr. King. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in a moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

This campaign has been filled with challenge and controversy. The challenges are large. Here in South Carolina, the unemployment rate is near 10 percent, well above the national average. And on this MLK Day, unemployment in African-American communities is near 16 percent.

But the controversy on the campaign trail in recent days has been about Governor Romney’s record. We are going to talk extensively about jobs, federal debt, world hotspots, and social issues, but, first, let’s clear the air.

Speaker Gingrich, on a debate stage in September, you vowed to, quote, “repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama, who deserves to be defeated,” close quote. And yet in recent days, you and your campaign have cited numerous outlets, from the New York Times to Salon.com, to attack Governor Romney’s business record, the exact line of attack the Obama campaign is using. Why?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I think that the staying positive through Iowa, through $3.5 million of negative attacks, proved you either have to unilaterally disarm and leave the race or you have to at least bring up your competitor’s record.

Second, I think it’s very important for us to look at job creation. As a young member of Congress, I worked with President Ronald Reagan. We passed an economic growth package. We created 16 million jobs. The American people within a framework that Reagan had established created 16 million jobs.

As speaker I came back — working with President Bill Clinton, we passed a very Reagan-like program, less regulation, lower taxes. Unemployment dropped to 4.2 percent. We created 11 million jobs. Now, those are real numbers that people can verify out in the open.

Governor Romney as governor raised taxes and Massachusetts was 47th in job creation, fourth from the bottom. That’s a public record difference.

The second part of his campaign is citing his experience in business, which is perfectly legitimate, but if that’s a part of your campaign, then questioning it has to be equally legitimate.

And it struck me raising those questions, giving me an opportunity to answer them is exactly what campaigns ought to be about. And we need to satisfy the country that whoever we nominate has a record that can stand up to Barack Obama in a very effective way. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Romney, I will give you time to respond in just a minute. Speaker Gingrich, the Wall Street Journal editorial page calls your attacks crude and damaging caricatures of modern business and capitalism. And they write that you are embarrassing yourself by taking the Obama line.

How do you respond to that?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I don’t think raising questions is a prerogative only of Barack Obama and I don’t think Republicans should allow themselves to automatically be intimidated because every time you raise a question somebody yells you are doing something the Democrats will do.

I raise questions that I think are legitimate questions. The questions, some of which came straight out of Wall Street Journal articles. The governor has every opportunity to answer those questions to give us facts and data and I think that’s part of his responsibility as a candidate and I think that’s part of what a campaign is about, is to raise question and see whether or not whether or not your competitor can answer them effectively before you get to a general election where you know those questions are going to be asked.

BAIER: One more time. You said last week if somebody comes in and takes all the money out of your company and leaves you bankrupt while they go off with millions, that’s not traditional capitalism. That doesn’t sound like a question.

GINGRICH: I think if you look at the record, part of which is published in the Wall Street Journal, remember its very limited public record because he was in a very private company. But there was a pattern in some companies, a handful of them, of leaving them with enormous debt and then within a year or two or three having them go broke. I think that is something he ought to answer.

BAIER: Governor Romney, your response.

ROMNEY: Well, I appreciate the chance to talk about my record and the private sector and also the governmental sector. And I appreciate the speaker’s work working in the Reagan years and in the Clinton years. We did see good growth in this country. I want to see that come back again.

My experience in the private sector took me, one to be head of a consulting firm that got in trouble and work to create jobs there and hold on to jobs. We were in tough times. And then I got the chance to start a business of my own.

And four of the companies that we invested in, they weren’t businesses I ran, but we invested in, ended up today having some 120,000 jobs. Some of the business we invested weren’t successful and lost jobs. And I’m very proud of the fact that we learned from the experience.

We invested in well over 100 different businesses. And the people have looked at the places that have added jobs and lost jobs and that record is pretty much available for people to take a close look at.

But my record as the governor of Massachusetts and as the person that led the Olympics flowed from the fact that I had experience turning around tough situations, that I worked in the private sector, demonstrated a record of success. By virtue of that I was asked to come out and organize the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

And then was asked after the success of that experience to come back to Massachusetts by a number of people there, encouraged me to come back, run for governor. I did. We were fortunate to have an unemployment rate by the time I left office of 4.7 percent. Sounds pretty good today.

And I was also proud of the fact that we balanced the budget every year I was in office. We reduced taxes 19 times, put in place a rainy day fund of over $2 billion by the time I left.

And so my record is out there, proud of it, and I think if team want to have someone who understand how the economy works, having worked in the real economy, that I’m the guy that can best post up against Barack Obama. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Perry, you have gone so far as to call what Mitt Romney did at Bain vulture capitalism. But you’ve also said regulations in America are killing America. In fact, you said we should repeal the most recent financial regulations law, Dodd-Frank.

So what specific regulations would you put in place to curb vulture capitalism?

PERRY: Well, let me go back and say that having been the governor of the state that created over a million net new jobs, that we are all about capitalism, and I think our record proves that we are all about capitalism.

But I visited Georgetown, South Carolina. It was one of those towns where there was a steel mill that Bain swept in, they picked that company over and a lot of people lost jobs there.

And the fact of the matter is we’ve got records. We’ve got records. My record is one of those that’s been open to the public for quite a few years. And as a matter of fact, my income tax have been out every year.

Newt, I think you will let your income tax come out Thursday.

And Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax so the people of this country can see how you made your money. And — and I think that’s a — I think that’s a fair thing. Listen, here’s the real issue for us, as — as — as Republicans, we cannot fire our nominee in September. We need to know now. So I hope you’ll put your tax records out there this week so the people of South Carolina can take a look and decide if, you know, we’ve got a flawed candidate or not.

But the fact is on the regulatory side, Dodd-Frank does need to — to be gone. We’ve got too many regulations. Everyone knows that. We are strangling this country with regulations. [applause]

And we as a country, need to get rid of Dodd-Frank. We’ve got plenty — matter of fact, I would get rid of a substantial amount of those financial regulators so that we can in fact, get back to capitalism without Washington strangling it.

BAIER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds. [applause]

ROMNEY: Well, Brett I need a little longer than that, we had a couple of…

BAIER: Well there will be plenty of time.

ROMNEY: Well…

BAIER: Thirty seconds for this time.

ROMNEY: Lets take a little more time than that. First — first of all, I think — I think Governor Perry makes a — a very good point about — about Georgetown. For those that don’t know, it was a steel mill and — and my firm invested in that steel mill and another one in Kansas City, tried to make them successful. Invested there for seven or eight years. And ultimately what happened from abroad, dumping steel into this country lead to some 40 different steel mills being closed.

And — and that was one of those. I understand what happens when China cheats, or when others cheat and dump products into this country. That’s one of the reasons I’m running is to make sure we crack down on cheaters. By the way, we also started a new steel mill with new technology in Indiana. That one’s growing and thriving. I — I think that experience is what America needs in a president. Secondly I — I agree with the governor with regards to regulations. Regulations are choking off this economy.

I will do everything in my power to put a halt to all the Obama era regulations, review those that kill jobs and get rid of those so we can get the private sector working again. [applause]

BAIER: Gerald Seib with the Wall Street Journal.

SEIB: Governor Romney, let’s look a little deeper at the business record that you’re talking about. In a nutshell, what your opponents here are saying is that Bain Capital and other private equity firms, buy companies, load them up with debt, take the profits and then head for the exits. Let’s look at another example and allow you to respond through that. America Pad and Paper is a company that Bain Capital bought with $5 million, took on more debt to expand, couldn’t pay back the loans, went bankrupt and several hundred people lost their jobs.

Bain Capital though, took $100 million in profits and fees. Does that show a flaw in the Bain Capital model? Or is that just the rough and tumble of America capitalism?

ROMNEY: Well, first of all you never want to seen an enterprise go bankrupt. And you never want to see anyone lose a job. At the time I was at Bain Capital, the business was still going and didn’t go bankrupt. What the company did, is they had one paper company and then they bought another one down the road and they said, we don’t need to have, in — in an industry that’s shrinking, two different plants making the same product, so lets consolidate the two plans together.

And all the people in the plant that was closed were offered jobs in the new plant. Now they were union workers. They didn’t all want that non-union plant work rule setting. But ultimately, do I believe that — that free enterprise works? And that — and that private equity and the various features of our economy work to actually improve our economy? To make America more productive with higher incomes and a brighter future? Absolutely. The — the — this is a major part of our economy, has been for a long time. Free enterprise, with all of it’s different dimensions and players, makes America the — the strongest economic nation in the world.

The GDP per capita in this country, income per capita in this country, is about 50 percent higher than the average in Europe. Every time we invested, we tried to grow an enterprise, add jobs to make it more successful. And — and I know that people are going to come after me. I know President Obama is going to come after me. But the record is pretty darn good. You look at places like Staples, Bright Horizons, that steel company I talked about, the Sports Authority. They alone added 120,000 jobs as of today.

And — and those kinds of experiences are the kinds of things that allow me to know what it takes to get this economy working and to put people back to work. We’ve got a president in office three years, and he does not have a jobs plan yet. I’ve got one out there already and I’m not even president, yet. Thank you. [applause]

BAIER: Kelly Evans from the Wall Street Journal.

EVANS: Congressman Paul — Congressman Paul, this morning when he suspended his campaign, Governor Huntsman said the Republican presidential race has, quote “degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks, not worthy of the American people.” You have been particularly scathing in your ads against the other candidates up here on stage tonight. Do you agree with Governor Huntsman that these attacks should be abandoned?

PAUL: Well, they should be abandoned if you’re not telling the truth. But if you’re exposing a voting record I think it’s quite proper. There was one ad that we used against Senator Santorum, and I was only — I only had one problem, is I couldn’t get all the things in I wanted to say in one minute. [applause]

But, you know, we mentioned No Child Left Behind and that he supported deficits times five, raising the national debt, and that he voted for prescription drug programs, as well as he voted against right-to-work. And I could have added, you know, things like — he voted for Sarbanes-Oxley. So my only regret is that I couldn’t get enough in in that one minute that I should have.

UNKNOWN: Congressman Paul?

QUESTION: Hold up. Senator Santorum, you are going to get a question next, but respond, please, to Congressman Paul.

SANTORUM: Look, Congressman Paul has been quoting sources like CREW, which is a George Soros or a left-wing-backed organization, saying that I was corrupt. And in fact, throughout his entire ad, he quotes a lot of left-wing organizations.

Well, of course, left-wing organization say a lot of bad things about me. I would expect them. And that’s — I wear that as a badge of honor, not something that I’m ashamed of.

With respect to some of the votes that they elicit, I admit, I’m a strong conservative, but I’m not perfect. President Bush’s signature initiative of No Child Left Behind, I voted for it, I shouldn’t have. It was something that I said, and I will say publicly, that we should repeal. In fact, we should repeal all of federal government’s role in primary and secondary education, and if you give me the opportunity, I’ll do that. [applause]

QUESTION: We have a question for you — go ahead; finish your thought.

SANTORUM: And with right-to-work, look, I represented the state of Pennsylvania, which is one of the — which is not a right-to-work state. If you look at who voted for the right-to-work bill in the Congress, those who came from right-to-work states voted for it. Those who came from non-right-to-work states represented their states. I wasn’t going to vote in Washington, D.C., to change the law in my state.

I support right-to-work. I actually, as president, will sign and advocate for a right-to-work bill, but when I represented the people of Pennsylvania, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to do in Washington and change the law in my state when my state didn’t want to have that provision in their laws.

QUESTION: Juan Williams.

WILLIAMS: Senator Santorum, today you said Governor Romney is guilty of distorting your record as well as, quote, “lies and hypocrisy.” You said this behavior is classic Romney, and no one is holding him accountable.

So the same question that Kelly asked, this time to you, should these barbed personal attacks against fellow Republicans be abandoned by the candidates?

SANTORUM: I — look, I have run a very strong and positive campaign. My ads have been positive. The only ad that I’ve ever put up that has contrasted myself with the other candidates, and does so in a way talking about issues.

Governor Romney’s super PAC has put an ad out there suggesting that I voted to allow felons to be able to vote from prison, because they said I’m allowing felons to vote, and they put a prisoner — a person in a prison jumpsuit.

I would ask Governor Romney, do you believe people who have — who were felons, who served their time, who have extended — exhausted their parole and probation, should they be given the right to vote?

WILLIAMS: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: First of all, as you know, the PACs that run ads on various candidates, as we unfortunately know in this —

SANTORUM: I’m looking for a question — an answer to the question first. [applause]

ROMNEY: We have plenty of time. I’ll get there. I’ll do it in the order I want to do. I believe that, as you realize that the super PACs run ads. And if they ever run an ad or say something that is not accurate, I hope they either take off the ad or make it — or make it correct. I guess that you said that they — they said that you voted to make felons vote? Is that it?

SANTORUM: That’s correct. That’s what the ad says.

ROMNEY: And you’re saying that you didn’t?

SANTORUM: Well, first, I’m asking you to answer the question, because that’s how you got the time. It’s actually my time. So if you can answer the question, do you believe, do you believe that felons who have served their time, gone through probation and parole, exhausted their entire sentence, should they be given the right to have a vote?

This is Martin Luther King Day. This is a huge deal in the African-American community, because we have very high rates of incarceration, disproportionately high rates, particularly with drug crimes, in the African-American community.

The bill I voted on was the Martin Luther King Voting Rights bill. And this was a provision that said, particularly targeted African-Americans. And I voted to allow — to allow them to have their voting rights back once they completed their sentence.

QUESTION: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond.

ROMNEY: Yes. I don’t think people who have committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote again. That’s my own view. [applause]

SANTORUM: That’s very —

QUESTION: Last thing, Senator.

SANTORUM: You know, it’s very interesting you should say that, Governor Romney, because in the state of Massachusetts, when you were governor, the law was that not only could violent felons vote after they exhausted their sentences, but they could vote while they were on probation and parole, which was a more liberal position than I took when I voted for the bill in the — in the Congress. So…

BAIER: Governor?

SANTORUM: If, in fact — let me finish — if, in fact, you felt so passionately about this that you are now going to go out and have somebody criticize me for restoring voting rights to people who have — who have exhausted their sentence and served their time and paid their debt to society, then why didn’t you try to change that when you were governor of Massachusetts?

ROMNEY: Well, first of all, as… [applause] As governor of Massachusetts, I had an 85 percent Democratic legislature. This is something we discussed. My view was people who committed violent crimes should not be able to vote, even upon coming out of office.

Secondly, I did not have a super PAC run an ad against you. That’s — as you know, that’s something which is completely out of the control of candidates.

One of the things I decried in the current financial system that gets behind campaigns is that we have these voting requirements that put these super PACs in power that say things we disagree with. And I’ll tell you, there have been some — there have been some attacks on me, I mean, that — that have just been outrageous and completely inaccurate and have been shown to be inaccurate. That’s the nature of the process. I hope…

BAIER: We have a…

ROMNEY: I hope — I hope it ends. I hope it ends.

BAIER: We have a lot of questions.

SANTORUM: I need to — I need to respond to this. What the governor said is he didn’t propose anything to change that law, and what he’s saying is that the — the ad that says that I said that — or I voted to allow felons to vote is inaccurate. And it is inaccurate. And if I had something — the super PAC that was supporting me that was inaccurate, I would go out and say, “Stop it,” that you’re representing me and you’re representing my campaign. Stop it. [applause]

BAIER: Governor — Governor Perry, go ahead.

PERRY: Here’s — here’s the issue.

ROMNEY: I actually think…

PERRY: And this is a great — this is a great example of the insiders that are having the conversation up here. And the fact of the matter is this. [applause] Washington, D.C., needs to leave the states alone and let the states decide these issues and don’t do it from Washington, D.C. That’s what needs to happen. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Romney, any response to either one of those?

ROMNEY: I — I agree with Governor Perry, that it should be decided at the state level. I also agree with — with Congressman Paul that — that a number of the positions that were described that Governor — or that Senator Santorum took were — were positions that were very different than the conservative views that he would suggest today.

I think the decision on — on voting against right-to-work was a bad decision and was made — as he indicated — based upon the — the reflection of the people of the state he was representing. It’s politics, if you will.

In my state, I had a state that — that said that they did not favor my position. I’m not letting felons who had committed violent crimes vote. I think it’s a — a position that’s reasonable, and that’s the position I’ve got.

BAIER: We may have to rethink that whole bell thing, but we’re going to take a break right here. Remember to send your thoughts on how the candidates are answering the questions via Twitter. Tweet the candidate’s last name and hashtag answer or hashtag dodge. Send me questions at bretbaier. Include that hashtag scdebate.

After the break, key issues and some more fireworks. We’ll see. Stay with us.

[commercial break]

BAIER: Welcome back to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and the Republican presidential debate.

We are getting questions from Twitter. Governor Romney — Governor Huntsman endorsed you today. But in New Hampshire he called you a, quote, “perfectly lubricated weather vein on the important issues of the day.” And just last week, Governor Huntsman charged that it’s hard to find your core. Which leads to our first Twitter question.

From MissinDixie, quote, “I want to support Mitt Romney, but considering his changing views, convince me you won’t change again.”

ROMNEY: You know, the issue where I change my mind, which obviously draws a lot of attention was that when I was running for governor, I said I would leave the law in place as it related to abortion. And I thought I could go in that narrow path between my personal belief and letting government stay out of the issue.

Then a piece of legislation came to my desk and it said we would begin to create embryos for the purpose of destroying those embryos, and I said I simply couldn’t sign something like that. And I penned an op-ed in the Boston Globe and said I’m pro-life, described my view and served as a pro-life governor.

The Massachusetts Citizens for Life have just written a letter last week describing my record and saying this is a solid record of a very pro-life governor. I’m proud of that record.

My view on other social issues such as gay marriage, I’ve always opposed gay marriage. I believe that we should provide equal rights to people regardless of their sexual orientation but I do not believe that marriage should be between two people of the same gender.

My care by getting in this race is about my belief in America and my concern that what we’re seeing with this president is a change in course for America to be become something we wouldn’t recognize. I think he is drawing us into becoming more like a European social welfare state. I think he wants us to become an entitlement society where people in this country feel they’re entitled to something from government and where government takes from some to give to others.

I’m running to make sure that we don’t transform America into something we don’t recognize, but instead we restore the principles that made America the hope of the Earth.

I believe in free enterprise, I believe in freedom, I believe in liberty, I believe in an opportunity society. And everything I do will be designed to strengthen the values of this country, to strengthen the families of this country, to strengthen our economy and to keep a military that is second to none in the world. [applause]

BAIER: Juan Williams, Juan?

WILLIAMS: Governor Perry, last month the Department of Justice challenged South Carolina’s new law requiring registered voters to show state issued identification before they can vote. Governor Haley has pledged to fight the federal government all the way to the Supreme Court. You sided with the government. [applause]

Now, Governor Perry, are you suggesting on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, that the federal government has no business scrutinizing the voting laws of states where minorities were once denied the right to vote?

PERRY: I’m saying — I’m saying that the state of — of Texas is under assault by federal government. I’m saying also that South Carolina is at war with this federal government and with this administration. [applause]

If you look at what this Justice Department has done, not only have they taken them to task on voter ID, they’ve also taken them to task on their immigration law and in then the most egregious thing obviously is this National Labor Relations Board, where they come into a right to work state and tell the state of South Carolina…[applause]…we’re not going to let a private company come in here. That is irresponsible. I would suggest to you it’s unconstitutional. And when I’m the president of the United States, the states are going to have substantially more right to take care of their business. And not be forced by the EPA, or by the Justice Department for that matter, to do things that are against the will of the people.

Look, I’ve said this administration is at war against organized religion. And when you look at what they’ve done, going after churches because churches have that ministerial exception in there and can decide who they were going to hire at — at their churches. The idea that the Catholic charities cannot take money or the federal government, this administration won’t give them those dollars for sexually trafficked individuals because this administration doesn’t agree with the Catholic church on the issue of abortion.

If that’s not a war on religion, I don’t know what it is. And this administration is out of control. [applause]

BAIER: Senator Santorum, we talked about the high unemployment rate here in South Carolina, almost 10 percent, well above the national average. We’ve talked about the skyrocketing national debt. In December, Congress authorized an additional 20 weeks of jobless benefits. Benefits being paid by the federal government in many cases because states can’t afford them. Do you support extending these benefits when they expire at the end of the month? Why or why not?

SANTORUM: Well, I think we have to look at having a reasonable time for people to be able to come back, get a job and then turn their lives around. But, what we’ve seen in — in the past under this administration, is extending benefits up to 99 weeks. I don’t support that. I think if you have people who are out of work that — that long a period of time, it’s — it’s without question it makes it harder to find work when you come back. When you’re that far long away from a job, then you lose certain skills. You lose — you lose a lot of things when you’re out of work.

And that’s — there’s a lot of research that show that to be the case. And so what I believe is, just like I did with welfare reform when we reformed welfare, we sent it back to the states. And we gave the states the flexibility to design these programs. Just as I would do here with unemployment insurance. It should go back to the states. Let the states design it. If South Carolina because of a unique situation, wants to have a longer unemployment period of time because of a unique situation here, fine. But to have a federal program that roughly and crudely tries to assess the problem of unemployment from state to state and area to area, is the wrong approach.

What we should do, is have it just like welfare. Give it to the states, put a time limit. In the case of welfare, it was 40 weeks. Give flexibility to the states to — to — to operate those programs and even in unemployment, I mean, you can — you can have as we did on welfare, have some sort of either work requirement of job training required as a condition. We’re not doing people any favors by keeping them on unemployment insurance for a long period of time. [applause]

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich, Senator Santorum just mentioned it, the surge in unemployment has created these so-called 99’ers, people who collect benefits for the maximum 99 weeks offered now. What is the maximum length anyone should be able to collect unemployment checks?

GINGRICH: Well, you know Brett, I think there’s a better way to — to think about this. All unemployment compensation should be tied to a job training requirement. If somebody can’t find a job…[applause]… and they show up, and they say, “You know, I need help,” the help we ought to give them is to get them connected to a business-run training program to acquire the skills to be employable. Now the fact is, 99 weeks is an associate degree. [applause]

It — it tells you — I think it tells you everything. I — I hope my four colleagues would agree here. It tells you everything you need to know about the difference between Barack Obama and the five of us, that we actually think work is good. [applause]

We actually — we actually think saying to somebody, “I’ll help you if you’re willing to help yourself,” is good. [applause]

And we think unconditional efforts by the best food stamp president in American history to maximize dependency is terrible for the future of this country. [applause]

BAIER: Kelly Evans?

EVANS: Governor Romney — Governor Romney, core European nations have just been downgraded, and several are only able to raise funds because of help from central banks. As president, you could immediately be faced with another financial crisis, perhaps this time sparked in Europe. This is not some imaginary event. How far would you be willing to go to keep the financial system functioning?

ROMNEY: Well, of course you want to keep our financial system functioning, but we’ve learned some lessons from the experience of the last several years. What you don’t want to do is to give the president or anyone else a blank check or a slush fund to take care of their friends or take care of industries or companies they think they want to save. What we have to do…[applause]

What we have to do is to recognize that — that bankruptcy can be a process, reorganization for banks, as well as other institutions, that allow them to get rid of their excess costs, to re-establish a sound foundation, and to emerge stronger. We’re seeing that as a result of the bankruptcy in the auto industry. We could see that in our banking sector, as well, if a bank or two get in trouble.

And so the right course for us is not to think we have to go run over to Europe to try and save their banking system or to try and pump money into the banks here in this country. This is time for us to recognize that the system of laws we have and the free enterprise system works and we don’t need government stepping in with regulations and higher taxes and telling us what we can and cannot do as a society to try and keep America strong.

The best way to get America’s economy going is not to think about how much we can push government into the American economy, but instead how much we can get government out of the American economy. [applause]

And our — our tax rates — our tax rates are too high on individuals, as well as on our employers. Our regulations are too burdensome. Regulators see themselves as the — the opponents of free enterprise as opposed to those that encourage it.

We have an energy policy that doesn’t take advantage of our natural resources. That makes no sense. We need our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear.

And, finally, we need to open up new markets. This president has opened up no new markets for American goods around the world in his three years, even as European nations and China have opened up 44. We have to have a policy to open markets, put Americans to work. That’s the answer, not bailouts.

BAIER: Jerry Seib has the next question.

SEIB: Congressman Paul, South Carolina has seven major military bases, and thousands of people employed in the defense industry. But you want to make major cuts in defense spending, several hundred billion dollars in the coming years, that inevitably would cost South Carolina jobs. What do you say to people in this state who worry that your military plans would hurt the national security and cost South Carolina jobs?

PAUL: I would say your — your question suggests you’re very confused about my position. [applause]

I want to cut money, overseas money. That’s what I want to do. I want to cut military money. I don’t want to cut defense money. I want to bring the troops home. I’d probably have more bases here at home. We were closing them down in the 1990s and building them overseas. That’s how we got into trouble.

So we would save a lot more money and have a stronger national defense, and that’s what we should do. But to say that we would be weaker is absolutely wrong, because — and — and — and another important thing you should consider is the fact that the military is behind me more than the others. I get twice as much money from the…[applause]… from the active military duties than all the other candidates put together. So they’re saying that I’m on the right track. They’re sick and tired of those wars. They’re sick and tired of the nation- building and the policing activity.

But to say that we would have less money for defense, we’d actually have more money. And if I may, I’d like to go back to the international financial thing.

SEIB: Congressman, just to be clear, your plan calls for freezing defense spending at 2006 levels, which is where —

PAUL: No, see, I — you still don’t understand.

BAIER: What is he missing, Congressman?

PAUL: You don’t understand there’s a difference between military spending and defense spending. Just because you spend a billion dollars on an embassy in Baghdad, bigger than the Vatican, you consider that defense spending. I consider that waste. [applause] So if you want to — a little while ago we were talking about funding the unemployed — and of course that should be privatized and I don’t support it — but I don’t support cutting it off like that. I would cut some of this military spending like Eisenhower advises, watch out for the military industrial complex. Defend this country. We have to have a strong national defense, but we don’t get strength by diluting ourselves in 900 bases in 130 countries. That is where the problem is.

But you need to understand that there is a difference between just military spending and defense spending, just to spend money. We understand this domestically. If you spend more money domestically, we know it’s wrong, but we are supposed to spend more money and that’s conservative. I’ve never quite understood this. We are supposed to be conservatives. Spend less money. [applause]

BAIER: I’d like to ask a question about keeping money for all of the candidates down the line. What is the highest federal income tax any American should have to pay? We are looking for a number.

Governor?

PERRY: Seven 7 percent flat tax. Simple. Keep it simple.

BAIER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Well, my plan has two rates, 10 and 28 percent, which is the highest rate under Ronald Reagan when he cut taxes.

BAIER: Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: I would like 25 percent, but right now it’s at 35, so people better pay what is legally required. But ultimately let’s get it down to as low as we possibly can, if it’s 20, if it’s 25 but paying more than 25 percent, I think, is taking too much out of our pockets.

BAIER: So the highest you had was 35?

ROMNEY: Well, that’s what the law is right now, but 25 is where I would like to see us go.

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich.

GINGRICH: I would like to see it be a flat tax at 15 percent and I would like to see us reduce government to meet the revenue, not raise revenue to meet the government.

BAIER: Congressman Paul.

PAUL: Well, we should have the lowest tax that we’ve ever had, and up until 1913 it was 0 percent. What’s so bad about that? [applause]

Now, I would like to follow up on that, because I think the question on taxes is generally misleading, because anytime you spend money, it’s a tax. You might tax, you might borrow, you might inflate. The vicious tax, that’s attacking the American people, the retired people today, is the inflation tax, the devaluation of the currency, the standard of living is going down, and you need to address that. And that’s why I want to make the inflation tax zero, as well.

BAIER: So your answer is zero?

PAUL: Zero.

BAIER: OK. About taxes. Kelly?

EVANS: Governor Romney, Speaker Gingrich, Senator Santorum and now vocally tonight Senator Perry — Governor Perry — are calling for you to release your tax records. The Obama campaign is asking for the same thing. Governor, will you release your income tax records?

ROMNEY: You know, I looked at what has been done in campaigns in the past with Senator McCain and President George W. Bush and others. They have tended to release tax records in April or tax season. I hadn’t planned on releasing tax records because the law requires us to release all of our assets, all the things we own. That I have already released. It’s a pretty full disclosure. But, you know, if that’s been the tradition and I’m not opposed to doing that, time will tell. But I anticipate that most likely I am going to get asked to do that around the April time period and I’ll keep that open.

EVANS: Governor, you will plan then to release your income tax records around April?

ROMNEY: I think I’ve heard enough from folks saying, look, let’s see your tax records. I have nothing in them that suggests there’s any problem and I’m happy to do so. I sort of feel like we are showing a lot of exposure at this point. And if I become our nominee, and what’s happened in history is people have released them in about April of the coming year and that’s probably what I would do.

BAIER: OK. Next round of questions, Juan Williams.

WILLIAMS: Governor Romney, your father was born in Mexico. You still have family there, yet you have taken the hardest line of anyone on this stage on immigration reform, including opposition to key parts of the DREAM Act, which is supported by 80 percent of Latinos in this country. Are you alienating Latino voters that Republicans will need to win the general election?

ROMNEY: You know, I think Latino voters, like all voters in this country, are interested in America being an opportunity nation. People come here because they believe they want to have a brighter future and that’s been the story of America. The president looks out across the country and says it could be worse. I can’t believe saying that. The American people recognize it’s got to be better.

In my view, as long as we communicate to the people of all backgrounds in this country that it can be better, and that America is a land of opportunity, we will get those votes.

Now with regards to immigration policy, I absolutely believe that those who come here illegally should not be given favoritism or a special route to becoming permanent residents or citizens that’s not given to those people who have stayed in line legally. I just think we have to follow the law, I think that’s the right course. [applause]

ROMNEY: And I have indicated I would veto the DREAM Act if provisions included in that act to say that people who are here illegally, if they go to school here long enough, get a degree here that they can become permanent residents.

I think that’s a mistake. I think we have to follow the law and insist those who come here illegally, ultimately return home, apply, and get in line with everyone else.

Look, I want people to know I love legal immigration. Almost all of us in this room are descendants of immigrants or are immigrants ourselves. Our nation is stronger and more vibrant by virtue of a strong legal immigration system.

But to protect our legal immigration system we have got to protect our borders and stop the flood of illegal immigration and I will not do anything that opens up another wave of illegal immigration.

WILLIAMS: Senator Santorum, the Obama administration has not specifically addressed high levels of joblessness and a 25 percent poverty rate in black America. They say they want to fix the economy for all, but given the crisis situation among a group of historically disadvantaged Americans, do you feel the time has come to take special steps to deal with the extraordinary level of poverty afflicting one race of America?

SANTORUM: It’s very interesting, if you look at a study that was done by the Brookings Institute back in 2009, they determined that if Americans do three things, they can avoid poverty. Three things. Work, graduate from high school, and get married before you have children. Those three things…[applause]

Those three things, if you do, according to Brookings, results in only 2 percent of people who do all those things ending up in poverty, and 77 percent above the national average in income. It’s a huge, huge opportunity for us.

But what is the Obama administration doing? Elaine Bennett runs a program called Best Friends, the wife of Bill Bennett. And she told me through Bill that the Obama administration now has a policy, and this program is a program targeted at at-risk youth, specifically in many case necessary the African-American community, who are at-risk young girls. The Obama administration now has regulations that tells them that they can no longer promote marriage to these young girls. They can no longer promote marriage as a way of avoiding poverty and bad choices that they make in their life. They can no longer even teach abstinence education. They have to be neutral with respect to how people behave.

The problem is neutrality ends in poverty, neutrality ends in choices that hurt people’s lives. This administration is deliberately telling organizations that are there to help young girls make good choices, not to tell them what the good choice is. That is absolutely unconscionable. [applause]

WILLIAMS: Congressman Paul. An analysis by the Prison Policy Initiative finds that blacks who are jailed at four times the rate of whites in South Carolina are most often convicted on drug offenses. Do you see racial disparities in drug-related arrests and convictions as a problem? And if so, how would you fix it?

PAUL: Yes. Definitely. There is a disparity. It’s not that it is my opinion, it is very clear. Blacks and minorities who are involved with drugs, are arrested disproportionately. They are tried and imprisoned disproportionately. They suffer the consequence of the death penalty disproportionately. Rich white people don’t get the death penalty very often.

And most of these are victimless crimes. Sometimes people can use drugs and arrested three times and never committed a violent act and they can go to prison for life. And yet we see times just recently we heard where actually murders get out of prison in shorter periods of time. So I think it’s way — way disproportionate.

I don’t think we can do a whole lot about it. I think there’s discrimination in the system, but you have to address the drug war. You know, the drug war is — is very violent on our borders. We have the immigration problem, and I’m all for having, you know, tight immigration policies, but we can’t ignore the border without looking at the drug war.

In the last five years, 47,500 people died in the drug war down there. This is a major thing going on. And it unfairly hits the minorities.

This is one thing I am quite sure that Martin Luther King would be in agreement with me on this. As a matter of fact, Martin Luther King he would be in agreement with me on the wars, as well, because he was a strong opponent to the Vietnam War.

So I — I — I would say, yes, the judicial system is probably one of the worst places where — where prejudice and — and discrimination still exists in this country.

WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?

GINGRICH: No. I don’t see that. [applause]

You know, my daughter, Jackie, who’s sitting back there, Jackie Cushman, reminded me that her first job was at First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Georgia, doing janitorial work at 13. And she liked earning the money. She liked learning that if you worked, you got paid. She liked being in charge of her own money, and she thought it was a good start.

I had a young man in New Hampshire who walked up to me. I’ve written two newsletters now about this topic. I’ve had over 50 people write me about the jobs they got at 11, 12, 13 years of age. Ran into a young man who started a doughnut company at 11. He’s now 16. He has several restaurants that take his doughnuts. His father is thrilled that he’s 16 because he can now deliver his own doughnuts. [laughter]

What I tried to say — and I think it’s fascinating, because Joe Klein reminded me that this started with an article he wrote 20 years ago. New York City pays their janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union. You could take one janitor and hire 30-some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out. They would actually have money in their pocket. They’d learn to show up for work. They could do light janitorial duty. They could work in the cafeteria. They could work in the front office. They could work in the library. They’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor. Only the elites despise earning money. [applause]

WILLIAMS: Well…[applause]

The suggestion that he made was about a lack of work ethic. And I’ve got to tell you, my e-mail account, my Twitter account has been inundated with people of all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities.

You saw some of this reaction during your visit…[booing]… to a black church in South Carolina. You saw some of this during your visit to a black church in South Carolina, where a woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as “the food stamp president.” It sounds as if you are seeking to belittle people. [booing]

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history. [applause]

Now, I know among the politically correct, you’re not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable. [laughter] [applause]

Second, you’re the one who earlier raised a key point. There’s — the area that ought to be I-73 was called by Barack Obama a corridor of shame because of unemployment. Has it improved in three years? No. They haven’t built the road. They haven’t helped the people. They haven’t done anything. [applause]

So… [applause]

BAIER: Finish your thought, Mr. Speaker.

GINGRICH: One last thing.

BAIER: Yes, sir.

GINGRICH: So here’s my point. I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness. And if that makes liberals unhappy, I’m going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job and learn some day to own the job. [applause]

BAIER: Okay. When we come back — they can’t hear me, but I’ll talk to you, foreign policy. Bring me your questions, BretBair, include hash tag SCdebates after this break.

[commercial break]

BAIER: Welcome back to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. That was a time lapsed video of a sand sculpture right outside the convention center here. It does still have Governor Huntsman on that sand sculpture. He’s not here tonight. Next round of questions is on foreign policy. And we’ll begin with Congressman Paul. In a recent interview, Congressman Paul with a Des Moines radio station you said you were against the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. You said the U.S. operation that took out the terrorist responsible for killing 3,000 people on American soil, quote, showed no respect for the rule of law, international law.

So to be clear, you believe international law should have constrained us from tracking down and killing the man responsible for the most brazen attack on the U.S. since Pearl Harbor?

PAUL: Obviously no. And that’s what — I did not say that.

What I — as a matter of fact, after 9/11 I voted for the authority to go after him. And my frustration was that we didn’t go after him. It took us ten years. We had him trapped at Tora Bora and I thought we should have trapped him there. I even introduced another resolutuion on the principle of market reprisal to keep our eye on target rather than getting involved in nation building.

BAIER: But no respect for international law was the question about the quote that you used in Des Moines.

PAUL: Well, you know, I can’t say — his colleague was in Pakistan, and we communicated, you know, with the government of Pakistan and they turned him over. And what I suggested there was that if we have no respect for the sovereignty of another nation that it will lead to disruption of that nation.

Here we have a nation that we are becoming constantly trying to kill people who we consider our enemies. At the same time we are giving the government of Pakistan billions of dollars. Now there’s a civil war going on, the people are mad at us but yet the government is getting money from us and I think it’s a deeply flawed policy.

But to not go after him — and if I voted for the authority, obviously I think it was proper. But once they waited ten years, I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t have done it like they did after Khalid Sheikh Aman. And that would have been a more proper way.

If somebody in this country, say a Chinese dissident come over here, we wouldn’t endorse the idea, well, they can come over here and bomb us and do whatever. I’m just trying to suggest that respect for other nation’s sovereignty — and look at the chaos in Pakistan now. We are at war in Pakistan, but to say that I didn’t want him killed…

BAIER: No, I just quoted from your radio.

PAUL: I’m just suggesting that there are processes that if you could follow and that you should do it. There is proper procedures rather than digging bigger holes for ourselves.

That’s what we have been doing in the Middle East, digging bigger and bigger holes for ourselves and it’s so hard for us to get out of that mess. And we have a long ways to go. We are still in Iraq and that’s getting worse and we are not leaving Afghanistan and the American people are sick and tired of it. 80 percent of the American people want us out of there. I am just suggesting that we work within the rule of law.

Like only going to war when you declare the law, then we wouldn’t be…

BAIER: International law. I understand.

I guess U.S. intelligence officials say they had documents recovered in the compound in Abbottabad that that shows that al Qaeda was planning other attacks, perhaps bigger than 9/11. I asked you in our debate in Sioux City on the topic of Iran about this. But on this topic, GOP nominee Ron Paul would be running far to the left of President Obama on the issue of tracking down and killing terrorists who want to attack the U.S.

PAUL: I would say that if you do your best and you can’t do anything, yes, we had the authority, we voted for it, you got it from the congress, you do it. I just didn’t think they had gone through the process enough to actually, you know, capture him in a different way.

I mean, think about Saddam Hussein. We did that. We captured him. We tried him. I mean the government tried him and he got hung. What’s so terrible about this?

This whole idea that you can’t capture — just a minute. This whole idea you can’t capture people…

BAIER: but you voted against the war in Iraq.

PAUL: Adolf Eichmann was captured. He was given a trial. What is wrong with capturing people? Why didn’t we try to get some information from him? You know, we are accustomed to asking people questions, but all of a sudden gone, you know, that’s it.

So I would say that there are different ways without trying to turn around and say, oh, for some reason this doesn’t mean he’s supporting America.

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich?

If you received, Speaker Gingrich actionable intelligence about the location of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar inside Pakistan would you authorize a unilateral operation, much like the one that killed bin Laden, with or without the Pakistani government knowing, even if the consequence was an end to all U.S.-Pakistani cooperation?

GINGRICH: well, let me go back to set the stage as you did awhile ago. Bin Laden plotted deliberately, bombing American embassies, bombings the USS Cole, and killing 3,100 Americans, and his only regret was he didn’t kill more. Now, he’s not a Chinese dissident. [applause]

You know, the analogy that Congressman Paul used was — was utterly irrational. A Chinese dissident who comes in here — a Chinese dissident who comes here seeking freedom is not the same as a terrorist who goes to Pakistan seeking asylum.

Furthermore, when you give a country $20 billion, and you learn that they have been hiding — I mean, nobody in their — nobody believes that bin Laden was sitting in a compound in a military city one mile from the national defense university and the Pakistanis didn’t know it. Now…[applause]

We’re in South Carolina. South Carolina in the Revolutionary War had a young 13-year-old named Andrew Jackson. He was sabred by a British officer and wore a scar his whole life. Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear-cut idea about America’s enemies: Kill them. [applause]

BAIER: Congressman Paul, 30 seconds, please, 30 seconds to respond, since you were mentioned.

PAUL: My — my — my point is, if another country does to us what we do others, we’re not going to like it very much. So I would say that maybe we ought to consider a golden rule in — in foreign policy. Don’t do to other nations…[booing]… what we don’t want to have them do to us. So we — we endlessly bomb — we endlessly these countries and then we wonder — wonder why they get upset with us? And — and yet it — it continues on and on. I mean, this — this idea…

BAIER: That’s time.

PAUL: This idea that we can’t debate foreign policy, then all we have to do is start another war? I mean, it’s — it’s warmongering. They’re building up for another war against Iran, and people can’t wait to get in another war. This country doesn’t need another war. We need to quit the ones we’re in. We need to save the money and bring our troops home. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Romney? And, again, the bell may be making a comeback. [laughter]

Governor Romney, should the United States negotiate with the Taliban to end the fighting in Afghanistan?

ROMNEY: Of course not. And Speaker Gingrich is right. Of course you take out our enemies, wherever they are. These people declared war on us. They’ve killed Americans. We go anywhere they are, and we kill them. And the — the right thing for…[applause]

The right thing for Osama bin Laden was the bullet in the — in the head that he received. That’s the right thing for people who kill American citizens. [applause]

Now, the Taliban is killing Americans. This president has done an extraordinary thing. He announced the date of our withdrawal. He announced the date of the withdrawal of our surge forces based upon a political calendar, not the calendar that the commanders on the ground said it was based for our mission. That was wrong. [applause]

And then he announced the day that we’re going to pull out of the country all together. And now he wants to negotiate from a position of extraordinary weakness? You don’t negotiate from — with your enemy from a position of weakness as this president has done.

The right course for America is to recognize we’re under attack. We’re under attack by people, whether they’re Al Qaida or other radical violent jihadists around the world, and we’re going to have to take action around the world to protect ourselves.

And hopefully we can do it as we did with Osama bin Laden, as opposed to going to war as we had to do in — in the case of — of Iraq. The right way, Congressman Paul, in my view, is — to keep us from having to go to those wars is to have a military so strong that no one would ever think of testing it. That’s the kind of military we have to have, and we have to pursue our interests around the world. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Romney, Mitchell Rice — Mitchell Rice, who I believe is one of your top foreign policy advisers, said that the Taliban may well be, quote, “our enemy and our negotiating partner.” He said this means that some type of negotiated solution is the best near-term bet to halt the fighting. Is he wrong?

ROMNEY: Yes. The — the right course for America is not to negotiate with the Taliban while the Taliban are killing our soldiers. The right course is to recognize they’re the enemy of the United States. It’s the vice president who said they’re not the enemy of the United States. The vice president’s wrong. They are the enemy. They’re killing American soldiers.

We don’t negotiate from a position of weakness as we’re pulling our troops out. The right course for us is to strengthen the Afghan military force so they can reject the Taliban.

Think what it says to the people in Afghanistan and the military in Afghanistan, when we’re asking them to stand up and fight to protect the sovereignty of their people, if they see us, their ally, turning and negotiating with the very people they’re going to have to protect their nation from. It’s the wrong course. The vice president’s wrong. We should not negotiate with the Taliban. We should defeat the Taliban. [applause]

BAIER: Senator Santorum, you said earlier, in the Libyan operation that President Obama missed an opportunity to capitalize on rebel offensives. Now, in Syria at the hands of Bashar al Assad, it’s estimated that some 5,000 people have been killed. The country appears to be sliding into civil war and Arab League peace monitors seem to be failing. How would President Santorum, deal with this international crisis?

SANTORUM: Well, the — first off President Obama has dealt with it about as badly as possible. First he emboldened Assad by coming into office and establishing an embassy there, reestablishing diplomatic relationships, going through the process of trying to rehabilitate this tyrant. All, I’m sure, to the consternation of our friend, Israel who has consistently done the opposite, tried to step away and isolate Israel while at the time they’re trying to negotiate in a very difficult situation in their country.

With respect to — to — to Syria, look, Syria and Assad are a threat to Israel. I was the author of a bill when I was in the United States Senate to put sanctions on Syria. And in fact, they worked to get Syria out of Lebanon, which was — which was step number one. That’s no longer a viable option. We need to rally the international community, work and cooperate with removing Assad and work in — in concert with the Arab League, work with others.

As far as a military mission on our own, no I do not support a military mission into Syria, but we should be much more aggressive in following through with policies that effectuate the removal of Assad for the benefit of the Syrian people and for our neighbor — and for their neighbor, Israel. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Perry, since the Islamist-oriented party took over in Turkey, the murder rate of women has increased 1,400 percent there. Press freedom has declined to the level of Russia. The prime minister of Turkey has embraced Hamas and Turkey has threatened military force against both Israel and Cypress. Given Turkey’s turn, do you believe Turkey still belongs in NATO?

PERRY: Well, obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then yes. Not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO, but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it. [applause]

And you go to zero with foreign aid for all of those countries. And it doesn’t make any difference who they are. You go to zero with that foreign aid and then you have the conversation about, do they have America’s best interest in mind? And when you have countries like Turkey that are moving far away from the country that I lived in back in the 1970’s as a pilot in the United States Air Force that was our ally, that worked with us, but today we don’t see that.

Our — our — our president, has a foreign policy that makes our allies very nervous and emboldens our enemies. And we have to have a president of the United States that clearly sends the message, whether it’s to Israel, our friend and there should be no space between the United States and Israel, period. [applause]

PERRY: And we need to send a powerful message to countries like Iran, and Syria and Turkey that the United States is serious and that we’re going to have to be dealt with.

BAIER: Governor Perry, you sounded like you wanted to get in when Congressman Paul was talking at the beginning of this round on foreign policy.

PERRY: Well, I was just saying that I thought maybe that the noise that you were looking for was a gong. [laughter]

BAIER: Do you have any reaction to what Congressman Paul said? [applause]

PERRY: Listen, as — you know, I volunteered to wear the uniform of our country. And what bothers me more than anything, is this administration and this administration’s disdain all too often for our men and women in uniform. Whether it was what they’ve said about the Marines — now these young men made a mistake. They obviously made a — a mistake.

BAIER: You’re talking about urinating on the corpses?

PERRY: They — they made a — a mistake that the military needs to deal with. And they need to be punished. But the fact of the matter — the fact of the matter is this, when the Secretary of Defense calls that a despicable act, when he calls that utterly despicable. Let me tell you what’s utterly despicable, cutting Danny Pearl’s head off and showing the video of it. [applause]

Hanging our contractors from bridges. That’s utterly despicable. For our president for the Secretary of State, for the Department of Defense secretary to make those kinds of statements about those young Marines — yes, they need to be punished, but when you see this president with that type of disdain for our country, taking a trillion dollars out of our defense budget, 100,000 of our military off of our front lines, and a reduction of forces, I lived through a reduction of force once and I saw the result of it in the sands of Iran in 1979. Never again.

BAIER: Kelly.

Yes, sir.

Congressman Paul.

PAUL: Just a very brief statement. I, too, served in the air force for five years during the height of the Cold War from ’62 to ’68 so I’ve had a little bit of experience. In a matter of fact, I was over in the Afghanistan, Pakistan region.

But I would like to point out one thing about the Taliban. The Taliban used to be our allies when we were fighting the Russians. So Taliban are people who want — their main goal is to keep foreigners off their land. It’s the al Qaeda you can’t mix the two. The al Qaeda want to come here to kill us. The Taliban just says we don’t want foreigners. We need to understand that, or we can’t resolve this problem in the Middle East. We are going to spend a lot of lives and a lot of money for a long time to come.

BAIER: Kelly Evans.

EBANS: Governor Romney, when President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law, he enacted a provision allowing him to indefinitely detain American citizens in U.S. military custody, many, including Congressman Paul, have called it unconstitutional. At the same time the bill did provide money to continue funding U.S. troops.

Governor Romney, as president, would you have signed the National Defense Act as written?

ROMNEY: Yes, I would have. And I do believe that it is appropriate to have in our nation the capacity to detain people who are threats to this country, who are members of al Qaeda.

Look, you have every right in this country to protest and to express your views on a wide range of issues but you don’t have a right to join a group that is killed Americans, and has declared war against America. That’s treason. In this country we have a right to take those people and put them in jail.

And I recognize, I recognize that in a setting where they are enemy combatants and on our own soil, that could possibly be abused. There are a lot of things I think this president does wrong, lots of them, but I don’t think he is going to abuse this power and I that if I were president I would not abuse this power. And I can also tell you that in my view you have to choose people who you believe have sufficient character not to abuse the power of the presidency and to make sure that we do not violate our constitutional principles.

But let me tell you, people who join al Qqaeda are not entitled to rights of due process under our normal legal code. They are entitled instead to be treated as enemy combatants.

EVANS: Senator Santorum…

ROMNEY: I’ve still got time. So as long as I still have time I just want to go back and agree with what Governor Perry said, the most extraordinary thing that’s happened with this military authorization is the president is planning on cutting $1 trillion out of military spending. Our navy is smaller than it’s been since 1917. Our air force is smaller and older than any time since 1947.

We are cutting our number of troops. We are not giving the veterans the care they deserve. We simply cannot continue to cut our Department of Defense budget if we are going to remain the hope of the Earth. And I will fight to make sure America retains military superiority.

EVANS: Senator Santorum, 30 seconds to you, sir. Same question would you have signed, as president would you have signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law as written?

SANTORUM: So he gets two minutes and I get 30 seconds?

BAIER: Take whatever time you want.

SANTORUM: OK.

First off, I would say this, what the law should be and what the law has been is that if you are a United States citizen and you are detained as an enemy combatant, then you have the right to go to federal court and file a habeas corpus position and be provided a lawyer. That was the state of the law before the National Defense Authorization Act and that should be the state of the law today.

You should not have — you should not have — if you are not an American citizen, that’s one thing. But if you are a citizen and you are being held indefinitely, then you have the right to go to a federal court — and again, the law prior to the National Defense Authorization Act was that you had the right to go to a court, and for that court to determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether you could continue to be held. That is a standard that should be maintained and I would maintain that standard as president.

EVANS: Congressman Paul, different question.

PAUL: Why can’t I answer about that one?

BAIER: You were included in the question in the first place. Do you want 30 seconds to respond to this?

PAUL: I need a minute.

No, I think we are going in the wrong direction for the protection of our liberties here at home. They are under deep threat. The PATRIOT Act has eliminated the fourth amendment. We now have a policy of preemptive war, you don’t have to declare war and you don’t even have to have an enemy. We can start the wars, that’s what preemptive war is all about.

Now with the military appropriations defense act, this — this is — this is major. This says that the military can arrest an American citizen for under suspicion, and he can be held indefinitely, without habeas corpus, and be denied a lawyer indefinitely even in a prison here.

Let me give you one statistic. You’re worrying about all these — all these — where we’re going to try people, where are they going to do it, we have to do it secretly, because our rule of law is so flawed. We have arrested 362 people related to Al Qaida-type operation; 260 of them are in prison. They’ve been tried and convicted. So don’t give up on our American judicial system so easily, I beg of you. [applause]

BAIER: Kelly?

EVANS: All right. Change of topic. This question to Governor Perry. What measures would you immediately take to improve the housing market? Or do you consider any such intervention to be an overreach of government?

PERRY: Well, obviously, the first thing we need to do in this country is cut the tax rate down to where the people feel confident that they can risk their capital and have a return on their investment. That’s the reason I laid out a simple and — and flat tax of 20 percent with their home mortgage deduction and charitable expenses and local taxes, get rid of capital gains tax, get rid of the benefits tax, get rid of the tax on Social Security benefits, and then take 20 percent of that and mail your check in. I mean, even Timothy Geithner can get his taxes in on time with that type of a system. [applause]

And — and — and that is where we need to be focused, is creating jobs. As — pulling back those regulations that we talk about since ’08, that this administration have pushed into place that have strangled jobs, getting America back to work again. That’s what I’ve done for 11 years as the governor of the 13th-largest economy in the world. A million jobs have been created in our state. And our housing market not only is — is pretty solid, it’s growing, and it’s doing because we have created that climate where job creators know that they can go out and risk their capital and have a return on investment.

As the president of the United States, that’s what I’m going to do, is to walk into Washington, D.C., work towards a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution, and try to pass a constitutional amendment, if the people will accept and work with me, to make Congress a part-time body, so they stay less time in Washington, D.C., they go back home and get a real job, like everybody else has, and live under the laws that they passed. [applause]

EVANS: Governor, so beyond moving to a part-time Congress and encouraging the rest of the nation to follow Texas in terms of job creation, you would take no pointed measures aimed at helping the U.S. housing market?

PERRY: I think I said two things that are pretty powerful: cut the taxes and cut the regulations, and — which will increase the jobs and people will have the income to come in.

It is — I don’t think it is the government’s responsibility. Look, we’ve already seen that with Freddie and Fannie. We don’t need the federal government in the housing market anymore. They need to be out of the housing market. [applause]

BAIER: Jerry Seib?

SEIB: Governor Romney, in the book you wrote just before this campaign began, you said you were surprised that the press in the last campaign didn’t press for more specifics on how to fix Social Security and Medicare, so let’s fix that tonight. Let me ask you specifically: Would you reduce the cost of these programs by raising the retirement age for Social Security, by raising the eligibility age for Medicare, or by reducing benefits for seniors with higher incomes?

ROMNEY: Let me lay it out. First of all, for the people who are already retired or 55 years of age and older, nothing changes. It’s very important, because I know the Democrats are going to be showing videos of, you know, old people being thrown off cliffs and so forth. But don’t forget…[applause]

Don’t forget who it was that cut Medicare by $500 billion, and that was President Obama to pay for Obamacare. So let’s not forget that. [applause]

What — what I would do with Social Security is that I would lower — if you will, the 2.0, the version for the next generations coming up, I’d lower the rate of inflation growth in the benefits received by higher-income recipients and keep the rate as it is now pretty high for lower income recipients. And I’d also add a year or two to the retirement age under Social Security. That balances Social Security.

ROMNEY: With regards to Medicare, I would lay out the plan that — well, I actually did a couple of months ago that said, again, for higher-income recipients, lower benefit, a premium support program which allows people to buy either current standard Medicare or a private plan.

And this is the proposal which Congressman Paul Ryan has adopted. It’s a proposal which I believe is absolutely right on. We have a premium support program. Give people choice. Let competition exist in our Medicare program by virtue of the two things that I’ve described: higher benefits for lower-income people, lower benefits for higher-income people and making a premium support program in Medicare and in — and Social Security a slightly higher retirement age. You balance those two programs.

By the way, the third major entitlement, Medicaid, you send back to the states. And the fourth new entitlement, ObamaCare, you repeal that one and finally get our balance sheet right. [applause]

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich. Speaker Gingrich, the plan that you have endorsed for addressing Social Security, you suggest also that younger workers should be allowed to put their tax money into private accounts rather than into the government program.

But that plan also says that if those private accounts don’t pay out as much as the government program would, Washington should cut a check to make up the difference. Is that really a free market outcome if the government guarantees the outcome?

GINGRICH: Well, it is, as a historian, a fact-based model that has Galveston, Texas, and the entire country of Chile as testing grounds. Chile has done this. Jose Pinera’s glad to talk about it, the guy who created it, they have done it for over 30 years.

First of all, it’s totally voluntary. If you want to stay in the current system, stay in it. If you are younger and you want to go and take a personal savings account, which would be a Social Security savings account, you can take it.

Your share of the tax goes into that. The employer’s share goes into the regular fund to pay for the regular fund. The historic record in Chile is the average young person gets two to three times the retirement income. In 30 years they have never written a single check, because nobody has fallen below the minimum payment of Social Security, and these are historic facts.

They now have 74 percent of the GDP in their savings fund, so much that they now allow people to actually invest outside the country. The principal group in Des Moines, Iowa, actually runs part of this program, and I actually interviewed the person who is in charge of it for the principal group.

So the Social Security actuary estimate if you make it a voluntary program, 95 to 97 percent of young people will take the program, because it is such a big return on your investment, you’d be relatively stupid not to do it. OK. [applause]

Now, what does it do? It gets the government out of telling you when to retire. It gets the government out of picking winners and losers. You save — it makes every American an investor when they first go to work. They all have a buildup of an estate, which you do not get in the current system.

And the estimate by Martin Prostein at Harvard is, who was Reagan’s chief counsel and economic advisors, was you actually reduce wealth inequality in America by 50 percent over the next generation because everybody becomes a saver and an investor and you have a universal investing nation. [applause]

BAIER: Senator Santorum, Senator Santorum, in your jobs program you propose to eliminate the corporate income tax for manufacturers, but not for other businesses. Isn’t that picking winners and losers in the same way the Obama administration did when it gave grants to one solar energy company, Solyndra, and it went bankrupt?

SANTORUM: No, it’s not. What we do is cut corporate taxes for everybody. We cut it from 35 percent to 17.5 percent, make it a — basically a net profits tax. And then we take the area of the economy that’s under competition from overseas for our jobs. The rest of the economy is not being shipped off like the mills here in South Carolina were to other countries around the world because of foreign competition.

Why? The foreign competition that we are dealing with right now is much cheaper to do business, excluding labor costs than we are, about 20 percent more, and that 20 percent differential is government. It’s government regulation and it’s also government taxation.

So part of what we are trying to do is to have a government system that can compete with who our competitor is. The competitor at the local drugstore is not China. The competitor is other people.

And as long as that is level and everybody’s paying, the big corporations and the little ones — and that’s why we have a flat 171/2 percent — so we keep the little guys paying the same rate as the big guys who have — right now, with this very complex code, a lot of folks in there trying to reduce rates by using the tax code to shrink their tax liability.

So we’ve leveled the playing field for the guys here in this country and we’ve created a competitive environment for the manufacturer. I want to make a point about Newt and his plans because they are not bold. And they’re not — in the case of Governor Romney.

SANTORUM: And they are — and they’re irresponsible. And I say that against Newt because there’s nobody for the last 15 years that’s been more in favor of personal savings accounts than I have for Social Security. But we were doing that when we had a surplus in Social Security. We are now running a deficit in Social Security. We are now running a huge deficit in this country.

Under Congressman Gingrich’s proposals, if he’s right, that 95 percent of younger workers taken, there will be hundreds of billions of dollars in increased debt, hundreds of billions of more debt being put on the books, which we can’t simply — we’re going to be borrowing money from China to fund these accounts, which is wrong. I’m for those accounts, but first we have to get our fiscal house in order, balance this budget and then create the opportunity that Newt wants. But the idea of doing that now, is fiscal insanity.

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich?

SANTORUM: And Mitt Romney’s plan is simply not bold. We have a deficit now in Social Security. We have deficits now in Medicare. And he wants to say, well we’re not going to touch anybody now. There’s 60,000 people in this country who are earning over $1 million a year as a senior and he’s saying, no let’s not touch them. I’m saying, yes. We should absolutely do something about people who don’t need Social Security when we’re borrowing money from China to pay those millionaires.

BAIER: Okay, first Speaker Gingrich, your response?

GINGRICH: Well if you actually look at the plan at newt.org, you’ll see that one of the ways we pay for it is we take 185 different federal bureaucracies that deal with low income Americans. Think about this, there are 185 separate bureaucracies with separate regulations, all dealing with low income Americans. We can consolidate them into a single block grant. We send it back to the states and we take the billions of dollars in federal overhead that saves and put that into Social Security in order to make up the difference.

So in fact Rick, it is a very sound plan and I say this as somebody who helped balance the budget four times in a row. [applause]

BAIER: Quickly. Quickly.

SANTORUM: Newt, I support that idea. But we need that to reduce the deficit we have now, not doing what you’re suggesting, which is ballooning the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars more and then using things that we should be doing now to strengthen this budget deficit, to add more fiscal — financial responsibility on to the federal government.

BAIER: Last one.

GINGRICH: Okay, Martin Feldstein estimates that if you have a personal savings account model, you increase the size of the economy by $7 to $8 trillion over a generation because of the massive reinvestment. In addition, I would just suggest having helped balance the budget for four consecutive years, for the only time in your lifetime, I’m reasonably confident I can find ways to balance the budget. [applause] Without hurting young people and blocking them from Social Security. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Romney, do you want your 30 seconds? Or are you just enjoying this back and forth? Would you like to weigh in?

ROMNEY: Rick is right. I — I know it’s popular here to say, oh we could just — we can do this and it’s not going to cost anything. But look, it’s going to get tough to get our federal spending from the current 25 percent of the GDP down to 20, down to 18 percent, which has been our history. We’ve got a huge number of obligations in this country and cutting back is going to have to happen. I know something about balancing budgets.

In the private sector, you don’t have a choice. You balance your budget, or you go out of business. And we — we simply can’t say we’re going to go out and borrow more money to let people set up new accounts that take money away from Social Security and Medicare today. Therefore, we should allow people to have a voluntary account, a voluntary savings program, tax free. That’s why I’ve said anybody middle income should be able to save their money tax free. No tax on interest, dividends or capital gains.

That will get American’s saving and accomplishes your objective, Mr. Speaker, without threatening the future of America’s vitality by virtue of fiscal insanity. [applause]

BAIER: Coming up, social issues. And a reminder, go to foxnews.com/debate to see how well the candidates are answering the questions with your votes. Keep it here.

[commercial break]

BAIER: Welcome back to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And now for the next round of questions, my colleague Juan Williams.

WILLIAMS: Gov Romney, Speaker Gingrich says your record of support for gun owners is weak. You signed the nation’s first ban on assault weapons in Massachusetts and steeply increased fees on gun owners in that state, in fact by 400 percent. How can you convince gun owners that you will be an advocate for them as president?

ROMNEY: Well, Juan, in my state we had a piece of legislation that was crafted both by the pro gun lobby and the anti-gun lobby. Massachusetts has some very restrictive rules and the pro gun lobby said, you know what, this legislation is good for us, it includes provisions that we want that allows us, for instance, to crossroads with weapons when we’re hunting that had not been previously allowed.

And so the pro gun folks in our state, the the Gun Owners Action League and others said, look, we would like you to sign this legislation. And the day when we announced our signing, we had both the pro gun owners and anti-bun folks all together on the stage because it worked. We worked together. We found common ground.

My view is that we have the second amendment right to bear arms and in this country my view is also that we should not add new legislation. I know that there are people that think we need new laws, we need to find new ways to restrict gun ownership. And there is in Washington a non-stop effort on the part of some legislators, and I believe the president, to restrict the right of law-abiding American citizens from owning a gun.

I disagree with that. I believe we have in place all the laws we need. We should enforce those laws. I do not believe in new laws restricting gun ownership and gun use.

WILLIAMS: By the way, governor, I remember that you were teased mightily a few years ago to say you hundred varmints. I’m just wondering if you have gone hunting since ’07.

ROMNEY: I’m not going to describe all of my great exploits. But I went moose hunting actually — not moose hunting, I’m sorry, elk hunting with friends in Montana. I’ve been pheasant hunting. I’m not the great hunter that some on this stage, probably Rick Perry, my guess is you are a serious hunter. I’m not a serious hunter, but I must admit — I guess I enjoy the sport and when I get invited I’m delighted to be able to go hunting.

WILLIAMS: Senator Santorum, you voted in support of requiring trigger locks on handguns. You also voted for background checks on firearm purchases made at gun shows. These positions have led your rivals to question your second amendment bona fides. What can you say tonight to reassure gun owners that you will stand with them?

SANTORUM: Both of those things were supported by the National Rifle Association. I worked with them to craft a bill. This was during the Clinton administration, where I voted against the gun ban, voted against the assault weapons ban, voted — voted 100 percent with the NRA. And this was a piece of legislation that was crafted that they endorsed, they supported, and worked with me to make sure that we could — we’d not have something far worse pass.

And so sometimes you have to pass something that can get enough votes to be able to satisfy folks that they won’t pass something that’s much worse. And so that’s what you have to do to make sure that rights aren’t taken away.

I’ve been a strong — again, lifetime A-plus record with the NRA, worked with them. They came to me repeatedly when I was in the Senate to help them and — and — and sponsor legislation and work toward making sure in ensuring gun rights.

Contrast that with Congressman Paul. And one of the most important things that we did in — in — in protecting the Second Amendment — and I provided a leadership role on it — was the gun manufacturers’ liability bill. There were a lot of lawyers out there who were trying to sue gun manufacturers and hold them liable for anybody who was harmed as a result of the gun properly functioning.

And we — we went forward and passed, with the NRA’s backing, a bill that put a ban on those types of lawsuits. If that ban had not been passed, if that gun manufacturer’s liability bill, removing them from liability from that, had that not been passed, there would have been no gun industry in this country and there would have de facto been no Second Amendment right.

Congressman Paul voted against that bill. And — and that’s a very big difference between someone who actually works with the gun — Second Amendment groups for — for legislation that can protect that right and someone who says they’re for Second Amendment, has attacked me on my Second Amendment issues, which you just referred to, and here’s a man that would have wiped out the Second Amendment by — if his vote would have been — carried the day.

BAIER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Hardly would that wipe out the Second Amendment. But the jurisdiction is obviously with the state. Even when tort law is involved with medical malpractice, which is a real problem, now, our governor worked on and our state has done a little bit on medical liability. I think that’s the way it should be handled.

You don’t have — you don’t have national tort law. That’s not part of the process. That should be at the state level. So to argue the case that that does away with the Second Amendment, when I’m the one that offers all — all the legislation to repeal the gun bans that have been going on [inaudible] everything else. [applause]

I mean, I’ve introduced legislation like that. So that’s a bit — a bit of an overstretch to — to say that I’ve done away with the Second Amendment.

SANTORUM: No, I need to respond to that, because the fact is, if we did not have a national liability bill, then people would have been able to go to states like, say, Massachusetts or New York and sue gun manufacturers where they would not pass a gun liability bill. So unless you have a national standard to protect guns — manufacturers of guns, you would create the opportunity for the elimination of guns being manufactured in this country and de facto elimination of the right to bear arms. [applause]

PAUL: Well, this is the way — this is the way our Constitution disappears. It’s nibbled away. You say, well, I can give up on this, and therefore, I’ll give that, and so eventually there’s nothing left. But, no, tort law should be a state function, not a federal function.

BAIER: Jerry Seib?

SEIB: Speaker Gingrich, a super PAC supporting Governor Romney is running an ad here citing a pro-life’s group charge that you voted for a bill in Congress, co-sponsored by Nancy Pelosi, that supported China’s one-child policy. And they say that means you provided government funding for abortion, but you oppose abortion. What’s your response to that charge?

GINGRICH: Well, this is typical of what both Senator Santorum and I have complained about with Governor Romney’s super PAC, over which he apparently has no influence, which makes you wonder how much influence he’d have if he were president. [applause]

Well, let me take that particular bill. That bill was introduced by Claudine Schneider, who is a Republican from Rhode Island. It was introduced at a time when Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City policy was enforced. The Mexico City policy said no U.S. funding will be used to fund any activity that relates to abortion.

So it is explicitly a falsehood to suggest that a bill introduced under Mexico City policy would have paid for China’s one-child policy. In fact, I have explicitly opposed it. I have a 98.6 percent National Right to Life voting record in 20 years. And the only vote we disagreed on was welfare reform, which had nothing to do with abortion. So I think it is an absurdity and it would be nice if Governor Romney would exercise leadership on his former staff and his major donors to take falsehoods off the air.

BAIER: Governor Romney? [applause]

ROMNEY: Speaker Gingrich, I — I already said at our last debate that anything that’s false in PAC ads, whether they are supportive of me or supportive of you should be taken often the air and fixed. I’ve already said that.

Now I can’t call these people and direct them to do that, as you know, because that would violate federal law, is that correct?

GINGRICH: Absolutely.

BAIER: All right.

So I can’t do what you just asked me to do, but I can tell them publicly as I can here if there’s anything that’s inaccurate in any ads that support me I hope they take it off and don’t run it.

But if we are talking about Super PAC ads that are inaccurate, Mr. Speaker, you have a Super PAC ad that attacks me. It’s probably the biggest hoax since Big Foot. The people that looked at it have said that this ad is entirely false, that this documentary that they are running includes businesses I had no involvement with, the events that they described. And yet that’s out there on a Super PAC that is supporting you.

You said that you think it’s bad just as I said the Super PAC that support me is doing bad things. But somehow for you to suggest that you and I have different standards here is just not quite right.

GINGRICH: I said publicly — I said publicly it ought to be edited. And I believe, in fact, the head of that group has actually submitted your campaign a set of questions to make sure that they edit it accurately and put only the correct facts in.

So I think it should be edited. And I would be delighted if you would agree that the ad that was just referred to was false and people see the Romney Supe PAC ad attacking me on that particular issue should know in advance it is false and shouldn’t be run.

UNKNOWN: Me too.

EVANS: Governor Perry.

ROMNEY: We all would like to have Super PACs disappear, to tell you the truth. Wouldn’t it nice to have people give what they would like to to campaigns and campaigns could run their own ads and take responsibility for them. But you know what, this campaign is not about ads, it’s about issues.

BAIER: So governor Romney, in the general election, if you are the nominee you would like to see Super PACs ended?

ROMNEY: Oh, I would like to get rid of the campaign finance laws that were put in place McCain-Feingold is a disaster, get rid of it. Let people make contributions they want to make to campaigns, let campaigns then take responsibility for their own words and not have this strange situation we have people out there who support us, who run ads we don’t like, we would like to take off the air, they are outrageous and yet they are out there supporting us and by law we aren’t allows to talk to them.

I haven’t spoken to any of the people involved in my Super PAC in months and this is outrageous. Candidates should have the responsibility and the right to manage the ads that are being run on their behalf. I think this has to change.

EVANS: Governor Perry, you advocate placing more troops and bigger walls along the nation’s southern boarder to stop illegal immigration, but border crossings are at a 4 year low — 40 year low, illegal immigration overall is down substantially and the U.S. has other pressing infrastructure and defense needs.

Governor, wouldn’t we be better off not spending more money on border walls?

PERRY: Let me tell you the reason that those crossings are at 40 year lows is because the economy of the United States is probably at a 40 year low and the president of these United States needs to change. That’s the reason.

As the governor of the second largest state and the state with the longest border, I have spent 11 years dealing with this issue. And the idea that Americans don’t want us to spend the money to secure that border is just flat out false. We are going to secure the border with Mexico, that means strategic fencing, that means thousands of national guard troops on the border until we can train up those border patrol to be there.

And it means predator drones and other aviation assets to that we have the real-time information to flow down to those individuals that are in law enforcement so that they can immediately respond to any activities that they see on the border that is either weapons related or drug related or illegal immigration that’s occurring on that border.

Americans want that border secure. The issue isn’t about how much is it going to cost, the issue is when are you going to get it done? And when I’m the president of the United States that border will be locked down and it will be secure by one year from the time I take my hand off the Bible.

BAIER: Last Twitter question is from an eighth grade teacher in Hobart, Indiana. And it’s for you, Speaker Gingrich.

Mr. Whiteman, has No Child Left Behind been a success or a failure? If the latter, what needs to be done to change it?

GINGRICH: I think it’s clearly a failure. I think it has led teachers to be forced into a bureaucratic system of teaching to the test. I find virtually no teacher who likes it.

It is grossly disproportionate. You end up with first-generation immigrants who don’t speak very good English being tested against a national standard. And a perfectly good school looks bad even though it’s doing a great job because there’s no measurement that’s reasonable.

The correct answer is to radically reduce the Department of Education, cut out all federal regulations, return the money and the power back home to the states. But I would say to the states, it will be good for them to shrink their Departments of Education and return the power back to the local county boards, and then let parents and teachers and students get back to learning. [applause]

BAIER: Thank you all very much. That is the end of our debate, a fiery debate. We appreciate it. That’s it for our debate tonight. Our thanks to the candidates, their staffs, the South Carolina Republican Party, and the great people here in Myrtle Beach, fantastic crowd. [applause]

Of course, the state of South Carolina, as well. They could not have been more hospitable.

December 15, 2011: FOX News / Iowa Republican Party Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

Republican Candidates Debate in Sioux City, Iowa December 15, 2011

PARTICIPANTS:

Representative Michele Bachmann (MN);

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)

MODERATOR:

Bret Baier (Fox News)

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, since our last debate, your position in this race has changed dramatically. You are now physically at the center of the stage, which means you’re at the top of the polls, yet many Republicans seem conflicted about you. They say that you’re smart, that you’re a big thinker. At the same time, many of those same Republicans worry deeply about your electability in a general election, saying perhaps Governor Romney is a safer bet.

Can you put to rest once and for all the persistent doubts that you are, indeed, the right candidate on this stage to go up and beat President Obama?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, let me just say to you and to all of our viewers, Merry Christmas. This is a great time for us to be here. And I hope that everybody across the country has a very joyous Christmas season.

I’ve been around long enough that I remember at this exact time in 1979 when Ronald Reagan was running 30 points behind Bill Clinton — behind Jimmy Carter. And if people had said, “Gosh, electability is the number-one issue,” they wouldn’t have nominated him.

What they said was: He believes what he’s talking about. He has big solutions. He can get the economy growing. He understands foreign policy, and he’s the person I want to have debate Jimmy Carter. He carried more states against Carter than FDR carried against Herbert Hoover in 1932.

I believe I can debate Barack Obama, and I think in seven three- hour debates, Barack Obama will not have a leg to stand on in trying to defend a record that is terrible and an ideology that is radical.

MODERATOR: Mr. Speaker, Governor Romney…[applause]

Governor Romney just yesterday said you’re an unreliable conservative. Now, obviously, he’s your opponent. He’s your opponent. But even Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said today he respects you greatly, but he openly questioned whether you had the discipline and focus to be president.

GINGRICH: Well, those are two different questions. The first — let me take them one by one, very quickly. I have a 90 percent American Conservative Union voting record for 20 years. I balanced the budget for four straight years, paid off $405 billion in debt. Pretty conservative. The first wealth entitlement reform of your lifetime, in fact, the only major entitlement reform until now was welfare. Two out of three people went back to work or went to school. Pretty conservative. First tax cut in 16 years, largest capital gains tax cut in American history, unemployment came down to 4.2 percent. Pretty conservative.

I think on the conservative thing, it’s sort of laughable to suggest that somebody who campaigned with Ronald Reagan and with Jack Kemp and has had a 30-year record of conservatism, is somehow not a conservative?

MODERATOR: And what about the concerns from Iowa governor Branstad?

GINGRICH: I think people have to watch my career and decide. I spent 16 years working to create the first Republican majority in 40 years. I spent years helping create the first balanced budgets. I am the longest serving teacher in the senior military, 23 years teaching one and two-star generals and admirals the art of war. I think it’s fair to say that my commitment to disciplined, systematic work is — is fairly obvious. You know, people just have to decide.

Part of the difference is, I do change things when conditions change. And part of the difference is I strive for very large changes and I’m prepared to really try to lead the American people to get this country back on the right track. And that’s a very large change.

MODERATOR: Now to my colleague, Megyn Kelly.

MODERATOR: A similar question to you, Congressman Paul. You have some bold ideas. Some very fervent supporters and probably the most organized ground campaign here in Iowa. But there are many Republicans inside and outside of this state who openly doubt whether you can be elected president. How can you convince them otherwise? And if you don’t wind up winning this nomination, will you pledge here tonight that you will support the ultimate nominee?

PAUL: Well, you know, fortunately for the Republican party this year, probably every — anybody up here could probably beat Obama, so. [laughter] [applause]

PAUL: So the challenge isn’t all that great on how we’re going to beat Obama. I think he’s beating himself. I think really the question is, is what do we have to offer? And I have something different to offer. I emphasize civil liberties. I emphasize a pro-American foreign policy, which is a lot different than policemen of the world. I emphasize, you know, monetary policy and these things that the other candidates don’t — don’t talk about. But I think the important thing is the philosophy I’m talking about is the Constitution and freedom.

And that brings people together. It brings independents into the fold and it brings Democrats over on some of these issues. So, therefore, I see this philosophy as being very electable, because it’s an America philosophy. It’s the rule of law. And it — it means that, you know, we ought to balance the budget. It opens up the door for saying — supporting my willingness to cut $1 trillion out of the budget the first year. [applause]

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, no one has spent more time in Iowa than you. You have visited every county in the state. And yet while we have seen no fewer than four Republican candidates surge in the polls, sometimes in extraordinary ways, so far your campaign and you have failed to catch fire with the voters. Why?

SANTORUM: Well I’m counting on the people of Iowa to catch fire for me. That’s — that’s what this plan was all about from day one, is to go to all 99 counties and do already almost 350 town hall meetings here in Iowa. We’re organizing. We have a very clear message. That’s the thing that’s going to pay off for us in the end. And we present a clear contrast that really nobody else in this race does.

We present the contrast of someone who’s been a strong conviction conservative. You know where I stand. You can trust me because I’ve been there and I’ve done it. And I did it as a leader. When I was in the leadership, if you were a conservative and you had an issue that you wanted to get voted on or you wanted to get done in the United States Senate, you came to Rick Santorum. Because I was the guy fighting for the conservative cause when it was popular, and when it was unpopular.

The speaker had a conservative revolution against him when he was the speaker of the House. I had conservatives knocking down my door because I was the effective advocate for the principles that they believed in. That’s the contrast. We have — we need someone who’s strong in their political and personal life to go out and contrast themselves with the president and make him the issue in this campaign. And that’s why Iowans are beginning to respond. They like the accountability. They like the fact that I’ve been there and — and met with them and believe in them to lead this country.

MODERATOR: Chris Wallace? [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you Brett. Governor Romney, I want to follow up on Brett’s line of questioning to the speaker. Because many of our viewers tell us that they are supporting Newt Gingrich because they think that he will be tougher than you in taking the fight to Barack Obama in next fall’s debates. Why would you be able to make the Republican case against the president more effectively than the speaker?

ROMNEY: Well lets step back and talk about what’s really happening in the country. What we’re finding across America is a lot of people are really hurting. 25 million people out of work, stopped looking for work or in part-time work that need full-time jobs. A lot of people in the middle-class who have seen incomes go down as the cost of their living has gone up and up and up. The American people care very deeply about having a president who’d get America right again.

And all of us on this stage have spoken over the last several debates about the fact that government doesn’t create jobs, but the private sector does. I spent my life, my career in the private sector. I understand, by the way from my successes and failures what it’s going to take to put Americans back to work with high-paying jobs.

I can debate President Obama based upon that understanding. And I’ll have credibility on the economy when he doesn’t. My successes include some businesses that were successful, like Staples and Bright Horizons Children’s Centers, and a steel mill in the middle of Indiana, some things I learned from.

And, by the way, some failures. I remember when founders of Jet Blue came to me and said, invest in us. I said, well, that will never work. Got it wrong. Now one of my favorite airlines.

I know what it takes to get this economy going. The president doesn’t. The proof is in his record. It’s terrible. My record shows that I can get America working again. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann, no one questions your conservative credentials, but what about your appeal to independents who are so crucial in a general election? If you are fortunate enough to become the Republican nominee, how would you counter the efforts by the Barack Obama campaign to paint you as too conservative to moderate voters?

BACHMANN: Well, it’s very clear in the last five years I have won four elections as the first Republican woman ever to win out of the state of Minnesota. And I did that by attracting not only Republicans but also independents and Democrats as well.

Because people wanted to know, who could they trust? They knew that in me they may not always agree with me but they knew that I was a woman who said what she meant and meant what she said. And they respected that level of authenticity and sincerity.

And They also knew that I was an action person. That I wasn’t just going to sit on my hands. I was going to work and serve them. And that is what I’ve done. I have worked very hard in the United States Congress in the brief time that I have been there.

I’m 55 years old. I spent 50 years as a real person. And now five years going toe-to-toe with Barack Obama, taking him on, on every issue from Dodd-Frank to cap and trade to illegal immigration to “Obama-care.” And I will do that as president of the United States. That is my proven track record. [applause]

MODERATOR: Neil Cavuto?

MODERATOR: Thank you, Bret. Governor Perry, by your own admission, you are not a great debater. You have said as much, and downplayed debating skills in general. But if you were to become your party’s nominee, you would be going up against an accomplished debater in Barack Obama.

There are many in this audience tonight, sir, who fear that possibility. And don’t think you are up to the fight. Allay them of their concerns.

PERRY: Well, I want to share something with you. That as each one of these debates — I’m kind of getting where I like these debates. As a matter of fact, I hope Obama and I debate a lot. And I’ll get there early. And we will get it on and we will talk about our differences, which are great.

I’ll talk about what we have done in the state of Texas. I’ll talk about passing a balanced budget amendment to the United States Congress. I’ll talk about having the type of part-time Congress that I think Americans are ready for.

And, you know, there are a lot of people out there — I understand it, you know, there are a lot of folks that said Tim Tebow wasn’t going to be a very good NFL quarterback. There are people that stood up and said, well, he doesn’t have the right throwing mechanisms, or he doesn’t — you know, he is not playing the game right.

And, you know, he won two national championships. And that looked pretty good. We’re the national champions in job creation back in Texas. And so — but am I ready for the next level? Let me tell you, I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa Caucuses. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, your campaign has been praised by moderates but many question your ability to galvanize Republicans, and energize the conservative base of the party. They are especially leery of your refusal to sign on to a no-tax-hike pledge. How can you reassure them tonight?

HUNTSMAN: I think people, Neil, are coming around to finding that I am the consistent conservative in this race. They are coming around to find that I am not going to pander. I am not going to contort myself into a pretzel to please any audience I’m in front of. And I’m not going to sign those silly pledges.

And you know what else? I’m not going to show up at a Donald Trump debate. [laughter] [applause]

HUNTSMAN: This nation has been downgraded. This nation is on the cusp of the third government shutdown. We have been kicked around as people. We are getting screwed as Americans. And I’m here to tell you, we are going to lead charge in doing what must be done in addressing the two deficits we have.

We have an economic deficit in this country, and is it going to shipwreck the next generation unless we can deal with it. And we have a trust deficit. People in this country don’t trust the institutions of power anymore.

We need to go to Congress and we need to say, you need term limits. We need to go to Congress and say, we need to close that revolving door that allows members of Congress to file on out and lobby.

And we need to go to Wall Street and say, no trust there either, because we have banks that are “too big to fail.” And I’m telling you, Neil, I’m the person who is going to leave the charge on all of the above and fix the economic deficit, but I’m going fix this country’s trust deficit, because we’re too good as people to be in the hole we’re in and we deserve better. [applause]

MODERATOR: As Governor Huntsman just mentioned, there is a real drama playing out real-time in Washington right now with the threat of yet another government shutdown, the possibility that millions of Americans could see their payroll taxes go up. If you’re president, as is the case now, and you are at lagerheads with one chamber of congress, how would you handle this situation?

30 seconds down the line. Start with Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: Well, you do what leaders do. They go out and try to bring people together. They tell a narrative and remind Americans who we are and how we solve our problems. This country is a great country because we believe in free people.

In 2008, the American public were convinced by Barack Obama that they needed someone to believe in, that they could believe in. We now understand that what we need is some president who believes in them. That is the narrative. Go out and motivate the American public, have them talk to their representatives in Washington to pass solutions that believe in bottom up, how we built America, free markets, free people.

MODERATOR: Governor perry?

PERRY: After three years, you would think this president could learn how to work in Washington, D.C. If there has ever been a greater example of on-the-job training, this is it. Couldn’t have been at a worst time for America.

We need a president who has that governing, executive experience, someone who understands how to work with both sides of the aisle. Frankly, we should never have gotten this point at all.

The idea that he walked away from the work at hand and we had a supercommittee, that was put in place, that was going to fail on its face, that is the type of leadership that this president has been an absolute failure at and the type that I have been working at as the governor of Texas for the last 11 years.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Bret, this is a question that ought to take longer than 30 seconds, even 60 seconds. This is the question of the presidency. What is leadership?

I had the disadvantage of some respects of becoming governor and a state with a legislature 85 percent Democrat. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. To get anything done, I had to learn how to get respect of the speaker of the house and the senate president and Democratic leaders. I found a way to do that, to find common ground from time to time. And when crisis arose, we were able to work together. That is what has to happen.

There are Democrats who love America as Republicans do, but we need to have a leader in the White House, that knows how to lead. I have had four leadership experiences in my life where I have lead enterprises. I want to use that experience to get America right again. And I will do it as president.

MODERATOR: We will have many more questions about gridlock in Washington and this topic overall. But Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: I want to start by reinforcing what Governor Romney just said. Leadership is the key. When you have a Sal Alinsky radical who is a campaigner in chief who doesn’t do the job of president, because he’s too busy trying to run for re-election, the constitution can’t work. I helped Ronald Reagan when Tip O’Neil was speaker to get enough votes to pass the Reagan program despite a Democratic majority.

As speaker, one reason some people aren’t happy with my leadership I worked things out with Bill Clinton to get welfare reform, a tax cut and four balanced budgets signed in a way that required bipartisanship, because you couldn’t get anything done otherwise. So leadership matters immensely in getting this done.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: The main problem we have is the government is too big and the debt is too big and you have to cut spending so you have to get people to come together. They have been coming together to increase spending for decades. We have to get them to come together to do the opposite.

But there are two factions up there, one wants welfare and the other want warfare around the world and policing the world. So you go to people who like warfare you say give me half of the cuts that have to be in the welfare. Go to welfare people and say give me the cuts to cut the oversea warfare spending and bring people together and live up to what they say.

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: As president of the United States I would have called all 535 members of congress to come sit down in Washington last summer looking at the debt ceiling crisis. And what I would have done is said there are three principles we are going to follow, because the first one needs to be no new taxes. We’re taxed enough already.

The second principle needed to be that government can’t spend any more money than what it is taking in.

And the third principle had to be that we were going to follow the constitution of the United States. What that would have meant we would have looked at $15 trillion debt in the eye and said we are not going to add one more cent to it. We are going to prioritize our spending. And we’re going to put the reform in these long-term programs now, not wait eight months or five months. We are going to reform right now.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman.

HUNTSMAN: Leadership is action, not words. And I learned a very important lesson about this when I ran for governor in 2004. I promised the people of my state as governor that we would create the finest state in America for business. I ran on a flat-tax proposal. It took us two years; we got it delivered.

Flat — I hear a lot of people talking about tax reform and a flat — we actually got one done. The finest business in the United States, we delivered to our people. Health care reform without a mandate. The list went on and on and on.

I ran for re-election. I got almost 80 percent of the vote, not because I’m a great politician, but I learned some lessons in leadership, that people want to be told where you can take them, and then they want you to deliver.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We have many more interesting questions coming up. We have a new feature for you tonight, as well. How well are the candidates answering the questions? We’re asking you to weigh in on Twitter. Tweet the candidate’s last name and the hash-tag #answer if you think they’re tackling the question or the hash-tag #dodge if you think they’re avoiding the question. Then you can go to foxnews.com/debate to see those results.

Now, during the break, you can head there and check it out. And if you have a suggested question or a follow-up to something you’ve heard, tweet @bretbaier. We’ll be using some of those suggested questions tonight.

MODERATOR: After the break, the candidates on the increasingly sharp tone of this campaign, the economy, and a topic that has not been raised in any of the debates so far. Stay with us.

[commercial break]

[begin video clip]

STRAWN: Good evening from Sioux City in northwest Iowa. I’m Matt Strawn, chairman of the Iowa GOP. Four years after repelling Barack Obama to the White House, Iowa has seen a surge of new Republican voters as Iowa Republicans have posted 33 straight months of voter registration gains. And as those Republicans prepare to vote in just 19 days, we understand the responsibility that comes with the privilege of being first in the nation.

And because the fight to reclaim the White House extends far beyond Iowa’s borders, we want you to be the first to know. So text “Iowa” to 91919 to know the results and other updates. Thank you and now let’s return to the final debate before the January 3 Iowa Caucus.

[end video clip]

MODERATOR: Thank you Mr. Chairman and welcome back to Sioux City Iowa and the Republican presidential debate. For the next round of questions, I turn to my colleague, Chris Wallace.

MODERATOR: Thanks Brett. Candidates, I’m going to call this section, for lack of a better word, D.C. Culture. Governor Romney, I’m going to begin with you. Speaker Gingrich says that you should give back the millions of dollars you made, in his words, “bankrupting companies and laying off employees.” You respond that he has, in your words, “an extraordinary lack of understanding of how the economy works.”

But his comments dovetail with arguments you hear from Democrats that your belief in, what’s called, the creative destruction of capitalism, shows a hardheartedness. What do you think of what Speaker Gingrich had to say about you? And are you vulnerable to that kind of attack?

ROMNEY: I think it’s a great opportunity for us. Because I think the president is going to level the same attack. He’s going to go after me and say, you know, you — in businesses that you’ve invested in, they didn’t all succeed. Some failed. Some laid people off. And he’ll be absolutely right. But if you look at all the businesses we invested in, over 100 different businesses, they added tens of thousands of jobs.

In — in the real world that the president has not lived in, I — I actually think he doesn’t understand that not every business succeeds. That not every entrepreneur is lucky enough to do as well as the entrepreneurs that I described at Bright Horizons and Staples and that steel company and many, many others. I myself have had the chance of leading four different organizations. Each of those was highly successful, in part because of hard work and in part because of good luck.

In the real world, some things don’t make it. And I believe I’ve learned from my successes and my failures. The president I’ll look at and say, Mr. President, how — how did you do when you were running General Motors as the president, took it over? Gee, you closed down factories. You closed down dealerships. And he’ll say, well I did that to save the business. Same thing with us, Mr. President. We did our very best to make those businesses succeed. I’m — I’m pleased that they did and I’ve learned the lessons of how the economy works.

This president doesn’t know how the economy works. I believe to create jobs, it helps to have created jobs.

MODERATOR: Thank you. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, on the Freddie Mac website in 19 — in rather 2007 you said this, I like the GSE, or government sponsored enterprise like Freddy Mac model, making home ownership more affordable is a policy goal that I believe conservatives should embrace. Now in an earlier debate, a recent debate, you said that politicians like Barney Frank, who in your words, profited from the environment that led to the financial meltdown, should go to jail.

Now that it turns out that you were on the Freddie Mac payroll to the tune of more than $1.6 million, how do you answer critics who say that you’re being hypocritical.

GINGRICH: I think pretty straightforward. Barney Frank was in public office with direct power over Freddie Mac. He exploited that power just as Chris Dodd was in public office when he got special bargains from Countrywide, a firm that went broke. They were using power. I was a private citizen, engaged in a business like any other business. Now, if you read the whole thing that they posted, I said they need more regulations and I want to go back to my point about helping people buy houses.

I worked for years with Habitat for Humanity. I think it’s a good conservative principle to try to find ways to help families that are right at the margin learn how to budget, learn how to take care of a house, learn how to buy a house. And I — I’m not going to step back from the idea that in fact we should have as a goal, helping as many Americans as possible be capable of buying homes. And when you look for example at electric membership co-ops, and you look at credit unions, there are a lot of government sponsored enterprises that are awfully important and do an awfully good job.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul you are — and having been in this town for what 48 hours now, you are all over Iowa TV these days with a negative ad about Speaker Gingrich. You accuse him of selling access and playing the corrupt revolving door game. What about the explanation that you just heard, that he’s in the private sector and this is free enterprise?

PAUL: Well he has a different definition of the private sector than I have. Because it’s a GSE, government sponsored enterprise. That’s completely different. It’s — it’s a government agency. They get the money and the sponsorship. They get mixed up. It’s — it’s the worst kind of economy.

You know, pure private enterprise, more closely probably to what Governor Romney is involved with, but if it’s government-sponsored, it’s a mixture of business and government. It’s very, very dangerous. Some people say, if it goes to extreme, it becomes fascism, because big business and big government get together.

So, yes, they get money. And I was talking about that for a long time, the line of credit, the excessive credit from the Federal Reserve, the Community Reinvestment Act for 10 years or so. The Austrian economists knew there was a bubble. And at this time, nobody was listening or doing anything in the Congress.

And then to go to work for them and get money from them, it literally is — it’s literally coming from the taxpayer. They went broke. We had to bail them out. So indirectly, that was money that he ended up getting. They’re still getting money from a government- sponsored enterprise. It’s not a free-market enterprise.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, 30 seconds to respond?

GINGRICH: Well, let me just go back to what I said a minute ago. The term government-sponsored enterprise has a very wide range of things that do a great deal of good. Go across this state and talk to people in the electric membership co-ops. Go across this state and talk to people in the credit unions. There are a lot of very good institutions that are government-sponsored.

And, frankly, the idea that anything which in any way has ever touched government could raise questions about doctors dealing with Medicare and Medicaid and a whole range of other government activities. There are many things governments do. I did no lobbying of any kind for any organization. And that was — that was a key part of every agreement we had.

MODERATOR: Well, let me pick up with that with you, Congresswoman Bachmann, because you accused Speaker Gingrich of peddling his influence with congressional Republicans to help the companies that paid him tens of millions of dollars since he’s left office. Given his denial over time and again tonight that he’s — denies ever having lobbied, what is your evidence, hard evidence that he engaged in influence-peddling?

BACHMANN: Well, it’s the fact that — that we know that he cashed paychecks from Freddie Mac. That’s the best evidence that you can have, over $1.6 million. And, frankly, I am shocked listening to the former speaker of the House, because he’s defending the continuing practice of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

There’s a big difference between a credit union and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. And they were the epicenter of the mortgage financial meltdown. I was trying to see these two entities put into bankruptcy, because they, frankly, need to go away, when the speaker had his hand out and he was taking $1.6 million to influence senior Republicans to keep the scam going in Washington, D.C. That’s absolutely wrong. We can’t have as our nominee for the Republican Party someone who continues to stand for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. They need to be shut down, not built up. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, the easiest answer is, that’s just not true. What she just said is factually not true. I never lobbied under any circumstance. I never went in and suggested in any way that we do this.

In fact, I tried to help defeat the housing act when the Democrats were in charge of the House. And if you go back and talk to former Congressman Rick Lazio, he’ll tell you, when we were passing housing reform while I was speaker, I never at any time tried to slow down the reform effort. In fact, I helped him pass the reform bill. And I think some of those people ought to have facts before they make wild allegations.

BACHMANN: Let me — let me…

MODERATOR: Yes, go ahead. Congresswoman?

BACHMANN: Well, after the debates that we had last week, PolitiFact came out and said that everything that I said was true. And the evidence is that Speaker Gingrich took $1.6 million. You don’t need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to still be influence-peddling with senior Republicans in Washington, D.C., to get them to do your bidding.

And the bidding was to keep this grandiose scam of Freddie Mac going. That’s — that is something that our nominee can’t stand for. We have to shut down these government enterprises. And we’ve got to end them. And I think that’s shocking that he’s saying that.

GINGRICH: And let me just say two things…

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, quickly. [applause]

GINGRICH: OK, I want to say two things. First, my policy is to break up both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is not anything like what she just described.

Second, I want to state unequivocally, for every person watching tonight, I have never once changed my positions because of any kind of payment. Because I — the truth is, I was a national figure who was doing just fine, doing a whole variety of things, including writing best-selling books, making speeches. And the fact is, I only chose to work with people whose values I shared and having people have a chance to buy a house is a value I believe still is important in America.

MODERATOR: Now to Neil Cavuto with questions about the economy.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, not to make you a target, but you…

GINGRICH: It goes with being right here.

MODERATOR: You just responded this morning, sir, tweeted originally and with follow-up statements as a major break through of this plan on the part of Republican congressman Paul Ryan working with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden to find a sort of updated way to keep Medicare solvent. This would involve a choice, those who like the program as it is can stick with it. They will be a private option, et cetera.

But earlier on, this might have confused Congressman Ryan and others for whom you had said was the initial Medicare fix that it was right wing social engineering. Later on you backed off that comment, said there was much you could find in Mr. Ryan’s plan to like.

Can you blame Governor Romney for saying you have a consistency problem on this issue?

GINGRICH: I’m not in the business of blaming Governor Romney. I’m in the business to try and understand what we can do as a policy. If you go back and look at the “Meet the Press” quote I didn’t want reference him. And I’ll come back and say it again, a free society should make very big decisions with the support of the people.

Now you can earn that support. You can win a communications argument. Reagan was very, very good at that. But the only point I was making on “Meet the Press” is when you are going to have a major change, you have to communicate with the American people in order to ensure that they are for you.

Now Governor Romney came up, frankly, with a very good variation on the Ryan plan which allowed the maintenance of the current system. Paul has adopted that. And I think did a very brave act by Senator Ron Wyden, you now have a Democrat willing to co-sponsor the bill. I’ve endorsed the concept today. I think it is a big step forward. And I think Governor Romney deserves some of the credit for having helped figure out a way to make this thing workable.

So, I think it’s a nice thing to actually have a bipartisan plan in Washington that we could actually look at in a positive way and hope would help save Medicare.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney do you want to respond to that compliment?

ROMNEY: Yeah. Thank you.

Yeah, I hope people understand just how big today is for this country. We all understand that the spending crisis is extraordinary with $15 trillion now in debt, with the president that’s racked up as much debt as all the other presidents combined.

But there is another problem we have, which is our national balance sheet. Which are the obligations that we have made, that we have no funding behind. And it adds up to $62 trillion.

And today Republicans and Democrats came together with Senator Wyden and Congressman Paul Ryan to say we have a solution to remove that $62 trillion. This is a big day for our kids and grand kids. It’s an enormous achievement. It means we finally have the prospect of dealing with somebody which has the potential of crushing our future generations and a good Democrat and a good Republican came together.

This is the impact of people on both sides of the aisle that care about America at a critical time. And I applaud him. It’s good news.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul, as you have been warning, we are on the brink of another government shutdown because of the spending that you call out of control. But haven’t you contributed to that spending problem yourself, sir, supporting over the years earmarks that have benefited your district and your state?

Back in 2009, you explained this by saying if I can give my district any money back, I encourage that. I don’t think that the federal government should be doing it but if they are going to allot the money, I have a responsibility to represent my people.

Isn’t that what they call a mixed message, congressman?

PAUL: Well, it’s a mixed question is the problem, because the real message is you should include in your question also you have never voted once for an earmark.

No, it’s a principle that I deal with, because if the government takes money from you and you fill out your tax form, you take your deductions. I look at that the same way in our communities. They take our money, they take our highway funds. and we have every right to apply for them to come back.

As a matter of fact, it’s a bigger principle for me than that. I think this whole thing is out of control on the earmarks, because I think the congress has an obligation to earmark every penny, not to deliver that power to the executive branch. What happens when you don’t vote for the earmarks it goes in to the slush fund, the executive branch spends the money then you have to grovel to the executive branch and beg and plead and say oh, please return my highway funds to me.

So if this whole principle of budgeting that is messed up, but I never vote, I never voted for an earmark. But I do argue the case for my — the people I represent to try to get their money back if at all possible.

MODERATOR: But isn’t that the same thing of having your cake and eating it too? You can complain about earmarks but then if there are provisions there that help your district or your state that’s different? If 434 other members felt the same way, how would we ever fix the problem?

PAUL: Yes, but you’re missing the point. I don’t complain about earmarks, because it is the principle of the Congress meeting their obligation. But if everybody did what I did, there would be no earmarks. The budget would be balanced and we’d be cutting about 80 percent of the spending. So that would be the solution. [applause]

PAUL: But you also want to protect the process. You want to emphasize the responsibility of the Congress, and not delivering more power to the president. I would be a different kind of president. I wouldn’t be looking for more power.

Everybody wants to be a powerful executive and run things. I, as the president, wouldn’t want to run the world. I don’t want to police individual activities and their lifestyle. And I don’t want to run the economy.

So that is an entirely different philosophy, but it’s very, very much in our tradition and in a tradition of our Constitution. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Perry, you said the only way to stop our spending problem is to get Congress to stop spending. Quoting you, sir, you said: “I vetoed 82 bills in my first year as governor of Texas. I have a record of keeping spending under control.”

But as Texas agriculture commissioner, you oversaw a loan guarantee program that, as The Austin American-Statesman reported at the time, had so many defaults that the state had to stop guaranteeing bank loans to start-ups in the agribusiness, and eventually bailed out the program with the tax-payer money.

So aren’t you guilty of the same behavior you rail against as a presidential candidate?

PERRY: Well, two things. Number one, don’t believe everything you read in The Austin American-Statesman. And the second side of it is, we had that program put in place and the state did not bail out, those programs worked as they were supposed to work. Just like in any bank or any business, you are going to have some that fail.

But I want to go back and talk about just a second the issue of where we had a big back-and-forth about whether Newt was involved in untoward activity or not. And I’ll be real honest with you, the issue we ought to be talking about on this stage is how you really overhaul Washington, D.C.

And the idea that you can’t tell the difference between lobbying and consulting, the idea that we have Congress staying there as many days as they do and the salary that they have, that is the reason I have called for a part-time Congress.

Cut their pay in half. Cut their time in Washington in half. Cut their staff in half. Send them home. Let them get a job like everybody else back home has and live within the laws of which they passed. [applause]

PERRY: We do that and you pass a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution, and the conversations that we’ve been having up here will be minor.

MODERATOR: By the way, Governor, they worked 151 days last year. How much more would constitute part-time?

PERRY: I would suggest to you maybe 140 days every other year like we do in Texas. [laughter] [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, as you’re probable familiar, sir, the Chinese have just left huge tariffs of up to 22 percent on imports of some American sport utility vehicles, larger American cars.

Now as a former ambassador to China and one who has argued for an adult conversation with Beijing, how would you respond to what some are calling a childish move on the part of a country that routinely flouts international trade rules?

HUNTSMAN: Well, it’s a large and complicated relationship. It’s part trade, it’s part North Korea, it’s part Iran, part Pakistan, part Burma, part South China Sea, party military-to-military engagement. You move one end of the relationship, it impacts the other.

The best thing to do, invite a few dissidents who are seeking freedom and want to expand democracy in China to the United States embassy, the kind of thing that I used to do. That is what matters to the Chinese people who are looking for change and looking for reform these days.

That is the kind of thing that over time is going to create enough swell of change and reform in that country that is going to make the U.S.-China relationship successful longer term.

Because eventually, we need more than just a transactional relationship. We need shared values infused into this relationship. Let’s face it, the 21st Century will only have two relationships that matter: the United States and China.

For that to succeed, we need shared values. That is democracy. That is human rights. That is recognition of the role of the Internet in society. That is greater tolerance toward religion, and so much more.

As president of the United States, I would drive that home. And I would make it a relationship that worked.

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, right now American companies have trillions parked overseas because of the very high tax rates here. Would you support a tax holiday to bring that money back, but only under, as some Democrats have suggested, the condition that these companies hire workers with that money?

SANTORUM: Yes, what I proposed in the “Made in the USA” plan is that if money has been made overseas, that it can come back at 5.5 percent rate, which is what we did back in 2004, and it did cause a lot of money to come back. But I put a special rate, zero, if they bring it back and invest it in plant and equipment in America.

We need to rebuild the manufacturing base of this country. When I traveled around to all of these counties in Iowa, I went to a lot of small towns, like Sidney and Hamburg down in Fremont County, and I was in — the other day in Newton, where they’ve lost jobs to overseas. Why? Because we’re not competitive.

We need to have our capital be competitive and — and come here free so they can invest it. We need to cut the corporate tax on manufacturers to zero. Why? Because there’s a 20 percent cost differential between America and our nine top trading partners. And we — and that’s excluding labor costs.

We need to get our taxes down. We need to repeal regulations. I promise to repeal every single Obamacare regulation. Every single Obama regulation that cost businesses over $100 million, I can repeal it. I can’t repeal laws, but as a president, you can repeal — excuse me, regulations. And I will repeal every single one of them so business can get going in this country. [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you, Neil.

This question is from Twitter. And it is for you, Governor Romney. @LeonJamesPage tweets, “Over the next 10 years, in what sector or industries will most of the new jobs be created?”

ROMNEY: The great thing is, the free market will decide that. Government won’t. And we have in a president someone who, again, doesn’t understand how the economy works and thinks that, as a government, he can choose, for instance, which energy sector is going to be successful. So he invests as a venture capitalist in certain car companies that have electric battery power, not understanding that perhaps Toyota and G.M. could do a better job than Tesla and Fisker.

The president decides to go into Solyndra because he thinks that solar power is going to be the future. Look, let markets determine what the future course of our economy will be.

What do I happen to think will be the future? I think manufacturing is going to come back. I think manufacturing, for some of the reasons Rick just indicated, it’s going to come back to the U.S. I also think, of course, that high-tech is going to be an extraordinarily source — extraordinary source of growth for a long time in this country.

And energy. We have extraordinary energy resources in this country. Opening those up — our president holds them off, doesn’t give them the permits to start drilling and getting the natural gas and oil — those are some of the areas that are extraordinarily powerful. This economy has every potential to continue to lead the world. Our president thinks America is in decline. It is if he’s president. It’s not if I’m president. This is going to be an American century. [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you, Governor Romney.

Now to Megyn Kelly with the next round of questions. And this is a new topic, the judiciary.

MODERATOR: This is something we have heard pressure little about in this election, but something that’s an important issue for a lot of voters.

Speaker Gingrich, let me start with you. You have proposed a plan to subpoena judges to testify before Congress about controversial decisions that they make. In certain cases, you advocate impeaching judges or abolishing courts altogether. Two conservative former attorneys general have criticized your plan, saying it alters the checks and balances of the three branches of government. And they used words like “dangerous,” “outrageous,” and “totally irresponsible.” Are they wrong?

GINGRICH: Well, the first half is right. It alters the balance, because the courts have become grotesquely dictatorial, far too powerful, and I think, frankly, arrogant in their misreading of the American people. [applause]

There’s an entire paper at newt.org — I’ve been working on this project since 2002, when the Ninth Circuit Court said that “one nation under God” is unconstitutional in the Pledge of Allegiance. And I decided, if you had judges who were so radically anti-American that they thought “one nation under God” was wrong, they shouldn’t be on the court. Now, we have… [applause]

I taught a short course in this at the University of Georgia Law School. I testified in front of sitting Supreme Court justices at Georgetown Law School. And I warned them: You keep attacking the core base of American exceptionalism, and you are going to find an uprising against you which will rebalance the judiciary.

We have a balance of three branches. We do not have a judicial dictatorship in this country. And that’s what the Federalist papers promised us. And I would — just like Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and FDR — I would be prepared to take on the judiciary if, in fact, it did not restrict itself in what it was doing.

MODERATOR: What of the former attorney general? [applause]

These are conservative former attorneys generals who have criticized the plan, as I say, dangerous, ridiculous, outrageous, totally irresponsible.

GINGRICH: Sure. I’d ask, first of all, have they studied Jefferson, who in 1802 abolished 18 out of 35 federal judges? Eighteen out of 35 were abolished.

MODERATOR: Something that was highly criticized.

GINGRICH: Not by anybody in power in 1802. [laughter] [applause]

Jefferson himself was asked, is the Supreme Court supreme? And he said, that is absurd. That would be an oligarchy. Lincoln repudiates the Dred Scott decision in his first inaugural address in 1861 and says, no nine people can make law in this country. That would be the end of our freedom. So I would suggest to you, actually as a historian, I may understand this better than lawyers. And as lawyers those two attorneys general are behaving exactly like law schools, which have overly empowered lawyers to think that they can dictate to the rest of us. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann. [applause]

MODERATOR: You heard Speaker Gingrich — you heard Speaker Gingrich reference the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and that is one of the courts that he has suggested abolishing. It is a left-leaning court and as he points out, as he has done before, he believes it’s an activist court because in part it was the court that — that issued a ruling striking down “under God” in the pledge years ago. A decision that was reversed by the Supreme Court leader.

Do you agree that the Ninth Circuit should be abolished? And if so, what would then happen if a Democratic president came into office and we had a democratically controlled Congress that later took aim at the right-leaning federal courts. Where would it end?

BACHMANN: Well where it needs to end is under the Constitution of the United States. That’s the real issue. Are the courts following the Constitution or aren’t they following the Constitution? It isn’t just Congress that gets it wrong, it’s the courts that get it wrong as well.

MODERATOR: But what do you do about it?

BACHMANN: Well what we need to do about it is have the — both the president and the United States Congress take their authority back and I would agree with Newt Gingrich that I think that the Congress and the president of the United States have failed to take their authority. Because now we’ve gotten to the point where we think the final arbitrator of law is the court system. It isn’t. The intention of the founders was that the courts would be the least powerful system of government.

And if we give to the courts, the right to make law, then the people will have lost their representation. They need to hold onto their representation. That’s why I commend Iowans, because they chose not to retain three judges that decided that marriage would be… [applause]

BACHMANN: …and Iowans decided to take their Constitution back. That’s what the American people need to do, take the Constitution back and as president of the United States, I would only appoint judges to the Supreme Court who believe in the original intent of the Constitution.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul let me ask you, do you believe in — in what the two candidates have said? That it would potentially be OK to abolish courts like the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals entirely, or judges, impeach them if Congress and the president don’t decide — decide they don’t like their rulings?

PAUL: Well the Congress can get rid of these courts. If — if a judge misbehaves and is unethical and gets into trouble, the proper procedure is impeachment. But to subpoena judges before the Congress, I’d really question that. And if you get too careless about abolishing courts, that could open up a can of worms. Because it — you — there — there could be retaliation. So it should be a more serious — yes we get very frustrated with this. But the whole thing is, if you just say, well we’re going to — OK there are 10 courts, lets get rid of three this year because they ruled a — a way we didn’t like.

That — that to me is, I think opening up a can of worms for us and it would lead to trouble. But I really, really question this idea that the — the Congress could subpoena judges and bring them before us. That’s a real affront to the separation of the powers.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, many people believe that the way to reign in, so-called activist judges is to be careful in appointing or nominating the judges in the first place. As governor of Massachusetts, you passed over Republicans for three quarters of the judicial vacancies you faced, instead nominating Democrats or Independents. With that track record, why should Republicans believe that you will appoint conservatives to the bench if you become president?

ROMNEY: Well I have to let you know that in Massachusetts, I actually don’t get to appoint the judges. I get to nominate them. They go before something known as the Governor’s Council. It consists of, I believe, seven members, all of whom are elected Democrats. And so to be able to get my appointments through, I had to have people of both parties. And the people I put forward, all were individuals who I vetted very carefully to make sure they would follow the rule of law.

These were largely people going into criminal courts. I chose overwhelmingly people who had been prosecutors in their prior experience. And so we had that kind of justice. Now, let — let me note that the key thing I think the president is going to do, is going to be with the longest legacy. It’s going to be appointing Supreme Court and justices throughout the judicial system. As many as half the justices in the next four years are going to be appointed by the next president.

This is a critical time to choose someone who believes in conservative principles. Now I — I don’t believe that it makes a lot of sense to have Congress overseeing justices. The — the — the only group that has less credibility than justices perhaps is Congress. So lets not have them be in charge of overseeing the — the justices. [applause]

ROMNEY: However — however, we don’t call it we the judges. We call it we, the people. And we do have the ability to remove justices that need to be impeached. We also have the ability to pass new amendments if we think a justice is taken the nation in the wrong direction. And where a statute has been misinterpreted, congress can write a statute that clarifies that point. We have ability to rein in excessive judges.

MODERATOR: All right. And I just want to go quickly down the line. With just a name, favorite Supreme Court justice. Senator Santorum — current.

SANTORUM: I have to say of these folks over here have been talking about taking on the courts. I have done it. I actually campaigned in Iowa against those justices and I was the only one on this panel that did it, number one.

Number two, when the partial birth abortion status struck down by the Supreme Court, George Bush got elected we actually went back and I worked with Henry Hyde and we passed another bill, told the Supreme Court they were wrong. Passed it, George Bush signed it and it was overturned.

We can talk about reform and doing something to confront the courts, or you can actually go out and make it happen. I made it happen. And it’s tops.

MODERATOR: And quickly down the line, favorite current Supreme Court justice.

PERRY: I’ll be as quickly as I can, but when I talk about overhauling Washington, D.C., one of the things I talk about besides a part-time congress is no longer having lifetime terms for the federal bench. I think that is one of the ways that you keep these unaccountable legislators from rogues to try to dictate to the rest of us. And I would say, you know, you pick Alito, Roberts, Thomas, pick one.

MODERATOR: All right. Would you pick one, please.

ROMNEY: Yes. Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Scalia.

MODERATOR: All right. Speaker Gingrich.

GINGRICH: I think that is a pretty darned good list. And I would sign up for those guys. Scalia is probably the most intellectual of the four. They’re all four terrific judges.

I mean, if we had nine judges as good as those four we would be happy with the Supreme Court.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: From my point they’re all good and they’re all bad, because our country a long time ago split freedom up to two pieces — personal liberty and economic liberty. And the judges, as is congress and as is nation, think it’s two issues. It’s but one issue. So therefore, congress is on this issue as well as our judges.

MODERATOR: Last chance to say a name.

PAUL: No, I’m not going to — all of them are good and all of them are bad. How is that?

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: Well, I do think that there are good justices. And I would put Antonin Scalia at the top of the list. I would also include Clarence Thomas and John Roberts and Alito. I think they are all marvelous. It could be easy to pick any one of them.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: One of the reasons I’m optimistic about the future of this country is because we have rule of law. Let’s face it. One of the great things that this country has that very few other countries have. So the Judiciary is critically important.

It’s also important to note that governors actually some experience appointing judges. You got to make those hard decisions. And as I reflect on those who today serve I’ve got to say Justice Roberts and Justice Alito fit the bill very, very nicely.

MODERATOR: Thank you, all.

MODERATOR: That was a valiant effort.

MODERATOR: I tried. I tried.

MODERATOR: Coming up, there is a lot of ground to cover in this next hour. The threat from Iran and other foreign policy hot spots, up- and-down oil prices, immigration and border issues, and controversial social issues. Stay with us. Remember, tweet @bretbaier with a question or followup. We’ll be right back.

[commercial break]

MODERATOR: Welcome back to Sioux City, Iowa, and the Republican presidential debate. [applause]

Fired-up crowd, they’re ready for hour number two. And we begin hour number two with an important topic, foreign policy.

Congressman Paul, many Middle East experts now say Iran may be less than one year away from getting a nuclear weapon. Now, judging from your past statements, even if you had solid intelligence that Iran, in fact, was going to get a nuclear weapon, President Paul would remove the U.S. sanctions on Iran, included those added by the Obama administration. So, to be clear, GOP nominee Paul would be running left of President Obama on the issue of Iran?

PAUL: But I’d be running with the American people, because it would be a much better policy. For you to say that there is some scientific evidence and some people arguing that maybe in a year they might have a weapon, there’s a lot more saying they don’t have it.

There’s no U.N. evidence of that happening. Clapper at the — in our national security department, he says there is no evidence. It’s no different than it was in 2003. You know what I really fear about what’s happening here? It’s another Iraq coming. There’s war propaganda going on. [applause]

And we’re arguing — to me, the greatest danger is that we will have a president that will overreact and we will soon bomb Iran. And the sentiment is very mixed. It’s — it’s very mixed even in Israel. You know, there — the — a head of the security for Israel, who just recently retired, said that it wouldn’t make sense to do this, to take — to take them out, because they might be having a weapon. So I would say that the greatest danger is overreacting. There is no evidence that they have it. And it would make more sense — if we lived through the Cold War, which we did, with 30,000 missiles pointed at us, we ought to really sit back and think and not jump the gun and believe that we are going to be attacked. That’s how we got into that useless war in Iraq and lost so much in Iraq. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul, the — the question was based on the premise that you had solid intelligence, you actually had solid intelligence as President Paul, and yet you still at that point would — would pull back U.S. sanctions and again, as a GOP nominee, would be running left of President Obama on this issue?

PAUL: Yes. All we’re doing is promoting their desire to have it. Ehud Barak, the defense minister for Israel, said that — that, if he were in — in Iran, he would probably want a nuclear weapon, too, because they’re surrounded, for geopolitical reasons. So that’s an understanding.

So the fact that they are surrounded, they have a desire. And how do we treat people when they have a nuclear weapon? With a lot more respect. What did we do with Libya? We talked to them. We talked them out of their nuclear weapon. And then we killed them.

So, it makes more sense to work with people. And the whole thing is that nuclear weapons are loaded over there. Pakistan, India, Israel has 300 of them. We have our ships there. We’ve got to get it in a proper context. We don’t need another war. [cheering and applause]

MODERATOR: Understood. And you make that point quite a lot. I’m going to — I’ll try one more time. Iran is reportedly running exercises on closing the Strait of Hormuz, a key passage, as you know, for global trade. Now what should the U.S. response be if Iran were to take that dramatic step?

PAUL: This is — the plans are on the book. All they talk about is, when are we, the West, going to bomb Iran? So why wouldn’t they talk about — they don’t have a weapon, they don’t have a nuclear weapon, why wouldn’t they try to send out some information there and say, you know, if you come and bomb us, we might close the Straits of Hormuz down.

So already the president, and I think he is wisely backing off on the sanctions, because it’s going to be an economic calamity if you take all the oil out of Europe. So I think that makes sense.

He knows these sanctions are overreaching. Sanctions are an act of war when you prevent goods and services from going into a country. We need to approach this a little differently. We have 12,000 diplomats in our services. We ought to use a little bit of diplomacy once in a while. [applause]

MODERATOR: OK. Just a reminder again, that little friendly beep is when you wrap up. Senator Santorum, you have a very different thought about the threat from Iran. For several years, according to the U.S. military leaders, Iran has provided training, funding, and lethal arms to jihadists killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are those acts of war?

SANTORUM: They have been continually. They just tried to plan an attack here in this country, killing the Saudi ambassador. They have been at war with us since 1979. The IEDs that have killed so many soldiers, they are manufactured in Iran.

This is — Iran is not any other country. It is a country that is ruled by the equivalent of al Qaeda on top of this country. They are a radical theocracy. The principle virtue of the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to President Ahmadinejad, is not freedom, opportunity, it’s martyrdom.

The idea, Ron, that mutual assured destruction, like the policy during the Cold War with the Soviet Union would work on Iran when their principle virtue is martyrdom, is — mutual assured destruction with respect to Iran would not be any kind of, you know, idea of preventing a war. It would be an inducement to a war.

This is what their objective is. Their objective is to in fact create a calamity. This is what their theology teaches. They believe that it is their mission to take on the West. They don’t hate us because of what we do or the policies we have. They hate us because of who we are and what we believe in.

And we need to make sure that they do not have a nuclear weapon. And we should be working with the state of Israel right now. We should use covert activity. And we should be planning a strike against their facilities and say, if you do not open up those facilities and not close them down, we will close them down for you. [cheering and applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, this week President Obama said the U.S. asked Iran to give our downed high-tech drone back. As you know, the Iranians have it on display. They claim they are extracting data from it and they have no intention of giving it back.

Yesterday you called the president’s response, quote, “extraordinarily weak and timid.” Now in your book you write, quote, “weakness invites challenges, acts of intimidation, acts of aggression, and sometimes war.”

So in this case, are President Obama’s actions inviting war?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Does timidity and weakness invite aggression on the part of other people? Absolutely. A strong America, a strong America is the best ally peace has ever known. This is a president with — the spy drone being brought down, he says pretty please? A foreign policy based on pretty please? You have got to be kidding.

This is a president who fundamentally believes that this next century is the post-American century. Perhaps it’s going to be the Chinese century. He is wrong. It has to be the American century. America has to lead the free world. [applause]

ROMNEY: And the free world has to lead the entire world. The right course under President Obama’s plans is to shrink our military, thinking somehow if we appease or accommodate the tyrants of the world, that the world will be safer. He’s wrong.

The right course for America is to strengthen our economy, our values, our families, and our military. We need to rebuild our Navy and go from nine ships a year to 15. We need to modernize our Air Force. We need 100,000 new additional troops in our military. We need to take care of our veterans in the way they deserve.

It is time for us to recognize once again a strong military does not create war. A strong America prevents people from trying to test us around the world. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann, today is the official end of the U.S. military operations in Iraq, and there is real concern, as you know, about growing Iranian influence inside Iraq. Also, the deputy prime minister there has expressed concerns about the country possibly slipping into civil war. Are there any circumstances as president where you would send U.S. troops back in to Iraq?

BACHMANN: Well, I think clearly the biggest mistake that President Obama has made — and there are many when it comes to foreign policy — has been the decision that he made regarding Iraq. He was essentially given on a silver platter victory in Iraq, and he’s choosing intentionally to lose the peace.

And we all know what’s going to happen. We know that Iran is going to be the hegemon and try to come into Iraq and have the dominant influence. And then Iraq will essentially have dominance from the Persian Gulf all the way to the Mediterranean through its ally, Syria.

And with all due respect to Ron Paul, I think I have never heard a more dangerous answer for American security than the one that we just heard from Ron Paul. And I’ll tell you the reason why. [applause]

And the reason — the reason — the reason why I would say that is because we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Iran will take a nuclear weapon, they will use it to wipe our ally, Israel, off the face of the map, and they’ve stated they will use it against the United States of America.

Look no further than the Iranian constitution, which states unequivocally that their admission — their mission is to extend jihad across the world and eventually to set up a worldwide caliphate. We would be fools and knaves to ignore their purpose and their plan. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Obviously, I would like to see a lot less nuclear weapons. I — I don’t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon. I would like to reduce them, because there would be less chance of war.

But to declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims and say all Muslims are the same, this is dangerous talk. Yeah, there are some radicals, but they don’t come here to kill us because we’re free and prosperous. Do they go to Switzerland and Sweden? I mean, that’s absurd.

If you think that is the reason, we have no chance of winning this. They come here and explicitly explain it to us. The CIA has explained it to us. It said they come here and they want to do us harm because we’re bombing them.

What is the whole world about the drone being in Iran? And we’re begging and pleading, and how are we going to start a war to get this drone back? Why were we flying the drone over Iran? Why do we have to bomb so many countries? Why are we in — have 900 bases, 130 countries, and we’re totally bankrupt? How are you going to rebuild the military when we have no money? How are we going to take care of the people? [applause]

So I think — I think this wild goal to have another war in the name of defense is the dangerous thing. The danger is really us overreacting. And we need a strong national defense. And we need to only go to war with a declaration of war, and just carelessly flouting it and starting these wars so often.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, is Congressman Paul…

[crosstalk]

BACHMANN: And the point would be — can I respond to that? Can I…

MODERATOR: Go ahead.

BACHMANN: Can I respond? And the problem would be the greatest under-reaction in world history if we have an avowed madman who uses that nuclear weapon to wipe nations off the face of the Earth. And we have an IAEA report that just recently came out that said, literally, Iran is within just months of being able to obtain that weapon. Nothing could be more dangerous than the comments that we just heard.

[crosstalk]

MODERATOR: All right, 30 seconds, Dr. Paul.

PAUL: There is no U.N. report that said that. It’s totally wrong on what — what you just said.

BACHMANN: It’s an IAEA report.

PAUL: That — that is not — that is not true. They — they produced information that led you to believe that, but they have no evidence. There’s no — been no enrichment of these bombs.

BACHMANN: And if we agree with that…[booing]… if we agree with that, the United States’ people could be at risk of our national security.

PAUL: OK. She took my time, so I’d like — I’d like to finish. If she thinks we live in a dangerous world, she ought to think back when I was drafted in the 1962 with nuclear missiles in Cuba. And Kennedy calls Khrushchev and talks to them, and talks them out of this so we don’t have a nuclear exchange.

And you’re trying to dramatize this, that we have to go and — and treat Iran like we’ve treated Iraq and kill a million Iraqis, and 8,000-some Americans have died since we’ve gone to war. You cannot solve these problems with war. You can solve the problems if we follow our constitution and go to war only when we declare the war, win them and get them over with instead of this endless fighting and this endless attitude that we have enemy all around the world.

BACHMANN: But as president, I stand on the side of…

MODERATOR: Thank you — we have been liberal with our friendly ding.

Mr. Speaker, you have been openly critical of the United Nations. For example on the topic of Palestinian efforts for statehood at the U.S. you said, quote, “we don’t need to fund a corrupt institution to beat up on our allies.”

In a Gingrich administration would the United States leave the UN?

GINGRICH: No, but we would dramatically reduce our reliance on it. And we’d confront certain realities. People talk about a peace process. 11 missiles were fired in Israel last month, last month. Over 200 missiles fired at Israel this year. You think if we had 11 missiles fired in the United States we — well, this president anyway would say gee, maybe we could communicate and you would like us more.

But I don’t think there is — you know, I think most of us, most Americans would say you know if you are firing missiles at me, that may not be a good gesture. OK? The United Nations camps that we have helped fund have been training grounds for terrorism.

As Congressman Bachmann pointed out the last time we debated, she was over there with textbooks that are clearly teaching terrorism that are indirectly funded by the United States through the UN.

We have no obligation to lie and every obligation to tell the truth about how bad the UN bureaucracy is and why it ought to be fixed or we ought to radically cut what we’re paying.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, do you agree?

HUNTSMAN: I think the United Nations serves a useful purpose in the area of peacekeeping and some humanitarian work. Beyond that, I hate the anti-Americanism. I hate the anti-Israel sentiment.

But let me tell you what this nation needs and what it is going to get under a Huntsman administration. It needs a new foreign policy. We need to update it a little bit. We are still trapped a little bit in the Cold War, George Tenet mind set.

I want to make sure that first and foremost we have a foreign policy, and a the national security strategy that recognizes that we have to fix our core here at home. We are weak. This economy is broken. When we are strong, we project values of goodness that transform and change people like no military can — liberty, democracy, human rights and free markets.

We have got to fix this core first and foremost if we are going to be effective overseas. And that is what i want to focus on.

Second of all, I want to make sure that…

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, that is the time.

HUNTSMAN: Let me just get the second point.

Second of all, I want a foreign policy — I want a foreign policy that is driven by economics first. Let me just tell you, its used to break my heart sitting in embassy in Beijing the second largest embassy in the world looking at Afghanistan with 100,000 troops. We are securing the place, the Chinese go in and they win the mining concession. There is something wrong with that picture.

We need to change the way we’re doing business.

MODERATOR: OK. Two dings in that one.

Governor Perry, given the grim details of the recent United Nations report on the Syrian regime killing and torturing its own people, thousands of people said to be killed at the hands of the Assad regime. At what point should the U.S. consider military intervention there?

PERRY: Well, I have already called for a overfly zone — no fly zone over Syria already. They are Iran’s partner. They are attached at the hip. And we have to stand firm with our ally in that region, Israel. There needs to be no space between the United States and Israel. And this administration has absolutely bungled.

It is the most muddled foreign policy that I can ever remember in my lifetime whether it was in ’09 when we had the opportunity either covertly, overtly or other ways of helping the Iranian citizens as they were trying to overthrow that repressive regime, whether it was working with Mubarak, and trying to have a moderate to come in and replace him, whether it was leading from behind, as we have seen in Libya, and now we have seen this president, as Mitt and Newt have both talked about, asking the Iranians to give us back that drone.

What we should have done is one of two things — we either destroy it or we retrieve it. He took a third route, which was the worst and the weakest, and that is to do nothing.

MODERATOR: Now to my colleague Neil Cavuto — Neil?

MODERATOR: Candidates, I want to move on if we can to energy issues. And Speaker Gingrich, I would like to begin with you. As you know, the president, sir, has rejected any efforts to tie a payroll tax cut extension with the Keystone pipeline and to reopen it and to explore reopening it as well.

He says that any other way to connect the two would be akin to adding an extraneous issue. Given his opposition and — and the likelihood that the Keystone issue could be up in the air for a year or more, how do you recommend Republicans deal with this to force the issue?

GINGRICH: You know, Neil, I sometimes get accused of using language that’s too strong, so I’ve been standing here editing. [laughter]

I’m very concerned about not appearing to be zany. And…[laughter]

But — but I want to paint a picture for all of us. The Iranians are practicing closing the Straits of Hormuz. The Canadian prime minister has already said to the American president, if you don’t want to build this pipeline to bring — create 20,000 American jobs and bring oil through the United States to the largest refinery complex in the world, Houston, I want to put it straight west in Canada to Vancouver and ship the oil direct to China, so you’ll lose the jobs, you’ll lose the throughput, you’ll lose 30 or 40 years of work in Houston.

And the president of the United States cannot figure out that it is — I’m using mild words here — utterly irrational to say, I’m now going to veto a middle-class tax cut to protect left-wing environmental extremists in San Francisco, so that we’re going to kill American jobs, weaken American energy, make us more vulnerable to the Iranians, and do so in a way that makes no sense to any normal, rational American. [applause]

MODERATOR: No offense, sir, but you didn’t answer my question. [laughter]

What would — what would you do to try to move on this within a year?

GINGRICH: What — what should the congressional Republicans do? They should attach it to the middle-class tax cut, send it to president, force him to veto it, send it a second time. We had to send welfare reform to Bill Clinton three times. He vetoed it twice. By the third time, the popular outrage was so angry, 92 percent of the country wanted to have welfare reform, he decided to sign it. It happened to be an election year.

I’d say to the president, you want to look like you are totally out of touch with the American people? Be my guest, but I’m not backing down when we’re right and you are totally wrong. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, on the same issue [inaubible] the delay, as you’ve pointed out, stands to threaten thousands of jobs, in a recent speech, you said potentially up to 100,000 jobs. But the president’s supporters say a rushed decision could cost the environment a great deal more. What I’d like to ask you, Governor, is there any condition under which a President Huntsman would say the need to protect our land trumps the need to provide more jobs?

HUNTSMAN: It’s always going to be a balancing act. We’ve got land that everybody respects and appreciates, but the job we’ve got to undertake as American people is to fuel our future.

We have no choice. I mean, our economy has hit the wall. I want to get rid of that heroin-like addiction we have based on imported oil. Three hundred billion dollars transfers every year from this country to a lot of unpredictable and relationships that are no more than transactional.

In order to get to where this country needs to be, we need a relationship with Canada from which we can draw raw materials. But I also want to make sure that I’m able as president to disrupt the oil monopoly. There’s a one-product monopoly in terms of product distribution in this country. If we’re going to achieve real energy independence, we’re going to have to be able to draw from a multiplicity of products like natural gas.

We wake up to the reality [inaubible] in this country that we have more natural gas than Saudi Arabia has oil, I say, how stupid are we? When are we going to get with the picture and start converting to transportation, converting to manufacturing, converting to electricity and power generation? It is completely within our grasp.

It’s going to require a president who understands that — that delicate balance and who’s going to be able to go out with an aggressive plan toward energy independence — independence that gets it done for this country. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann, you — you were very critical, Congresswoman, of the extended shutdown after the BP oil spill that I believe lasted upwards of five, six months, in terms of a moratorium. I was wondering, though, Congresswoman, if you were president and there were such a disaster again, what would be an acceptable period for oil drilling to cease, for you to get to the bottom of a problem?

BACHMANN: Well, what we needed to do was find out what the true cause of the problem was. And the Obama administration wasn’t willing to have a true and thoughtful investigation to get to the bottom of it.

President Obama jumped to conclusions, and he put a moratorium on accessing American oil in the Gulf region that actually hurt the economy more than the original disaster. But I wanted to add something on Keystone. Keystone is extremely important, the pipeline.

This pipeline is one that would have brought at least 20,000 jobs, at least $6.5 billion worth of economic activity. And if I was president of the United States, I wouldn’t have taken the decision that President Obama did. His entire calculus was based upon his reelection effort. Because quite frankly, the radical environmentalists said to President Obama, you pass Keystone, we’re not going to do your volunteer door-to-door work.

That’s what Barack Obama has done to this country. He’s put his reelection over adding jobs and making the United States energy independent. I would have made the decision as president of the United States, we would put Keystone online immediately. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Perry, you — you have railed against the special treatment of Ford and Solyndra as have the other candidates here tonight. And particularly the tax code incentives for green technologies and allowances that have been made for this industry. But it’s nexus, governor you have afforded the same attention to the oil industry. Back in 2003, you signed a bill that reduced the tax paid by some natural gas companies that have helped them reap since, better than $7 billion in tax savings. So I — I guess what I’m saying is, are you guilty of the same behavior as governor, favoring an industry, that you claim this president has, favoring the green industry?

PERRY: Today is the 220th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights. And one of those, the Tenth Amendment, I like a lot. And the reason is because that’s how our founding fathers saw this country set up. Where we had these laboratories of innovation. It — it should be in the purview and the decision making process of a state. If they want to put tax policies in place that helps make them be more competitive.

PERRY: We did it not only for the oil and gas industry, but we also did it for the alternative industry — alternative energy industry. And the wind industry. They came in droves, made Texas the number one wind energy producing state in the nation. But government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers from Washington, D.C. That’s the difference. If in the states — I’ll promise you Terry Branstad in this state, he knows how to put tax policy, regulatory policy in place to make his state be more competitive. And you need 50 states out there competing with each other and Washington out of their hair. [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you Neil. And a reminder, go to Foxnews.com/debate to see how well the candidates are answering the questions with your votes. Coming up, we’ll ask about border issues, immigration and a topic that got a lot of attention on Twitter, plus some controversial social issues as well. Stay tuned. [applause]

[commercial break]

MODERATOR: Welcome back to Sioux City, Iowa. And our Republican presidential debate here in northwestern Iowa.

These people tend to like it I think so far. I think they do. You have to next round of questions on board issues and immigration.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Bret.

The question is for you, Governor Perry. This topic received traffic on Twitter. You have joined the 57 House Republicans who have called for the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, to resign in the wake of the failed federal gun tracking program Operation Fast and Furious.

So far, there is no clear proof that Mr. Holder knew about the controversial aspects of this operation. And he points out that he actually helped stop it when it came to his attention. Are you and other Republicans politicizing this issue as General Holder claims?

PERRY: If I’m the president of the United States, and I find out that there is an operation like Fast and Furious and my attorney general didn’t know about it, I would have him resign immediately. You cannot, the president of the United States comes to El Paso, Texas, earlier this year and proclaims that the border of Texas and Mexico, the U.S. border with Mexico is safer than it’s ever been.

Well, let me tell you, I’ve been dealing with this issue for 11 years. I’ve sent Texas Ranger recon teams there. Our law enforcement men and women face fire from across the border or in the U.S. side from these drug cartels. It is not safe there. Our country is at jeopardy.

If we are going to be able to defend America, from Iran, from Hezbollah, from Hamas, that are using Mexico as a border, as a way to penetrate in the southern part of the United States. Venezuela has the largest Iranian embassy in the world there. We know what is going on. It is time for this country to have a real conversation about a Monroe Doctrine again like we did against the Cubans in the 60s.

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, what say you to the attorney general’s claim that the Republicans are politicizing this issue?

SANTORUM: I would agree with Governor Perry that if he was the attorney general under me, I would have him — I would fire him. I wouldn’t have him resign, I’d fire him. This is something he should have been aware of, something that should have been stopped, it shouldn’t have started in the first place.

I think Governor Perry is also right. And this is something I’ve been saying now for many years, which is we need to pay much more attention to what is going on in our own hemisphere, not only do they have the largest embassy in Venezuela, there are flights from Tehran, from Damascus to Caracas. And those flights stop at a military base before they come into the civilian base.

There are training camps, jihaddist training camps in Central and South America. They’re working with the drug cartels. And they are planning assaults on the United States. That is what we know is going on right now. And we are doing — this president has ignored that threat. Has insulted our allies like Honduras and Colombia, deliberately. Has embraced — as he has the other scoundrels in the Middle East, has embraced Chavez and Ortega and others in Central and South America, not promoting our values and interests.

We need a brand new initiative, an initiative that says that we will promote our values in this region and we will stop the spread of terrorism in Central and South America. [cheering and applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, last week you said that the 11 million illegal immigrants now in this country must return to their countries of origin before they can apply for legal status.

You also said that we are not going to go around and round up the 11 million. Why would these illegal immigrants voluntarily leave America just to apply for a chance at legal status, especially when they have your assurance that if they stay put we are not going to round them up?

ROMNEY: Let me tell you how that works. We are going to have an identification card for people who come here legally. The last campaign, actually, Rudy Giuliani talked about this time and time again.

We would have a card, a little plastic card, bio-information on it. Individuals who come here legally have that card. And when they apply for a job, they are able to show that to the employer. The employer must then check it with E-Verify or a similar system.

Newt Gingrich points out, let Federal Express — or not Federal Express, American Express or MasterCard or Visa process that, immediately determine if the card is valid or not.

So people come here legally, they’ve got that card. If employers hire people without that card, the employer gets sanctioned just like they do for not paying taxes. Very serious sanctions.

So you say to people who are here illegally today, you are not going to be able to work here unless you register, unless — and we will give you transition period of time, and then ultimately you have got to go home, apply for permanent residency here or citizenship, if you want to try and do that, but get in line behind everyone else.

My view is, people who have come here illegally, we welcome you to apply but you must get at the back of the line, because there are millions of people who are in line right now that want to come here legally. I want those to come here legally. Those that are here illegally have to get in line with everybody else. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, is that realistic?

GINGRICH: Well, let me start and say that Congressman Steve King has just introduced the IDEA act, which would in fact reinforce this model. Because it would take away all tax deductibility for anyone who is employed illegally, and once you have something like E-Verify effectively working, you really build a big sanction.

We disagree some on what you do with very, very long-term people here. I think somebody who has been here 25 years and has family here and has local family supporting them ought to have some kind of civilian certification.

But let me say on this whole issue of immigration. On day one, I would drop all the lawsuits against Arizona, South Carolina, and Alabama. It is wrong for the government. [cheering and applause]

GINGRICH: I would propose — I would propose cutting off all federal aid to any sanctuary city that deliberately violated federal law. [cheering and applause]

GINGRICH: And I would begin the process of completing control of the border by January 1st, 2014. Those steps would begin to fundamentally change the entire way of behavior towards getting control of legality in the United States. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, a recent FOX News poll showed that 66 percent of voters believe that the government should allow a pass to citizenship for the illegal immigrants who are already here in this country.

Nearly three-quarters of Latinos agree. Given these majorities and given the growing importance of the Latino vote in the general election, does the Republican presidential candidate need to take a more moderate approach on this issue if he hopes to defeat President Obama?

HUNTSMAN: Well, I think the Republican candidate has to speak based on our values, the values of the Republican Party. Limited government, pro-growth, these are the things that the Hispanic and the Latino populations are going to be looking for.

You don’t need to pander. You just need to be — we need to be who we are. But in terms of immigration, and illegal immigration, this president has so screwed up this economy, nobody is coming anymore. There is nothing to come for. I mean, there’s not a problem today. Just take a look at the numbers coming across.

I mean, the numbers, it was posted the other day, lowest in four decades. So I say, you know, we have got to secure the border, of course. We have got to deal with the 11, 12 million people who are here.

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that legal immigration is an engine of growth for this country. Half of the Fortune 500 companies in this country today were founded by immigrants.

We have lost probably — well, our market share of travel and tourism has gone from 7 percent to 12 percent because our visa system is so screwed up in this nation. So you’ve got to look at the Department of Homeland Security.

You’ve got to completely remake the way that people are moving back and forth, our H1-B visa system, how we are dealing with the movement of people, how we are dealing with immigration. This is an economic development opportunity and we are missing it. [applause]

MODERATOR: Chris Wallace has the next round of questions.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Bret. Governor Romney, you have changed your position in the last 10 years on abortion, on gay rights, on guns. You say keeping an open mind is a strength, but some of your critics say that every one of these moves has been to your political advantage. When you were running in Massachusetts, you took liberal positions. Running now as president, you take more conservative positions. Is that principle or is it just politics?

ROMNEY: Well, I’ll begin by taking exception with your list there. I did change my…

MODERATOR: Which — which one?

ROMNEY: Gay rights.

MODERATOR: Well…

ROMNEY: I’m firmly in support of people not being discriminated against based upon their sexual orientation. At the same time, I oppose same-sex marriage. That’s been my position from the beginning.

With regards to abortion, I changed my mind. With regards to abortion, I had the experience of coming in to office, running for governor, saying, you know, I’m going to keep the laws as they exist in the state. And they were pro-choice laws, so effectively I was pro-choice.

Then I had a bill come to my desk that didn’t just keep the laws as they were, but would have created new embryos for the purpose of destroying them. I studied it in some depth and concluded I simply could not sign on to take human life. I vetoed that bill. [applause]

I went to the — to the Boston Globe. I described for them why I am pro-life. Every decision I took as governor was taken on the side of life. I am firmly pro-life.

I’ve learned over time, like Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and others, my experience in life over, what, 19 — 17, 18, 19 years has told me that sometimes I was wrong. Where I was wrong, I’ve tried to correct myself.

MODERATOR: If I may just pick up, you say the one issue which I was wrong on was gay rights. Correct, sir?

ROMNEY: Mm-hmm. What was the — what was the — I don’t recall the whole list, but I…

[crosstalk]

MODERATOR: It was abortion, gay rights, and guns.

ROMNEY: You know, I’ve always supported the Second Amendment. And — and we had a piece of legislation that came to our desk that would have — that provided an assault weapon ban. The gun lobby favored it because it also did things that the gun lobby wanted. Working with them, we decided to sign the bill. So you can say, well, I’ve changed my position on that, but I’ve been pro-gun and continue to be pro-gun.

MODERATOR: If I may, sir, in 1994, when you were running for the Senate, you wrote a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans in which you said, “I am more convinced than ever before that, as we seek full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent,” who was Ted Kennedy.

In 1994, you also said you supported not only an assault weapons ban, but also a five-day waiting period. And in 2002, when you were running as governor, you said that you supported the tough gun control laws in Massachusetts. And then as you say in 2004, you also signed an assault weapons ban.

So you are still more of a champion of gay rights than Ted Kennedy was?

ROMNEY: I think — I think — I think you just said exactly what I said, which is this.

MODERATOR: I…

ROMNEY: Let me — let me go back and say that. I do not believe in discriminating against people based upon their sexual orientation. There are some people that do. I had a member of my administration, my cabinet who was — who was gay. I didn’t ask justices that I was looking to appoint — rather, people who are applicants for jobs — what their sexual orientation was.

I believe as a Republican, I had the potential to fight for antidiscrimination in a way that would be even better than Senator Kennedy, as a Democrat, was expected to do so.

At the same time, Chris, in 1994 — and throughout my career — I’ve said I oppose same-sex marriage. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. My view is — let me tell you — protects — protect the sanctity of marriage, protect the sanctity of life. That’s my view. I’ve had it for many years.

Thank you. [applause]

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, you have campaigned on social issues as much or perhaps more than any other candidate on this stage. Are you persuaded that Governor Romney has made these changes or what he says in some cases are not changes, based on principle and not political expedience?

SANTORUM: Governor Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, was faced with a Supreme Court decision that said that same-sex — that traditional marriage was unconstitutional. In that court decision, the court said that they did not have the power to change the law in Massachusetts and rule same-sex marriage legal. Why? Because in the Massachusetts constitution, it states specifically that only the governor and the legislature can change marriage laws.

Governor Romney — the court then gave the legislature a certain amount of time to change the law. They did not. So Governor Romney was faced with a choice: Go along with the court, or go along with the constitution and the statute. He chose the court and ordered people to issue gay marriage licenses, and went beyond that. He personally as governor issued gay marriage licenses. I don’t think that is an accurate representation of his position of saying tolerance versus substantively changes in the laws.

I’ve had a strong, consistent track record of standing up for the values of this country, not discriminating. It had a no- discrimination policy in my office. But we’re not talking about discrimination. We’re talking about changing the basic values of our country.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond, sir. [applause]

ROMNEY: That is a very novel understanding of what our Supreme Court of Massachusetts did. I think everybody in Massachusetts and the legal profession in Massachusetts and my legal counsel indicated that the Supreme Court of Massachusetts determined that under our constitution, same-sex marriage was required. And the idea that somehow that was up to me to make a choice as to whether we had it or not is a little unusual. We got together with our legislature and I fought leading an effort to put in place a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts to overturn the court’s decision to make marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.

This is something I battled in the year I had after their decision. I fought it every way I possibly could. I went to Washington, testifying in favor of a federal amendment to define marriage as a relationship between man and a woman.

Let me tell you, I want to make it very clear, I have been a champion of protecting traditional marriage that continues to be my view. If I somehow missed somewhere I’m happy to get corrected. But that is something I feel very deeply.

MODERATOR: All right. Congresswoman Bachmann, you say that Speaker Gingrich has a, quote, “inconsistent record on life” and you singled out comments he made recently that life begins with the implantation of a fertilized egg, not at conception. What is your concern?

BACHMANN: Well, my concern is the fact that the Republican Party can’t get the issue of life wrong. This is a basic part of our party. Just last night we gathered in Des Moines to talk about this issue, because it’s that crucial to our party. And one of the concerns that I had is that when Speaker Gingrich was Speaker of the House he had an opportunity to de-fund Planned Parenthood. And he chose not to take it. That is a big issue.

And also I think even more troubling when he was in Washington, D.C., he made an affirmative statement that he would not only support but he would campaign for Republicans who are in support of the barbaric procedure known as partial birth abortion. I could never do that.

And as a matter of fact, George Wilt asked the question of Speaker Gingrich. he said this: he said, “is it a virtue to tolerate infanticide?” This is a seminal issue and something we can’t get wrong. As president of the United States, I will be 100 percent pro- life from conception until natural death.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Sometimes Congressman Bachmann doesn’t get her facts very accurate. I had ad 98.5 percent right to life voting record in 20 years. The only …

MODERATOR: Go ahead. I’m…

GINGRICH: The only difference was that they didn’t like the initial welfare reform bill, which every other conservative group had said had nothing in it on abortion. Period. That’s the only one in 20 years.

I believe that life begins at conception. The conversation we’re having which is an ABC interview, I was frankly thinking about proposing a commission to look at fertility, because I think there is a challenge with what happens to embryos, who I think should be regarded as life because by definition they have been conceived. I am against any kind of experimentation on embryos. And I think my position on life actually has been very clear and very consistent.

MODERATOR: Let me just ask you — no. I want to ask you a direct question, if I may, speaker. That was your rebuttal to Congresswoman Bachmann.

BACHMANN: Can I rebuttal, because have a rebuttal for getting my facts wrong?

MODERATOR: Absolutely, congresswoman.

BACHMANN: Because this isn’t just once, I think it’s outrageous to continue to say over and over through the debate that I don’t have my facts right. When as a matter of fact, I do. I’m a serious candidate for president of the United States. And my facts are accurate.

Speaker Gingrich said that he would actively support and campaign for Republicans who got behind the barbaric practice of partial birth abortions. This is not a small issue. This is a big issue.

I think George Will was right when he asked that question. What virtue is there in tolerating infanticide?

MODERATOR: We are way over time. So I’m just going to ask you for 30 seconds to respond on the that specific issue.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, what I said on that particular issue is I wouldn’t go out and try to purge Republicans. Now, I don’t see how you are going to govern the country if you are going to run around and decide who you are going to purge. The fact is, twice when I was speaker we moved the end of partial-birth abortion. Clinton vetoed it. We worked very hard. And Rick Santorum has been a leader on this issue.

I have consistently opposed partial birth abortion. I, in fact, would like to see us go much further than that and eliminate abortion as a choice. And I said as president I would de-fund Planned Parenthood and shift the money to pay for adoption services to give young women a choice of life rather than death.

MODERATOR: Thank you, speaker.

GINGRICH: Thank you, Chris. Candidates, Ronald Reagan famously espoused his 11th Commandment: Thou shall not…

PROTESTER: [off-mike]

MODERATOR: I’m sorry. Thank you. Thank you very much.

PROTESTER: [off-mike]

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Well — well, let me just finish this question. We’re running out of time.

Ronald Reagan famously espoused the 11th Commandment: Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican. Yet to varying degrees, during this campaign, you’ve all broken that one way or another, broken that vow. So I guess the question is, how do you balance on the one hand trying to win the nomination with on the other hand not weakening the eventual nominee to the point where he or she is less electable than President Obama?

Down the row, Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: We have a responsibility to vet the candidates. That’s what — look, I’ve been at 350 town hall meetings. I’ve been kicked pretty hard by a lot of Iowans about the positions I hold, and that’s what — that’s the process. The process is, let’s find out who can stand up. Let’s find out who has the best record, who’s the most — who’s the person that can have that — the consistency of — of going out there and finding for the principles that we believe in.

Because I — let me assure you, the other side’s going to kick very, very hard, and we have to have someone who can stand up for it, fight, and holds those convictions deep so they can fight the good fight in the fall and win this presidency.

MODERATOR: Governor Perry?

PERRY: Yeah, there’s a — there’s an — as a matter of fact, I think that was the Republican chairman, not Ronald Reagan, that actually said that.

MODERATOR: Well, he espoused it. That’s what I said.

PERRY: Right, indeed he did. But there’s an NFL player — his name doesn’t come to mind — but he said, if you don’t get your tail kicked every now and then, you’re not playing at a high enough level. And I just want to give all of you all credit for letting me play at a high enough level and for training me the way that you have. [laughter]

MODERATOR: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Yeah, we can handle it. And — and there’s nothing — there’s nothing that’s been said by — by these folks on this stage about me that I’m not going to hear 100 times from — from President Obama. He’s going to have a — what, $1 billion to go after me or whoever our nominee is? We’re — we’re going to give each other what we need to for people to understand who we are.

But let’s not forget this. Let’s every day remember that, time and time again, this — it’s President Obama we’ve got to be talking about. He has unveiled himself as a president that’s not — not the right person to lead this country. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, I think it’s pretty clear, if you look at my ads, if you look at my website, if you look at what — how I’ve operated in the debates, that while I reserve the right to correct attacks against my — against me, overall I’ve tried very hard to talk about very big solutions to be — to go to the American people with the communication about, what do we need to do?

And I’ve said consistently, these are all friends of mine. Any of these folks would be better than Barack Obama in the White House. Any of them would be great in the next administration. [applause]

Our only opponent is Barack Obama. And we need to come out of this process remembering: Beating him is what we collectively have to do. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: You know, the media has a responsibility and we have a responsibility, and I think exposing our opponents to what they believe in and their flip-flop, I think the reason maybe that we had to do more this year is maybe the media is messing up and they haven’t asked enough questions, that we have to fill in and ask these questions and get this information out.

So, no, I think it’s a responsibility on us. I think there should be lines drawn. I think there are some things below the belt. I don’t think — but I don’t like the demagoguing, the distortion, and taking things out of context. I don’t like that. But when they disagree on an issue, important issues, then we should expose it.

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann? [applause]

BACHMANN: Ronald Reagan also brought clarity to the — his opponents that he had in his primaries, as well. And he famously asked the question, in 1980, are we better off today than we were four years under Jimmy Carter? And I think the republic is in far worse shape today under Barack Obama’s leadership.

That’s what we’re exposing now. Who will be — who will continue that legacy of Ronald Reagan? And who will take Barack Obama on toe to toe and hold him accountable? And I think that I’ll be the best one to do that on the stage.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: I actually worked for Ronald Reagan. And I think he would have been the first to stand up and say: Debate is good. It must be respectful, and it must be rigorous.

A rigorous debate will lead to greater trust. And the one thing this nation needs desperately today is heightened trust, in our institutions, in our tax code, in our wars abroad, in Congress, toward Wall Street.

And I’m here to tell you that this kind of debate over time is going to elevate the trust level in whomever makes it out as the nominee. That will allow us to beat Barack Obama.

Thank you. [applause]

MODERATOR: Well, that is it for our debate tonight. Thank you all very much. Our thanks to the candidates, their staffs, the Iowa Republican Party, and to all the great people here in Sioux City, and, of course, in Iowa. They could not have been more hospitable.

September 22, 2011: Fox News / Google /  Florida Republican Party Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

Republican Candidates Debate in Orlando, Florida September 22, 2011

PARTICIPANTS:
Representative Michele Bachmann (MN);
Herman Cain (GA);
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (GA);
Former Governor Jon Huntsman (UT);
Former Governor Gary Johnson (NM);
Representative Ron Paul (TX);
Governor Rick Perry (TX);
Former Governor Mitt Romney (MA); and
Former Senator Rick Santorum (PA)MODERATORS:
Bret Baier (Fox News);
Megyn Kelly (Fox News);
Chris Wallace (Fox News)

BAIER: Welcome to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, the site of our Republican presidential debate. It is being sponsored by Fox News and Google in conjunction with the Florida Republican Party.

Besides watching us on Fox News Channel, we are being streamed on YouTube.com/Fox News and heard on Fox News Radio.

Now let’s meet the candidates.

Texas Governor Rick Perry. [applause]

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. [applause]

Congressman Ron Paul. [applause]

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. [applause]

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. [applause]

Businessman Herman Cain. [applause]

Former Senator Rick Santorum. [applause]

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. [applause]

And former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. [applause]

Joining me at the big desk tonight, my Fox News colleagues Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace. [applause]

With our partner Google, we have some new features we’d like to quickly tell you about.

Throughout the night we’ll be playing some questions from viewers who posted their video and text questions on YouTube. We will also be polling viewers on key issues while the debate is under way. We will have updates from our own Shannon Bream.

Our rules are similar to previous Fox debates, one minute for answers, 30 seconds for follow-ups. And after an outpouring of e-mails from dog owners who said the last bell sounded like their doorbell, we have a new sound for the candidates if they run too long.

Thank you to Google for that sound. We hope after a string of debates we don’t have to use that too much.

Now, we received thousands and thousands of questions from around the world on different topics. Each one of these pins on the map is another question from health care and immigration, to foreign policy and social issues. But the highest percentage of questions dealt with jobs, the economy, debt, and government spending. And that was even before today’s major market slide.

What makes this debate unique is that not only did you submit the questions, you voted on them, letting everyone know which questions you think the candidates should be asked tonight.

We received questions from all 50 states, but our first question comes from Dave Meldeau, right here in Florida.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: As a small business owner, one of the obstacles I have in growing my business in today’s economy is having the confidence and incentive to go out and hire new employees. I’m wondering what each one of our candidates would propose to do as president to help incent small businesses like mine to hire new employees and to confidently grow our business in this troublesome economic environment.

[end video clip]

BAIER: Governor Perry, I’ll put that question to you.

PERRY: Yes, sir.

Well, Rick Scott is sitting right over there, and he and I compete every day with trying to get jobs into our states. And what we have done in the state of Texas over the course of the last decade is to lower that tax burden on the small businessmen and women, have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable, and sweeping tort reform that we passed in 2003 that told personal injury trial lawyers, don’t come to Texas, because you are not going to be suing our doctors frivolously. [applause]

PERRY: That’s the way you get the government off of the back of small businessmen and women. And that’s the way you free up those small business entrepreneurs, where they know that they can risk their capital and have a chance to have a return on investment.

If it will work in the state of Texas, it will work in Washington, D.C. And that’s exactly what I’m going bring to Washington when I go there in November — or, excuse me, in January of 2013.

BAIER: Governor Perry, the thing we’ve heard from most people who submitted questions is they wanted specifics, they wanted details. Most of the people on the stage, opponents, have a specific jobs plan on paper that people can read.

Where is your jobs plan?

PERRY: Well, you will see a more extensive jobs plan. But the fact of the matter is, you look at the state of Texas and see what we’ve done there from the standpoint of lowering that tax burden, the regulatory climate in the state of Texas. We’ve taken those types of regulation off the throat of small business operators.

People understand that the state of Texas, during the last decade, something special happened there. It was the number one state for relocation for five years in a row. And we plan on keeping it that way, Rick. [laughter]

BAIER: Governor Romney — Governor Romney, you have a specific plan. In recent days, actually, the top rising search of your name on Google actually dealt with people searching for specifics of that plan.

But a Wall Street Journal editorial recently called your 59-point economic plan, quote, “surprisingly timid and tactical considering our economic predicament.” Specifically, the editorial board had a problem with you picking the $200,000 income threshold for eliminating interest, dividends, and capital gains taxes, writing that you were afraid of President Obama’s, quote, “class warfare rhetoric.”

How do you response to that criticism?

ROMNEY: Well, let’s go back — let’s go back and talk — microphone on? Can we get the mike on? There we go.

BAIER: There we go.

ROMNEY: Let’s go back and talk about the question that Dave asked, which is how to get small business a break. And President Obama has done everything wrong.

I happen to believe that to create jobs it helps to have had a job, and I have. And having had a job in small business and in big business, I know what you have to do is make America the most attractive place in the world for business, and that means our corporate tax rates, our employer tax rates have to be competitive. Small business pays at the highest rate. We need to get those rates down to globally competitive levels.

Number two, government and regulators have to be allies of business, not foes.

Number three, we’ve got to become energy secure in this country.

Number four, we have to have trade policies that work for us, not just for the other guys, and crack down on cheaters like China.

And my list goes on in my 59 points. But finally, let me tell you this… [applause]

I — I know there are some that say, look, we should lower taxes for the very highest-income people. Other folks have different plans. My view is very simple: The people that have been hurt most by the president’s economy, the Obama economy, has been the middle class.

That’s why I cut taxes for the middle class.

BAIER: So, sir, what… [applause] … what do you consider rich? Is half-a-million dollars, a million dollars rich? At what income does someone reach your definition of rich?

ROMNEY: I don’t try and define who’s — who’s rich and who’s not rich. I want everybody in America to be rich. I want people in this country to have opportunity. [applause]

And I want everybody to have the kind of opportunities that we on this stage have had. I want people in America to recognize that the future will be brighter for their kids than it was for them.

I know that the — the president’s party wants to try and take from some people and give to the others. That isn’t the way to lift America. The way to lift America is to give people opportunity and to let them enjoy the freedoms that have made us the envy of the world. [applause]

BAIER: Governor, thank you very much. Occasionally, through the debate, we will ask the same questions we ask the candidates to you at home. The first one, what is your definition of rich? You can vote on that answer at youtube.com/foxnews. We’ll bring some of those results throughout the show with Shannon Bream.

Now to my colleague, Megyn Kelly.

KELLY: Thanks, Bret.

Congresswoman Bachmann, after the last debate, a young member of the California Tea Party said he didn’t feel he had had his question fully answered. And it’s a question that received the most votes on Google and YouTube on the list, as well. The answer his question is a number. And the question was, quote, “Out of every dollar I earn, how much do you think that I deserve to keep?”

BACHMANN: And after the debate, I talked to that young man, and I said I wish I could have answered that question, because I want to tell you what my answer is: I think you earned every dollar. You should get to keep every dollar that you earn. That’s your money; that’s not the government’s money. [applause]

That’s the whole point. Barack Obama seems to think that when we earn money, it belongs to him and we’re lucky just to keep a little bit of it. I don’t think that at all. I think when people make money, it’s their money.

Obviously, we have to give money back to the government so that we can run the government, but we have to have a completely different mindset. And that mindset is, the American people are the genius of this economy. It certainly isn’t government that’s the genius. And that’s the two views.

President Obama has embraced a view of government-directed temporary fixes and gimmicks. They don’t work. He’s destroyed the economy. What does work is private solutions that are permanent in the private sector. That gives certainty; that will grow our economy. [applause]

KELLY: Senator Santorum, next question is for you. This map from Google depicts 22 states in the U.S. are right-to-work states. In the other 28, if a business is a union shop, you have to join the union if you want to work there. Now, this next question is one of the top-voted questions online, and it comes to us via YouTube from Yates Wilburn of Hilton Head, South Carolina.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: With unemployment numbers remaining above 9 percent, union issues, such as the National Labor Relations Board lawsuit against Boeing and several union battles in state legislatures across the country have become incredibly relevant to the national discussion. For all the candidates, would you support some form of a federal right-to-work law, allowing all workers to choose whether or not to join a union?

[end video clip] [applause]

KELLY: That’s for you, Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: I — I think the most important area that we have to focus in on when it comes to unions is public employee unions. That’s the area of unionization that’s growing the fastest and it’s costing us the most money.

We’ve seen these battles on the state level, where unions have — have really bankrupted states from pension plans to here on the federal level, for example, 30 percent to 40 percent union — union employees make above their private-sector equivalents.

I do not believe that — that state, federal or local workers, unions, should be involved in unions. And I would actually support a bill that says that we should not have public employee unions for the purposes of wages and benefits to be negotiated. [applause]

KELLY: Speaker Gingrich, this next one’s for you. You criticized extending unemployment benefits, saying that you were, quote, “opposed to giving people money for doing nothing.” Benefits have already been extended to 99 weeks, and they are set to expire soon. If you were president today, would you extend unemployment benefits? And if not, how do you justify that to the millions of unemployed Americans who are looking in earnest and whose families are depending on those checks?

GINGRICH: Well, what I’ve said is that I think unemployment compensation should be tied directly to a training program. And if you have to — if you don’t have a job and you need help, then in order for us to give you the help, you should sign up for a business-led training program so that that 99 weeks becomes an investment in human capital, giving us the best-trained workforce in the world so you can get a job.

But I believe it is fundamentally wrong to give people money for 99 weeks for doing nothing. That’s why we had welfare reform. [applause]

And, frankly, the easiest thing for Congress to do, if the president sends up a proposed extension, is to allow all 50 states to experiment at the state level with developing a mandatory training component of unemployment compensation, so you’d have 50 parallel experiments, and not pretend that Washington knows best or that Washington can solve the problem by itself. But I believe deeply, people should not get money for doing nothing. [applause]

BAIER: Now I turn to my colleague, Chris Wallace.

Chris?

WALLACE: Bret, thank you. Good evening, candidates.

Governor Huntsman, in Utah, you offered millions of dollars in tax credits to promote clean energy. In June you said that as president you would subsidize natural gas companies. How is that different from the Obama administration, which gave the solar panel company Solyndra a half-a-billion dollars in federal loan guarantees, and as we all know, that company ended up bankrupt, and we taxpayers ended up on the hook?

HUNTSMAN: Chris, first of all, it’s an honor to be here in Orlando, home of my wife, the greatest human being I’ve known in 28 years.

We’ve learned some important lessons as this economy has spun out of control. We have some hard decisions to make. And we’re not going to fix the problem. We’re not going to be able to bring our people together in America until we fix the economy.

I’m convinced that part of the divide that we’re experiencing in the United States, which is unprecedented, it’s unnatural, and it’s un-American, is because we’re divided economically, too few jobs, too few opportunities.

We have learned that subsidies don’t work and that we can no longer afford them. I believe that we can move toward renewable energy, but we’re going to have to have a bridge product. Everybody wants to draw from the sun and draw from the wind, and I’m here to tell you that eventually that will make sense, but today the economics don’t work.

We need something like natural gas. I’ve put forward an energy independence program, along with tax reform and regulatory reform. Just by drawing from natural gas, for example, you’re looking at 500,000 to 1 million jobs over the next five years. It is ours, it’s affordable, it has important national security implications, and we should begin the conversion process.

WALLACE: But just a 30-second follow-up, sir. In June, you told the New Hampshire Union Leader as president you would subsidies the natural gas industry.

HUNTSMAN: I would be willing to begin an effort, so long as there was a rapid phase-out. I do not like subsidies. I do not like long-term subsidies. But if there was some sort of way to get the ball rolling with a — with a — with a quick phase-out, I would be in favor of that.

WALLACE: Mr. Cain, I want to follow up on your 999 plan for economic growth. That’s a 9 percent… [applause]

Well, they seem to already know what it is. But for the few who don’t, it’s a 9 percent flat corporate tax, a 9 percent flat income tax, and a new 9 percent national sales tax.

Now, conservatives usually say repeal the income tax before you impose a new tax. Isn’t there a danger with your 999 plan, with these three taxes, that some government down the road after President Cain is going to increase three forms of taxation on Americans?

CAIN: No, there’s no danger in that. And first, let me answer Dave’s question with the 9, 9, 9 plan. Unfortunately, nobody up here answered his question. He wanted to know as a small businessman what are we going to do to help him as a small business person? I have walked in Dave’s shoes.

This economy is on life support, that’s why my 9, 9, 9 plan is a bold solution. It starts with throw out the current tax code and pass 9 percent business flat tax, 9 percent personal income tax, and the 9% national sales tax. This is the most important part, it eliminates, or replaces corporate income tax, personal income tax, capital gains tax as well as the estate tax.

Then it treats all businesses the same. And the people who are paying only payroll tax, 15.3, that 15.4 they don’t have to pay, now they only have to pay that 9 percent.

And unlike Governor Romney’s plan my plan throws out the old one.

He’s still hooked to the current tax code. That dog won’t hunt. [applause]

WALLACE: The rule is if your name is mentioned in an answer you get 30 seconds to respond — Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: That’s fine. I put my plan out, I want to make it clear my intent is to help the people who have been most hurt by President Obama’s economy. And the people who have been most hurt are the middle income families of America. And that’s why my plan says that if middle income families want to save their money, anybody earning under $200,000 and not pay any taxes on interest, dividends or capital gains, zero tax on their savings, that’s the plan I’m for. And I will get that done in my first year. Thank you.

WALLACE: Congressman Paul I want to show the video that got the most votes of all the video questions submitted to YouTube. And this one comes, as you can see, from Brandy and Michael in Spencer, Indiana.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: There’s growing concern among Americans about the size and the scope of the federal government and its infringement upon state and individual rights.

QUESTION: If you’re elected president how do you plan to restore the 10th amendment, hold the federal government only to those enumerated powers in the Constitution and allow states to govern themselves?

[end video clip]

WALLACE: Congressman what is your answer for Brandy and Michael?

PAUL: Well obviously, it would take more than one individual, but the responsibility of the president would be to veto every single bill that violates the 10th amendment. That would be the solution. [applause]

WALLACE: Anything else? You have a little time left. [laughter]

PAUL: Well, I’ll tell you what, that is the subject that is crucial because government is too big in Washington, D.C. It’s run away. We have no controls of spending, taxes, regulations, no control in the Federal Reserve printing money. So if we want government, whether it is medical care or whatever, it is proper to do it at the local level as well as our schools. But there’s no authority in the constitution to do so much what we’re doing. There’s no authority for them to run our schools, no authority to control our economy, and no authority to control us as individuals on what we do with our personal lives! [applause]

BAIER: OK, we got to the full answer there at the end. Governor Johnson, same question to you about the 10th amendment. With this added, you are an outspoken libertarian. What makes you a better choice for libertarian Republicans than Congressman Paul?

JOHNSON: I’m not going to presume to make that assumption, but I would like to say that I do bring a unique perspective to this stage. I started a one-man handyman business in Albuquerque in 1974 and grew it to over 1,000 employees. I have run for two political offices in my life: governor of New Mexico and reelection. I promise to submit a balanced budget to congress in the year 2013. I promise to veto legislation where expenditures exceed revenue.

And if anybody doubts my willingness to veto bills, I think I vetoed more bills than any governor in the history of the United States. I think I vetoed more bills than all the other governors in the country combined.

Add to that, throwing out the entire federal tax system and replacing it with a consumption tax, the fair tax, which would absolutely reboot the American economy because it does away with the corporate tax to create tens of millions of jobs in this country.

BAIER: Governor Johnson, thank you.

We’ll be coming back to the issue of the economy throughout this debate tonight. As I mentioned at the top of the show, we’ll also be checking in with our own Shannon Bream throughout the night to get real-time updates from people watching — Shannon.

BREAM: Hi Bret.

Well, this is the most interactive debate ever, and it’s thanks to our partner Google. You can go to YouTube.com/Fox News. What happens there, folks can see the debate streaming live. But also, to the right of the screen, all night long, we are sending out questions so we can get your answers at home. And you can participate and weigh in.

Bret, a little bit earlier, asked Governor Romney how he defines rich. It’s a question we put to folks out on the Internet as well, and we’ve got the results.

Here’s the question: “I define rich as someone having an annual income higher than.” A hundred thousand dollars, 13 percent of you weighed in there; $250,000, 22 percent; $500,000, 22 percent; and the majority went with $1 million annual income, that defines you as rich,
44 percent of those who voted.

We’ll be going through all kinds of polls and data on the commercials. Join us at YouTube.com/Fox News.

Bret, back to you.

BAIER: Thanks, Shannon.

After the break, we will be tackling foreign policy, government spending. Shannon will have more on that, too. And also the issue of immigration.

Now, here for a preview of what’s to come, let’s take a look at what’s called a word cloud. It shows the words that were used most often in all of the questions you asked about immigration. The bigger the word, the more often it was used.

The biggest word in this cloud, as you see, is “illegal.”

Back after a short break. [applause]

[commercial break]

[begin video clip]

GOV. RICK SCOTT, R-FLA.: Good evening. I’m Florida Governor Rick Scott. Because of Florida’s size and diversity, our state represents the very pulse of our great nation. Not only will Florida be a must win for a Republican to be our party’s nominee, Florida is a must win on the road to the White House.

It is my belief that the next president will be the candidate who both articulates a plan for getting America’s economy back on the right track and inspires confidence in the hearts and minds of all Americans.

Good luck to all the candidates.

This debate is a partnership with Fox News and Google. I thank the men and women of Fox News and Google for choosing Florida, and thank all of you for being part of this exciting event.

[end video clip]

BAIER: Thank you Governor Scott.

And welcome back to Orlando, Florida, and the Republican presidential debate. [applause]

BAIER: My colleague Megyn Kelly will take us through the next round of questions on government spending and debt.

KELLY: Thanks, Bret.

Governor Perry, Governor Romney has been hammering you on your idea of turning Social Security back to the states, repeatedly. Can you explain specifically how 50 separate Social Security systems are supposed to work?

PERRY: Well, let me just say first, for those people that are on Social Security today, for those people that are approaching Social Security, they don’t have anything in the world to worry about. We have made a solemn oath to the people of this country that that Social Security program in place today will be there for them.

Now, it’s not the first time that Mitt has been wrong on some issues before. And the bottom line is, is we never said that we were going to move this back to the states. What we said was, we ought to have as one of the options the state employees and the state retirees, they being able to go off of the current system, on to one that the states would operate themselves.

As a matter of fact, in Massachusetts, his home state, almost 96 percent of the people who are on that program, retirees and state people, are off of the Social Security program. So having that option out there to have the states — Louisiana does it, almost every state has their state employees and the retirees that are options to go off of Social Security.

That makes sense. It’s an option that we should have.

KELLY: Governor Romney, you’re satisfied with that?

ROMNEY: Well, it’s different than what the governor put in his book just, what, six months, and what you said in your interviews following the book. So I don’t know. There’s a Rick Perry out there that is saying — and almost to quote, it says that the federal government shouldn’t be in the pension business, that it’s unconstitutional.

Unconstitutional and it should be returned to the states.

So you better find that Rick Perry and get him to stop saying that. [applause]

ROMNEY: Now, my own view is, that we have to make it very, very clear that Social Security is a responsibility of the federal government, not the state governments, that we’re going to have one plan, and we’re going to make sure that it’s fiscally sound and stable.

And I’m absolutely committed to keeping Social Security working. I put in my book that I wrote a couple of years ago a plan for how we can do that and to make sure Social Security stable not just for the next 25 years, but for the next 75.

Thank you.

PERRY: And I would like to respond to that.

KELLY: Go ahead, Governor Perry.

PERRY: Speaking of books and talking about being able to have things in your books, back and forth, your economic adviser talked about Romneycare and how that was an absolute bust. And it was exactly what Obamacare was all about.

As a matter of fact, between books, your hard copy book, you said it was exactly what the American people needed, to have that Romneycare given to them as you had in Massachusetts. Then in your paperback, you took that line out. So, speaking of not getting it straight in your book sir, that would be a — [applause]

KELLY: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Governor Perry, we were talking about Social Security, but if you want to talk about health care, I’m happy to do that.

BAIER: We are going to have a round on that.

ROMNEY: I actually wrote my book, and in my book I said no such thing. What I said, actually — when I put my health care plan together
— and I met with Dan Balz, for instance, of The Washington Post. He said, “Is this is a plan that if you were president you would put on the whole nation, have a whole nation adopt it?”

I said, “Absolutely not.” I said, “This is a state plan for a state, it is not a national plan.”

And it’s fine for to you retreat from your own words in your own book, but please don’t try and make me retreat from the words that I wrote in my book. I stand by what I wrote. I believe in what I did.

And I believe that the people of this country can read my book and see exactly what it is.

Thank you. [applause]

KELLY: We’ve got plenty of questions for all the other candidates up here tonight, but I want to stick with you on this one, Governor Romney.
Congresswoman Bachmann has said that President Obama has “ushered in socialism” during his first term. Governor Perry says that this administration is “hell bent” toward taking America toward a socialist country” When Speaker Gingrich was asked if he believes President Obama is a socialist, he responded, quote, “Sure, of course he is.” [laughter]

Do you, Governor Romney… [applause]

Do you, Governor Romney, believe that President Obama is a socialist?

ROMNEY: Let me tell you the title that I want to hear said about President Obama, and that is: former President Barack Obama. That’s the title I want to hear. [applause]

Let me tell you this. What President — what President Obama is, is a big-spending liberal. And he takes his political inspiration from Europe and from the socialist democrats in Europe. Guess what? Europe isn’t working in Europe. It’s not going to work here.

I believe in America. I believe in the opportunity and in the freedom that is American opportunity and freedom. I believe in free enterprise and capitalism. I believe government is too big. It’s gone from 27 percent of our economy in the years of JFK to 37 percent of our economy. We have to rein in the scale of government or we’re not going to be — continue to be a free economy.

I love this country. I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I only spent four years as a governor. I didn’t inhale. [laughter]

I’m a business guy. I’m going to get America working again, because I believe in the principles that make America the hope of the Earth.

Thank you. [applause]

KELLY: Governor Huntsman, this next one’s for you. This week, President Obama proposed a tax hike on millionaires, saying that they need to pay their, quote, “fair share.” According to an August Gallup poll, 66 percent of American adults actually believe that a tax hike on the wealthy is a good idea to help tackle our mounting debt. Is there any scenario under which you could side with the 66 percent of people who believe that it is a good idea to raise taxes on millionaires?

HUNTSMAN: We’re not going to raise taxes. This is the worst time to be raising taxes, and everybody knows that. [applause]

We need to grow. We need to be reminded of what Ronald Reagan told us so beautifully, that which is great about America, freedom. We need to re-establish freedom in the marketplace.

We need to address our underlying structural problems that we have.

And in order to do that, we’re going to have to fix our taxes. And we put forward a program endorsed by the Wall Street Journal that phases out for individuals all the loopholes, all the deductions, and creates three rates, 8, 14, 23.

On the corporate side, it phases out all of the corporate welfare, all of the subsidies, and it gets it from 35 percent to 25 percent.

This is exactly where we need to be. We need to grow; we need to create jobs. This is not a point in time where we should be raising taxes.

We need to fix the underlying structural problems in this economy.

And until such time as we do, we’re not going to provide the confidence to businesses who are looking to deploy capital in the marketplace and hire people. And that would be serious tax reform, like I proposed, and like I did in the stay of Utah, and that would be — that would be structural reform, as well, dealing with Dodd-Frank, and repealing Obamacare, because they are presenting tremendous uncertainty to the marketplace right now.

KELLY: Thank you, Governor.

Mr. Cain, this question was one of the top 10 video questions voted on by people online, and it comes to us from Lee Doren of Arlington, Virginia, via YouTube.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: My question is, if you were forced to eliminate one department from the federal government, which one would you eliminate and why? Thank you.

[end video clip] [laughter]

CAIN: The first — the first department, if I were forced to eliminate a department, I would start with the EPA and start all over.

It’s out of control. [applause]

Now, I know that makes some people nervous, but the EPA has gone wild. The fact that they have a regulation that goes into effect January 1, 2012, to regulate dust says that they’ve gone too far. [laughter]

So rather than try to fix it, eliminate all of the things that they have right now and then start rebuilding a responsible EPA.

Now, with the rest of my time, may I offer a solution for Social Security, rather than continuing to talk about what to call it? I have proposed the Chilean model. It’s been around 30 years, and it works.

It’s a personal retirement account. And in the last 30 years, not only has Chile succeeded with that model, but 30 other countries have done so. I don’t think we’re doing a service to the American people to keep bantering about what you call it and what you don’t call it. The solution is: Fix it. [applause]

KELLY: Speaker Gingrich, every day the federal government takes in about $6 billion, but spends about $10 billion. So we borrow 40 cents of every dollar we spend. Now, I understand that you believe that if we modernize the federal government that it’ll help a lot, it’ll save billions. But given the resistance that we’ve seen in Washington — the seeming intractable resistance we’ve seen in Washington to spending cuts, how can you possibly slash spending by 40 percent? How can you do it?

GINGRICH: Well, the way you described the question, you can’t. [laughter]

KELLY: Well, that’s it. Stick a fork in us.

GINGRICH: If — if you assume Washington remains the way Washington is right now, it’s all hopeless. We might as well buy Greek bonds and go down together. [laughter]

KELLY: How do you get us out of that? [applause]

GINGRICH: Well, next Thursday in Des Moines, I’m going to outline a 21st century Contract with America. And it’s going to be far bolder, far deeper, far more profound than what we did in 1994 or what I helped Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan do in 1980.

It’s important to remember, this month, in the Reagan administration, September 1983, we created 1,100,000 new jobs. Obama’s socialist policies, class warfare, and bureaucratic socialism, we created zero in August.

I believe with leadership we can balance the budget. I did it for four consecutive years. We went from $2.2 trillion projected deficit over a decade to $2.7 trillion projected surplus when I left. I think it is doable, but it takes real leadership. [applause]

BAIER: Thank you, Megyn.

The next question is for all of the candidates. It comes to us from Atlanta, Georgia, on the topic of education.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Stella Lohmann from Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve taught in both public and private schools, and now as a substitute teacher I see administrators more focused on satisfying federal mandates, retaining funding, trying not to get sued, while the teachers are jumping through hoops trying to serve up a one-size-fits-all education for their students. What as president would you seriously do about what I consider a massive overreach of big government into the classroom? Thank you.

[end video clip] [applause]

BAIER: That topic is for all candidates. And to get everyone to weigh in, 30 seconds each, please.

Governor Johnson?

JOHNSON: I’m promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013. That’s a 43 percent reduction in federal spending.

I am going to promise to advocate the abolishment of the federal Department of Education. [applause]

The federal Department of Education gives each state 11 cents out of every dollar that every state spends, but it comes with 16 cents worth of strings attached. So what America does not understand is that it’s a negative to take federal money. Give it to 50 laboratories of innovation, the states, to improve on, and that’s what we’ll see dramatic improvement. [applause]

BAIER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Yeah, 20 years ago, the federal contribution to education was 3 percent. It’s now at 11 percent, and our schools are doing worse, and it’s exactly what Gary Johnson just said. It’s because the federal government’s meddling.

The bottom-line problem with education is that the education system doesn’t serve the customer of the education system. And who’s the customer? The parents, because it’s the parents’ responsibility to educate the children.

It’s been that responsibility — from the moment they were born, they began the education of their children. And at some point, we have
— the government has convinced parents that at some point it’s no longer their responsibility. And in fact, they force them, in many respects, to turn their children over to the public education system and wrest control from them and block them out of participation of that.

That has to change or education will not improve in this country. [applause]

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: I think you need very profound reform of education at the state level. You need to dramatically shrink the federal Department of Education, get rid of virtually all of its regulations.

And the truth is, I believe we’d be far better off if most states adopted a program of the equivalent of Pell Grants for K-through-12, so that parents could choose where their child went to school, whether it was public, or private, or home-schooling, and parents could be involved. Florida has a virtual school program that is worth the entire country studying as an example. [applause]

BAIER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: If you care about your children, you’ll get the federal government out of the business of educating our kids. [applause]

In 1980, when the Republican Party ran, part of the platform was to get rid of the Department of Education. By the year 2000, it was eliminated, and we fed on to it. Then (inaudible) Republicans added No Child Left Behind.

So the first thing a president should do is — the goal should be set to get the government out completely, but don’t enforce this law of No Child Left Behind. It’s not going to do any good, and nobody likes it. And there’s no value to it. The teachers don’t like it, and the students don’t like it.

But there are other things that the federal government can do, and that is give tax credits for the people who will opt out. We ought to have a right to opt out of the public system if you want.

BAIER: Governor Perry.

PERRY: There are a lot of good ideas here on the side and whether it is cutting back on the Department of Education, making those types of reductions.

I happen to believe we ought to be promoting school choice all across this country. I think school — the voucher system, charter schools all across this country. But there is one person on this stage that is for Obama’s Race to the Top and that is Governor Romney. He said so just this last week. And I think that is an important difference between the rest of the people on this stage and one person that wants to run for the presidency.

Being in favor of the Obama Race to the Top and that is not conservative.

BAIER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Nice try.

Let me tell you what I think I would do.

One, education has to be held at the local and state level, not at the federal level. We need get the federal government out of education. And secondly, all the talk about we need smaller classroom size, look that’s promoted by the teachers unions to hire more teachers. We looked at what drives good education in our state, what we found is the best thing for education is great teachers, hire the very best and brightest to be teachers, pay them properly, make sure that you have school choice, test your kids to see if they are meeting the standards that need to be met, and make sure that you put the parents in charge.

And as president I will stand up to the National Teachers Unions.

BAIER: Governor Romney, I want give you more time. Did Governor Perry say something that wasn’t true?

ROMNEY: I’m not sure exactly what he’s saying. I don’t support any particular program that he’s describing. I think that the president — I think the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is doing a good thing by saying, you know what, we should insist that teachers get evaluated and that schools have the opportunity to see which teachers exceeding and which ones are failing and that teachers that are not successful are removed from the classroom. Those ideas by Secretary Duncan, that is a lot better than what the president did which is cutting off school choice in the Washington, D.C. schools. So let’s give us a full chance to talk about it.

BAIER: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: We need that to do with education what has always worked historically, and that’s local control with parents. What doesn’t work is what we see happen right now.

I’m a mom five biological kids. We’ve raised 23 foster children in our home. The reason why I got involved in politics was because of the concern I had about our foster children and the education they were getting. What I would do as president of the United States is pass the mother of all repeal bills on education. I would take the entire federal education law, repeal it. Then I would go over to the Department of Education, I’d turn off the lights, I would lock the door and I would send all the money back to the states and localities.

BAIER: Mr. Cain?

CAIN: A lot of good ideas, I won’t repeat them.

All of the programs at the federal level where there’s strings attached, cut all the strings. We have got to encourage parents to take advantage of choices, but provide those choices and we must find ways to empower the students. This is how we are going to improve education, but primarily get the federal government out of trying to educate our kids at the local level.

BAIER: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: This is a key question, because it has so much to do with our nation’s competitiveness. I feel like I’ve run my own clinical trial in my home, raising seven kids. We’ve seen every option. We’ve experienced everything out there. But as governor I learned some important things. I signed the first — or the second voucher bill in the United States, Carson-Smith. I’ve actually done something about this.

We actually worked on early childhood literacy. If you can lock in the pillars of cognitive development around reading and math before age six, you are giving those kids the best gift possible as they then proceed through education.

Finally, you’ve got to say no to unfunded mandates coming out of Washington. They are totally unacceptable. No one loves their schools more than parents and local school boards, and local elected officials.

Localize, localize, localize. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Huntsman thank you.

And by the way, everyone likes the new sound, it’s far more pleasing instead of the bell? OK, I guess they do. [laughter]

BAIER: …round of questions on immigration.

WALLACE: Congresswoman Bachmann, as you well know, a number of states are trying to crack down on illegal immigration. We got a bunch of questions on immigration like this one from Tim Emerson, this is a text question so you don’t need to look up there. Tim Emerson of California.

He wrote this, “would you support each state enforcing the immigration laws since the federal government is not?”

Congresswoman, could you answer Tim’s question? And if your answer is yes, how do you square that with the constitution which says that congress has the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization?

BACHMANN: Well, the reason why he’s asking this question is because the federal government has failed the American people and has failed the states. It’s reprehensible that President Obama has sued the state of Arizona and the governor of Arizona for trying to protect the people in Arizona. That’s wrong. [applause]

BACHMANN: As president of the United States, I would do what my job would demand of me. That’s to uphold the sovereignty of the United States of America.

To do that, I would build a fence on America’s southern border on every mile, on every yard, on every foot, on every inch of the southern border. I think that’s what we have to do, not only build it, but then also have sufficient border security and enforce the laws that are on the books with the ICE agents, with our border security.

And here’s the other thing I would do. I would not allow taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal aliens or for their children. [applause]

BACHMANN: That’s a madness. End the madness for illegal aliens to come into the United States of America.

WALLACE: Congresswoman, thank you.

And we’re going to get back to that issue in a moment.

But first, Speaker Gingrich, as you well know, there’s a debate going on in Congress right now about whether or not to make all employers, all businesses use E-Verify, a government database, to check whether or not new hires are illegal. Now, some Tea Partiers object to that idea because they say it would turn small businessmen into immigration agents.

But Kristen Williamson of the Federation for American Immigration Reform sent this question. Please look at it.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: Kristen Williamson, the Federal for American Immigration Reform.

Struggling U.S. workers continue to compete with millions of illegal aliens. Do you support legislation to require all employers to use E-Verify in order to ensure that the people that they hire are actually legally authorized to work in the U.S.? And will you impose penalties against employers who continue to hire illegal workers?

[end video clip]

WALLACE: The question, Mr. Speaker, is, should employers be required to use E-Verify?

GINGRICH: Well, let me say, first of all, I think we would be better off to outsource E-Verify to American Express, MasterCard or Visa, because they actually know how to run a program like that without massive fraud. [applause]

GINGRICH: Second, the program should be as easy as swiping your credit card when you buy gasoline. And so I would ask of employers, what is it you would object to in helping the United States of America in dealing with the problem involving illegal immigration?

But, in addition, I want to reinforce what Congresswoman Bachmann said. I strongly favor 100 percent control of the border, and I strongly favor English as the official language of government. [applause]

GINGRICH: And I favor modernizing the legal visa system to make it far more convenient, far easier and far more practical. Here in Orlando, where we have a huge interest in people being able to visit easily for tourism, we have a terribly antiquated legal system while our border is too open for people who are illegal. [applause]

WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, thank you.

Governor Romney, I want to continue a conversation that you had with Governor Perry in the last debate.

In Massachusetts, you vetoed legislation to provide interstate tuition rates to the children of illegals. Governor Perry of course signed the Texas Dream Act to do exactly that. But what about Governor Perry’s argument that it’s better to get these kids an education and to get them jobs than to consign them just to being a burden on the state?

ROMNEY: It’s an argument I just can’t follow. I’ve got be honest with you, I don’t see how it is that a state like Texas — to go to the University of Texas, if you’re an illegal alien, you get an in-state tuition discount. You know how much that is? That’s $22,000 a year.

Four years of college, almost $100,000 discount if you are an illegal alien go to the University of Texas. If you are a United States citizen from any one of the other 49 states, you have to pay $100,000 more. That doesn’t make sense to me. And that kind of magnet — [applause]

ROMNEY: That kind of magnet draws people into this country to get that education, to get the $100,000 break. It makes no sense. We have to have — just as Speaker Gingrich said, and as Michele Bachmann said as well, Congresswoman Bachmann, and that is we have to have a fence, we have to have enough Border Patrol agents to secure the fence, we have to have a system like E-Verify that employers can use to identify who is here legally and illegally.

We have to crackdown on employers that hire people that are here illegally. And we have to turn off the magnet of extraordinary government benefits like a $100,000 tax credit — or, excuse me, discount for going to the University of Texas. That shouldn’t be allowed. It makes no sense at all. [applause]

WALLACE: Governor Perry, I’m going to ask you a question, so you don’t need to respond to him, because you’re going to get a full minute to answer your question, which is on directly this point. You’re the candidate whose name, by a wide margin, came up most often in the questions being submitted to all of you candidates about immigration.

Dave Hollenback of Arizona sent this “To date, it appears that you have not tried to stop the illegals from coming. We have high unemployment and a considerable amount of jobs going to illegals. Are you going to exert an effort to stop the abuse of U.S. citizens by illegals?”

Now, last year, more than 16,000 children of illegals, young people in Texas, took advantage of your in-state tuition rate. Speak to that issue. And just, generally, how do you feel being criticized by a number of these other candidates on the stage for being too soft on immigration, sir?

PERRY: Well, I feel pretty normal getting criticized by these folks, but the fact of the matter is this: there is nobody on this stage who has spent more time working on border security than I have.

For a decade, I’ve been the governor of a state with a 1,200-mile border with Mexico. We put $400 million of our taxpayer money into securing that border. We’ve got our Texas Ranger recon teams there now.

I supported Arizona’s immigration law by joining in that lawsuit to defend it. Every day I have Texans on that border that are doing their job.

But if you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society.

I think that’s what Texans wanted to do. Out of 181 members of the Texas legislature, when this issue came up, only four dissenting votes.

This was a state issue. Texans voted on it. And I still support it greatly. [applause]

WALLACE: Senator Santorum — [booing]

SANTORUM: Chris, no one here is suggesting —

WALLACE: Senator Santorum, you don’t need to butt in because I was about to ask you a question on this exact issue.

You say that Governor Perry’s opposition to building a border along the entire fence shows that he is a “big government moderate.”

Question: Is he soft on illegal immigration?

SANTORUM: Governor Perry, no one is suggesting up here that the students that are illegal in this country shouldn’t be able to go to a college and university. I think you are sort of making this leap that, unless we subsidize this, the taxpayers subsidize it, they won’t be able to go.

Well, most folks who want go to the state of Texas or any other state out of state have to pay the full boat. The point is, why are we subsidizing?

Not that they can’t go. They can go. They just have to borrow money, find other sources to be able to go.

And why should they be given preferential treatment as an illegal in this country? That’s what we’re saying. [applause]

SANTORUM: And so, yes, I would say that he is soft on illegal immigration. I think the fact that he doesn’t want to build a fence — he gave a speech in 2001 where he talked about, buy national health insurance between Mexico and Texas. I mean, I don’t even think Barack Obama would be for buy national health insurance.

So I think he’s very weak on this issue of American sovereignty and protecting our borders and not being a magnet for illegal immigration, yes.

WALLACE: Governor Perry, 30 seconds to respond, sir.

PERRY: I’ve got one question for him.

Have you ever even been to the border with Mexico?

SANTORUM: Yes.

PERRY: I’m surprised if you have, but you weren’t paying attention, because the idea that you —

SANTORUM: Well, the answer is, yes, I have.

PERRY: — are going to build a wall, a fence for 1,200 miles, and then go 800 miles more to Tijuana, does not make sense. You put the boots on the ground.

We know how to make this work. You put the boots on the ground.

You put the aviation assets —

SANTORUM: But it’s not working, Governor.

PERRY: — in the ground. No, it’s not working because the federal government has not —

SANTORUM: But you said we know how it works. Is it working in Texas?

PERRY: The federal government has not engaged in this at all. When I’m the president of the United States, I’ll promise you one thing —

SANTORUM: But you’re saying you put the assets there. Has it worked in Texas?

PERRY: — we will put the assets on the ground —

SANTORUM: You said you have.

PERRY: — the boots on the ground —

BAIER: Senator Santorum, let him finish, please.

PERRY: — the aviation assets on the ground, and we will stop illegal immigration, we will stop the drug cartels, and we will make America secure.

SANTORUM: Can you answer the question? Is it working?

WALLACE: Well, you know, you asked your question, he gave his answer, sir.

SANTORUM: OK.

WALLACE: Sometimes we are frustrated with all of you answering questions. [laughter]

WALLACE: Congressman Paul, I want to ask you a question about a comment you made a couple of weeks ago about a border fence with Mexico. Here’s what you said, sir. I want to quote it: “There’s capital controls and there’s people control. So every time you think of a fence keeping all those bad people out, think about those fences maybe being used against us, keeping us in.”

Question, Congressman, do you know a lot of Americans who want to take their money and flee the United States of America? [laughter]

PAUL: There are — there are some. All the candidates up here talk about repatriation of dollars. They’ve already taken them overseas.

We’re talking about trying to bring in $1.5 trillion because they leave our country, because we make it uncomfortable, too many regulations, too much taxation. They can’t start business; they’ve lost confidence.

Yes, when countries destroy a currency, they do lead to capital controls and they lead to people control. So I think it is a real concern. [applause]

And, also, once you have these data banks, the data banks means that everybody is going to be in the data bank. You say, oh, no, the data bank’s there for the illegals. But everybody’s in the data bank.

That’s national ID card. If you care about your personal liberty, you’ll be cautious when you feel comfortable, blame all the illegal immigrants for everything. What you need to do is attack their benefits: no free education, no free subsidies, no citizenship, no birth-right citizenship. [applause]

And that would get to the bottom of it a lot sooner. But economically, you should not ignore the fact that, in tough economic times, money and people want to leave the country. That’s unfortunate.

WALLACE: Congressman Paul, thank you very much, sir.

BAIER: Chris, thank you. Let’s check in now with Shannon Bream.

Shannon?

BREAM: Well, Bret, one of the really interesting and valuable pieces of information we get from our partner, Google, is looking at search trends. We want to take you through some of those.

They’ve looked online for people within the U.S. who have been searching for coupons. We’ve talked about the economy a lot. If you look at the trend, it has been going up, up, up very steadily since 2004 to right now.

Another search compares home loan searches for foreclosure searches. Those have slipped over time. And now more people searching for information about foreclosures than home loans.

And another look, this compares folks searching for the best SUV miles per gallon and also gas prices, and those go together. When people are worried about their pocketbooks, worried about finding a bargain, they’re also looking at how they can save on gas and how they can conserve.

We’ve also been tracking questions that you’ve been putting to the candidates. We’ve put them to the folks at home, as well, and we’ve got some results. This question the same one we asked the candidates. If you had to cut a government department, what would you cut?

This is what the folks at home told us: the Labor Department, 8 percent; the EPA, 12 percent; Housing and Urban Development, 12 percent; Education,
47 percent, easily the majority there; and none, 20 percent. [applause]

Check it all out, YouTube.com/foxnews. Bret, back to you.

BAIER: Thanks, Shannon. We’ll check back with you a little later.

Up next, foreign policy, social issues, and health care, after the break.

[commercial break]

BAIER: Welcome back to Orlando and the Republican presidential debate. We’re parting — partner — partnering — easy for me to say — with Google and the Florida Republican Party.

Now to the topic of foreign policy. And all night we’ve been showing you these word clouds. Take a look at this one. All the searches on foreign policy, Israel is the biggest word. These are actually the words used in questions.

And that brings us to our first question. This week, with the Palestinian efforts at the United Nations, the issue of the future of Israel is a big concern to questioners. In fact, Governor Romney, the next question was a top question voted in the foreign policy section from Yigal Marcus in Teaneck, New Jersey.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: As president, how would you approach the new reality in the Middle East, specifically with regards to our ally, Israel, and the existential threats it faces from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and now the Palestinian Authority?

[end video clip]

BAIER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Very simple. You start off by saying that you don’t allow an inch of space to exist between you and your friends and your allies. [applause]

The president went about this all wrong. He went around the world and apologized for America. He — he addressed the United Nations in his inaugural address and chastised our friend, Israel, for building settlements and said nothing about Hamas launching thousands of rockets into Israel.

Just before Bibi Netanyahu came to the United States, he threw Israel under the bus, tried to negotiate for Israel.

The right course — if you disagree with an ally, you talk about it privately. But in public, you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your allies. The right course for us… [applause]

The right course for us is not to try and negotiate for Israel. The right course is to stand behind our friends, to listen to them, and to let the entire world know that we will stay with them and that we will support them and defend them.

And with regards to Iran, which perhaps represents the greatest existential threat to Israel, we have to make it abundantly clear: It is unacceptable — and I take those — that word carefully — it is unacceptable for Iran to become a nuclear nation. [applause]

BAIER: Thank you, Governor Romney.

Mr. Cain, this week, the Palestinian Authority brought their bid for statehood to the United Nations. How would you respond to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state?

CAIN: It starts with an extension of the Reagan philosophy of peace through strength. My philosophy would extend that to peace through strength and clarity. This administration has not made it clear how it stands with Israel.

When I was in Israel last month, I met with the deputy prime minister. And he made it shockingly, chillingly clear that, given everything that’s going on, number one, Israel will defend itself, with all of the tensions going on in the Middle East.

And he also made it real clear that he wasn’t sure how this administration stood when it came to Israel. I made it clear, which — and I would also make it clear to all of — our — the other people in the world, that if you mess with Israel, you’re messing with the United States of America. We will stand solidly behind Israel. [applause]

CAIN: If in fact it was clear to the Palestinians, where the United States stood, they might have had second thoughts about trying to pull such a move without negotiating with Israel.

BAIER: Mr. Cain, thank you.

Here’s a comparison of searches on Google for Israel, Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past few years. You can see the lines, Israel dominates the searches except for a few critical moments in time for Pakistan.

Which brings us to this, Governor Perry, if you were president, and you go a call at 3 am telling you that Pakistan had lost control of is nuclear weapons, at the hands of the Taliban, what would be your first move?

PERRY: Well obviously, before you ever get to that point you have to build a relationship in that region. That’s one of the things that this administration has not done. Yesterday, we found out through Admiral Mullen that Haqqani has been involved with — and that’s the terrorist group directly associated with the Pakistani country. So to have a relationship with India, to make sure that India knows that they are an ally of the United States.

For instance, when we had the opportunity to sell India the upgraded F-16’s, we chose not to do that. We did the same with Taiwan. The point is, our allies need to understand clearly that we are their friends, we will be standing by there with them.

Today, we don’t have those allies in that region that can assist us if that situation that you talked about were to become a reality.

BAIER: Senator Santorum if the security situation were to fall apart in Iraq in 2012 would you support sending U.S. troops back to the region to stabilize the gains made?

SANTORUM: I’m not for taking them out of the region. I believe we need to listen to our generals, and our generals are being very, very clear that we need to continue to stabilize Iraq, the Iraqi government wants and needs our intelligence in particular, needs force protection.

We need to have anywhere — I’m hearing numbers of 20,000, 30,000 troops potentially to remain in Iraq, not indefinitely, but to continue to make sure that this is a stable transition.

This is the difference between Congressman Paul, Governor Huntsman, Governor Perry and myself when it comes to this issue. I stand up and say that when we engage in Iraq and Afghanistan, we engage because we want to be successful. We want victory. We want to have accomplished a national security objective for this country to make sure that we are safer.

We are not on a political agenda to withdraw troops. So the first thing is to make sure that we secure success.

To answer the question on Pakistan, which I’m not too sure was answered. The bottom line is, that we should be establishing relationships in Pakistan with allies of ours, folks like relationships with President Musharraf who we had in the past with others in that country so if in fact something like that would occur we could work in concert to make sure that that coup could be overturned and make sure those nuclear weapon do not fall in those hands.

But working with allies at that point is the last thing we want to do. We want to work in that country to make sure the problem is defused.

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich, many of the foreign policy questions we received had directly to do with the U.S. economy as well when it came to the topic of foreign aid.

Butch Russell had the top voted video question in the section of foreign policy.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: When are we gonna get someone in the White House that can stand up to these other countries and say you are not getting any more of our money. This is stupid. We send billions of dollars overseas to countries that hate us.

[end video clip] [applause]

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich.

GINGRICH: I think — I actually there’s a lot to that. And I’ve been a strong supporter of international assistance, but I think there are a couple of good reasons to review the whole program.

First of all, I would replace virtually all government to government aid with some kind of investment approach that encouraged American companies to create jobs that made both the United States and the other country wealthier. Our bureaucrats giving their bureaucrats money is a guaranteed step towards corruption.

Second, I think when you have countries that vote against you in the United Nations consistently you really have to ask yourself why are you giving them anything? I mean, if they are not your ally why are… [applause]

GINGRICH: We came out of World War II with the generosity that made perfect sense when we had 50 percent of the world economy. And it was a different world. And we need to understand how different it is.

But I want to go back to your question on Pakistan, because I think people need to understand how real this is. This world is in danger of becoming dramatically more dangerous in the not-too-distant future.

People talk about an Iranian weapon? There may be well over 100 nuclear weapons in Pakistan. And the example you used is not too far-fetched to worry about.

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich, thank you.

Governor Johnson, here in Florida, charter flights from Ft. Lauderdale to Havana, Cuba, have resumed. Is there a problem with that? And what are your thoughts on U.S.-Cuba policy?

JOHNSON: I think the biggest threat to our national security is the fact that we’re bankrupt, so I am promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013, and included in that is a 43 percent reduction in military spending.

I think it’s crazy that we have foreign aid to company — to countries when we’re borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar to do that. [applause]

Military alliances — military alliances are really key to other countries taking up the slack.

With regard to flights to Cuba? You know, I’m — I’m in favor, I think, of the whole notion that trade promotes friendship, as opposed to not. So I would be inclined to looking at establishing or supporting those kinds of flights.

BACHMANN: Bret? Bret?

BAIER: Governor Johnson, thank you.

Now…

BACHMANN: Excuse me, Bret? Could I weigh in on this?

BAIER: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: I’d like to weigh on this, because according to the State Department’s website, there are four nations that are state sponsors of terror. Cuba is one of those nations. We would never have flights between the United States and Cuba. It’s a state sponsor of terror. [applause]

BAIER: Thank you, Congresswoman.

Now to my colleague, Megyn Kelly, on the topic of social issues.

KELLY: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: Just one issue. I just want to respond to my friend, Rick Santorum, here. Is the microphone working?

BAIER: It is.

HUNTSMAN: Thank you. We do have a difference of opinion here in terms of overall foreign policy. And I think, you know, as the only one on stage with any hands-on foreign policy experience, having served — having lived overseas four different times, we’re at a critical juncture in our country. We don’t have a foreign policy, and we don’t project the goodness of this country in terms of liberty, democracy, open markets, and human rights, with a weak core.

And right now in this country, our core, our economy, is broken.

And we don’t shine that light today. We’re 25 percent of the world’s GDP. The world is a better place when the United States is strong. So guiding anything that we talk about from a foreign policy standpoint needs to be fixing our core.

But, second of all, I believe that, you know, after 10 years of fighting the war on terror, people are ready to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, Rick. [applause]

They’re ready to bring our troops home. This country — this country has given its all.

KELLY: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: What remains behind, some element to collect intelligence, special forces capability, and we’re going to have to do that in every corner of the world. But we need to fix this core and get serious about what the rest of the 21st century holds for this country.

BAIER: Senator Santorum, very quickly?

SANTORUM: Just because our economy is sick does not mean our country is sick, and it doesn’t mean our values are sick. And we’re going to stand up for those values every opportunity… [applause] … and to do so to make sure that our country is safe. The bottom line is — that you just mentioned is — is — is we should be fighting wars to win, not fighting wars for politics. [applause]

And this president is fighting a war in Afghanistan — in Afghanistan with one hand tied behind our generals, not giving the troops they need, not giving the authority, the rules of engagement to allow us to be successful. And unless we change those rules of engagement and make sure that our folks can win, then we are going to play politics with our military. [applause]

HUNTSMAN: This — this may — this may not come as a huge revelation. We’ve been talking about Pakistan here. But at the end of the day, folks, only Pakistan can save Pakistan. Only Afghanistan can save Afghanistan. [applause]

All that I want right now at this point in history is for America to save America. We’ve got to fix our core and… [crosstalk] [applause]

BAIER: Thank you very much. Now, as I originally said, Megyn Kelly on social issues. [laughter]

KELLY: And now I’m moving on from you, Governor Huntsman, to you, Congresswoman Bachmann. In 2006, you said that public schools are, quote, “teaching children that there is separation of church and state,” and said, quote, “I am here to tell you that’s a myth.”

Do you believe that there is a limit… [applause] … on government’s ability to inject religion into the public square? And if so, what is that limit?

BACHMANN: Well, I think that Thomas Jefferson stated it best. He was the author of the — the religious liberty that he valued so much, and that’s the — the United States government should not be a state church. That’s really what the fundamental was of separation of church and state.

And when Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptists, the Danbury Baptists wanted to know, will you have a national church in the United States? He said no, because we believe in freedom of conscience, we believe in freedom of religious liberty, and expression, and speech.

That’s a foundational principle in the United States. But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t people of faith and that people of faith shouldn’t be allowed to exercise religious liberty in the public square. Of course we should be able to… [applause] … (inaudible) exercise our faith. And — and whether that expression occurs in a public school or occurs — occurs in a public building, we should be able to allow — to have freedom for all people to express our belief in God. [applause]

KELLY: Senator Santorum, this question stirred up a whole lot of controversy online, and it comes from Stephen Hill, who is a soldier serving in Iraq.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was, because I’m a gay soldier, and I didn’t want to lose my job.

My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?

[end video clip] [booing]

SANTORUM: Yeah, I — I would say, any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. And the fact that they’re making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to — to — and removing “don’t ask/don’t tell” I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military’s job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country.

We need to give the military, which is all-volunteer, the ability to do so in a way that is most efficient at protecting our men and women in uniform. [applause]

And I believe this undermines that ability. [applause]

KELLY: So what — what — what would you do with soldiers like Stephen Hill? I mean, he’s — now he’s out. He’s — you know, you saw his face on camera. When he first submitted this video to us, it was without his face on camera. Now he’s out. So what would you do as president?

SANTORUM: I think it’s — it’s — it’s — look, what we’re doing is playing social experimentation with — with our military right now. And that’s tragic.

I would — I would just say that, going forward, we would — we would reinstitute that policy, if Rick Santorum was president, period.

That policy would be reinstituted. And as far as people who are in — in — I would not throw them out, because that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration, but we would move forward in — in conformity with what was happening in the past, which was, sex is not an issue. It is — it should not be an issue. Leave it alone, keep it — keep it to yourself, whether you’re a heterosexual or a homosexual. [applause]

KELLY: Congressman Paul, you have said that you believe that life begins at conception and that abortion ends an innocent life. If you believe that, how can you support a rape exception to abortion bans, and how can you support the morning-after pill? Aren’t those lives just as innocent?

PAUL: They may be, but the way this is taken care of in our country, it is not a national issue. This is a state issue. And there are circumstances… [applause]

There are circumstances where doctors in the past have used certain day-after pills for somebody with rape. And, quite frankly, if somebody is treated, you don’t even know if a person is pregnant, you don’t even know if there’s a disease, but if it’s 24 hours after rape, I don’t know where — how you’re going to police it.

So I don’t think you should create — we have too many laws already. Now, how are you going to police the day-after pill? It doesn’t make any sense to me in a practical matter.

So I would say that nobody can out-do me on respect for life. I’ve spent a lifetime dealing with life. But I still think there is a time where the law doesn’t solve the problems. Only the moral character of the people will eventually solve this problem, not the law. [applause]

KELLY: Governor Perry, you and our former president, George W. Bush, have a lot in common. You’re both Republicans from Texas. You both ran on the same ticket for the statehouse. You both share a deep religious faith.

Now, you’ve made a point of saying, well, we went to different colleges, Texas A&M and Yale, and point out that you have a different approach from President Bush when it comes to government spending. But what are the other differences that you can cite between you and President Bush? And what say you about these reports that there is some bad blood between the two of you?

PERRY: Well, let me address the first — or the last issue first.

And we got a great rapport. I talk to the president from time to time, call him on his birthday, wish him happy birthday, talk to him on a relatively regular basis. I highly respect the president and his public service.

What we have in — in — in difference is probably as much as in style as in substance on various issues. For instance, you know, I was very vocal in my disagreement with him on Medicaid Part D that the federal government should be involved in that very expensive program.

And I was also vocal against No Child Left Behind.

It gets back to the federal government has no business telling the states how to educate our children. [applause]

BAIER: Thank you, Meagan.

We’ve been showing you these word clouds throughout the night. Take a look at this one, all of the questions on health care. You can see the big word there, Obamacare.

Chris has the questions on health care.

WALLACE: And we’ll get right to that question of Obamacare.

Mr. Cain, you are a survivor of stage 4 colon and liver cancer. And you say, if Obamacare had been… [applause]

WALLACE: …and we all share in the happiness about your situation. But, you say if Obamacare had been in effect when you were first being treated, you would dead now. Why?

CAIN: The reason I said that I would be dead under Obamacare is because my cancer was detected in March of 2006. From March 2006 all the way to the end of 2006, for that number of months, I was able to get the necessary CAT scan tests, go to the necessary doctors, get a second opinion, get chemotherapy, go — get surgery, recuperate from surgery, get more chemotherapy in a span of nine months. If we had been under Obamacare and a bureaucrat was trying to tell me when I could get that CAT scan that would have delayed by treatment.

My surgeons and doctors have told me that because I was able get the treatment as fast as I could, based upon my timetable and not the government’s timetable that’s what saved my life, because I only had a 30 percent chance of survival. And now I’m here five years cancer free, because I could do it on my timetable and not a bureaucrat’s timetable.

This is one of the reasons I believe a lot of people are objecting to Obamacare, because we need get bureaucrats out of the business of trying to micromanage health care in this nation. [applause]

WALLACE: Governor Huntsman, you say President Obama’s health care plan is a trillion dollar bomb dropping — dropped on taxpayers and job creation. But I want to show you the top voted question on YouTube that was submitted on health care. And it comes from Ian McDonald of Michigan who says he has a health problem. Watch it, sir.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: Hi, I’m a student. And I have a chronic heart condition. So for me, and those like me, the Democrats’ health care reform, allowing us to stay on our parents’ insurance longer was a godsend.

If were you elected, would you work as is the stated position of your party to repeal this reform? And if so, are we supposed to pray really hard that our ailments don’t prevent us from going to class?

[end video clip]

WALLACE: Governor, what about provisions that Ian talks about? For instance, the one that allows kids to stay on their parents’ policies until they were 26, or not limiting coverage for preexisting conditions. President Obama says the only way that insurance companies can afford to provide those kinds of reforms is with the individual mandate where they get a lot of new customers.

HUNTSMAN: When I hear this discussion, I think of my daughter Elizabeth who is sitting on the front row who suffers from juvenile diabetes. And I also am reminded that we are fundamentally approaching health care reform the wrong way.

This one trillion dollar bomb that Obamacare means to this country over 10 years is creating such uncertainty in the marketplace that businesses aren’t willing to hire, they’re not willing to deploy capital into the marketplace. It everyone it has gummed up our system.

So you say what do we do? I say we go out to the states and let the states experiment and find breakthroughs in how we address health care reform. Health care reform, it’s is a three trillion dollar industry.

It’s the size of the GDP of France. It’s large. It’s complicated. All I want to do is do the kind of thing we did in the state of Utah.

In direct response, we need affordable insurance policies. We don’t have affordable insurance policies today. We got one in Utah a stripped down bare bones catastrophic coverage policy that young people can finally afford.And then you can start whittling down the high percentage of the people who are uninsured in this country because they have an affordable policy. That’s number one.

Number two, we have to deal with cost containment measures like harmonizing medical records. We were the first state to do that. So let’s forget federal fixes in solutions and turn to the states where we’re going to find real breakthroughs and real answers to this terribly difficult and complicated problem.

WALLACE: Thank you, governor.

Congresswoman Bachmann, in the last debate you criticized Governor Perry for his executive order mandating that 6th graders get the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Then afterward, you suggested that the vaccine was linked to mental retardation and you said that it could be, quote, “potentially be a very dangerous drug.”

But the American Academy of Pediatrics has looked at it and says that the HPV vaccine has an excellent safety record. So my question to you is, do you stand by your statement that the HPV vaccine is potentially dangerous? And if not, should you be more careful when you’re talking about public health issue?

BACHMANN: Well, first I didn’t make that claim nor did I make that statement. Immediately after the debate, a mother came up to me and she was visibly shaken and heart broken because of what her daughter had gone through. I so I only related what her story was.

But here’s the real issue, Governor Perry mandated a health care decision on all 12-year-old little girls in the state of Texas. And by that mandate, those girls had to have a shot for a sexually transmitted disease. That is not appropriate to be a decision that a governor makes.

It is appropriate that parents make that decision in consultation with their doctor.

But here’s the even more important point, because Governor Perry made a decision where he gave parental rights to a big drug company.

That big drug company gave him campaign contributions and hired his former chief of staff to lobby him to benefit the big drug company.

That’s what was wrong with that picture. [applause]

WALLACE: Governor Perry, obviously 30 seconds to respond.

PERRY: Thank you.

I got lobbied on this issue. I got lobbied by a 31-year-old young lady who had stage 4 cervical cancer. I spent a lot of time with her.

She came by my office talked to me about in program.

I readily admitted we should have had an opt-in, in this program.

But, I don’t know what part of opt-out most parents don’t get. And the fact is, I erred on the side of life and I will always err on the side of life as a governor as the president of the United States. [applause]

WALLACE: Governor Perry, I now have a question for you. Texas has the most uninsured residents of any state in the country, 25 percent.

In the last debate, you blamed it on restrictions imposed by the federal government. But we checked about that, sir, in fact the feds treat Texas like they do all the other big states. On its own, on its own, Texas has imposed some of the toughest eligibility rules for Medicaid of any state in the country. In fact, you rank 49th in Medicaid coverage of low income residents.

So the question is, isn’t Texas’ uninsured problem because of decisions made by Texas?

PERRY: Well, I disagree with your analysis there, because we’ve had a request in for the federal government so that we could have a Medicaid waiver for years. And the federal government has stopped us from having that Medicaid waiver. Allowing the state of Texas, or for that matter the other states that we’re making reference to here, that have waivers give them more options to be able to give the options, there’s a menu of options that we could have, just like Jon Huntsman talked about. That is how we go forward with our health care.

Each state deciding how they’re going to deliver that health care.

Not one size fits all. And I think this whole concept of not allowing the states to come up with the best ideas about how to deliver health care in their state. And the fact is, people continue to move to the state of Texas. Some of the highest rates in the country, because we’ve created a state where opportunity is very much the word of the day there, if you will, for finding work and what have you.

And our health care is part of that. Our education is part of that. And we are proud of what we put together in the state of Texas.

WALLACE: Governor Romney, the other day Governor Perry called Romneycare socialized medicine. He said it has failed in western Europe and in Massachusetts. And he warns that Republicans should not nominate his words, Obama-lite.

How do you respond to Governor Perry?

ROMNEY: I don’t think he knows what he was talking about in that — in that regard.

Let me tell you this about our system in Massachusetts: 92 percent of our people were insured before we put our plan in place. Nothing’s changed for them. The system is the same. They have private market-based insurance.

We had 8 percent of our people that weren’t insured. And so what we did is we said let’s find a way to get them insurance, again, market-based private insurance. We didn’t come up with some new government insurance plan.

Our plan in Massachusetts has some good parts, some bad parts, some things I’d change, some things I like about it. It’s different than Obamacare.

And what you — what you heard from Herman Cain is one absolutely key point, which is Obamacare intends to put someone between you and your physician. It must be repealed. And if I’m president of the United States, on my first day in office, I will issue an executive order which directs the secretary of health and human services to provide a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states. That law is bad; it’s unconstitutional; it shall not stand. [applause]

WALLACE: Governor — Governor Perry, 30 seconds to respond.

PERRY: I think Americans just don’t know sometimes which Mitt Romney they’re dealing with. Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment?

Was it — was before he was before the social programs, from the standpoint of he was for standing up for Roe v. Wade before he was against Roe v. Wade? He was for Race to the Top, he’s for Obamacare, and now he’s against it. I mean, we’ll wait until tomorrow and — and — and see which Mitt Romney we’re really talking to tonight.

WALLACE: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: I’ll use the same term again: Nice try. [laughter]

Governor, I’m — I wrote a book two years ago, and I laid out in that book what my views are on a wide range of issues.

I’m a conservative businessman. I haven’t spent my life in politics. I spent my life in business. I know how jobs come, how jobs go. My positions are laid out in that book. I stand by them.

Governor Perry, you wrote a book six months ago. You’re already retreating from the positions that were in that book.

PERRY: Not an — not an — not an inch, sir.

ROMNEY: Yeah, well, in that book, it says that Social Security was forced upon the American people. It says that, by any measure, Social Security is a failure. Not to 75 million people. And you also said that — that Social Security should be returned to the states.

Now, those are the positions in your book. And simply, in my view, I’m stand by my positions. I’m proud of them.

There are a lot of reasons not to elect me, a lot of reasons not to elect other people on this stage, but one reason to elect me is that I know what I stand for, I’ve written it down. Words have meaning, and I have the experience to get this country going again. [applause]

WALLACE: Gentlemen, thank you both.

Bret?

BAIER: Coming up, we return to issue number one: jobs.

Stay tuned.

[commercial break]

BAIER: Welcome back to the Orange County Convention Center here in Orlando, Florida, and the Republican presidential debate.

Now a question for all of the candidates. Independent New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently fretted over the possibility of the unemployed rioting in the streets. Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich recently said, quote, “For the first time in my life, I’m worried about this country.” And recently, a liberal columnist wrote this, quote, “We’ve lost our mojo.”

You know, President Obama promised hope and change. And according to many polls, fewer and fewer Americans believe he’s delivered.

Now, I’m not asking for your jobs plan here. What I’m asking for is, how are you going to turn this country around? We’ll go down the row, 30 seconds each.
Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: First of all, let me say that this is a human tragedy playing out, with 15 million unemployed, so many million beyond who are so dispirited, they’ve absolutely given up.

Sheriff Hardy, who’s a great sheriff in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, talks about foreclosures, that his folks are now handing out first time ever to the middle class.

I would drop three things on the doorstep of Congress to change and turn the situation around: one, my tax reform package, endorsed by the Wall Street Journal; two, serious regulatory reform, Dodd-Frank, Obamacare repealed; three, energy independence. Boone Pickens had some great ideas in terms of converting to natural gas. It’s a 500,000 job creator over five years. It would get the engines of growth going like nothing else I can think of.

BAIER: Mr. Cain?

CAIN: Obviously starts with economic growth. And, yes, I’ve already laid out how I would do that with my 999 plan. But what Americans are looking for in order to build their confidence is leadership. There is a severe deficiency of leadership in Washington, D.C. And once we fill that void, I believe the American people will begin to develop some confidence again.

In terms of believing in this nation, Ronald Reagan was the one who said that we are a shining city on a hill. We’ve slid down the side of that hill. [laughter]

Americans want somebody who’s going to lead them back up to the top of that hill. That’s how we turn this country around. [applause]

BAIER: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: I agree. It’s time to reach for the brass ring of liberty once again. And we can. The signature issue of Barack Obama and his presidency has been the passage of Obamacare. This week, a study came out from UBS that said the number-one reason why employers aren’t hiring is because of Obamacare.

That’s why I introduced the bill to repeal Obamacare. And as president of the United States, that’s the very first thing I would do, is repeal Obamacare.

BAIER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: All across America, you’ve got families sitting across from their — sitting in their living rooms and their kitchens, sitting at that kitchen table, with a calculator and a checkbook, seeing if they have enough money to make ends meet for the month or the week.
You’ve got people who are sitting at that same table filling out job application forms, knowing that there are hundreds of other people that are doing the same thing for the same job.

These are tough times for a lot of people in this country, but we are a patriotic people. We place our hand over our heart during the playing of the national anthem. No other people on Earth do that. And if we’re led by a leader who draws on that patriotism, who tells the truth, who lives with integrity, and who knows how to lead, America will remain the hope of the Earth and the strongest nation in the world. I’ll do it. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Perry?

PERRY: Americans — Americans want a leader who’s got a proven record of job creation. Number one, we get rid of Obamacare. Secondly, we pull back all of those regulations that are job-killing today, whether it’s Dodd-Frank or whether it’s the EPA.

And then we sit with Congress and we lower those corporate tax rates, we lower those personal tax rates, and then we put our plan to make America energy independent, and that is the way you get America working again. [applause]

BAIER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Government destroys jobs; the market creates jobs. So the government isn’t going to be expected to create the jobs; they have to change the environment. But you can’t do that unless you understand where the depression, recessions come from, and you can’t understand that unless you know where the bubbles come from.

I’ve been arguing this case for 20 years and warning about bubbles and housing bubbles and Nasdaq bubbles. And a lot of other economists have been doing the same thing.

Until we understand that, you can’t solve the problem. You have to deal with the Federal Reserve system. You have to deal with free markets. And you have to deal with the tax program and the regulatory system. [applause]

Then you can get your jobs, because the people will create the jobs, not the government. [applause]

BAIER: Waiting for the applause.

Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Thirty-two years ago, we were in the same place. We had a failing president. He gave a speech on malaise. People wrote about the presidency being too big, nobody could do it. The Soviet Union was on offense.

And a leader came along. He said, when your brother-in-law is unemployed, it’s a recession. When you’re unemployed, it’s a depression. When Jimmy Carter’s unemployed, it’s a recovery. [applause]

Nothing — nothing will turn America around more than Election Night, when Barack Obama loses decisively. [applause]

BAIER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: The last words Ronald Reagan said as president of the United States in his farewell address, he was concerned about the future of our country because we were forgetting who we were, didn’t remember what America was really all about.

I think that’s what’s the problem right now, is we have a president who doesn’t understand what America is all about.

America is a great country because we are a country that believes in God-given rights to every single man, woman and child in America… [applause] … and that we built this country from the bottom up, believing in free people, to have that responsibility to live their lives in service to themselves, their family, their community, and their god, and in so doing, we transformed the world.

We had a leader in Reagan who believed in you. President Obama is the new King George III, who believes in things being dictated from on high. We need to replace him with someone who believes in the American people again. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Johnson?

JOHNSON: My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration. [laughter] [applause]

Balance the federal budget now, not 15 years from now, not 20 years from now, but now. And throw out the entire federal tax system, replace it with a fair tax, a consumption tax, that by all measurements is just that. It’s fair. It does away with corporate income tax. If that doesn’t create tens of millions of jobs in this country, I don’t know what does. [applause]

BAIER: You just made your neighbor’s dog very famous. [laughter]

When we come back in just one minute — one minute — the final round. We’ll be talking about the Republican ticket. We’re back from Orlando, Florida. [applause]

[commercial break]

BAIER: Welcome back to Orlando for our final round, our final question from YouTube. Our wildcard question comes from Darrell Owens in Richmond, Virginia.

[begin video clip]

QUESTION: If you had to choose one of your opponents on the stage tonight to be your running mate in the 2012 election, who would you choose, and why? And why would this person help you make the country better?

[end video clip]

BAIER: Again, if you had to choose a running mate, one of the people on the stage with you, who would you choose and why? Thirty seconds down the row.
Governor Johnson?

JOHNSON: Well, that would be the guy three down, Congressman Paul.

And that would be… [applause]

And that would be the notion that this country is about liberty and freedom and that right now we are facing an extraordinary crisis that, if we do not address it now, we’re going to find ourselves in a monetary crisis that is going to leave us all with nothing. And if we want to look at an example of that, that would be Russia that experienced a monetary collapse, that in our lifetimes may never acquire. We need to avoid that now.

BAIER: Senator Santorum, who would you choose?

SANTORUM: I would pick someone who would do what I have articulated I would do as president of the United States. That’s what you — that’s what a vice president should be, someone who would follow through on what you promise the American public to do.

BAIER: You have eight to choose.

SANTORUM: And — and I — and I would say that, you know, right now that, you know, the guy that I’m agreeing with most up on stage is probably the guy to my left. So I would say that Newt Gingrich would be the guy that I would — I would pick as someone who — who would follow through with what I’m saying.

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Yeah, I’m going to disappoint those in the audience who want this to be a Hollywood game. I don’t have any idea who I would pick as the vice presidential nominee. What I do know is, it would have to be a person capable of being president of the United States, and that would be the first criteria. These are all good friends of mine. I couldn’t imagine hurting any of their feelings by choosing one tonight. [laughter]

BAIER: Congressman Paul, hurt away.

PAUL: I don’t plan to make a choice at the moment, because I am on national polls. It seems like I’m in third place now. I think it would be inappropriate. [applause]

As soon as — as soon as I’m one of the two top tier, then I will start thinking along that line. But right now, I’m going to defer, and just work very hard, and make sure that I stay in the top tier and then eventually be one of the top two contenders. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Perry, how do you answer Darrell Jones?

PERRY: Well, staying with the game show idea here, I don’t know how you would do this, but if you could take Herman Cain and mate him up with Newt Gingrich, I think you would have a couple of really interesting guys to work with. [laughter]

I don’t know how you’d do it.

BAIER: Governor Romney, Darrell Owens would like an answer.

ROMNEY: There are a couple of images I’m going to have a hard time getting out of my mind. [laughter]

That’s one, and Gary Johnson’s dogs are the other, I’ll tell you. [laughter]

I’m — I’m going to go with Newt on this, meaning I’m going to subscribe to his same view. I know I’m going to disappoint.

But my view is, if you pick a vice president, if you’re lucky enough to become the nominee of this party, picking a vice president would be something you give a lot of thought to, a lot of evaluation to, and you want someone who without question could become the president of the United States.

These people could all fill that — that position. Any one of them would be a better president than what we have now. [applause]

BAIER: Governor Romney, I hate to follow up here, but you called Governor Perry unelectable based on his Social Security…

ROMNEY: Actually, I — actually, I didn’t use that term, but the newspaper did. That happens now and then. But the point is still, I think, that there are some problems that exist in each of our backgrounds that make it harder for us to get elected. I hope we get elected. I hope one of us gets to that White House. I think we will, because I think this president has failed miserably.

But I’ll tell you one thing. I — look, Governor Perry and I disagree on some issues. I think I probably disagree with everybody — we all have differing views on different issues. But one thing’s for sure: We all agree that President Obama needs to be former President Obama, and we’re going to make that happen. [applause]

BAIER: Congresswoman Bachmann, back to the original question?

BACHMANN: Obviously, we need to have a strong constitutional conservative, and that’s what I would look for in a vice president.

But I want to say this, as well. Every four years, conservatives are told that we have to settle, and it’s anybody but Obama. That’s what we’re hearing this year.

I don’t think that’s true. I think if there’s any year — President Obama has the lowest public approval ratings of any president in modern times. He hasn’t gone to the basement yet. It’ll be a lot lower than what it is now. That’s why we need to choose a candidate who represents conservatives and constitutional conservative positions. [applause]

BAIER: Mr. Cain?

CAIN: This is a game, and it is hypothetical. I’ll play the game. [laughter]

If — if Governor Romney would throw out his jobs growth plan and replace it with 999, he has a shot. [laughter]

If he does not, I would probably go with Speaker Gingrich, who I have the greatest admiration for, in all seriousness, because of his history and because of his depth of knowledge. I could go on because I have respect for everybody up here. But it’s a game. [laughter]

BAIER: It is a YouTube question.

Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: You know, I’m tempted to say that, when all is said and done, the two guys standing in the middle here, Romney and Perry, aren’t going to be around, because they’re going to bludgeon each other to death. [laughter]

But — but I’m also reminded of about four years ago, we had two frontrunners in similar situations, one by the name of Rudy Giuliani, I think, and the other by the name of Fred Thompson. They seemed to disappear altogether; I can’t remember where they went.

But I would have — I would have to say, since Chris Wallace doesn’t qualify as somebody on the stage, so I can’t — I can’t pick one of you, that Herman Cain, because of his selection of ties, the fact that — the fact that we both — we both apparently agree with the gold standard, wearing the yellow ties here tonight. And because of the good neighbor policy, 999, mixed with my tax policy, would be the most competitive thing this nation could ever achieve. I’d have to say Herman’s my man. [applause]

BAIER: Candidates, thank you very much. That is it for our debate tonight. Our thanks to the candidates and their staffs. A big thank you to our debate partner, Google, and the Florida Republican Party, to all the great people here in the Orange County Convention Center and, of course, the state of Florida. They could not have been more hospitable.

Stay with Fox News Channel, America’s election headquarters, all the way to the general election and the inauguration.

August 11, 2011: Fox News / Washington Examiner / Iowa Republican Party Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

Republican Presidential Candidates Debate in Ames, Iowa August 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);
Former Governor Tim Pawlenty (MN);
Former Governor Mitt Romney (MA); and
Former Senator Rick Santorum (PA)

MODERATORS:
Bret Baier (Fox News);
Susan Ferrechio (Washington Examiner);
Chris Wallace (Fox News); and
Byron York (Washington Examiner)

BAIER: Welcome to Ames, Iowa, on the campus of Iowa State University and the Republican presidential debate.

Our event is being sponsored by Fox News and the Washington Examiner, in conjunction — in conjunction with the Iowa Republican Party. We’re being seen, obviously, on Fox News Channel, being streamed on foxnews.com. You can log on and check out how you can react to our debate. We’re also being heard on Fox News Radio.

And these folks in the stadium — in the studio are just fired up, as you can hear.

Okay … now let’s meet the candidates: former Senator Rick Santorum; businessman Herman Cain; Congressman Ron Paul; former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney; Congresswoman Michele Bachmann; former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty; former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman; and former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Joining me at the desk tonight, my Fox News colleague and anchor of “Fox News Sunday,” Chris Wallace. And from the Washington Examiner, Byron York and Susan Ferrechio.

We’re gathered tonight at a very unsettling moment for Americans. We’ve watched the stock market on a wild rollercoaster ride this week, as people are anxiously tracking their balances and their retirement accounts and college funds. About 14 million people don’t have a job tonight, and millions more have given up looking or have taken part-time work to try to scrape by. The nation’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history, as we try to get a handle on the country’s skyrocketing debt. And just last weekend in Afghanistan, more American lives were lost than on any other day in this decade-long conflict.

So tonight, we are respectfully asking you, the candidates, to try to put aside the talking points, to try to put aside the polished lines that get applause on the campaign trail here in Iowa and around the country, and to level with the American people, to speak from the heart about how you would navigate this country through the challenges America faces.

So let’s begin. Congresswoman Bachmann, you say you can turn the economy around within one quarter by cutting taxes, reducing spending, and repealing the health care law. In fact, this week you said, quote, “It isn’t that difficult,” and, quote, “Solutions aren’t that tough to figure out.”

Isn’t it unrealistic to suggest that something as massive and complex as the U.S. economy can rebound in just three months?

BACHMANN: We can start to seek recovery within three months, not the whole recovery, but we can begin to see it, if we put into place what we know to be true. Number one, we should not have increased the debt ceiling. In the last two months, I was leading on the issue of not increasing the debt ceiling. That turned out to be the right answer.

And this is part of the movement that we’re seeing all across the country. I’ve been leading that movement. I’ve been giving it voice. And it’s not just Republicans. It’s disaffected Democrats. It’s independents. It’s libertarians all coming together, apolitical people, because two days from now, Bret, we get to send a message to Barack Obama. And the message is this: You are finished in 2012, and you will be a one-term president.

BAIER: Governor Romney, Congresswoman Bachmann says she can start to turn the economy around in three months. How long would it take you?

ROMNEY: Well, I’m not going to give you an exact time-frame, but I can tell you this, that if you spend your life in the private sector and you understand how jobs come and how they go, you understand that what President Obama has done is the exact opposite of what the economy needed to be done. Almost every action he took made it harder for entrepreneurs to build businesses, for banks to make loans, for businesses to hire, and to build more capital.

What needs to be done — there are really seven things that come to mind. One is to make sure our corporate tax rates are competitive with other nations. Number two is to make sure that our regulations and bureaucracy works not just for the bureaucrats in Washington, but for the businesses that are trying to grow. Number three is to have trade policies that work for us, not just for our opponents. Number four is to have an energy policy that gets us energy secure. Number five is to have the rule of law. Six, great institutions that build human capital, because capitalism is also about people, not just capital and physical goods. And number seven is to have a government that doesn’t spend more money than it takes in. And I’ll do it.

BAIER: You — Governor Romney, you mentioned leadership on the economy. You are the front-runner in this GOP field, yet when it came to weighing in on the debt ceiling deal in Congress, something that had a major impact on the economy, many on this stage say you were missing in action. Some columnists even said you were in the “Mittness Protection Program.” Then just hours before the House voted, you released a statement saying you could not support the bill. Is that leadership?

ROMNEY: You know, this is a critical issue, which is, how big is the government going to be? Back in the days of John F. Kennedy, the federal government took up, along with the state and local governments, 27 percent of the economy. Today, government consumes 37 percent of the economy. We’re inches away from no longer having a free economy.

And so this is a critical issue. And, therefore, well before the debate got pushed along, I signed a pledge saying I would not raise the debt ceiling unless we had “cut, cap and balance.” And that is the view I took on June 30th, and I reiterated that throughout the process, and, frankly, all the way to the very end.

BAIER: Just so everyone knows, when candidates go over the allotted time, they’ve agreed to this system. That’s what you hear, the bell. And we’ll try to not ring the bell that much. It’s not the doorbell.

So to be clear — and just to be clear here — you echoed Congresswoman Bachmann and Congressman Paul in being against that final compromise deal. So to phrase it another way, if you were president, you would have vetoed that bill?

ROMNEY: Look, I’m not going to eat Barack Obama’s dog food, all right? What he served up was not what I would have done if I’d had been president of the United States. If — if I’d have — if I’d have been…

BAIER: I know, but that bill was the deal on the table, Governor.

ROMNEY: If I’d have been — well, I’m not — I’m not president now, though I’d like to have been. If I were president, what I would have done is cut federal spending, capped federal spending as a percentage of the total economy, and then worked for a balanced budget amendment. If we do that, then we can rein back the scale of government. And that’s the right thing to do. And that’s what I said is the — and June 30th.

BAIER: OK. Congressman Paul, as you know, when Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country’s credit rating last week, one of the reasons S&P listed was because of partisan gridlock in Washington. Congressman, what specific things would you do as president to increase growth, calm the markets, create jobs that could pass through a divided Congress?

PAUL: Well, they didn’t downgrade it mainly because they couldn’t come to a conclusion. They couldn’t come to a conclusion because they didn’t know what was going on. The country’s bankrupt, and nobody wanted to admit it. And when you’re bankrupt, you can’t keep spending.

And all these proposed cuts weren’t cuts at all. What you have to do is restore sound money. You have to understand why you have a business cycle, why you have booms and busts. If you don’t do that, there’s no way you can solve these problems.

And the booms and busts comes from a failed monetary system that — the interest rates that are way lower than — than they should be encourages malinvestment and debt. And to get out of that, all this other tinkering, you cannot do that unless you liquidate debt. You don’t bail out the people that are bankrupt and dump the debt on the people. That is what’s happened.

So you have to allow liquidation of debt, eliminate the malinvestment. Then you go back and you can get growth again by having a better tax structure, lower taxes, invite capital back into this country, get a lot less regulations. And under those conditions, you can have growth again.

BAIER: And you can get it through a divided Congress?

PAUL: Well … [Pause] The divided Congress will exist for a long time to come. Yes, you would have to get it through a — you’d have to get it through a divided Congress. But the one thing is, if you approach it constitutionally and if you approach it on the principles of liberty, you can bring people together.

If we have to cut, maybe we wouldn’t be so — so determined that you can’t cut one nickel out of the militarism around the world. Neither the Democrats or the Republicans want to cut that. So if you want to cut, you have to put the militarism on the table, as well.

BAIER: Mr. Cain — Mr. Cain, we — we know you have a four-point economic plan. But one specific thing, what one specific thing would President Cain do first to restart the economic engine? And, again, with the caveat: That one thing would have to get through a divided Congress.

CAIN: Make the tax rates permanent. That’s one of — of the four-point plans, because the business sector is the economic engine. You have the group that’s talking about spending. You have the group that’s talking about cutting. I represent growth. And it starts with the business sector putting fuel in the engine.

In addition to that one thing that you asked me to identify, we must have a maximum tax rate for corporations and individuals of 25 percent, take the capital gains tax rate to zero, take the tax on repatriated profits to zero, make them permanent, and — and then certainty back into this economy. And I believe we can turn it around.

And one other thing. We don’t have an option to wait longer than 90 days. It is imperative that we get this economy going in 90 days with the next president of the United States of America.

BAIER: Governor Huntsman, you told the “New Hampshire Union Leader” recently you intend to convene a “council of business leaders” to figure without is needed to improve our economy.

Governor, you have essentially been running for president for three months now. We checked your Web site. We were unable to find a detailed plan.

In the middle of an economic crisis, shouldn’t you already have a pretty detailed plan by now?

HUNTSMAN: The plan you will find on our Web site, it is coming. We have been in the race only for a month and a half. But here’s what I intend to do.

I intend to do exactly what I did as governor of the state of Utah. We took a good state and we made it number one in this country in terms of job creation. If you want to know what I’m going to do, I’m going to do exactly what I did as governor.

It’s called leadership. It’s called looking at how the free market system works. It’s creating a competitive environment that speaks to growth.

We cut taxes historically. We didn’t just cut them, we cut them historically.

We created the most business-friendly environment in the entire country. We were the best-managed state in the country. We maintained a AAA bond rating. All of the things this country so desperately needs.

When you look at me and you ask, what is that guy going to do? Look at what I did as governor. That is exactly what I’m going to do, and it’s exactly what this country needs right now.

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich, some people on this stage have run big companies, some have turned around companies, some managed payrolls. What makes you more qualified than anyone else on this stage to create jobs and grow the economy?

GINGRICH: You know, you’ve been asking about divided government. This coming Saturday is the 30th anniversary of Ronald Reagan signing the Kemp-Roth tax cut which was done with divided government. I was part of that effort in the House when the Democrats were in control.

He did it by going to the American people with clarity, creating a sense of urgency, bringing pressure to bear on the Democratic congressmen, and building a bipartisan majority. That tax cut lead to seven years of growth, which in our current economy would be the equivalent of adding 25 million jobs, $4.4 trillion a year to the economy and $800 billion in new federal revenue.

A decade later, as Speaker of the House, we had divided government. We negotiated with Bill Clinton. He vetoed welfare reform twice. We passed it three times. He signed it the third time, the largest entitlement reform of your lifetime.

We passed the first tax cut in 16 years, the largest capital gains tax cut in history. Unemployment dropped to 4.2 percent. How would the country feel today at 4.2 percent unemployment?

That’s my credential.

BAIER: Governor Pawlenty, you say your economic plan with tax cuts and spending caps would grow the economy by an average rate of five percent a year for 10 years, a rate that have never been achieved in 10 years in a row.

With the last two quarters averaging less than one percent growth — and even some Republican budget analysts, very skeptical, openly skeptical of that plan — is your proposal just pie in the sky?

PAWLENTY: Well, the United States of America needs a growth target, and it needs to be an aggressive and bold growth target. I don’t want the United States’ growth target to be anemic or lag like Barack Obama’s.

So, is the bar high? Yes. But do we need that growth to get out of this hole? You bet. And I hope people will go to our Web site and read that whole plan, because it’s the most specific, comprehensive plan of any candidate in this race.

But, Bret, there’s another question here. Where is Barack Obama on these issues?

You can’t find his plans on some of the most pressing financial issues of our country. For example, where is Barack Obama’s plan on Social Security reform, Medicare reform, Medicaid reform? In fact, I’ll offer a prize tonight to anybody in this auditorium or anyone watching on television: if you can find Barack Obama’s specific plan on any of those items, I will come to your house and cook you dinner.

[Laughter]

[Applause]

BAIER: What do you think of that?

PAWLENTY: Or, if you prefer, I’ll come to your house and mow your land. But in case Mitt wins, I’m limited to one acre. One acre.

BAIER: Oh.

[Laughter]

BAIER: Governor any response?

ROMNEY: That’s just fine.

BAIER: OK. Senator Santorum, nothing about your lawn, but Governor Pawlenty says America can quickly grow five percent a year for 10 years, with the right mix of policies.

Is he right?

SANTORUM: America has unbounded potential. And I think putting a limit on that potential, we’ve grown at faster rates than that.

For me, it’s been a focus on one thing as I’ve traveled to now 68 counties in the state of Iowa, 50 in the last 14 days, working and meeting with the people of Iowa. And I’ve been talking to them about what we’re going to do to grow the manufacturing sector of this economy.

When I grew up in Butler, Pennsylvania, a little steel town, 21 percent of the people of this country worked in manufacturing. It is now nine. If you want to know where the middle of America went, it went to China, it went to Malaysia, it went to Indonesia. We need to bring it back.

I put together a four-point plan to do it, including energy — producing more energy, because of course manufacturers use more energy than just about everybody else in the business world. But the big thing I proposed is to take the corporate rate which makes us uncompetitive, particularly in exporting goods, take the corporate rate and cut it to zero for manufacturers.

You want to create opportunity for businesses in manufacturing to grow, cut that tax to zero. Our jobs will come back.

[Applause]

BAIER: Turning the economy around is the topic we’ve received the most e-mails, the most Facebook messages, the most tweets about. Of course, it’s topping all of the polls. So finding specific solutions to the country’s economic ills will be a recurring theme throughout the debate tonight.

Now to my colleague Chris Wallace with the next round of questions.

WALLACE: Thank you, Bret. Good evening candidates.

Governor Pawlenty and Congresswoman Bachmann, as you both know there’s an expression Minnesota nice. And some people believe that both of you have tested it in recent weeks.

Governor Pawlenty, you say that Representative Bachmann has no accomplishments in congress. You have questioned her ability to serve as president because of her history of migraines. Question governor, is she unqualified or is she just beating you in the polls?

PAWLENTY: Well, Chris to correct you, I have not questioned Congresswoman Bachmann’s migraine headaches. I don’t think that is an issue. The only headache I hear about on the campaign trail is the headache Barack Obama has given the people of this country with his lousy leadership and this lousy economy.

[Applause]

PAWLENTY: Now as to Congresswoman Bachmann’s record. Look, she has done wonderful things in her life, absolutely wonderful things, but it is an indisputable fact that in congress her record of accomplishment and results is nonexistent. That’s not going to be good enough for our candidate for president of the United States, that is not going to be good enough for the president of the United States to serve in that capacity. The American people are going to expect and demand more. And in fact we need somebody who can contrast with Barack Obama on results.

If you go to my record in Minnesota you will see government spending went from historic highs to historic lows. We appointed conservative justices, transformed the court in a conservative direction, we did health care reform the right way — no mandates individually, no government take-overs and more. That’s the kind of record we’re going to need to contrast and beat Barack Obama.

WALLACE: Congresswoman Bachmann, I’m going to ask you in a moment your own question about Governor Pawlenty. But I want to give you an opportunity to respond to his comments. You have 30 seconds. One, that you have no record of accomplishments in congress, and two that there’s something missing in your resume because you do not have executive experience.

BACHMANN: Well, thank you for asking the question.

I would say governor, when you were governor in Minnesota you implemented cap and trade in our state and you praised the unconstitutional individual mandates and called for requiring all people in our state to purchase health insurance that the government would mandate.

Third, you said the era of small government was over. That sounds more like Barack Obama, if you ask me.

During my time in…

[Applause]

BACHMANN: …during my time in the United States Congress I have fought all of these unconstitutional measures as well as Barack Obama. And I led against increasing the debt ceiling the last two months.

WALLACE: I just wanted to pick up, and in fact you anticipated the question I was going to ask you. And then I’m going to give you a chance to respond, governor.

Congresswoman Bachmann, isn’t that about the worst thing you can say about a fellow Republican in this campaign, that he reminds you of Barack Obama?

BACHMANN: The policies that the governor advocated for were cap and trade. He praised and wanted to require Minnesotans to purchase the unconstitutional individual mandate in health care. And he said the era of small government is over. I have a very consistent record of fighting very hard against Barack Obama and his unconstitutional measures in congress. I’m very proud of that record. That is what qualifies me, as a fighter and representative of the people, to go to Washington, D.C. and to the White House.

People are looking for a champion. They want someone who has been fighting. When it came to health care, I brought tens of thousands of Americans to Washington to fight the unconstitutional individual mandates. I didn’t praise it. When it came to cap and trade, I fought it with everything that was in me, including I introduced the Lightbulb Freedom of Choice Act so people could all purchase the lightbulb of their choice.

I also believe in big government is hurting the United States. We need to have small government.

WALLACE: And I’m sure you have been waiting for the opportunity. Governor Pawlenty, 30 seconds to respond.

PAWLENTY: Well, I’m really surprised that Congresswoman Bachmann would say those things. That’s not the kinds of things she said when I was governor of the state of Minnesota. And moreover, she’s got a record of misstating and making false statements. And that’s another example of that list.

She says that she’s fighting for these things. She fought for less government spending, we got a lot more. She led the effort against ObamaCare, we got ObamaCare. She led the effort against TARP, we got TARP. She said she’s got a titanium spine. It’s not her spine we’re worried about, it’s her record of results.

If that’s your view of effective leadership with results, please stop, because you’re killing us.

WALLACE: I…

[Murmurs from audience]

WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait, wait.

[Murmurs from audience]

WALLACE: Congresswoman Bachmann, 30 seconds to response.

BACHMANN: Thank you so much. I was at the tip of the spear fighting against the implementation of ObamaCare in the United States Congress. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama ran Congress, but I gave them a run for their money.

Again, on cap and trade, I was there from the very beginning, giving Speaker Pelosi a run for her money. That’s why I was Speaker Pelosi about her number one target to defeat last year, because I was effectively taking them on on nearly every argument they put forward.

I fought…

[Bell sounds]

BACHMANN: — when others ran, I fought. And I led against increasing the deficit.

[Murmurs from audience]

WALLACE: OK, let’s — let’s move to our panelists, if we could, so we can get more questions in.

Thank you.

WALLACE: I — I see six other candidates there. I’m going to go to Governor Romney.

You’re campaigning as the man who can fix the economy. Let’s look at your record, sir.

As head of Bain Capital, you acquired American Pad & Paper. Two U.S. plants were closed and 385 jobs were cut. Later, you bought Dade International. Almost 2,000 workers were laid off or relocated. And when you were governor, Massachusetts ranked 47th of the 50 states in job growth.

Question, you are going to be the jobs president?

ROMNEY: Absolutely, Chris.

Let me — let me tell you how the real economy works.

When I was at Bain Capital, we invested in about 100 different companies. Not all of them worked. I know there are some people in Washington that doesn’t understand how the free economy works. They think if you invest in a business, it’s always going to go well. And they don’t always go well.

But I’m very proud of the fact that I learned about how you can be successful with an enterprise, why we lose jobs, how we gain jobs and overall, in those 100 businesses we invested in, tens of thousands of jobs, net-net, were created.

I understand how the economy works. Herman Cain and I are the two on the stage here who’ve actually worked in the real economy. If people want to send to Washington someone who spent their entire career in government, they can choose a lot of folks. But if they want to choose somebody who understands how the private sector works, they’re going to have to choose one of us, because we’ve been in it during our career.

And, by the way, as the governor of Massachusetts, when I came in, jobs were being lost month after month after month. We turned that around. We were able to add jobs, balance our budget and get Massachusetts back on track. And, by the way, our unemployment was below the federal level three of the four years I was in office.

BAIER: Chris will continue his round of questions on this round.

And coming up, the issue of illegal immigration, the battle over health care.

Please go to FoxNews.com/politics to check out the live blogging on tonight’s debate.

We’ll be right back from Ames, Iowa after a short break.

BAIER: Welcome back to the Stephens Auditorium on the campus of Iowa State University and the first Republican debate in the Hawkeye State. Now back to another fiery round of questions from Chris Wallace.

WALLACE: Thank you.

Speaker Gingrich, one of the ways that we judge a candidate is the campaign they run. In June, almost your entire national campaign staff resigned, along with your staff here in Iowa. They said that you were undisciplined in campaigning and fundraising, and at last report, you’re a million dollars in debt. How do you respond to people who say that your campaign has been a mess so far?

GINGRICH: Well, let me say, first of all, Chris, that I took seriously Bret’s injunction to put aside the talking points, and I wish you would put aside the gotcha questions.

[Applause]

Like — like Ronald Reagan, who had 13 senior staff resign the morning of the New Hampshire primary and whose new campaign manager laid off 100 people because he had no money, because the consultants had spent it, like John McCain, who had to go and run an inexpensive campaign because the consultants spent it, I intend to run on ideas.

Congress should come back Monday. They should repeal the Dodd-Frank bill. They should repeal Sarbanes-Oxley. They should repeal Obamacare. They should institute Lean Six Sigma across the entire federal government, a hard idea for Washington reporters to cover, but an important idea, because it’s the key to American manufacturing success.

GINGRICH: I’d love to see the rest of tonight’s debate asking us about what we would do to lead an America whose president has failed to lead, instead of playing Mickey Mouse games.

[Applause]

WALLACE: Speaker Gingrich, if you think questions about your records are Mickey Mouse, I’m sorry. I think those are questions that a lot of people want to hear answers to, and you’re responsible for your record, sir.

[Booing]

GINGRICH: Well, if I get a rebuttal…

WALLACE: Pardon?

GINGRICH: I think that there’s too much attention paid by the press corps about the campaign minutia and not enough paid by the press corps to the basic ideas that distinguish us from Barack Obama.

[Applause]

WALLACE: Governor Huntsman — Governor Huntsman, at the risk of raising Speaker Gingrich’s ire, I’m going to ask you about your record, sir. You supported a stimulus package in 2009. In fact, you said the Obama stimulus package was not big enough. As governor, you signed onto a regional cap-and-trade market. You endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples. And you served as President Obama’s ambassador to China. Some people have suggested that maybe you’re running for president in the wrong party.

HUNTSMAN: Chris, let me just say, I’m proud of my service to this country. If you love your country, you serve her. During a time of war, during a time of economic hardship, when asked to serve your country in a sensitive position where you can actually bring a background to help your nation, I’m the kind of person who’s going to stand up and do it, and I’ll take that philosophy to my grave.

In terms of the stimulus you talked about, it was failed. And let me tell you what I talked about with respect to the stimulus. I talked about the need for more tax cuts in the stimulus. We didn’t have enough of it. And why did I talk about the need for tax cuts for business? Because we had done it in the state of Utah.

We had done historic tax cuts. We created a flat tax in the state of Utah, exactly what needs to happen in this country. We got the economy moving. We became the number-one job creator in this nation and the best managed state. That’s exactly what needs to happen in this nation. I am running on my record, and I am proud to run on my record.

WALLACE: Mr. Cain…

[Applause]

Mr. Cain, you have a compelling personal story and a strong record as a businessman, but you also have a growing list of questionable statements in this campaign, and I want to ask you about those, if I may, sir.

You said that communities have the right to ban Muslims from building mosques, before you later apologized. You have stated that you do not have a firm plan yet as to what you would do in Afghanistan until you talk to the generals. You at one point in the campaign didn’t know about the so-called Palestinian right of return during a big debate about the Mideast peace issues.

How do you reassure people that you know enough to be president of the United States, sir?

CAIN: You want me to answer all of those in one minute, Chris? Pick one.

I know more about the Palestinian — the right of return issue now…

[Crosstalk]

CAIN: … than I did then, and — but I know about it. I’ve been documented.

The first point that you raised, about saying that communities have a right to ban mosques, no, that’s not exactly what I said. Unfortunately, the people who helped you put that together have misquoted me. I have gone on record, and I put it in a press release that’s available at my office that simply says that if anyone misunderstood my intent, I apologize for that. But never will I apologize for saying that Sharia law does not belong in the courts of the United States of America.

Now, relative to Afghanistan…

[Applause]

Relative to Afghanistan, since we did this last, I have learned more about Afghanistan. And you may recall that one of the things that I always stress: Make sure you’re working on the right problem. We don’t have one problem in Afghanistan. We have three problems to deal with. I now have a better understanding of it. And if I get an opportunity to rebuttal, I’ll tell you what those three are.

[Laughter]

WALLACE: You’re going to get asked about Afghanistan, sir.

Bret?

BAIER: Now we turn to Susan Ferrechio with the Washington Examiner. She has the next round of questions for the candidates. The topic: illegal immigration. Susan?

FERRECHIO: OK, we’ll start with Governor Huntsman. You said that we need to bill a fence to secure our borders, but then we need to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants already here in the country. You said, quote, “There’s got to be an alternative to sending them back. That’s unrealistic.”

Governor Huntsman, are you proposing citizenship for illegal aliens?

HUNTSMAN: Listen, I’m — I am a conservative problem-solver. I am pro-life, I’m pro-Second Amendment, I’m pro-growth on economics, and I’m here to tell you that, when elected president, the thing we need to do most on illegal immigration — because there has been zero leadership in Washington. And with zero leadership in Washington, we’ve created this patchwork of solutions in all — in a lot of the states, which makes for a very complex and confusing environment.

When elected president, I’m simply going to prove to the American people that we can secure the border. That’s what they want done. And I’m not going to talk about anything else until we get it done. Secure the border.

Eighteen hundred miles, we’ve got a third of it done, between fencing and technology and National Guard boots on the ground. We can finish. And I will talk to the four border state governors and get verification from them that, in fact, we’ve secured the border.

And once that is done, then we can move on. But this discussion has zero in the way of any intellectual credibility until such time as we secure the border.

[Applause]

FERRECHIO: OK.

Governor Romney, turning to you, in 2008, you said you favored allowing American companies to hire more skilled foreign workers. With the unemployment rate now at 9.1 percent, do you still think that employers need to import more foreign labor?

ROMNEY: Well, of course not. We’re not looking to bring people in and — in jobs that can be done by Americans. But at the same time, we want to make sure that America is a home and welcome to the best and brightest in the world.

If someone comes here and gets a PhD in — in physics, that’s the person I’d like to staple a green card to their — to their diploma, rather than saying to them to go home.

Instead, we let people come across our border illegally or stay here and overstay their visa. They get to stay in the country. I want the best and brightest to be metered into the country based upon the needs of our employment sector and create jobs by bringing technology and innovation that comes from people around the world.

Look, we — we are a nation of immigrants. We love legal immigration. But for legal immigration to work, we have to secure the border, and we also have to crack down on employers that hire people who are here illegally.

I like legal immigration. I’d have the number of visas that we give to people here that come here legally, determined in part by the needs of our employment community. But we have to secure our border and crack down on those that bring folks here and hire here illegally.

FERRECHIO: OK.

Turning to you now, Mr. Cain.

When President Obama joked about protecting the borders with alligators and a moat, not only did you embrace the idea, you upped the ante with “a 20-foot barbed wire electrified fence.”

Were you serious?

CAIN: America has got to learn how to take a joke.

[Laughter]

But let me — allow me to give you my real solution to the immigration problem. I happen to believe that is four problems.

Yes, we must secure the border with whatever means necessary. Secondly, enforce the laws that are there. Thirdly, promote the path to citizenship that’s already there.

We have a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. It’s called legal immigration.

And then, fourth, I happen to agree with empowering the states and allow them to deal with that issue. If we work on the right problem, we will be able to solve it.

And in the case of immigration, we’ve got four problems that we need to work on simultaneously. It turns out that America can be a nation with high fences and wide open doors. That’s what built this nation. So we can have high fences and wide open doors, all at the same time.

[Applause]

FERRECHIO: All right. Thank you.

Speaker Gingrich, you recently told Univision that you’re looking at the idea of having citizen boards choose which illegal immigrants can stay in the country and which would have to go. Who decides the memberships of these boards, and how would they work?

GINGRICH: I think it’s very important to go back and look at how the Selective Service Commission worked in World War II, because it was local, practical decision-making, and people genuinely thought it was fair and it was reasonable. But let me go back to your earlier question to Herman.

I thought the president’s speech in El Paso where he talked about moats and alligators was the perfect symbol of his failure as a leader. He failed to get any immigration reform through when he controlled the Senate and he controlled us. He could ram through Obamacare, but he couldn’t deal with immigration.

Now he has the Republicans in the House in charge, and he descends to a level of attack which I think is very sad for a president of the United States on an issue like this. We ought to control the border. And I agree with Governor Huntsman, we can control the border.

I would be prepared to take as many people from Homeland Security’s bureaucracy in Washington and move them to Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, as are needed, to control the border.

[Applause]

GINGRICH: We should have English as the official language of government. And we should have a method for distinguishing between people who have lived here a long time and people who have come very recently.

FERRECHIO: OK.

Congressman Paul, you are opposed to a system that requires employers to verify the immigration status of their workers. Why would you want to eliminate one more tool to help curb illegal immigration?

PAUL: I don’t like putting the burden on our businessmen to be the policemen. That means he has to be policing activity.

And I also resent the fact that illegals come into this country, and they do have problems, but if a church helps them and feeds them, we don’t blame the church, or at least we shouldn’t in a free society. But I have a strong position on immigration.

I don’t think that we should give amnesty and they become voters. But I do think we should deal with our borders.

But one way that I would suggest that we could do it is pay less attention to the borders between Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan and bring our troops home and deal with the border. But why do we pay more attention to the borders overseas and less attention to the borders here at home?

We now have a mess on the borders, and it has a lot more to do with it than just immigration, because we’re financing some of this militarism against the drug dealers on the borders right now to the tune of over $1 billion. And there is a mess down there, but it’s much bigger than just the immigration problem.

But I do not believe in giving entitlements to illegal immigrants at all. And there should be no mandates on the states to make them do it.

[Applause]

BAIER: As I said, we’ll be returning to topic number one, the economy, throughout the debate.

Byron York has the next round of questions.

YORK: Thank you, Bret.

We’re going to start with Governor Romney.

Governor, in 2005, when you were the governor of Massachusetts, you successfully appealed to Standard & Poor’s to upgrade your state’s credit rating. You said you used a combination of spending cuts and new revenues to put Massachusetts on a more sound financial footing. You even approvingly cited a tax increase passed by the Democratic state legislature.

Doesn’t this show that sometimes raising taxes is necessary?

ROMNEY: No. I don’t believe in raising taxes. And as governor I cut taxes 19 times and didn’t raise taxes. Let’s step back and talk about the first part what you said. I was fortunate enough to be a governor that got an increase in the credit rating in my state. At the same time we got a president who got a decrease in the credit rating of our nation. And that’s because our president simply doesn’t understand how to lead and how to grow an economy.

I was very proud of the fact that Republicans and Democrats worked together in Massachusetts to cut spending. I came in, we had a huge deficit. I went to the legislature and I said I want expanded powers to unilaterally be able to cut spending not just slow the rate of growth but to cut spending and they gave it to me and I did. We cut spending.

Every single year I was governor we balanced the budget. And by the end of my term we had put in place over a two billion dollar rainy day fund. That kind of leadership is what allowed us to get a credit upgrade from Standard & Poor’s. And that’s the leadership we finally need in the White House.

YORK: We’re going to go to Governor Pawlenty next. Governor you say you balanced every budget without tax increases as governor of Minnesota, but in 2005 you levied a new tax on cigarettes, which you called a health impact fee. You said you had to compromise with a Democratic legislature to to end government shutdown.

But doesn’t that show that when leaders are faced with big deficits, they sometimes have to raise taxes?

PAWLENTY: No. As I said before, I have got the best record of financial management, or one of them, of any governor in the country. The CATO institute gave only four governors in America their highest grade, an “A” grade. I was one of those governors. The other aren’t running. The other three aren’t even thinking about running.

As to the circumstance that you mentioned, I had the first government shutdown in 150 years. We did put together a package, but I balanced the budget every time in Minnesota that I was governor. In fact, my last budget ended June 30 of this year with a surplus.

I did agree to the cigarette fee. I regretted that. As it turns out the courts later held it to be a fee. But nonetheless, it was an increase in revenues. It turns out we had a new budget forecast a few months later. And we didn’t even need it.

But my record of leadership in Minnesota, cutting spending from historic highs to historic lows, balancing the budget every time, doing health care reform the right way. Again, stands in contrast to Barack Obama. He should cancel his Cape Cod vacation, call the congress back into session and get to work on this.

Barack Obama is missing in action. He should have the kind of leadership I had when I was governor of the state.

YORK: Thank you, governor. Next we’re going to go to Representative Bachmann. This is a question also about that cigarette tax increase. You were in the Minnesota state legislature at the time. And you said you opposed the tax, but in the end, you voted for it. Now you promise never to raise taxes. Why would you compromise then, but not now?

BACHMANN: That’s right. I was very vocal against that tax. And I fought against that tax. The problem is, when the deal was put together, Governor Pawlenty cut a deal with the special interest groups and he put in the same bill, a vote to increase the cigarette tax as well as the vote that would take away protections from the unborn.

And I made a decision, I believe in the sanctity of human life. And I believe you can get money wrong, but you can’t get life wrong. And that’s why I came down on that decision that I made.

[Applause]

YORK: Governor Pawlenty, do you have a response — 30 seconds — to that?

PAWLENTY: Yeah, what is wrong in the answer is the answer. Congresswoman Bachmann didn’t vote for that bill because of a stripping away of pro-life protection, she voted for it and is now creating that as the excuse.

But nonetheless, she speaks of leading these efforts in Washington and Minnesota, leading and failing is not the objective. Leading and getting results is the objective. I’ve got the best record of results as any candidate in this race.

YORK: All right. Thank you. We’re going to go to Senator Santorum.

OK, yes you can.

BACHMANN: In the — this is exactly what I’m trying to illustrate. We need to have a president of the United States who stands firm on their convictions. This is what I have demonstrated for everyday that I have been in congress. I have a consistent record of standing on my convictions. I didn’t cut deals with special interests where you put the pro-life issues together with tax increase issues. That’s a fundamental. It’s a nonnegotiable.

And when we come to a nonnegotiable, we must stand. And I stand.

[Applause]

YORK: Governor we’re going to come back around.

PAWLENTY: Just very quickly.

Her answer is illogical. Her answer is illogical. If there were two bad things in the bill — a tax increase and we’re hypothetically stripping away pro-life protections, which we weren’t, then it is a double reason to vote against it. She voted for it.

BACHMANN: I need to respond to that.

YORK: OK. We have other people here.

BACHMANN: I need to respond to that, because — I need to respond to that.

YORK: I understand.

I understand. You have the next question. [speaking to Santorum] You have the next question, senator. I promise.

[Applause]

(UNKNOWN): Congresswoman Bachmann, 15 seconds, OK?

BACHMANN: This is what I want to say. If a person — if a member casts a vote one way, they would be increasing the cigarette tax. If they cast a vote another way, they would not be voting for the pro-life protection. It was a choice. The governor put us in that box and I chose to protect human life.

BAIER: OK, we’ll come back around later.

Byron?

YORK: All right, next we’re going to Senator Santorum…

(UNKNOWN): yes, we are.

[Applause]

SANTORUM: And I told you when I traveled around Iowa, you would see me in your city, in your hometown, but you probably wouldn’t see much of me on television. So it’s totally true tonight.

[Laughter]

YORK: Well, Senator, here you are.

The deficit cutting super committee is now getting to work. Democrats will demand that savings come from a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, maybe $3 in cuts for every $1 in higher taxes.

Is there any ratio of cuts to taxes that you would accept?

Three to one?

Four to one?

Or even 10 to one?

SANTORUM: No. The answer is no, because that’s not the problem. The problem is that we have spending that has exploded. Government has averaged 18 percent of GDP as — as a percentage of the overall economy that government eats up. And we’re now at almost 25 percent.

Revenues are down about 2 or 3 percent.

So if you look at where the problem is, the president is in spending, not taxes. And we’ll get those taxes up if we grow the economy. I put forward the plan to grow the economy and I’ve provided leadership in the past to get bipartisan things done.

You know, I — I sympathize with Michele Bachmann, who stands up and says, I’m going to stand firm on these things. You need to stand firm on these things. But you can’t stand and say you give me everything I want or I’ll vote no. You have to find the principles, like I did on welfare reform. I said three things — to cut a federal entitlement, to end it, the three things we wanted to accomplish, end a federal entitlement, which we did. We wanted to require work, which we did. And we wanted to put a time limit on welfare.

We did those three things. We compromised on everything else. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but I got the core of what I wanted and we transformed welfare. You need leaders, you need people who are good at leadership, not showmanship.

[Bell sounds]

YORK: But just confirming, Senator, you would not negotiate on raising taxes?

SANTORUM: Absolutely not, because it’s not the problem. And the Democrats know it’s not the problem. This is where leadership comes in. You go to the American public and you lay out the facts. I’ve been traveling around Iowa and I lay out the facts to people and they nod their heads, and they say, yes, this makes sense.

We need to get the economy growing. That doesn’t mean taking more money out of it, that means — making — that means creating energy jobs, creating manufacturing jobs. And my plan will do that.

BAIER: Well, I’m going to ask a question to everyone here on the stage. Say you had a deal, a real spending cuts deal, 10 to one, as — as Byron said, spending cuts to tax increases.

Speaker, you’re already shocking your head.

But who on this stage would walk away from that deal?

Can you raise your hand if you feel so strongly about not raising taxes, you’d walk away on the 10 to one deal?

[Applause]

BAIER: Mr. Speaker, why are you shaking your head?

GINGRICH: I — I think this…

BAIER: Is that not an important question?

GINGRICH: Look, I think this super committee is about as dumb an idea as Washington has come up with in my lifetime.

[Applause]

GINGRICH: I mean if you look for a second, I mean I used to run the House of Representatives. I have some general notion of these things. The idea that 523 senators and congressmen are going to sit around for four months while 12 brilliant people, mostly picked for political reasons, are going to sit in some room and brilliantly come up with a trillion dollars or force us to choose between gutting our military and accepting a tax increase is irrational. This is — they’re going to walk in just before Thanksgiving and say, all right, we can shoot you in the head or cut off your right leg, which do you prefer?

[Laughter]

GINGRICH: What they ought to do is scrap the committee right now, recognize it’s a dumb idea, go back to regular legislative business, assign every subcommittee the task of finding savings, do it out in the open through regular legislative order and get rid of this secret phony business.

[Laughter]

BAIER: OK. Just making sure everyone at home and everyone here knows that they all raised their hands. They’re all saying that they feel so strongly about not raising taxes that a 10 to one deal, they would walk away from. Confirming that.

Now to Chris Wallace with a round of questions on health care.

WALLACE: Governor Pawlenty, you admit that you muffed a question in the last debate about Governor Romney’s health care plan, so I’m going to give you another chance.

You’ve said that the president’s plan and the Romney plan are so similar that you called them both ObamneyCare. And you also said this: “I don’t think you can prosecute the political case against President Obama if you are a co-conspirator.”

Could you please tell Governor Romney, who’s two down from you, what he and President Obama have conspired to do?

PAWLENTY: Yeah, I don’t want to miss that chance again, Chris.

[Laughter]

Yeah, Mitt, look, Obamacare was patterned after Mitt’s plan in Massachusetts. And for Mitt or anyone else to say that there aren’t substantial similarities or they’re not essentially the same plan, it just isn’t credible. So that’s why I called it Obamneycare, and I think that’s a fair label, and I’m happy to call it that again tonight.

But that’s not the only similarity between Governor Romney’s record and President Obama’s record. Again, if we’re going to take him on, we have to contrast with him on other important issues. For example, in spending, I’ve got the best spending record. I took Minnesota’s historic spending from highs to lows. Mitt ran up spending in his watch as governor 40-plus percent over his n four years. That’s not going to contrast very well with the president.

In the area of judicial selections, the Boston Globe said that two out of three or so of Mitt’s judicial selections, judge selections were either pro-choice, Democrat, or liberal. I appointed conservatives, strict constructionists to my supreme court. So we’re going to have to take it to Barack Obama, and we’re going to have to show contrast, not similarities.

WALLACE: Governor Romney, I’m going to ask you a question about health care, but I’d like to give you 30 seconds to respond to the criticism of other parts of your record.

ROMNEY: I think I like Tim’s answer at the last debate better.

[Laughter]

There are some similarities between what we did in Massachusetts and what President Obama did, but there are some big differences. And one is, I believe in the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. And that says that powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved by the states and the people.

We put together a plan that was right for Massachusetts. The president took the power of the people and the states away from them and put in place a one-size-fits-all plan. It’s bad law. It’s bad constitutional law. It’s bad medicine. And if I’m president of the United States, on my first day, I’ll direct the secretary of HHS to grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states.

[Applause]

WALLACE: But, Governor — and this is — this is your one-minute question. Do you think that government at any level has the right to make someone buy a good or service just because they are a U.S. resident? Where do you find that authority, that mandating authority, government making an individual buy a good or service in the Constitution?

ROMNEY: Chris, you’re — you’re asking me, what do we think we should do about Obamacare? And the answer is…

WALLACE: No, I’m asking you…

ROMNEY: And the answer is — the answer is, I think you have to repeal Obamacare, and I will, and I’ll put in place a plan that allows states to craft their own programs to make those programs work.

WALLACE: But, sir, I’m asking you where you find that authority in the Constitution.

ROMNEY: And let — and let me tell you — where do I find it in the constitution? Are you familiar with the Massachusetts constitution? I am. And the Massachusetts constitution allows states, for instance, to say that our kids have to go to school. It has that power. The question is, is that a good idea or bad idea? And I understand different people come to different conclusions.

What we did in our state was this. We said, look, we’re finding people that can afford insurance, health insurance, that are going to the hospital and getting the state to pay for them. Taxpayers are picking up hundreds of millions of dollars of costs from people who are free riders.

We said, you know what? We’re going to insist that those people who can afford to pay for themselves do so. We believe in personal responsibility. And if the people aren’t willing to do that, then they’re going to help the government pay for them. That was our conclusion.

The right answer for every state is to determine what’s right for those states and not to impose Obamacare on the nation. That’s why I’ll repeal it.

[Applause]

WALLACE: Congresswoman Bachmann, you are a big believer in the 10th Amendment and the idea of granting power to the states. So let me ask you: Does that make any difference whether mandatory health insurance is being imposed by a state or by the federal government?

BACHMANN: No, I don’t believe that it does. I think that the government is without authority to compel a citizen to purchase a product or a service against their will, because effectively when the federal government does that, what they’re doing is they are saying to the individual, they are going to set the price of what that product is.

If the federal government can force American citizens or if a state can force their citizens to purchase health insurance, there is nothing that the state cannot do. This is clearly an unconstitutional action, whether it’s done at the federal level or whether it’s the state level.

And I will not rest, as the president of the United States, until we repeal Obamacare. And as the nominee of the Republican Party, I also will not rest until I can also elect an additional 13 senators who agree with me so we’ll have a filibuster-proof Senate and we can actually repeal Obamacare.

WALLACE: Congressman Paul, you are a constitutional expert, and you talk a lot about the Constitution. What do you think of this argument, that the state has a constitutional right to make someone buy a good or service just because they’re a resident, not because they’re driving and need a driver’s license, but just the fact that they are a resident?

PAUL: No, the way I would understand the Constitution, the federal government can’t go in and prohibit the states from doing bad things. And I would consider that a very bad thing, but you don’t send in a federal police force because they’re doing it and throw them in a court. So they do have that leeway under our Constitution.

But we have big trouble in this medical care problem. And we have drifted so far from any of our care being delivered by the marketplace. And once you get the government involved — and both parties have done it. They’ve developed a bit of a medical care delivery system based on corporatism. The corporations are doing quite well, whether it’s Obama or under the Republicans.

The drug companies do well. The insurance companies do well. The organized medicine do well. The management companies do well. The patient and the doctors suffer. There’s a wedge. Every time you have the government get in here with these regulations, and have these mandates, there’s a wedge driven in between the doctor and the patient. We have to get the people more control of their care, and that’s why these medical savings accounts could at least introduce the notion of market delivery of medical care.

[Applause]

WALLACE: Senator Santorum — Senator Santorum, I see you wanting to jump in. Your thoughts about Romneycare?

SANTORUM: Well, first, I was the first author of medical savings accounts back in 1992 with John Kasich in the House, but this is — this is a very important argument here. This is the 10th Amendment run amok. Michele Bachmann says that she would go in and fight health care being imposed by states, mandatory health, but she wouldn’t fight go in and fight marriage being imposed by the states, that would be OK.

We have Ron Paul saying, oh, what the states want to do — whatever the states want to do under the 10th Amendment’s fine. So if the states want to pass polygamy, that’s fine. If the states want to impose sterilization, that’s fine.

No, our country is based on moral laws, ladies and gentlemen. There are things the states can’t do. Abraham Lincoln said the states do not have the right to do wrong.

I respect the 10th Amendment, but we are a nation that has values. We are a nation that was built on a moral enterprise, and states don’t have the right to tramp over those because of the 10th Amendment.

[Applause]

BAIER: When we come back — we’re going to take a short break — we’re going to talk about a couple of people who are not here tonight, also, national security, foreign policy, the war on terror, and a bit later, social issues, fired-up crowd here. Check out foxnews.com and vote in our online poll. We’ll be right back after this break.

[Commercial Break]

BAIER: Welcome back to the Stephens Auditorium on the campus of Iowa State University.

Our next round is a lightning round, really quick, before we get into foreign policy and national security.

Are we actually missing a candidate on the stage? We are.

(UNKNOWN): She’ll be right back.

BAIER: She’ll be right back, Congresswoman Bachmann. There she is. That’s OK.

OK. There we go.

Texas Governor Rick Perry obviously is not here tonight. He’s giving a speech on Saturday in South Carolina. We’re told he’s getting into this race, but he’s not answering questions tonight. He’s not taking part in the straw poll on Saturday.

So, is he outsmarting you — 30 seconds — Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Maybe he didn’t want to face up to the challenge, for all we know.

[Applause]

BAIER: Are you worried about this strategy?

PAUL: Oh, no. I’m very pleased that he’s coming in, because he represents the status quo. And I feel like I’m sort of separated from the other candidates with my strong belief in liberty and limited government and different foreign policy, and wanting to deal with the Fed. So he’ll just gather all their votes.

[Applause]

BAIER: OK.

Mr. Cain, what about Texas Governor Perry?

CAIN: Welcome to the contest. From my perspective, it doesn’t bother us or my campaign. That’s just one more politician, and that makes this business problem solver stand out that much more.

[Applause]

BAIER: Governor Huntsman, your thoughts?

HUNTSMAN: We all need prayers, and I hope he offers a whole lot for everybody here on this stage.

But you know what? Aside from that, we also need jobs in this country. And I hope that if he does get in this race, he broadens and expands this dialogue about job creation.

The people in this nation know that President Obama has had two-and-a-half years to get it right on the most important issue we face, expanding the economy and creating jobs. He’s fundamentally failed us. So anyone who is going to expand this group a little bit, and brings a little savvy on the subject, I think is a net plus.

BAIER: Former governor Sarah Palin is here in Iowa this week as well. She’s not in this race yet either.

Congresswoman Bachmann, is she stealing your thunder?

BACHMANN: I like Sarah Palin a lot. We are very good friends. And I think there’s room in the race for Governor Perry, Sarah Palin, or even, Bret, you, too, if you want to throw your hat into the race.

BAIER: I think I’ll be out of this one.

[Laughter]

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich, any thoughts on either of those?

GINGRICH: Well, I want to act on what Congresswoman Bachmann just said. You know, Mayor Giuliani has every right to run, and I think he’s talking to some folks about it. Governor Perry has a great record of job creation in Texas, and I think he’s a very formidable person. Governor Palin has a nationwide audience.

And I know it’s a shock sometimes to political folks, but the first delegates are chosen in January. People have lots of time to come and play.

Now, they are missing this great opportunity to be with you guys and have all the fun that we’re having here tonight, but, you know, that’s their prerogative. And I would like forward to anybody who wants to run for office. That’s what America is all about.

BAIER: I’ll split this next round with Chris Wallace. The topic, foreign policy and national security.

Governor Pawlenty, another five U.S. soldiers were killed today in Afghanistan after the single biggest loss, that helicopter crash over the weekend, last weekend. Almost 10 years after 9/11, after the killing of Osama bin Laden, with casualties mounting there, costs adding up, many people calling the government there corrupt, is it still worth it?

PAWLENTY: Well, first of all, Bret, let’s just stop and pause and reflect upon the loss of life, the five brave members of the military that you mentioned, as well as the 30 that were lost about a week ago, and all the others who have been lost or wounded in that conflict. We owe them not just our words of thanks and appreciation, but to their families, our thoughts and prayers.

We wouldn’t have the country we have without those brave men and women. We owe them our all. Not just with our words, but with our deeds.

[Applause]

PAWLENTY: But as to Afghanistan, we were justified in the invasion. It was 10 years ago. People killed Americans. We needed to go there, find them, bring them to justice or kill them. But in terms of where we are now, 10 years removed, I was last there last summer with Governor Perry by the way, And met with General Petraeus. He thought would it take two years from last summer to have an orderly and successful wind down of our mission in Afghanistan, at least in terms of significant troop withdrawal.

President Obama has accelerated that faster than either General Mullen or General Petraeus recommended. I would have accepted their recommendations and drawn them down a little slower.

BAIER: So it is still worth it?

SANTORUM: It is still worth it. But we are going to have to have a successful draw down not one according to Barack Obama’s campaign calendar next year.

BAIER: Governor Romney in June 2009 you argued that America’s willingness to fight wars of liberation, quote, “nurture democracy and human rights all over the world,” was what made America, quote, “the hope of the earth.” Basically a full embrace of George W. Bush’s freedom agenda.

Yet last debate about Afghanistan you said this, quote, “we’ve learned that our troops shouldn’t go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation.”

Those two statements are dramatically different. Have your views changed?

ROMNEY: No, I have the same view. And it’s this which is that we have helped the people of Afghanistan establish freedom from the Taliban. But now we are at a point where they are going to have to earn and keep that freedom themselves. This is not something we are going to do forever. We’ve been there 10 years. We’ve been training the Afghan troops.

Sometime within the next two years, we are going to draw down our troop strength and reach a point where the Afghan military is able to preserve the sovereignty of their own nation from the teary of the Taliban. That has to happen.

It’s time for the troops of Afghanistan to take on that responsibility according to, as I said in that last debate, according to the time table established and communicated by the generals in the field.

And those generals recommended to President Obama that we should not start drawing our troops down until after the fighting season in 2012. He took a political decision to draw them down faster than that. That is wrong. We should follow the recommendation of the generals and we should now look for the people of Afghanistan to pick up their fight and preserve that liberty that has been so dearly won.

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich, as President Obama was deciding what to do in Libya, you were asked what you would do. You said, quote, “exercise a no-fly zone this evening, communicate to the Libyan military that Gadhafi was gone, and that sooner they switched sides the more likely they were to survive.”

After the president launched military action a few days later you said, quote, “I would not have intervened. I think there were other ways to affect Gadhafi.”

Are you certain about the way forward in Libya and where it stands now?

GINGRICH: Let me suggest — this is a good example of a gotcha question.

BAIER: No, it is not.

GINGRICH: No, yes it is. No, go back previous to Greta Van Susteren two weeks earlier, when I said what we should do go in covertly, use Egyptian and other allies not use American forces.

BAIER: But Mr. Speaker, you said these two things.

GINGRICH: That’s right. I said that thing specifically after the president that day announced gloriously to the world as president of the United States that Gadhafi has to go. And I said if the president of the United States is serious about Gadhafi going, this is what we should do.

The following interview came after the same president said, well, I didn’t really mean go meant go, I meant go meant maybe we should have a humanitarian intervention. Now, the fact that I was commenting on Fox about a president who changes his opinion every other day ought to be covered by a Fox commentator using all the things I said, not handpicking the ones that fit your premise.

BAIER: Mr. Speaker the question was are you now certain the way forward in Libya?

GINGRICH: I have a red light, but if I’m allowed to answer.

BAIER: You’re allowed to.

GINGRICH: I talked recently to General Abizad who is probably the most knowledgeable senior general who speaks fluent Arabic who said to me we have a bigger strategic deficit than our fiscal deficit. I think we need to rethink everything in the region.

I think we need to rethink Afghanistan, we need to rethink Iraq and I think we need to recognize that right now Iran is on offense and our troops are in danger everywhere in that region. And I think we need a very serious national debate about it.

BAIER: Governor Huntsman, you were former ambassador to China for the Obama administration. Last week a top cyber security firm detailed new instances of cyber espionage, hacking into U.S. computers. Experts said, qoute, all signs point to China. Would you as president consider cyber attacks acts of war?

HUNTSMAN: Absolutely.

This is the new war field, cyber intrusion is. What we need in this country is to use this issue as not only an economic development tool, but also a national security tool. We need early warning capabilities and we need safeguards and we need counter measures.

Not only have government institutions been hacked into, but private individuals have been hacked too. It’s gone beyond the pale.

Listen, this is also part of a dialogue that has not taken place with the Chinese. We need a strategic dialogue at the highest levels between the United States and China. That is not happening.

This is a relationship, the United States and China, we are both on the world stage. As far as you can see into the 21st century, we are going to have to deal with the Chinese. We better get it right.

I understand this relationship. I’ve been at it for 30 years. I think it would be great thing to have a president of the United States who knew something about China.

BAIER: I’ll turn to my colleague, Chris Wallace.

WALLACE: Governor Pawlenty, you say we have to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. You also recently said that Syrian President Assad must go. Would you rely on the same idea of international sanctions that President Obama has been using? Or would you be more forward-leaning in possibly using military action?

PAWLENTY: Well, first of all, Chris, we need to use a increasing number of tools and measures. As to Iran, I believe we should undertake every plausible step to deny their intentions and their plans to get a nuclear weapon. That will include sanctions. That will include some of the good work that you saw with some of the scientists on their way to work in Iran. That will see — see some of the good work that you saw with the computer virus. But in the end, we should take every plausible step to deny that intention.

As to Syria, Bashar al-Assad is mowing down and killing his people, up to 2,000 right now. And the president of the United States, Barack Obama, will not say he should go. Until recently, he and Hillary Clinton suggested that Bashar Assad was a reformer. He’s not a reformer; he’s a killer.

This is another example of naive foreign policy by this president. And worse yet, he sticks his thumb in the eye of our best friends around the world, that we should stand with. For example, Israel, he repeatedly sticks his thumb in Israel’s eye. We should stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. There should be no daylight between us and the nation of Israel. They’re one of our best friends in the world.

[Applause]

WALLACE: Congressman Paul — Congressman Paul, you say that President Obama is not too soft on Iran, you say that he is too tough on Iran. I want to put up some of your statements. “Sanctions are not diplomacy,” you say. “They are a precursor to war and an embarrassment to a country that pays lip service to free trade.” As for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, you wrote this: “One can understand why they might want to become nuclear capable, if only to defend themselves and to be treated more respectfully.”

Is that your policy towards Iran?

PAUL: Well, even our own CIA gives me this information, that they have no evidence that they’re working on a weapon. Just think of what we went through in the Cold War. When I was in the Air Force, after I was drafted in the Air Force, all through the ’60s, we were — we were standing up against the Soviets. They had like 30,000 nuclear weapons with intercontinental missiles.

Just think of the agitation and the worrying of a country that might get a nuclear weapon some day. And just think of how many nuclear weapons surround Iran. The Chinese are there. The Indians are there. The Pakistanis are there. The Israelis are there. The United States is there. All these countries — China has nuclear weapons.

Why wouldn’t it be natural that they might want a weapon? There’d be — internationally, they’d be given more respect. Why should we write people off? There was — you know, in the ’50s, we at least talked to them. At least our leaders and Reagan talked to the Soviets. What’s so terribly bad about this?

And people — countries that you put sanctions on, you are more likely to fight them. I say a policy of peace is free trade. Stay out of their internal business. Don’t get involved in these wars. And just bring our troops home.

[Applause]

WALLACE: Congressman Paul — Congressman Paul, I want to just give you 15 seconds. I want to just make sure I understand. So your policy towards Iran is, if they want to develop a nuclear weapon, that’s their right, no sanctions, no effort to stop them?

PAUL: No, I think that — I think that thing — that makes it much worse. Why would that be so strange, if the Soviets and the Chinese have nuclear weapons? We tolerated the Soviets; we didn’t attack them. And they were a much greater danger — they were the greatest danger to us in — our whole history. You don’t go to war against them.

I mean, this whole idea of sanctions, all these pretend free traders, they’re the ones who put on these trade sanctions. This is why we still don’t have trade relationships with Cuba. It’s about time we talked to Cuba and stopped fighting these wars that are about 30 or 40 years old.

[Applause]

WALLACE: Mr. Cain…

SANTORUM: Just –…

WALLACE: Senator Santorum, I got a question for you…

SANTORUM: Well, as the author of the Iran Freedom Support Act, which he is criticizing, because I authored it when I was in the United States sanction — Senate, when it actually imposed sanctions on Iran because of their nuclear program — Iran is not Iceland, Ron.

Iran is a country that has been at war with us since 1979. Iran is a country that has killed more American men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan than the Iraqis and the Afghanistans have — Afghanistan has had. The — the Iranians…

[Crosstalk}

WALLACE: Quiet, please.

SANTORUM: The Iranians — the Iranians are — are the existential threat to the state of Israel. You ask — you ask the Israelis, what keeps them up at night? It’s the Iranians funding of Hamas and Hezbollah and the support of Syria…

WALLACE: Thirty seconds…

SANTORUM: … and the reason — hold on. Let me finish.

WALLACE: No. There are rules here, sir.

SANTORUM: Yeah, I know there are rules. And you guys have been giving these guys a lot of time and not a whole lot of time to me, so let me answer the question.

BAIER: You have a question — you have a question coming.

Congressman Paul?

PAUL: OK, the senator — the senator is wrong on his history. We’ve been at war in — in — in Iran for a lot longer than ’79. We started it in 1953 when we sent in a coup, installed the shah, and the reaction — the blowback came in 1979. It’s been going on and on because we just plain don’t mind our own business. That’s our problem.

[Applause]

WALLACE: Mr. Cain — Mr. Cain, you told Bill O’Reilly in June — and I want to put it up — the way you stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is for us to get serious about real energy independent — a real energy-independent strategy. Do you really think that more domestic oil production in this country is going to convince the mullahs in Tehran not to pursue a nuclear weapon?

CAIN: I believe that our energy strategy is directly related to national security, as well as stopping Iran in their efforts. The head of Iran, Ahmadinejad, has said that he wants to wipe Israel off of the face of the Earth. I take that seriously. He has also said — he has also said that he’s not going to listen to the United States, Britain, or anybody else in their attempts to do what they want to do.

That being said, there’s more to foreign policy than bombs and bullets. There’s bombs and bullets and economics.

If we go serious about maximizing all of our energy resources in this country, we can become a player on the world market. As the price of oil goes down, it puts an economic squeeze on Iran. This is why I believe we should have a serious energy-independent strategy in order to be able to be a player on the world market. That’s what I meant by using our energy resources, not just oil, but all of our resources to become energy independent.

[Applause]

WALLACE: Congresswoman Bachmann, I want to switch to another angle of the war on terror, though if you want to weigh in on Iran, feel free. We — you say that we don’t win the war on terror by closing Guantanamo and reading Miranda rights to terrorists. Congressman Paul says terrorism suspects — suspects have committed a crime and are due – should be given due process in civilian courts. Could you please tell Congressman Paul why he’s wrong?

BACHMANN: Well, because, simply, terrorists who commit acts against United States citizens, people who are from foreign countries who do that, do not have any right on our — under our Constitution to Miranda rights.

We’ve also seen that Guantanamo Bay has yielded significant information. In fact, we’ve learned that that led to the capture and the killing of bin Laden.

This is a tool that we need to have in order to be able to prostitute the new type of war, the new type of warfare, and the new type of terrorists that this country is dealing with.

Regarding Iran, Iran is the central issue in the Middle East and their capacity to become a nuclear power. They’re one of the four state sponsors of terror in the world.

I sit on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. I can’t reveal classified information, but I can say this: As president of the United States, I will do everything to make sure that Iran does not become a nuclear power.

WALLACE: Thirty seconds, Congressman Paul.

PAUL: Well, I think she turns our rule of law on its head. She says that the terrorists don’t deserve protection under our courts, but, therefore, a judgment has to be made. They’re ruled a terrorist. Who rules them a terrorist? I thought our courts recognized that you had to be tried.

And we’ve — we’ve done this. And we’ve brought individuals back from Pakistan and other places. We’ve given them a trial in this country, over 300, or at least — near 300, we tried and put them in prison.

So this idea that we — we have to turn it on its head and reject the rule of law, we already are at the point where this administration – please let me finish — half a second — this administration — this administration…

[Booing]

… this administration already has accepted the principle that, when you assume somebody is a terrorist, they can be targeted for assassination, even American citizens. That affects all of us eventually. You don’t want to translate our rule of law into a rule of mob rule.

[Applause]

WALLACE: Senator Santorum — Senator Santorum, I want to pick up on this debate. You say Attorney General Holder must be under the influence. And, in fact, you’ve suggested, perhaps, smoking mushrooms to want to try terrorists in civilian court.

Are you also suggesting that Congressman Paul is under the influence?

SANTORUM: Well, any…

[Laughter]

SANTORUM: — anyone — anyone that suggests that Iran is not a threat to this country or is not a threat to stability in the Middle East is obviously not seeing the world very clearly. He sees it exactly the way that Barack Obama sees it, that he has to go — we have to go around and apologize for the fact that we’ve gone out and exerted our influence to create freedom around the world.

I don’t apologize for that. I don’t apologize for the Iranian people being free for a long time and now they’re under a — under a mullacracy that — that tramples the rights of women, tramples the rights of gays, tramples the rights of people all — all throughout their society and it’s the greatest supporter of terrorism in the Middle East and around the world and is setting up training camps and is working with Venezuela and other countries in our — south of our border to threaten us.

This is — the — Iran is a country that must be confronted. I was in front of the — I was in front of this curve. I authored the Iran Freedom and Support Act back in 19 — excuse me, 2004. It was blocked by Joe Biden, nonetheless, and Barack Obama once. We got it passed. And I can tell you, if Rick Santorum and when Rick Santorum is president, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon because the world as we know it…

[Bell sounds]

SANTORUM: — will be no more.

WALLACE: Conger — Congressman Paul, 30 seconds.

PAUL: You’ve heard the war propaganda that is liable to lure — lead us into the sixth war. And I worry about that position. Iran is a threat because they have some militants there. But believe me, they’re all around the world and they’re…

[Crosstalk}

PAUL: Excuse me.

They’re — they’re all around the world and they’re not a whole lot different than others. Iran does not have an air force that can come here. They don’t have — they can’t even make enough gasoline for themselves. And here we are building this case up…

SANTORUM: [Inaudible].

PAUL: Please. Please. They’re building up this case like, just like we did in Iraq — build up the war propaganda. There was no al Qaeda in Iraq.

[Bell sounds]

PAUL: And they had nuclear weapons and we had to go in. I’m sure you supported that war, as well.

[Crosstalk}

WALLACE: OK…

PAUL: It’s time we quit this. It’s time — it’s trillions of dollars we’re spending on these wars.

[Applause]

[Booing]

BAIER: When we come back…

[Booing]

BAIER: — when we come back, we’ll try to get a hold of things — social issues. That should be fun. And the most prescient — pressing issues right now, getting America back to work, after this break.

[Commercial Break]

BAIER: Welcome back to Ames, Iowa, and the first Republican presidential debate in the Hawkeye State. A fiery debate, at that.

Now to Byron York from “The Washington Examiner.”

YORK: Thank you, Bret.

We’re going to talk about social issues now. We’re going to start with Speaker Gingrich.

Speaker Gingrich, you’ve said you would impose a loyalty test for Muslims to serve in your administration. You said, “We did this in dealing with the Nazis, and we did this in dealing with the communists.”

Are you really comparing American Muslims to Nazis? And what specific loyalty test would you require them to take?

GINGRICH: Well, actually, I didn’t describe it as applied to Muslims. I described it as applied to everybody.

Now, we had, after all, a Catholic head of counterespionage for the FBI who turned out to be a Soviet spy. We’ve had a Cuban-American refugee who turned out to be a major Cuban spy for over 20 years on behalf of Castro.

My point was, there is nothing illegitimate about seeking to make sure that people are loyal to the United States if they work for the government of the United States. And I was responding to this insane moment where “The New York Times” attempted bomber, the guy who built the car bomb from Pakistan, was asked by the judge, who said to him, “But you swore an oath of loyalty to the United States.” And he said to the judge, “I am your enemy. I lied.”

[Laughter]

GINGRICH: And the judge seemed mystified at the idea that somebody would have lied. And my point is, we now know, for example, from the Venona papers and others there really were communist spies. And I would suggest to you we need security provisions across the board to ensure that those Americans and the American government are loyal to the United States.

[Applause]

YORK: All right. Thank you, Speaker Gingrich.

Next, we’re going to go to Mr. Cain.

Mr. Cain, you recently said this about Governor Romney’s Mormon faith: “It doesn’t bother me, but I do know it’s an issue with a lot of Southerners.”

Could you tell us what it is about Mormonism that Southerners find objectionable?

CAIN: Well, I did make that statement, and it does not bother me. But because I live in Atlanta, Georgia, have been back in my hometown for 10 years, I listen to what people say.

What they basically say is that they are not real clear about how his Mormon religion relates to the majority of the people’s Protestant, Christian religion in the South. That was the point that I was trying to make. It was not a dispersion whatsoever on his religion. I was simply saying what others have told me about not being clear in understanding his religion. That’s what it was.

YORK: Mr. Cain, if I could ask one follow-up, you have already apologized for remarks you made about Islam. Is your focus on other people’s religions hurting your campaign?

CAIN: It is not hurting my campaign, Byron, because my focus is not on other people’s religion. Let me repeat myself and be real clear.

I believe in the First Amendment to the Constitution. I believe that the government does not have a right to impose religion on people. But when you’re talking about some of these sensitive issues, I think we owe it to ourselves to make sure people are committed to the Constitution of the United States of America first.

[Applause]

YORK: All right. Thank you, Mr. Cain.

Next, we’re going to go to Representative Bachmann.

In 2006, when you were running for Congress, you described a moment in your life when your husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea. And then you explained, “But the Lord said, ‘Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.'”

As president, would you be submissive to your husband?

BACHMANN: Thank you for that question, Byron.

YORK: You’re welcome.

BACHMANN: Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th. I’m in love with him. I’m so proud of him. And both he and I — what submission means to us, if that’s what your question is, it means respect.

I respect my husband. He’s a wonderful, godly man, and a great father. And he respects me as his wife. That’s how we operate our marriage. We respect each other. We love each other.

And I’ve been so grateful that we’ve been able to build a home together. We have five wonderful children and 23 foster children. We’ve built a business together and a life together And I’m very proud of him.

[Applause]

YORK: Thank you Ms. Bachmann.

Now we’re going to ask a few questions about gay marriage starting with Governor Romney. When the Massachusetts supreme court legalized gay marriage in 2003, you accused the justices of assuming for themselves the powers that should belong to the state legislature.

Now that the New York state legislature has legalized gay marriage, do you believe state lawmakers have the right to make same-sex marriage legal in their states?

ROMNEY: I’d far prefer having the representers people make that decision than justices. But I believe the issue of marriage should be decided at the federal level.

You might wonder why is that? Why wouldn’t you just let each state make their own decision? And the reason is because people move from state to state of course in a society like ours, they have children. As to go to different states, if one state recognizes a marriage and the other does not, what’s the right of that child? What kind of divorce proceeding potential would there be in a state that didn’t recognize a marriage in the first place?

There are — marriage is a status. It’s not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state. And a result our marriage status relationship should be constant across the country.

I believe we should have a federal amendment in the constitution that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and woman, because I believe the ideal place to raise a child is in a home with a mom and a dad.

YORK: All right. Thank you, governor.

Next we’ll go to Governor Huntsman.

Recently, a Des Moines Register poll found that 58 percent of likely caucus goers, Republican caucus goers here in Iowa, consider support of civilian unions a deal killer for a candidate. You support civil unions. Why are you right and most other candidates along with most GOP caucus goers, why are they wrong?

HUNTSMAN: I’m running on my record. I’m proud to run on my record. Some people run from their record, I’m running on my record. I believe in traditional marriage first and foremost. I’ve been married 28 years. I have seven terrific kids to show for it.

But I also believe in civil unions. Because I think this nation can do a better job when it comes to equality. And I think this nation can do a better job when it comes to reciprocal beneficiary rights. And I believe that this is something that ought to be discussed among the various states.

I don’t have any problem with states having this discussion. But as for me, I support civil unions.

[Applause]

BAIER: So, the question was, why are they wrong?

HUNTSMAN: Why are they wrong? They are not wrong. All I’m saying is this ought to be an issue that takes place at the local level of government, that’s where these decisions ought to be made. And as for those who were polled, everybody can come to this with their own point of view.

I believe in traditional marriage. But I also believe that subordinate to that we haven’t done an adequate job when it comes to equality. That is just my personal belief. Everyone is entitled to their personal belief too.

YORK: All right. Thank you. Governor.

Next question is for Representative Paul. You’ve often said you believe defining marriage is a job that should be left to the states. Recently Senator Santorum asked if a state wanted to allow polygamy, would that be okay too? What is your answer to that?

PAUL: That is sort of like asking the question if the states wanted to legalize slavery or something like that. That so past reality that no state is going to do that.

But on the issue of marriage, I think marriage should be between a single man and a single woman. And the federal government shouldn’t be involved.

I want less government involvement. I don’t want the federal government having a marriage police. I want the states to deal with it if they need to, if they need to.

But if you didn’t need the states — really, why do we have to have a license to get married? Why don’t we just go to the church? What other individuals do, why can’t we permit them to do whatever they call it that is their problem not mine. Just so nobody else forces their definition of marriage on you. That is what we have to prevent.

So I would say less government would be better if you have to have regulations let the state governments do it.

[Applause]

YORK: All right.

Senator Santorum? You’re looking incredulous. Response?

SANTORUM: Well, it sounds to me like Representative Paul would actually say polygamous marriages are OK. If the state has the right to do it, they have the right to do it. It is not beyond reality, Ron, it is exactly what’s being offered in other states right now. And it’s being litigated in our courts right now, which is exactly how gay marriage came about as we see here in state of Iowa where seven justices forced gay marriages on the people of Iowa.

I was the only one on this panel who came to Iowa last year and made sure that those three justices were defeated. I campaigned and worked to make sure those justices were defeated, because we can’t have…

[Applause]

(UNKNOWN): You can finish, senator.

SANTORUM: We can’t have 50 marriage laws. This was the approach that the left took on abortion, which is to pick a few states, pick a few courts and then go to the Supreme Court and say equal protection, you can’t have different state laws then you will have nine people up at the Supreme Court deciding what marriage is in this country.

You have to fight in each state. And there’s where I disagree with Rick Perry, I disagree with Michele Bachmann. I will come to the states and fight to make sure this strategy of picking off a state here and there does not be successful in transforming marriage.

BAIER: Congresswoman Bachmann, quickly?

BACHMANN: Thank you. I support the federal marriage amendment, because I believe that we will see this issue at the Supreme Court someday. And as president, I will not nominate activist judges who legislate from the bench. I also want to say, when I was in Minnesota, I was the chief author of the constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man, one woman. I have an absolutely unblemished record when it comes to this issue of man-woman marriage.

YORK: All right, our next question — thank you, Representative Bachmann — our next question is for Senator Santorum. In June, you said, quote, “I believe that any doctor who performs an abortion should be criminally charged for doing so.” You would allow no exceptions for cases of rape and incest. Polls have long shown that large majorities of Americans support at least some exceptions for abortion. Are your views too much, even for many conservatives to support?

SANTORUM: You know, the Supreme Court of the United States on a recent case said that a man who committed rape could not be killed, could not be subject to the death penalty, yet the child conceived as a result of that rape could be. That to me sounds like a country that doesn’t have its morals correct. That child did nothing wrong. That child is…

[Applause]

That child is an innocent victim. To be victimized twice would be a horrible thing. It is an innocent human life. It is genetically human from the moment of conception. And it is a human life.

And we in America should be big enough to try to surround ourselves and help women in those terrible situations who’ve been traumatized already. To put them through another trauma of an abortion I think is – is too much to ask. And so I would — I would absolutely stand and say that one violence is enough.

YORK: Thank you, Senator.

[Applause]

Our next question is to Governor Pawlenty. Governor Pawlenty, you often cite an article in National Review saying you may be the strongest pro-life candidate in the race. What’s your opinion on what Senator Santorum said about exceptions? And isn’t he more pro-life than you are?

PAWLENTY: Well, National Review I think is a respected publication from a conservative and Republican perspective, and they did an online article that said, based on results, not rhetoric, but based on results, that I’m perhaps the most pro-life candidate in this race.

And the reasons for that are these: Number one, when I was in Minnesota as governor, I proposed and signed into law the Women’s Right to Know bill. I proposed and signed into law the positive alternatives to abortion bill. I proposed and signed into law the fetal pain bill and more. And our abortion rate in Minnesota has dropped dramatically, in fact, now at historic lows.

In terms of my personal views, the only exception I can really reconcile or justify is the life of the mother. And I would sign that bill if it came in that form to me as president or as governor.

But if another bill came with other exceptions that substantially advanced the pro-life cause, I’d sign that bill, too, because I want to make progress to limit and ultimately end abortions in this country. And I want to move the pro-life cause forward. And I have. And that’s why that publication said that perhaps I’m the most pro-life person on this stage, based on results, not just rhetoric.

YORK: One brief follow-up. Do you support criminal charges for doctors who perform abortions?

PAWLENTY: I think there should be absolutely consequences for doctors who perform abortions, when — if it’s illegal and when it’s illegal, and the possibility of criminal sanctions or severe civil sanctions. I don’t think the woman involved should be criminally sanctioned.

BAIER: As promised, back now to the economy. Susan Ferrechio with another round of questions. Susan?

FERRECHIO: Turning to you, Governor Romney, you’ve suggested replacing government jobless benefits with individual unemployment savings accounts. Jobless benefits for millions of Americans are about to expire in just a few months. If you were president right now, would you extend them?

ROMNEY: We got a lot of people out of work. We got a president that has a entirely failed economic policy and, frankly, doesn’t know what to do to get this economy going again. Surely we’re going to help those people who can’t find other ways to care for themselves.

But the most important thing we’re talking about tonight is making sure that President Obama is replaced by someone who knows how to get this economy going again. That’s what this debate is really about. And that’s what the American people want to understand.

Unemployment benefits, I think they’ve gone on a long, long, long time. We have to find ways to reduce our spending on a lot of the anti-poverty programs and unemployment programs. But I would far rather see a reform of our unemployment system, to allow people to have a personal account which they’re able to draw from as opposed to having endless unemployment benefits.

So, again, let’s reform the system, make the system work better by giving people responsibility for their own employment opportunities and having that account, rather than doling out year after year more money from an unemployment system.

FERRECHIO: Just a quick follow. So would you sign a bill to extend unemployment insurance if you were president right now?

ROMNEY: If I were president right now, I would go to Congress with a new system for unemployment, which would have specific accounts from which people could withdraw their own funds. And I would not put in place a continuation of the current plan.

FERRECHIO: Thank you.

Governor Huntsman, you’ve touted your job-creating abilities as Utah’s chief executive, but let’s talk about your time in the private sector. You said that you helped create thousands of jobs as vice chairman of the board of the Huntsman Corporation. But of the 12,000 workers employed by the company, almost 10,000 were hired in China and India and other places outside the U.S.

Isn’t it accurate to say that, as far as your time in the private sector, you’ve got more experience creating jobs overseas?

HUNTSMAN: I’m very proud of my experience in the private sector. Huntsman Corporation is a terrific company. It’s a wonderful example of a family entrepreneurial success story. Created jobs, to be sure, left communities a whole lot better than they found them, created a wonderful Huntsman Cancer Institute.

But let me tell you the real problem of what we’re up against. If you want to build a facility in the United States, you can’t because of the EPA’s regulatory reign of terror. If we want to strengthen our core in this country, which we must do, the percentage of our GDP that is from manufacturing is down to 10 percent or 11 percent. When I was born, it was 25 percent. It used to mean something when you read “Made in America.”

We don’t make things anymore in this country. We need to start making things in this country. And in order to do that, we need serious regulatory reform, not just repealing Obamacare, but ending the EPA’s regulatory reign of terror. We need to create a more competitive environment that speaks to real tax reform, that allows our entrepreneurs and businesses to step up and get it done and expand our economic base and create jobs.

I’m very grateful for what Huntsman Corporation has done. It’s a global company. The chemical industry is a global industry, and you’ve got to supply customers overseas. But let’s fix our core in this nation. Let’s get back on our feet. People are hurting, they’re scared, and they’re concerned.

FERRECHIO: Thank you.

Congresswoman Bachmann, turning to you, you voted against the debt ceiling increase deal and you voted against the Republicans’ “cut, cap and balance” bill. You insisted the country was not at risk of default. If you had your way, the debt ceiling would not have been raised. What do you say to analysts who insist that Americans’ investments, their 401(k)s, their college funds would have been far worse off today?

BACHMANN: It — it was very important that we not raise the debt ceiling, because — consider what happened. The Congress gave Barack Obama a blank check for $2.4 trillion. What did the American people get in return? $21 billion in illusory cuts.

So from the time I’ve been in Congress, we’ve gone from $8.67 trillion in debt to now almost double, to $16.7 trillion. This is madness. I’ve been all across Iowa. People are almost unanimous: Do not raise the debt ceiling. That was the right thing to do. The worst thing that you can do is continue to borrow money and spend money that we don’t have.

BAIER: So, I’m sorry, the — what do you say to the analysts who say that the markets would have fallen through the basement?

BACHMANN: I think the — I think the analysts — I think we just heard from Standard & Poor’s. When they dropped — when they dropped our credit rating, what they said is, we don’t have an ability to repay our debt. That’s what the final word was from them.

I was proved right in my position: We should not have raised the debt ceiling. And instead, we should have cut government spending, which was not done. And then we needed to get — get our spending priorities in order.

BAIER: Mr. Cain, do you agree with that?

CAIN: I did not agree with raising the debt ceiling, because the solution that they came up with does not solve the problem, as Representative Bachmann talks about.

The way to deal with it is pay those things that need to be paid and then make the tough choices of cutting the other things, agency by agency, program by program, based upon performance metrics. We didn’t need to raise the debt ceiling, but there was an easy way out, and the problem still has not been solved. And Standard & Poor’s has sent a message.

FERRECHIO: Mr. Cain, I’ve got another question for you. You — you say that we can boost job creation by eliminating the tax on companies that bring back overseas profits to the U.S. But when we tried a tax break like this in 2004, companies didn’t create jobs. They just paid bigger dividends to their shareholders. Why would it work this time?

CAIN: It’ll work this time for a number of reasons, because I think you’re only looking at a small piece of it. Remember, it is a combination of things that I indicated. If you just pick out one thing and try just to do that, no, that is not comprehensive.

When I talked about lowering the top corporate and personal tax rays to 25%, also taking capital gains rates to zero as well as suspending taxes on the repatriated profits. And here’s the big one, make them permanent. Uncertainty is what is killing this company.

Now if a company were to decide that they want to take some of that money and pay a bigger dividend, so what, it is their money. The people receiving the dividends might be happy with that. Maybe that is the right thing to do.

So I’m not concerned — I am not concerned about what they will do with that money if it is allowed to come back. I’m more concerned, bring it back so they will have an incentive to make some growth decisions.

I don’t know one company that sits around the board room and talk about how we are going to standstill. It is about growth. And that’s what I’m about, growth in jobs and the economy.

[Applause]

QUESTION: Speaker Gingrich, you say the unemployment problem in America has been made worse by the policies of the Federal Reserve. You call for auditing the Fed and stripping it of its banking powers. But Congressman Paul thinks the Fed needs to be abolished to create lasting prosperity. Why is the Fed worth saving?

GINGRICH: Well, I think that having some kind of central bank is an important part of how you deal with monetary policy in the modern world. But I would say to you that having Chairman Bernanke deal with hundreds of billions of dollars, some estimates as much as $16 trillion in secret is profoundly against a free society.

The feds should be totally audited. It should be out in public. Their decision documents from ’08 — ’07, ’08 and ’09 should be public. We should now who they bailed out and why they bailed them out. And who they didn’t bail out.

And I think that it is a scandal that the Federal Reserve is secret. And I think, frankly, their monetary policy since the late 90s has been a major factor in the bubble that has been created and a major factor in the economic pain we’re now going through.

So the fed is certainly — going back as Reagan did to sound money is certainly a key part of how you get back to prosperity. And the Fed is the primary villain in failing to have a sound money policy.

[Applause]

QUESTION: Congressman Paul, if I could follow up with you, is Speaker Gingrich wrong to want to save the Fed?

PAUL: Not exactly. Because my position isn’t that I’d closed the door down immediately, you can phase it out. But there are some other things that we could do in a transition phase.

For instance, and I’m delighted that mainstream is catching up with this, these days, for auditing the Fed. This is great.

[Applause]

PAUL: But I made a suggestion, which is a series of suggestions. And there’s been quite a few who have supported me on this. We owe the Fed $1.6 trillion in treasury bills. Where’d they get the money to buy it? They created it out of thin air. So we pay them interest. Now that’s on our books. So we literally, with legislation, could wipe $1.6 trillion off that is not a solution to the monetary problem or our spending problems, but it would give you a year to work this out. And wouldn’t have had that — any of that debate going on. Those were all scare tactics to try to scare people into doing things.

But that is one thing that we could do.

But eventually we have to deal with the fed, because the Fed creates the business cycle. If you don’t understand the business cycle, you don’t know why we have recessions, the sooner we learn that the better.

[Applause]

QUESTION: Thank you.

Senator Santorum, I’ve got one for you. You said that you were, quote, the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. But a top Tea Party goal, particularly in Iowa, is to revert back to the gold standard, something you oppose. How do you consider yourself in line with the Tea Party without agreeing on this major issue?

SANTORUM: Well first off, I didn’t say that the Washington Post said it. I simply commented on what they said. I don’t take the claim, the Tea Party organization is flat and it should stay that way. It should support ideas not candidates. And people who stand up and say they lead it, well, I think most of the Tea Party people think their leadership is among the people not anybody is a member of congress or anywhere else.

What I’ve said is that I agree with Newt. I think there’s some reforms we can do at the Fed. And I agree we need to audit the Fed. Disagree with most of what Ron Paul said. Just because he’s mostly wrong, doesn’t mean he’s always wrong.

[Booing]

SANTORUM: I appreciate his contribution in that regard.

I want to talk about, because I didn’t get a chance to comment on this debt ceiling. But Congressman Paul and Congresswoman Bachmann both in the congress, and they had an opportunity to lead. They’re asking you have them lead this country, and they couldn’t lead the congress to do something responsible in making sure that we didn’t have the fiasco that we have in place now.

We should have balanced the budget. The balanced budget amendment should have been the focus from the beginning. To suggest that we never need to raise the debt ceiling, that — that is, again, showmanship, not leadership. Of course we have to raise the debt ceiling at some point. We have — we have — we’re borrowing 42 cents of every dollar, 42 cents of every dollar. You’re going to cut 42 cents of every dollar? Just to remind you, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense, and interest on the debt is 60 percent. That means cut everything else and something of those. That’s showmanship, not leadership.

[Applause]

BAIER: When we come back, some closing remarks from the candidates, and maybe a wild card or two. We’ll see. Stay tuned.

[Commercial Break]

BAIER: Welcome back to the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Very quickly, during the commercial break, realized I needed to give Congresswoman Bachmann 15 seconds to respond, since you were mentioned there. Congresswoman?

BACHMANN: The thinking that says that we have to continue to raise the debt ceiling and spend money that we don’t have is the wrong premise. The American people are asking for a very different, bold vision. And I was the leading voice against raising the debt ceiling.

That’s what the American people want us to do: have our balanced budgets and also have our spending priorities in order. That was the right thing to do.

BAIER: Governor Huntsman, this week, the Obama administration announced that they would grant waivers to some failing public school systems that couldn’t meet the standard of the No Child Left Behind program. If you were president, would you return to full enforcement of this Bush-era law?

HUNTSMAN: No Child Left Behind hasn’t worked for this country. It ought to be done away with. We need to take education to the local level, where parents and local elected officials can determine the destiny of these schools. Nobody wants their schools to succeed more than local elected officials and their parents.

We need choice. We need vouchers. We need more technology in the classroom.

But let me just say, on the default, while I can, just for a moment. I’m the only one on this stage who stood up for a deal, for the Boehner deal, against this nation defaulting. I know I’m a little different than everybody else in that regard.

We are 25 percent of the world’s GDP. We are the largest financial services sector by far in this entire world. And the thought that people would just let this nation default when we could have a deal that at least gets things going on cuts, raising the ceiling, gets us toward entitlement reform, gets us toward a balanced budget amendment. I thought Speaker Boehner should be complimented for what he did. This nation should never default.

[Applause]

BAIER: Mr. Cain, let me just ask you the education question. If you were president, would you return to the full enforcement of the No Child Left Behind law?

CAIN: No. I believe in education starting at the local. No Child Left Behind had some faults. I don’t believe in unfunded mandates. I believe that the federal government should be out of the business of trying to micromanage the education of our children.

BAIER: Thank you Mr. Cain. And your answer had some special lighting there. Sorry about that. We had some special lighting in that part.

Time for now some closing comments. Each candidate has 30 seconds to close. Let’s begin with Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: Thank you very much. I want to thank the people of Iowa. My family and I, Karen and the kids, came here three weeks ago. We’ve spent three great weeks here in Iowa enjoying — enjoying the time and been to 51 cities in 15 days, been to 68 counties — not as many as Chuck Grassley, but almost.

And we keep working very, very hard, because as you’ve seen here tonight, national media may not pay a lot of attention to us, but we pay a lot of attention to the people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. And we’re going to be out in your communities. We’re going to be working very hard to earn your trust, so you can kick the tires and you can see what kind of president you want, someone who has leadership, proven leadership, and can get things done in Washington, D.C., and been a consistent conservative, and guys who can beat incumbent Democrats, three of them, three incumbent Democrats. That’s better than anybody else on this panel.

BAIER: Mr. Cain?

CAIN: It is clear from the discussion tonight that America needs a leader and a uniter. I represent growth. All the issues that we talk about, if we don’t get this economic engine moving by putting fuel in the engine, all of the rest of it won’t matter.

A poet once said, life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, but it’s never easy when there’s so much on the line. We have a lot on the line. Send Washington a message, and send a business problem-solver to Washington, D.C.

[Applause]

BAIER: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: I’ve been in politics for 35 years. My cause has been the cause of liberty. And I am convinced that liberty does not come from our government, but it comes from our creator.

And — and our goal should be peace and prosperity. It is under the principles of liberty that you have the greatest chance of achieving peace and prosperity. That is why I am so down on these wars that is costing us trillions of dollars, why we have to reform the monetary system, why we need honest money, a gold standard and not paper money out of the Federal Reserve system.

But also, we need to change the environment for our businesses. We need to get — lower the regulations, and — and the taxes, and have private property rights and contract rights. Then we can achieve peace and real prosperity.

[Applause]

BAIER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: This country is in economic crisis. I think the people of this country understand that. And we have, unfortunately, as the leader of this country a man who is out of his depth and who doesn’t understand what is needed to do to get this economy going again. He just doesn’t understand how the economy works, because he hasn’t lived in the real economy.

I think in order to create jobs, it’s helpful to have had a job. And I fundamentally believe…

[Laughter]

… that what we need in this country is someone who’s willing to go to work, who believes in America, who believes in free enterprise, who believes in capitalism, who believes in opportunity and freedom. I am that person. I love this country. And I will do everything in my power to strengthen our economy and keep America the hope of the Earth.

Thank you. I’d love your help.

BAIER: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: Well, the good news is, two years — two days from now, here in Ames, Iowa, all of us have a chance to send a message to Washington, D.C., about what we think about Barack Obama and his presidency. He got started here in Iowa. And now Iowa can bring that presidency effectively to a close.

I want to do that as president of the United States. And I’m inviting everyone to come to the straw poll, and let’s send a message to Washington that they can’t miss.

[Applause]

BAIER: Governor Pawlenty?

PAWLENTY: God has greatly blessed America, but with great blessing comes responsibility. And if we don’t fiercely protect our most precious blessing, freedom, we may lose it forever.

Now is the time for effective, tested, conservative leadership. I am that leader for America. And I will make sure, when I’m president, that America’s brightest, strongest, and best days are ahead.

Good night. Thank you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

BAIER: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: I’m running for president of the United States because I love this country. This nation is hurting, it is scared, and it is bankrupt. We have a cancer growing in this country called debt, and we must deal realistically with it.

We’re about to hand down for the first time in the history of the greatest nation that ever was, the United States of America, to the next generation less good, less productive, less competitive than the country we got. Barack Obama won in 2008 on hope. I’m going to win in 2012 on solutions.

May God bless America. Thank you so very much.

BAIER: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, let me, first of all, thank Fox and the Washington Examiner, and let me thank the people of Iowa for hosting this tonight. I think in many ways this was a very important next step in the national conversation.

But I want to remind everyone that the presidential election is 15 months away. We are in a crisis now. And I would hope everybody watching us around the country would call their congressmen and their senators now and say, “Go back to Washington, repeal Dodd-Frank, repeal Sarbanes-Oxley, repeal Obamacare. This summer, start saving American families from the pain they’re in, because we have real problems, and we need real leadership now.”

[Applause]

BAIER: Thank you all. Thank you all.

That is it tonight. Please go to foxnews.com, cast your vote on this debate. Our thanks to the candidates.

[Crosstalk]

BAIER: Thank you. And thank you to their staffs and to our debate partners, of course, Washington Examiner, the Iowa Republican Party, and to all of the great people here at the Stephens Auditorium — even him – on the campus of Iowa State University, and of course, to the wonderful people here in Iowa. They could not have been more hospitable.

You know, there’s a big straw poll here Saturday. Stay tuned to Fox News Channel, America’s election headquarters, all the way through to the general election and the inauguration. All the candidates, please note: Our next debate is September 22nd in Orlando, Florida. We will see you there.

Thanks for watching tonight. Good night.